The dreamcatcher is a handcrafted object from shamanic medicine that is meant to be soothing and decorative. More and more trendy, this suspension of native origin echoes several Amerindian legends. But what are the origins of this spiritual tradition?
THE DREAMCATCHER, WHAT IS IT EXACTLY?
This object, with regenerative value, is composed of a hoop and a network of threads in the shape of a spider’s web. According to beliefs, it prevents nightmares from invading the dreamer’s sleep and acts as a filter . It keeps the beautiful images of the night while making the bad ones disappear, burned by the sun at first light.
THE ORIGINS: AN “OJIBWE” CRAFT OBJECT
But where does it come from? The geographical origins bring us back to the Great Lakes and prairies region of Canada. Specifically, we know that it is the Ojibwe nation is the origin of this object, which was initially intended for children. The Ojibwe form the third great American Indian nation after the Cherokee and the Navajo. They were mainly fishermen, farmers and hunters.
Two legends, among the most widespread, would be at the origin of the dreamcatchers:
The protective spider
The first legend tells that once, a protective spider woman, named Asibikkashi, watched over the dreams of children by weaving webs on their cribs to capture the first rays of the sun and disperse their nightmares. But when the Ojibwe tribe began to explore other lands, she could no longer continue to weave the protections of the children’s dreams alone. So she began to teach the women of the clan the art of weaving in order to continue her spiritual mission. The weaving was done with vegetable or animal fibers for the cloth and a wooden hoop for the circle.
Lakoma and the Great Spirit
One day, Lakoma, an old Indian chief of the Lakota tribe, had a vision on a mountain top. In the form of a spider, the prankster spirit of Iktomi appeared to him. Thus, he began to describe the cycles of life to him. While weaving his web in the chief’s willow hoop adorned with horse hair, eagle feathers and beads, Iktomi taught the chief the different positive and negative forces that sometimes push Man in the right direction and sometimes make him suffer. The forces influence every man in his relationship with nature. When he finished his speech, the spider gave the circle, the first dreamcatcher, to Lakota chief. The web would have the function of dissociating the good thoughts from the bad ones and thus allow Men to take in hand the “thread” of their destiny.
SYMBOLS WITH HIGH SPIRITUAL CONTENT
- The hoop
It represents the circle of life in Native American thought. It also recalls the Huron legends and universality.
- The spider
The threads represent the dreams that we weave during our sleep phase, and the hooks (eight in number) remind the 8 legs of the spider.
- The feather
Generally, they are eagle feathers, animals venerated in shaman culture. They have a high protective value. Dreams are sent into the feathers which then transmit them to the spirit . The “Great Spirit”, celestial deity, used to offer these quills by interfering in the lives of Amerindian nomads.
- The Hole
The hole in the center of the circle makes a reference to to the great mystery of life. It is through this hole that the good dreams pass, the others are caught in the web.
THE DREAMCATCHER AND ITS CONNOTATIONS IN TODAY’S SOCIETY
Today, everyone interprets the meaning of a dreamcatcher in his own way. It is also considered as “lucky charm”.
In the 1960’s, the Objiwai began to market these objects and received a lot of criticism from their own clan. For this culture deeply attached to its legends and myths, the democratization of this tradition is doomed to a detachment from beliefs. Because of this, the divine essence of Native American thought is lost to a simple decorative object.
Object in vogue, it becomes part of our daily life. In our bedroom, above our bed, hanging at the entrance of our houses but also on our car mirrors.