THE ORIGINS OF INDIAN DREAM CATCHERS :
The dream catcher is one of the most enduring and widespread symbols associated with Native American culture. The iconic hoop and web shape is generally thought to protect sleepers from bad dreams by "catching" them, while allowing good dreams to pass through, hence the name.
Also called dream catcher, these protective amulets (objects believed to have special powers) appear in many indigenous cultures, but the dream catcher generally associated with Native Americans comes from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) culture. Traditionally made from a hoop of willow branch, nettle fiber or sinew, and decorations such as beads and feathers, the origin of the dream catcher is associated with a figure in Ojibwe mythology known as Asibikaashi, or "the spider woman." This mother figure was a protector of the people, especially the children. Dream catchers became a substitute for Asibikaashi as the Ojibwe nation expanded over a larger geographic area, and dream catchers were long considered a tool hung over children's beds to capture evil before it could cause harm.
As western tribes gradually came into contact with each other through trade and intermarriage, the legend of the dream catcher 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, dreamcatchers represent "the web of life" with its many good and bad choices. The dream catcher is meant to filter out the bad ideas of society from the good, allowing people to realize their dreams and visions. During the pan-Indian movement of the late 20th century, when many tribes of indigenous peoples sought to unite for cultural stability, the dream catcher was widely associated with many different indigenous tribes and nations. Thus, there are multiple legends referring to dream catchers.
WHAT VIRTUES DO DREAMCATCHERS HAVE FOR THE NATIVE AMERICANS?
Native American dream catchers from the Ojibwe tribe were traditionally used as talismans or amulets. Their purpose was to protect sleepers, especially children, from bad dreams, nightmares and evil spirits. The Native Americans believed that at night the air was filled with dreams, both good and bad. They hung the dream catcher above their bed. They had to be careful that daylight could reach it. As its name suggests, it attracts and catches all kinds of dreams and thoughts in its web, like a spider might do with its prey.
The good dreams then pass through the threads and slide down the feathers to reach the sleeper and comfort him. Bad dreams, on the other hand, are trapped in the web and then destroyed, burned away by daylight. Dream interpretation has strongly influenced the cultural and spiritual beliefs of Native Americans for centuries. They believed that dreams had an influence on the conscious soul of the dreamer. According to them, dreams could have an impact on character traits such as confidence, maturity, kindness and loyalty.
HOW TO USE AN INDIAN DREAM CATCHER ?
For a long time, Native American women made their own dream catchers to protect their families at night. Generally, an Indian dream catcher has a rather small circumference and consists of a willow wood ring covered with a cloth. Sacred objects accompany the base of the dream catcher, as is the case with feathers and beads. All these elements are inspired by Nature, extremely respected by the Amerindians. The dream catchers are shaped like a circle, a metaphor for the circle of life. They also represent another metaphor, that of the journey of the sun and the moon, each day and each night through the sky, like a perpetual and unshakeable movement.
The rose window of the dream catcher, in the form of a web, is intended to catch nightmares and evil spirits in the middle of the night, in order to get rid of them at sunrise. The feathers have the function to allow the beautiful dreams to reach the sleeper. There is some disagreement between the different Native American tribes about the role of the different elements that make up a dream catcher: some say that the beads are the symbol of the spider, others say that the beads are the symbol of a dream world filled with beautiful dreams and immortality.
As the Native Americans did with their infants, we suggest you hang your Indian dream catchers over a headboard to protect the sleeper. While for a long time Native Americans used dream catchers only for their children, the belief has been democratized and adults have also decided to use dream catchers to protect themselves during their sleep. It is then quite possible to use these dream catchers both for children AND for adults. You just have to believe in this poetic fable to make it come true!