14 July, 2021
We have heard of chasing dreams, but is it possible to catch dreams? By now, you must surely have heard of dreamcatchers, or at least seen one hanging around somewhere. They ate those beautifully crafted pieces of art, looking like a spider’s web, adorned with some multi-coloured feathers that kids hang around in their room. Interestingly, many buy it without knowing what it is, mistaking it for a tribal art piece. Yet, it just might be working the magic for them. So, do these really help to catch the dreams? What is the story or belief behind these art pieces?
It is believed that dreamcatchers originated from Native American cultures, especially the tribal ones. They used to create these lovely pieces to hang above the cradles and beds of their young ones to ward away the nightmares and ensure that the kids only got good dreams. It was used like a talisman, a protector that warded away the bad dreams. The dreamcatchers are created to resemble a spider’s web and explain this concept of ‘catching dreams’. The weaved portion that looks like the spider’s web is supposed to trap the bad dreams and not allow them to filter through. It only passes through the good dreams, thus protecting the person from nightmares.
The dreamcatchers are most often circular in shape, at times said to resonate with the circle of life, sun, moon, etc. At times, beads are also used to create dreamcatchers, and they represent certain things to some cultures. Some people also are particular about the number of points in the dreamcatchers. It usually comes in 13 (phases of the moon), 8 (legs of the spider), 7 (prophecies of the grandfathers), 6 (an eagle) and 5 (star), depending on the size of the dreamcatcher. You might have seen some large dreamcatchers with lots of embellishments. However, other than the decor aspect, each aspect of this item has some significance or the other, according to certain cultures that they originated from.
There are stories associated with two Native American tribes Ojibwe and Lakota, who created these dreamcatchers. In the Ojibwe tribe, the dreamcatchers were created by the mothers and grandmothers to represent the Spider Woman, who used to protect the kids from evil influences and dreams. They were woven using willow hoops with one gemstone bead in the centre while chanting sacred words with good thoughts. It was believed those would get transferred to the kids above whose beds this would be hung. They also used owl feathers for wisdom and eagle feathers for courage in the centre of the dreamcatcher.
This was believed to have been passed on to the Lakota tribe, wherein a spiritual leader had a vision about the circle of life. He saw Iktomi, a ‘teacher spirit’ in the form of a spider, who explained how the circle of life happened with the help of the dreamcatcher. He was told how bad dreams would go through the hole forever and the good dreams would remain.
Whether you believe in the legends and superstition or not, dreamcatchers are a beautiful addition to the decor. They make for an interesting gift item, especially for the kids. It is effortless to make them, and there are enough resources available on YouTube on how to go about it. It could also be done easily with simple materials available at home. Mostly, a circular base, some slightly strong strings and decorative beads and feathers or ribbons, etc. It could make for some fun and creative times along with your grandkids.
Many people now use dreamcatcher designs into pendants, bracelets, keychains, earrings, and so on. It is believed, though, that dreamcatchers need to be handcrafted and not made of metal. Hence, it may be best to create one on your own to gift them to kids and grandkids. Ideally, it can be hung near a bed, if possible by the window, to catch the sunlight. That’s when it is supposed to be effective, so the kids wake up with memories of only good dreams. You could look at them as good luck charms and treat the legends behind them as the many other feel-good stories for children.
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