A dreamcatcher or dream snare is a handmade Native American amulet, made from a willow hoop with a woven net of cords, giving the appearance of a web. A feather of a night bird is placed in the center, usually one from an owl of some sort.
The talisman can be decorated with various items, such as feathers, beads etc. This amulet can be found in almost every Native American home, since it is believed to protect the residents from evil spirits. But how did the idea of a dream catcher originate?
Tracking the clues linked to the creation of this mystical amulet, we find that these catchers were most typical of the Ojibwe tribe. They crafted these types of amulets in the form of a spider web fastened to a hoop, for their children, and hung them above their beds to protect against nightmares.
Gradually, dreamcatchers became part of the lives of adults as well, hoping that they would be shielded against evil spirits. After intermarriage between the different tribes became more common, the amulets found their way among the Lakota tribe as well, who founded their own idea of the dreamcatcher.
According to the legend of the Ojibwe tribe however, the dreamcatcher originated as follows: Every day, a grandmother would calmly watch as a spider spun its web over the area where her grandson slept. One day, the grandson saw the spider and decided to kill it.
However, the grandmother did not allow him to hurt the spider and because of this act, it wanted to thank the kindly elderly woman. The spider spun a tough web above the bed of the woman and promised that it would catch all of the bad dreams and thoughts, so that the grandmother would always feel at peace.
Each part of the dreamcatcher has its own meaning. The hoop serves to keep the web in place but according to some claims, it symbolizes the circle of life. The web is made to look similar to that of a spider's.
The feathers play their own special role. They are like gentle stems by which good dreams can smoothly enter the consciousness of a person, while they are enjoying a deep sleep.
Nowadays you can find all sorts of dreamcatchers. Sometimes they are decorated with stones, beads or other ornaments, depending on personal preferences and superstitions.