The History and Story Behind Dream Catchers

Image Credit: tumblr.com/tagged/catchers

Image Credit: tumblr.com/tagged/catchers

 

In my opinion, dream catchers are absolutely fascinating and beautiful. They are a Native American tradition and have been around for generations. Traditional dream catchers are intended to protect people who are sleeping from negative, bad dreams while still letting the positive, good dreams come through. The good dreams go through the hole in the center of the dream catcher and then glide down the feathers to the person sleeping below. This of course is why people say that dream catchers should always hang over your bed, otherwise it won’t work. It is said that the bad dreams get caught up in the web during the night and once the sun rises and shines on the dream catcher, they get destroyed. Native Americans and of course others, truly believe that dream catchers have the power to catch all of your dreams; trapping the bad ones in the web, and only letting the good dreams pass through the hole in the middle. When I was a kid, I even had one in my room.

Traditional dream catchers are made using a hoop of willow and decorating it with bits and pieces of everyday life (feathers, arrow heads, beads, shells, etc). Of course modern dream catchers are similar; however, they are also very different. They are more… decorated and fancier looking as you could say. Well, I have made the decision that I am finally going to attempt to make a dream catcher of my own! I’m pretty excited but nervous at the same time lol. I will soon post it when I’m finished; I’m going to include directions as well!

Traditional Dream Catchers VS Modern Dream Catchers: 

Image Credit: nativepeoplephotographer.typepad.com/native_american_stock_pho/2009/01/dreamcatchers.html

Image Credit: nativepeoplephotographer.typepad.com/native_american_stock_pho/2009/01/dreamcatchers.html

Image Credit: windinourheart.blogspot.com/2012/01/dream-catcher.html

Image Credit: windinourheart.blogspot.com/2012/01/dream-catcher.html

Image Credit: 123rf.com/photo_6472338_painting-of-a-traditional-native-american-dreamcatcher-decorated-with-fur-and-feathers.html

Image Credit: 123rf.com/photo_6472338_painting-of-a-traditional-native-american-dreamcatcher-decorated-with-fur-and-feathers.html

Image Credit: pinterest.com/hscruggs20/history-i-find-neat/

Image Credit: pinterest.com/hscruggs20/history-i-find-neat/

Image Credit: coyotescorner.com/catchers.htm

Image Credit: coyotescorner.com/catchers.htm

Above are examples of traditional Native American dream catchers; Below are modern dream catchers.

Image Credit: pinterest.com/1800pin/dream-catcher/

Image Credit: pinterest.com/1800pin/dream-catcher/

Image Credit: tumblr.com/tagged/brown dream catcher

Image Credit: tumblr.com/tagged/brown dream catcher

Image Credit: genesisimports.net/buy/Dream Catchers/Dream Catchers/white-dream-catcher-13x22.html

Image Credit: genesisimports.net/buy/Dream Catchers/Dream Catchers/white-dream-catcher-13×22.html

Image Credit: tumblr.com/tagged/dream catchers?before=125

Image Credit: tumblr.com/tagged/dream catchers?before=125

Image Credit: crystallabyrinth.co.uk/dream;catchers.htm

Image Credit: crystallabyrinth.co.uk/dream;catchers.htm

As you can see, they are very similar. However, the differences are noticeable. I think the major difference is that Native American were mostly concerned with the meaning and spiritual belief of the dream catchers and today, people are more concerned with perfection, looks, and decoration. This of course is just my opinion.

 

Here’s a little history about dream catchers:

“The original web dream catcher of the Ojibwa was intended to teach natural wisdom. Nature is a profound teacher. Dream catchers of twigs, sinew, and feathers have been woven since ancient times by Ojibwa people. They were woven by the grandfathers and grandmothers for newborn children and hung above the cradleboard to give the infants peaceful, beautiful dreams. The night air is filled with dreams. Good dreams are clear and know the way to the dreamer, descending through the feathers. The slightest movement of the feathers indicated the passage of yet another beautiful dream. Bad dreams, however, are confused and confusing. They cannot find their way through the web and are trapped there until the sun rises and evaporates them like the morning dew.

