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Dreamcatchers, A Brief History

by Megan M |

Dreamcatchers –  something so beautiful and meant to protect you from the horrors you can experience from your subconscious when you are in dreamland. Have you ever wondered where they came from or about the history behind them? Let’s discuss, because who doesn't love talking about beautiful things and the history behind them.

Asabikeshiinh is the Ojibwe word for dreamcatcher; it actually means "spider", which refers to the web woven loosely over the hoop. Dreamcatchers are believed to have originated from the Ojibwe Chippewa tribe. The Lakota tribe also has its own legends regarding dreamcatchers. The webbing pattern also resembles the webbing this tribe used when making snowshoes. Legends about the history of dreamcatchers are existent among several Native American tribes. While many cultures think that spiders are creepy, the Ojibwe people found them to be the symbol of protection and comfort.

According to legend, a mystical and maternal "Spider Woman" served as the spiritual proctor of the tribe, especially for young children and babies. As the Ojibwe tribe continued to grow and spread out across the land, the Spider Woman found it difficult to protect and watch over all of the members of the tribe as they migrated farther and farther away. This is when she created the very first dreamcatcher, following her example mothers and grandmothers recreated her protection web to protect their families.

Dreamcatchers are used traditionally as talismans to protect sleeping people from nightmares when hung above the bed in a place where the sunlight can hit. It is believed that good thoughts and dreams are allowed to pass through the web and slide down the feathers to the person sleeping below, while bad thoughts and nightmares are caught in the web to be burned by the sunrise in the morning. All parts of an authentic dreamcatcher are related to nature, the round shape represents the circle of life and also how forces like the sun and moon travel across the sky every day and night.

Dreamcatchers have always had a sacred meaning to Native Americans, nowadays it is so culturally appropriated that people don't realize that it is supposed to be a form of protection, not a fashion trend or a tattoo.