Dreamcatcher: Spiritual Item or Just a Decoration

You might have been using the Dreamcatcher in the wrong way!

By Fred S.
Dreamcatcher: Spiritual Item or Just a Decoration

Origins of Dream Catcher

It is believed that spirits live in an entirely different universe and can be both good and evil; the former are there to protect us from unforeseen mishaps and the latter might be mischievous and go as far as scaring human babies in their sleep.

These same beliefs were held by the ancient American Indian civilizations who upheld the spiritual world in high esteem. They would make special offerings to please the higher-order supernatural beings and would make every effort to keep away the bad spirits from affecting their personal and social lives.

The native Ojibwe tribe was home to a mystical woman who would roam from one home to another to catch evil and bad dreams before they disturbed the young one’s sleep. Her visits were said to frighten away bad luck from women and children. This maternal figure was referred to as the Spider Woman; the name stemmed from the fact that her existence was like an intricately crafted web capable of entangling bad dreams and malice.

This is where the cultural ornament gets its name from; the natives called it “asabikeshiinh” that translates to modern-day word for spider. The design itself speaks for the name, resembling closely to a giant spider web that would house anything attempting to go through it.

The Lakota people attach a different spiritual meaning to a dreamcatcher. For this Native American tribe, the dreamcatcher was created by a mystical trickster who shared his wisdom with the tribe’s oldest spiritual leader. The circle denoted the circle of life, the different stages that man has to pass through before he dies. The web signified what people left behind after their soul departed. If you were a good person with ideas that could benefit others, your notions will stay entwined in the web as what you leave behind.

How Was it Created and Used in the Past?

Ojibwe belief:

Soon, the tribe began to explore new territory and the Spider Woman’s people became so scattered that she could not tend to their newborn babies who would not sleep through the night owing to very bad dreams. To ease the distressed mother and grant peace to the young offspring who she could not go see, she made a hoop of willow wood and spun in a delicate thread or of silk threads.

Source: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e8/b5/41/e8b541d3f38036bc25bd91f31880d750.jpg

Hanging down from the wooden circle would be different items of cultural value, such as beads, feathers, and horsehair. The dreamcatcher would then be suspended over the bed where the baby slept. The good dreams would get stuck in the web and trickle down the draping feathers or beads, whereas the evil ones would pass right through the dreamcatcher. Babies would sleep peacefully through the night as all horrifying dreams would be discarded.

Lakota belief:

On the other hand, the Lakota people made dreamcatchers to be hung at their homes’ entrances. They believed that doing so would keep away the evil eye and would not let any bad spirits enter. This measure was specially undertaken before a happy event such as a wedding or the birth of a child. All windows and doors would bear dreamcatchers to prevent any trouble from affecting the happiness within a family.

For a very long time, the tribal people believed that the web in the wooden hoop held their destiny. Besides, they used them to keep bad dreams away from their infants like the Ojibwe people.

When to Get a Dreamcatcher?

There need not be an event to get a dreamcatcher. You should have one or more in your home as it is a relic of the great American Indian culture. It is also considered bait for good luck to knock at your door and make every dream a happy one. Following are some of the occasions when you should consider getting one:

When you get a new home

House-warming is incomplete without the addition of a dreamcatcher to keep all evil eyes away from your family. Hanging it appropriately at the entrance would signify the start of a new chapter in your life.

When you are expecting

Having a dreamcatcher hanging from the window facing your bed will make your sleep better during the tougher trimesters of pregnancy. After you give birth, as the legend dictates, the same dreamcatcher will act to add peace to your newborn’s sleep, keeping nightmares at bay.

· As an ode to Indian culture

You can get a dreamcatcher for yourself and your loved ones out of respect for the ancient culture of the American Indians.

5 Uses of Dreamcatcher

1. For a good night’s sleep

If you are a new parent, you might need a dreamcatcher hanging from your baby’s bed or cot. If the legend is true, it will filter out your baby’s dreams allowing them only the ones which are pleasant and do not wake them up in the middle of the night.

2. Believed essential for a happy household

The dreamcatcher has been used for eons because of its ability to keep evil spirits away and instill an ambiance of affection within families. Having this cute little ornament placed at your front door might be a step towards building a peaceful environment within the walls of your home.

3. A timeless present

If you know someone who has recently gotten the job they have always delved for or finally attained one of their aims in life, then a dreamcatcher will be an excellent gift to congratulate them on their success. Since, according to the Lakota tribe, the web in the hoop represents the universe that holds our fate and as the sieve that filters out our good deeds to last within the system even after our deaths, it will speak of your wishes for your loved ones to continue winning at whatever they do.

4. An attractive addition to your interior

Whether it is your workplace or home, a dreamcatcher is a perfect component to make everything look better. Match a dreamcatcher with the dominant theme of your office and living room to increase the aesthetic appeal of the inside of the building.

5. Educates the youth about American Indian culture

A dreamcatcher is bound to spark a young pupil’s curiosity based on its design. The legends behind the delicately woven web and the willow wood hoop will help you teach children about the practices, beliefs, and values of the Native Americans in a fun way. Adding a dreamcatcher to a children’s library or home will pave the path for a fruitful history lesson.

Should you Gift a Dreamcatcher to Someone?

If your pursuit of finding the best gift for your friends and family is still on-going, you can probably rest now as the dreamcatcher is the most perfect present for all auspicious occasions. Whether it is to welcome a new member to the family, celebrate the birth of a baby or to tell someone how you wish for them nothing but well in life, a dreamcatcher acts as an unmatched expression of your earnest intentions.

Besides, you can always make a dreamcatcher for your loved ones yourself. This will give you the liberty to customize it to match the event, their home or the purpose of the present.

DIY Dreamcatcher Tutorial

Here is the easiest way to make one for yourself or someone else:

 Materials needed:

  • An appropriately sized hoop; it could be made of wood, metal or plastic. 
  • Ribbon of your favorite color.
  • A reel of string of two different thicknesses.
  • Hot glue gun or simple glue.
  • Feathers, beads or any other attractive hanging items.

Method:

Step 1: Covering the hoop

Paint glue on to the hoop and wrap the ribbon around it. Make sure that there is no gap between each turn of the ribbon. Keep going around the hoop until you reach the point where you started.

Step 2: Weaving the web

Take the string that you have chosen to make the web with. Tie it at one point of the hoop and make multiple loops, very gently pulling on the string to the point farthest away from the knot. You can demarcate the points till where you will be making the loops beforehand.

Step 3: Multiple layers of web and decorating it

Once you have completed looping around the hoop once, pass the end of the strand through the thread of the initial loop from the point where you placed the first knot. Repeat it as many times as you want till you get a circle of strings. In the finishing loops, you can slide small beads in the string before tying the final knot.

Step 4: Adding hanging ornaments

Take a thicker thread and tie pieces of it down one end of the hoop. You can thread beads into these hanging strings. Also, you can glue feathers on to the ribbon covering the hoop directly or tie them with the draping thread. On the other side of the circle, cut the ribbon into a thinner size and secure its free ends on to the hoop to form a small ring with which you can hang the dreamcatcher.

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Summary

Dreamcatchers make the most suitable addition to our offices and homes. They happen to be the most versatile gifts ever. They are easy to buy or you can make them yourself with everyday material within a few minutes. It is believed that they bring good luck and keep the bad spirits away, hence, making them the best decorations from a spiritual as well as a cultural point of view.

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