They make sure you will not experience nightmares. Most people who own them hang them above their bed, but there is a possibility you have seen them hanging from a tree, porch and dozens of souvenir shops loaded with them. Today we are discussing the legends, the stories and origins of the dream catcher.
The Ojibe tribe, who live around Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario today, say that the dreamcatchers’ origins come from several Native American tribes. As many cultures find spiders creepy and hold negative emotions towards them, the Ojibwe people associated them with protection and comfort. Supposedly, there was a “Spider Woman”, who was a mystical figure who served as the spiritual protector of the tribe. The Ojibwe tribe expanded so much that she found it difficult to watch over the tribe as everyone was living scattered across the land. For this reason, she created dreamcatchers, and this is how more mothers started to make them for their children.
However, the Ojibwe tribe was not the only tribe that claimed to know the story of the dreamcatchers. As told by the Lakota Tribe, who live in South Dakota today, it is believed the charms were passed on from the Ojibwe tribe to various other tribes and generations, but the Lakota tribe talks about how a spiritual leader got a vision of Iktomi, a teacher spirit who took the form of a spider. She took the spirit leaders’ willow hoop and started weaving a web as he started talking about the circle of life and the balance between good and bad forces in a life cycle. If you choose to listen to the good forces, you will go into the right direction, but listen to the bad ones, and you would be harmed. When Iktomi was finished spinning his web, he showed the spiritual leader how it had a perfect circle in the middle. This is where the good ideas should go through, while the bad ideas would get caught in the web.
Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams, good ones and bad ones. If placed above a bed, where the sunlight can hit in the morning, the dreamcatcher will catch all sorts of dreams in its webs. The good dreams pass through, sliding gently down the feathers onto the sleeper below. The bad dreams are caught up and burned up in the light of the day.
You probably have seen dreamcatchers multiple times in your life. However, the chances of you having seen an authentic one might be a lot slimmer. These are normally made smaller in size and carry sacred charms like feathers and beads. For the Native Americans, it is a symbol of unity and identification. They became immensely popular amongst non-Natives during the 1980’s for use of home décor or jewellery, the Native Americans therefore see it as a symbol of cultural appropriation. They feel like dream catchers are too commercialised and feel offended by non-Natives misusing the sacred items.
Dreamcatchers come forth from native American tribes. Authentic individuals are of very high value, and in todays’ world, very rare. Whichever story one believes in, dreamcatchers mean something very special. Due to the dream catcher trend, the item itself might not be so hidden anymore. But the story? A real gem.
Meaning of Dreamcatchers (January 2019). Retrieved from: https://www.onetribeapparel.com/blogs/pai/meaning-of-dreamcatchers
Shabi, K. (July 2016). Dreamcatcher Meaning: History, Legend & Origins of Dream Catchers. Retrieved from: https://legomenon.com/dreamcatcher-meaning-legend-history-origins.html