Understanding the Symbolism of Dreamcatchers and Crafting Your Own
January 4, 2024
The dreamcatcher, mysterious and rich in symbolism, is crafted from a willow hoop meticulously woven with threads forming a delicate net. Originating from indigenous cultures, this unique object holds the power to ward off nightmares and promote the arrival of positive dreams to its possessor. Let’s delve into the rich history and meaning of the dreamcatcher before exploring the steps to create your own one.
Where do Dreamcatchers come from?
Historically, it is said that dreamcatchers originated from the Ojibwe Native American tribe and spread from Canadian regions to North American areas. Several legends share the creation of dreamcatchers.
One such legend is that of the “spider woman”. In the Ojibwe tribe, the spider, often despised and repelled, was seen as a sign of comfort. A woman, known as the “spider woman”, ensured the spiritual protection of newborns, babies, and children with spiderwebs. As the tribe expanded and births increased, the “spider woman” couldn’t protect all babies. She came up with the idea of creating the Native American dreamcatcher, mirroring the pattern of protective spiderwebs. Following this model, Ojibwe women began making dreamcatchers to safeguard their families from a distance.
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Another story involves a Native American hunting a moose for the moon feast. During his quest for the symbolic animal, he entered a cave. A beast emerged and nearly took his life. Returning to his village without meat and his bow, he was plagued by nightmares that kept him from sleeping. After weeks of daily fears, he left the village and slept on the ground. The night was serene, without nightmares. Opening his eyes in the morning, he saw a spiderweb covered in dew. It is said that he spent the rest of his life sleeping near the web, free from nightmares.
Legends have shown us that dreamcatchers ward off nightmares; they are talismans of protection. These mystical objects, laden with symbolism, have traversed time, retaining their essential role in various indigenous cultures. Let’s discover how dreamcatchers fit into the richness of traditions and continue to captivate with their protective power.
First and foremost, the purpose of dreamcatchers is to protect the most vulnerable from bad dreams and allow them to sleep peacefully, without the fear of being attacked by a monster or malevolent creature. Indeed, Native Americans believed that the night was the realm of bad dreams and monsters. Dreamcatchers, therefore, let dreams pass through and capture nightmares in the spiderweb. An essential point to remember: it is crucial to let daylight through the web so that the dream reaches the person and the nightmare is burned away.
Periodically, Native Americans purified their dreamcatchers to release bad dreams and negative energies. For this, they hung them on a tree or from the ceiling for a day, allowing the sun’s rays to cleanse and restore their powers.
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The dreamcatcher teaches us a lot about Native American culture and the role of spirituality and beliefs in their daily lives. We understand that dreams have a strong influence on the dreamer’s life, and the unconscious plays a crucial role in its construction. We also comprehend that the dreamcatcher is a tool for personal development. Its psychological benefits are undeniable, as individuals with dreamcatchers are less likely to experience nightmares and, consequently, less susceptible to anxiety or stress. Its spiritual power is such that it can help open our minds to various beliefs and make us more empathetic, understanding, and tolerant.
In Native American culture, dreamcatchers were hung above the beds of young children to offer them restful and nightmare-free sleep. The chosen location for hanging the dreamcatcher was not arbitrary but rather imbued with symbolism and spiritual considerations. Traditionally, these objects were positioned to capture the sunlight, a source of power and vitality in many indigenous cultures. The belief was that the benevolent energy of the sun interacted with the dreamcatcher, reinforcing its ability to fulfill its protective mission during the night.
Therefore, here are some preferred places to hang a dreamcatcher, according to Native American tradition:
Above your bed
On the entrance door of your room
At the window of your room
On the rearview mirror of your car (for protection on all occasions)
By following these recommendations, you not only respect Native American tradition but also establish a symbolic connection between the dreamcatcher and the beneficial forces of nature, fostering an environment conducive to peaceful and protective dreams. Today, dreamcatchers are no longer reserved for Native Americans. They have entered the public domain, and it is not uncommon to find a large one above an adult’s bed or adorning the ears of a bohemian-style young woman. WickedAF and ethnicANDgroovy on Etsy sell beautiful dreamcatcher earrings.
Families used to craft their own dreamcatchers with natural elements: wood, strings, leaves, beads, stones, feathers. They created a wooden hoop, often of willow (which bends easily), adorned with a natural fiber net representing a spiderweb. They could then decorate the dreamcatcher with feathers or stones, symbols of spiders or dreams.
On your part, you can also make your dreamcatcher. To create your own homemade dreamcatcher, you will need a wooden or metal hoop to form the base, as well as feathers, colors, and accessories to give it a unique personal touch.
A metal/wood/bamboo hoop
Wool or string
Beads (wood, glass, plastic, metal) in natural or colorful shades
In a Few Steps, you can Craft your Dreamcatcher
Take the hoop and wrap it with wool (optional).
With 2 or 3 meters of string, create the spiderweb weave.
Adorn the dreamcatcher with ribbons, beads, feathers, dried wood.
Hang the dreamcatcher in an optimal location.
For further explanations, check out Emilie Lefler’s video “DIY Dreamcatcher | How To Make A Dream Catcher Tutorial”.
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