The Legend of the Dream Catcher
Whether you had one as a child, have seen them on TV or just use them as decoration, Dream Catchers were always an object of fascination growing up. We were always told that Dream Catchers were hung above your bed and that they would catch all of the bad dreams and nightmares, whilst letting all good and positive dreams pass through, gliding down the feathers to the person sleeping below, but where did they come from?
The Origin of Dream Catchers
The origin of the Dream Catcher takes us back to the Western Tribes to an ancient legend called Asibikaashi (The Spider Woman). It is said she took care of the children and the people of the land but when the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America it became difficult for her to reach all the children. The solution was a dream catcher. Weaving “magical webs” using willow hoops, feathers, bread and string she believed that these would protect the children from negativity and evil thoughts and so was born the Dream Catcher.
The Ojibwe people started this phenomenon and over time this was adopted by other tribes and cultures. This adoption was made possible through intermarriage and trade. Dream catchers were the height of trade and became widely adopted by Native Americans in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Ojibwe word for dreamcatcher is asabikeshiinh which means “Spider” which refers to the woven web loosely covering the hoop. The pattern of this web on the Dream Catch is similar to the webbing these Native Americans also used for making snowshoes!
Dream Catcher Misconceptions and Good Luck
Many people believe that dream catchers are also good luck charms, representing good energy and neutralized bad energy when you are awake and asleep. Though a common misconception and probably the biggest one, they ward off ghosts and evil spirits that move about your room during the night, something we would advise calling the ghostbusters in for rather than hanging a dream catcher!
The Dream Catcher
Consisting of a small wooden hoop covered in a net or web of natural fibres, the dream catcher is made from different materials. There are meaningful sacred items attached such as feathers and beads which hang down from the bottom and real authentic dream catchers are handmade and crafted only from natural materials. It is traditionally constructed from a bent Red willow branch covered in stretched sinews and the frame is wrapped in leather.
The Dream Catcher has many different parts of which each has a specific meaning that is tied to thephysical world. The first is the circular shape which represents the earth’s physical shape. The String/web absorbs haunting and scary dreams during the nighttime and then in the morning discharges them. The feathers represent ladders, allowing good dreams to fall or descend on the infant or adult who is sleeping below. There has been debate about what the beads that often decorate the Dream Catcher symbolize. Some feel that the beads symbolize the spider – the web weaver, while others believe the beads symbolize the good dreams that could not pass through the web.
There are multiple different types of dream catchers, though some are similar to the original you can still tell the difference whilst noticing resemblances between the two. The new style of dream catchers are made, sold and exhibited by the modern era and are usually a lot larger, made with cheaper materials, with more decorations and sometimes they can even be styled or branded. Some believe that this is a violation of the culture, beliefs and traditions attached to traditional dream catches made by Native Americans. This makes it very hard to find authentic dream catchers.
Modern Creations of the Dream Catcher
When you look online whether it is through Pinterest or YouTube, you can now find an abundance of tutorials on how to create your own dream catcher and these come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Celebrities such as Stacey Solomon has used social media and her influencer role to showcase homemade crafts, and with crafting slowly on the rise especially over the duration of the pandemic and lockdown, you can now make or craft anything that your heart desires by simply searching online for instructions. Cheap and easy tricks and materials are easy to find, meaning that dream catchers at least the authentic hand crafted native American ones have lost their value and sentiment.
Did you have a dream catcher growing up? Do you believe that they help keep nightmares at bay?