• Nitika Mehra

What Are Dreamcatchers ?

Updated: May 19

A dreamcatcher is a handmade willow hoop, on which is woven a net or web. The dreamcatcher may also include sacred items such as certain feathers or beads. Traditionally they are often hung over a cradle as protection. It originates in Ojibwe culture as the "spider web charm", a hoop with woven string or sinew meant to replicate a spider's web, used as a protective charm for infants. Dreamcatchers were originally made by North American Indians.



Ethnographer Frances Densmore in 1929 recorded an Ojibwe legend according to which the "spiderwebs" protective charms originate with Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; who takes care of the children and the people on the land. As the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers weave webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants.



Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams, both good and bad. When hung above the bed in a place where the morning sunlight can hit it, the dream catcher attracts and catches all sorts of dreams and thoughts into its webs. Good dreams pass through and gently slide down the feathers to comfort the sleeper below. Bad dreams, however, are caught up in its protective net and destroyed, burned up in the light of day.


Dreamcatchers were adopted in the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and gained popularity as a widely marketed "Native crafts items" in the 1980s. Today they come in a many different colors and types. There are various patterns and designs made in dreamcatchers and all have different meaning. They also come in different colors, all with a different meaning. While there is no scientific proof regarding dream catchers but is a mere thought of catching beautiful dreams for your loved ones fills one with tenderness.


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