Dream Catchers, a Native American tradition are intended to protect a sleeping individual from negative dreams while allowing positive dreams to enter the sleeping person.
Positive dreams, it is believed, would slip through the hole at the centre of the dream catcher, gliding down the feathers at the bottom, and into the mind of the sleeping person.
The negative dreams would get caught in the web, and at the first rays of sunlight in the morning, be destroyed.
|One of my Wife, Karen’s dreamcatchers|
The origin of dream-catchers begins with the Ojibwe, or Chippewa, and the Lakota peoples of Sioux Tribes of Native Americans.
The Lakota People’s tradition states that a very long time ago a spiritual leader had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi (a human-spider spirit) who in the legend is described as a trickster, appeared in the form of a spider to the Elder.
He spoke to the Elder in a sacred language, and as he did so, he picked up a willow hoop (hoops were sacred to Native Americans, symbolising strength and unity) the Elder had adorned with beads, horsehair and feathers, and began to spin a web.
Iktomi spoke to the Elder of the cycles of life, how we being life as babies, how we become teens, adults, then elderly, and need to be cared for again, like babies, completing the life cycle.
All the while, Iktomi spoke, weaving his web. He spoke of good and bad forces in nature and how they could help or hinder you in life, all the while weaving his spiders web.
Eventually, Iktomi stopped speaking and gave to the Elder his hoop, now with a web spun onto it.
The web was a perfect circle with a hole in the centre. Iktomi told the Elder, “use the web to help your people reach their goals. 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”.
When the Elder returned to his people, he told them what had happened and showed them the gift from Iktomi. He explained that the dream catcher would allow the good tp pass through and filter down to the person, while the bad would be captured in the web and destroyed in the first rays of the sun.
|Another of Karen’s Creations
Another tradition in Dreamcatcher lore is that they were woven by Grandparents of newborns, and hung above the cradle to give the infant beautiful dreams. Good dreams would enter through the hole, and find their way down through the feathers, whereas bad dreams would enter the hole and get lost in the web.
I have recently seen several different people asking in forums if “dream-catchers are evil?” (Hence why I wrote this blog.)
I was intrigued to find out how, a traditional piece of folklore art, which has served a native people for centuries, can suddenly be attributed as “evil”.
It would seem this stigma has been attached through the teachings of Christians associating dreamcatchers as “talismans”. This attribution is related to passage 1 Corinthians 8 in the Bible, which talks about worshipping false idols.
So basically, the “evil” is someone’s interpretation of a Bible passage – take that as you will.
|A traditional Sioux dreamcatcher|
For others who have “experienced” some kind of “evil” while in the presence of dreamcatchers, (or any other symbolistic object), usually, it falls down to a placebo effect where the person attributes power to an inanimate object, or they’ve read something online, and through their own cultural, or learned bias, attribute the effect to the object. There is another reason – the person is just plain crazy (but no-one ever wants to talk about that!)
I am a Catholic, and my wife makes dreamcatchers, we don’t attribute them to being evil, nor have we ever had a negative impact of any kind from one (other than our cats trying to eat the feathers). I believe God created everything, and within that are the native tribes of the world, almost all of which are still linked to their spirituality, and that spirituality is linked to the true source of God, The Creator.
As for talismans, I wear a St Benedict Crucifix, just as many Christians wear crosses as a symbol of their faith, are they not a talisman as well? Or is it a case of befitting evil only where we differ from other people, to make ourselves feel like we appeasing God -who loves us anyway?
For more of Karen’s work visit here:
Native American Ceremony for hanging a Dreamcatcher – http://snowwowl.com/naartdreamcatchers.html#ceremony