Dreamcatchers are believed to have originated from Native American cultures, more specifically with the Ojibway tribe. Other tribes such as the Lakota and Chippewa each hold their own legend of the dreamcatcher.
Although there are many variations, a dreamcatcher is basically a small circle of wood that is tied with sinew or thread to resemble a web with a small hole in the middle. The threads or sinews are tied at several points on the circle, with the number of points on the dreamcatcher having different meanings:
- 13 Points – The 13 phases of the moon
- 8 Points – The number of legs on the spider women of the dreamcatcher legend
- 7 Points – The seven prophecies of the grandfathers
- 6 Points – Represents an Eagle or Courage
- 5 Points – A Star
Dreamcatchers became widely popular during the 1980’s and have become a very popular craft item, jewellery piece and home décor item. While modern dreamcatchers come in various forms, authentic ones are generally relatively small of size and are handmade from all natural materials with a leather wrapped frame.
This is the story of how the spider woman brought the sun back to the people of the world. Once, the Ojibway people were gathered, together as One Nation.
As the people dispersed to the four corners of Northern America, Asibikaashi (the spider women) promised that she would continue to take care of the children but could not get to each bed every night. The women of the tribe wove magic webs shaped like a circle (which is how the sun travels through the sky) and hung them over the cradles. Just as the spider women traps insects in her web, the bad dreams are trapped in the web of the dreamcatcher and perish as the sun shines its rays on the web every morning. Many Mothers tied a feather to the hoop in the centre, representing breath or air. The baby would watch the feather and be entertained as it danced on the wind above its head.
The Dreamcatcher’s Form and Meaning:
Each section of the dreamcatcher’s form holds specific meaning. The circular frame symbolizes Mother Earth and everything that sustains life. Its circular shape also represents the continuous flow of life as there is not beginning or end.
In addition to representing the circle of life, it also symbolizes how the sun and moon move across the sky every day in a continuous loop. The spider web or wove in the centre is where bad dreams or nightmares are trapped.
Gifting of dreamcatchers:
Giving someone a dreamcatcher as a gift, tells the giver that you care about him or her and bestow the person with peace of mind. Make sure to include a note describing the significance of the dreamcatcher and how legend has it that it will protect from bad dreams and negative thoughts.