Perhaps you’ve seen a dream catcher before and always wondered what they’re all about. Dream catchers are meant to provide protection from all of the bad things in life and keep your heart filled with positive feelings. This article will teach you more about the meaning of a dream catcher and why they are important to the Native American culture.
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 from the ring of the dream catcher.
The Ojibwe tribe believed that each person is responsible for guarding their own soul and that the dream catcher was a symbol of this responsibility. It is thought to protect from negative thoughts, which can’t pass through the webbing.
Dream Catcher Gifts
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 a spider design. In Lakota culture, dream catchers represent “the web of life,” with its many good and bad choices.
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 that represents the earth’s spherical character.
The round hoop that serves as the frame is the first identifiable characteristic of dreamcatchers.
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.
Several beads woven into the web represent the number of dreams captured during the night that have transformed into sacred charms.
The light, airy feathers add a touch of whimsy to any dreamcatcher but they are not there merely to add a decorative touch. The feathers hanging from the lower sides of the circle serve an important purpose.
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, a shape representing the circle of life. They help the trapped dreams from the web glide gently down to the person who sleeps below.
The Lakota Nation believes one of their leaders had a vision where he met a wise trickster called Iktomi. The trickster appeared in the form of a spider, making a hoop of willow and spinning a web inside of it representing the beginning of life to the present.
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 legend, a mystical and maternal “Spider-Woman” once served as the protector of her tribe, especially in concern for 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.