The original dreamcatchers originated with the Ojibwe people. Their legend states that Asibikaashi, a spider woman, protected the people, especially the young. As the tribe spread to different regions, it was difficult for her to reach all the children, so the mothers and grandmothers wove magical webs using willow hoops and sinew. These webs were hung over the heads of children and babies as they slept.
It was believed that these magical webs would make it easier for Asibikaashi to protect the children. The dreamcatchers would also filter out bad dreams, catching them in the web, allowing only the good thoughts and ideas to descend down the feather strands to the mind of the dreamer. When the sun rose, all negativity trapped in the web would be burned away in the light of day.
Every part of the dreamcatcher had significance, from the materials used to create it, to the shape itself. The hoop symbolized the circle of life and natural cycles of night and day and the seasons. The web was a reminder of interconnectedness and being a part of the tapestry of life. The feathers represented spiritual power, a closeness and connection to the creator.
Elders taught the importance of dreams and warned of the dangers. Dreams are filled with energies, both positive and negative. It was believed that at night, these energies were scattered about and picked up through dreams.
When we listen to the negative energies we can be led astray, or even harmed. Embracing and listening to the positive dreams and visions can help lead the way to innovation and problem solving. A dream catcher was a tool to help people embrace their inner vision and think more creatively. It was used as much for personal discovery and expression as it was to protect the dreamer.
Over time, other tribes would come to acknowledge the dreamcatcher, and for awhile it was even considered a symbol of unity among nations. In modern times, it’s been widely adopted by many people, not only for it’s lovely symbolism, but as a work of art. Dreamcatchers are varied in size, complexity, color, materials and textures. They are both beautiful and inspiring and provide comfort to those who use them.