Guest Author - DawnEagle Summers
Dream Catchers resembling Grandmother Spiderís Web can be found all around the world. This Native American symbol has grown in popularity and usage, to become a mass-produced representation of an age-old tradition. Let us look at the many parts that make up the Dream Catcher, so that we can better understand its traditions and the symbolic meanings incorporated into its construction.
The DreamCatcher was given to the Lakota and the Ojibwe by Spider, who entered their lives to spin a web, and teach them how to let go of bad dreams, so as not to bring on a bad future. It is said that the bad dreams are caught in Spiderís Web, and dissipate in Grandfather Sunís light the next morning.
In the center of the DreamCatcher is a hole, through which the good dreams can flow. The DreamCatcher is adorned with feathers, which the dreams slide down, and gently enter the dreamers mind while they sleep. The DreamCatcher filters the dreams through its Web, to protect the dreams of the future.
The outer edge of the DreamCatcher is traditionally made of Willow, in the form of a teardrop or a circle. The willow is wrapped with leather, and the Web itself is spun of sinew, traditionally. Other items that adorn a personís DreamCatcher are the personal Medicine of the dreamer, or bring their own Medicine to the energies of the DreamCatcher. Colored beads or Stones can be added to bring specific energies to the DreamCatcher.
Most of all, the energies that go into the making of a DreamCatcher are what give it power. Prayers are offered, and one focuses on good thoughts while making sacred items in the traditional manner. This helps the energies of the DreamCatcher to assist the dreamer even more.
The Web itself is a symbol of the Web of Life, that which connects us all. This includes humans as well as all creature-beings, Father Sky, Mother Earth, the Great Star Nation, and everything in-between. The Web has eight sections, symbolizing the eight legs of Spider. The sinew traditionally used, as well as the leather with which it is wrapped, is from another creature-being, who was prayed over, and thanked for the gifts it provided to help us all to live. The feathers represent Air, through which dreams flow.
Willow is sacred to Native Americans, and any time its gifts are taken, an offering of tobacco is made, to honor it and to give thanks. Willow is a very flexible and sturdy wood that grows near water. This makes it a tree of the Sacred Direction of the West, whose element is Water. Water helps us with our emotions and intuition, while West teaches us about Entering the Darkness or going within Ė where we find the world of dreams. Willow also helps us to connect with those in the dream world, such as our guides and allies.
Sweat Lodges and Cradleboards were traditionally made of willow as well. The DreamCatchers were hung on the cradleboards of infants to protect their dreams.
The circular shape of the DreamCatcher represents the Sacred Hoop, and the Circle of Life, which is never-ending.
The DreamCatcher is smudged with sage or other herbs, to purify it, and it is kept purified during its usage. Only after purification should it be hung over oneís bed.
All of these traditions and more go into the making of a DreamCatcher. To use a dreamcatcher made of unnatural ingredients, does not offer the same protection as does one made in the traditional manner. If you cannot make your own, then purchase a traditionally made DreamCatcher, if you wish to use one. DreamCatchers are sacred objects, and should be used with respect.
A link is included below for dream catchers and dream catcher kits. It is a wonderful spirit-filled site containing much wisdom, and some very beautiful and traditional DreamCatchers.