Meaning of a Dream Catcher

Capturing the Dreams: Meaning of Native American Dream Catchers

In their origins, dreamcatchers were made by American Indians. These days, dreamcatchers are available in a wide range of styles and designs. The hoop is usually covered in a net of natural fibers with sacred items such as feathers or beads attached to the hoop’s bottom. A true dreamcatcher is handmade and crafted only from natural materials. It measures a few inches across. Tradition suggests that the hoop is made from a bent Red Willow branch covered by stretched sinew. Dream catchers made from “real” materials are also usually finished with leather wrapping.

 

The Origins Of The Dreamcatcher: Ojibwe Or Lakota?

The origin of the Dreamcatcher is a controversial topic. Some believe that it originated with the Native American Ojibwe tribe, while others claim that it was brought to North America by Lakota people from Canada. It is commonly believed that dream catchers originated from the Ojibwa Chippewa tribe, but today the dreamcatcher is associated with Native American culture in general. A local legend claims the Lakota tribe was the originator of the dreamcatcher, but most ethnographers believe it was passed along from the Ojibwe by intermarriage and trade. Ojibwe “asabikeshiinh“, the word for dreamcatcher, refers to the woven web that loosely covers the hoop. In addition to making snowshoes, these Native Americans also made dream catchers out of webbing similar to that of the snowshoes’ webbing. In Lakota culture, the web is seen as a symbol of family unity and love. Traditionally, people who are unable to sleep due to bad dreams would place something in their hair or under their pillow while they slept: a sacred object such as sage; an item with personal spiritual significance like braids from loved ones’ hair or feathers.

The Dream Catcher: An Ojibwa Legend

The Ojibwa people have a legend called “Aadizookaan” meaning “spider,” which tells how the dreamcatcher came to be. There are many legends surrounding the Native American dreamcatcher’s origins and history. However, it most commonly occurs among the Ojibwe and Lakota nations. Ojibways believed spiders were comforting and protective rather than creepy crawlies. In Ojibwa tradition, Spider-Woman was a totemic spirit. She would protect her tribe by hunting and bringing them food. One way she protected them was to ward off bad dreams. As the Ojibwe people drew farther and farther afield, The Spider Woman struggled to protect and maintain watch over the tribe as its members migrated farther and farther away from her. It was for this reason that she made the first dream catcher. Generations of Native American mothers and grandmothers created the maternal keepsake as a means to protect themselves and their families from a distance.

How Do Dream Catchers Work And Do They Mean?

Known as “Sacred Hoops,” Ojibwe dreamcatchers are used by the Ojibwe people to ward off bad dreams. The hoop is created by weaving a web of cattail down through the center and then smudging it with sage or sweetgrass, which are believed to help cleanse any negative spirits that might be around. According to this Native American tribe, the air at night is filled with dreams, both positive and negative. The web of cattail down acts as a “sieve” and the good dreams slip through into your mind while the bad ones get caught up in it. Dream catchers catch and attract all kinds of dreams and thoughts into their webs when hung over the bed in the bright morning sunlight. Native Americans believe that the thoughts and dreams of people are created in their sleep while they dream. The good dreams go up to live among the stars, but all those pesky nightmares need a place to stay too! Dreamcatchers were originally designed as protection against bad spirits that might enter your home or bedroom at night.

Web, Feathers, And Beads Are The Symbols Of The Dream Catcher

Dream catchers are made up of many parts from the natural world. Dream catchers are circular, symbolic of the sun’s connection with the moon through various phases. Dreamcatchers are made up of string, webbing, and feathers which wait to catch bad dreams during the night. Feather-like ladders allow good dreams to gently descend on sleeping beings, while softly encasing them in fluffy pillows. Scholars may not agree about the meaning of beads on dream catchers. The beads are thought to symbolize the spider, as it weaves its web. In some cultures, the beads are thought to be symbolic of good dreams inculcated in sacred charms that cannot pass through the web.

Do Dreamcatchers Still Have An Authentic Meaning Today?

Are they culturally appropriate? Authentic dreamcatchers are difficult to find these days, despite their widespread popularity. Dream catchers made from real feathers and beads usually have a small size and feature sacred spiritual charms. In earlier times, Native Americans used the garish strings to trap bad dreams. But in today’s markets, many dreamcatchers are American and often too large or made of cheap plastic. For Indian nations and First Nations, the dreamcatcher is a symbol of unity as well as identification.

 

Dream Catchers Are an American Phenomenon

There has been a resurgence of dream catchers. Today, dreamcatchers are prominent on a wide range of products, including phone covers, necklaces, clothes, tattoos, and even phone cases. They have beautiful beads, feathers, and woven nets that are threaded with intricate designs that are visually appealing.

So Is It Okay To Have A Dream Catcher?

People might have different interpretations and opinions on this question. A Qjibwe person once said, “dream catchers are very important to our people, I think it’s okay to use them in your home if: you understand and appreciate the meaning behind them, you are respectful of the purpose and beliefs that come with them, and they were originally created by Natives.”

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