Native American dreamcatchers
As I said in my previous post, I enjoy dreamcatchers and have a few in my home, which are featured below. I even picked dreamcatchers as my first website logo 🙂 I enjoy looking at them twirling in the breeze. So many options, so many materials and colors! However I like the more traditional ones better, no crazy colors or designs. Although I do have one that is more colorful and was locally made. You can see it below.
Meaning of Native American dreamcatchers
Dreamcatchers have been part of the Native American culture for centuries and their legend or story is a great one. As you can see, dreamcatchers are in the same shape as the medicine wheel, a circle, to exemplify the continuity, the cycle of life and its different phases. As we remember, we start in the East position (child) and end in the North position (Elder). In the middle of the circle, you find a web with an “eye” or the hole in the middle.
The story has it that the good dreams would slip through the hole in the middle and slide down the feathers to fall on the individual sleeping (you are supposed to hang it above your bed). Bad dreams would be caught in the web, never reaching the sleeper. Thus the dreamcatcher is thought to protect the individual sleeping and bring spiritual dreams. However, you might have heard a different version of the story. Indeed, a different version says that good dreams were caught in the web and passed down to the sleeper while bad dreams went through the hole never reaching the sleeper. Whichever version you have heard, the end goal remains the same: to filter the dreams of the sleeper so that only the good ones would be had. In other words, Native American dreamcatchers are guardians of sleep, protectors against bad dreams. I can personally say that since I have hung dreamcatchers in my home (even if they are not above my bed), I have had quite vivid good dreams. Below is the tiny dreamcatcher beside my bed. You can find a similar one on Etsy here. It is about 3 to 4 inches long and 6 to 7 inches long. Very delicately made.
Legend of the dreamcatcher
If you start reading about dreamcatchers (a good site is this one) you will see a few legends out there. A version that you will most likely come across is this one. During a circle (talking circle, see here for my previous post), a prayer was said and a circle was made using Mother Earth’s branches. The branches were woven into a circle and a web using sinew and placed above the infant’s head. The dreamcatcher above the infant’s head would keep bad dreams away, bring spiritual dreams and provide strength and inner wealth. A gift from Mother Earth herself.
A different version of the legend (but with the same message) can be found within the Lakota culture. Once upon a time (don’t worry it is not a Disney romantic story…), a Lakota spiritual leader was high on a mountain and had a vision. In his vision, a carrier of wisdom was disguised as a spider, and who has he spoke, began weaving a web in the middle of the leader’s earrings (which had feathers and beads). He discussed the cycle of life and stated that there are both good and bad forces in our world. And that if we follow the good forces, we will go to good places. However, if we follow the bad forces, we will be led in a wrong direction and might get hurt. Forces can then be helpful or detrimental. Once the spider finished spinning its web, he gave it to the leader and told him to use it to bring the good forces in the lives of the people. That the web would let through the good ideas and catch the bad ones, trapping them in.
So there you have it, two versions of the legend. Both carrying the same message. One of protection and strength. Below you will find another one of my dreamcatchers, this one actually made in Thailand. Very pretty and detailed. You can find a similar one on Etsy here. This one is bigger, altogether about a foot in length. Very pretty!