The Myths and Legends Behind Dream Catchers
the origins of the dream catcher are associated with a figure from Ojibwe mythology known as Asibikaashi, or “the Spider Woman.” This mother figure was a protector of the people, especially children. Dream catchers became a proxy for Asibikaashi as the Ojibwe nation spread over a larger geographical region, a tool hung over children’s beds to capture any bad or evil before it could cause harm.
As Western tribes gradually contacted one another through trade and intermarriage, the dream catcher legend permeated other cultures. The Lakota have their own dream catcher legend associated with a trickster god, Iktomi, who often appeared in the form of a spider. In Lakota culture, dream catchers represent “the web of life,” with its many good and bad choices.
The Meaning of Dreamcatchers
The most common meaning of the dream catcher, originating from the Native American Ojibwe tribe, is that it filters the bad dreams away, protecting you from evil and negativity.
Traditionally, Native American dream catchers were a few inches in diameter, finished with leather webbing, and a feather hanging from the ring of the dream catcher.
The Dreamcatcher’s Form
Each part of the dream catcher had meanings tied to the physical world. One notable meaning is the dream catcher has a round shape that represents the earth’s spherical character.
The web absorbs bad dreams at night and discharges them during the day. The feathers, on the other hand, act like ladders allowing good dreams to descend on the infant or adult who is sleeping.
The History of Dreamcatchers
Today the dreamcatcher is associated with Native American culture in general, but dream catchers are often believed to have originated from the Ojibwa Chippewa tribe in particular. The Lakota tribe also has its own legend about the origins of the dreamcatcher, but most ethnographers believe the dreamcatchers were passed down from the Ojibwe through intermarriage and trade. The Ojibwe word for dreamcatcher asabikeshiinh actually means “spider,” referring to the woven web loosely covering the hoop. The patterns of the dream catcher web are similar to the webbing these Native Americans also used for making snowshoes.
Ojibwa Legend: The story of the Dream catcher
Ancient legends about the history and origin of the dreamcatcher exist among several Native American tribes, but are most common and seem to originate among the Ojibwe and Lakota nations. While many cultures consider spiders to be creepy crawlers, the Ojibwe people saw them in a different light, as symbols of protection and comfort.
According to an old Ojibwa legend, a mystical and maternal “Spider Woman” once served as the spiritual protector for her tribe, especially in concern to young children, kids, and babies. As the Ojibwe people flourished and spread out across the land, it was difficult for The Spider Woman to continue to protect and watch over all the members of the tribe as they migrated farther and farther away. This is why she created the first dreamcatcher.
Following her example, over the course of generations mothers and grandmothers continued to ritualistically recreate the maternal keepsake as a means of mystically protecting their children and families even from a distance.