Originally the Native American dream catcher was woven on twigs of the red willow using thread from the stalk of the stinging nettle. The red willow and twigs from other trees of the willow family, as well as red twig dogwood can be found in many parts of the United States. These twigs are gathered fresh and dried in a circle or pulled into a spiral shape depending upon their intended use. They used natural feathers and semi-precious gemstone, one gemstone to each web because there is only one creator in the web of life

The dream catcher has been a part of Native American culture for generations. One element of Native American dream catcher relates to the tradition of the hoop. Some Native Americans of North America held the hoop in the highest esteem, because it symbolized strength and unity. Many symbols started around the hoop, and one of these symbols is the dream catcher.

Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams not knowing the way get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day.”

 

Story about Dream Catchers

“Long ago when the word was sound, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and searcher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life, how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle.

But, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, in each time of life there are many forces, some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they’ll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature. While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web.

When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass.

The elder passed on his vision onto the people and now many Indian people have a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good will pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The evil in their dreams are captured in the web, where they perish in the light of the morning sun. It is said the dream catcher holds the destiny of the future.”

 

 

Disclaimer** The history and story of dream catchers written above are not mine. I am not taking credit in any way for them. I thought they were very interesting and wanted to share it with you. This is for informational purposes only.

Here is the source for both of these stories. I have also tagged/linked the titles with their individual site pages as well.  🙂

 

 

21 Comments

  • Reply
    Charlie
    March 23, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks, this really helped me with my school work. I also used to have a dream catcher and it looked really nice but I don’t know where it is anymore.

    • Reply
      Kimberly
      March 24, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      You’re welcome 🙂

  • Reply
    Robin
    September 25, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I love history and reading about little things like this. I think it is just so interesting! I think they are so pretty and I too had one in my room growing up over my bed. Cannot wait to read your post on your DIY project!

    • Reply
      Kimberly
      September 25, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Thanks Robin! The history of dream catchers truly is fascinating….

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    Emma
    February 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    hey! i just google ”dreamcatcher” and this came up! i jut wanna give information that its my pic, i took on phone. I dont know where you get that pic from. But i took it, so you can change your ”link” our how you say it in English.
    My Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/elina.ekman.1

  • Reply
    Mark Leach
    December 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I love Native American culture. In fact, I just spent some time on a Navajo reservation near page Arizona. I love this story about dream catchers, you summed it up well.
    Mark Leach |

  • Reply
    Kamla L.
    June 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    They are all so beautiful and would make great art pieces. Knowing the history and lore behind them make them all the more beautiful.

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 14, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I love dreamcatchers! I just bought one at a yard sale for $1! I think it’s authentic but not 100% sure. So glad they are coming back in style!

  • Reply
    Dorothy Teel
    June 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    How great and I learned a lot about dream catchers, we have one in our room that my son and his wife (she is part Cherokee, Choctaw and Creek indian heritaqe made me for Christmas one year and it is beautiful and now I know that it is catching all them old ugly dreams . I appreciate your sharing this post

  • Reply
    Menahil
    April 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Very interesting! Dream catchers aren’t really a thing here in Dubai so I never knew about them but I saw many pictures on Instagram and Tumblr and they’ve always fascinated me! Dream catchers look so pretty too!

  • Reply
    Laurie P
    March 20, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Great read! I still have the Dream catcher that was given to me when I was 9.

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    Nettie Larson
    December 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    What an interesting read! I have a traditional dream catcher above my bed that was made for me by a Native American family friend when I was very small.

  • Reply
    ashley
    September 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    so cool live the picture with the one inside the big one I have two dream catchers i made one of them

  • Reply
    Erin-Paint Those Piggies!
    August 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I was given a dreamcatcher as a gift by my best friend when I was in elementary school. I hung it on my headboard 🙂 It’s very cool that you want to make your own!

  • Reply
    lisa
    June 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    That’s interesting. I had no idea. I love the photos you posted. Especially the first one. I enjoyed the article. Thanks.

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