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The Symbolism Of The Native American Dream Catcher

by Jade Small: It is believed that the origin of the Native American dream catcher (or Indian dream catchers) is from the Ojibwa Chippewa tribe…


The Ojibwa would tie strands of sinew string around a frame of bent wood that was in a small round or tear drop shape. The patterns of the dream catcher would be similar to how these Native Americans tied the webbing for their snowshoes.

However a Lakota story tells of how Iktomi (spider) came and spoke to an old Lakota spiritual leader who was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and searcher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life, how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle.

But, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, in each time of life there are many forces, some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they’ll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature. While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web.

When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass.

Traditionally, Native American dream catchers were only a few inches in diameter and it would be finished with a feather hanging from the webbing. Wrapping the frame in leather would be pretty common too as another finishing touch.

Natives believed the night air was filled with good and bad dreams. The legend of the Dream Catcher is that it captures the bad Spirits and filters them. Protecting us from evil and letting through only the good dreams.   It is believed that each carefully woven web will catch bad spirit dreams in the web and disappear by perishing with the first light of the morning sun.

The good spirit dreams will find their way to the center and float down the sacred feather.

Dream Catchers are believed to bless the “sleeping ones” with pleasant dreams, good luck, and harmony throughout their lives. It is how many people remember lessons in our community and get their visions.

It is said that when you get a good night sleep you can remember when the spirit has talked to you.

Dream catchers were given to new born and or hung on an infant’s cradle board for good dreams. The larger sizes were hung in lodges, for all to have good dreams.  It is never too late to acquire a dream catcher.

The dream catcher that you have received was made by me with you in my thoughts and while sage was burning and being in prayers at all times. It is a sacred object.

This Dream Catcher is not only a dream catcher but also a medicine wheel.

All the parts of the dream catcher has meaning.

To begin, the web represent the spider our brother of life for ever repairing the eternal web of life.  Thus weaving your life dreams and energy in the universe when you dream.

The ring represents the earth mother and the humble walk we do upon her. The ring was also covered with multi-colored wool representing in my mind and spirit aspects of your personality, moods and emotions. The beads on the web are of the 7 directions thus calling upon them to bless you.

As we believe that we are related to all things and that all things are part of us then the Dream Catcher and medicine wheel is a representation of such sacred belief.

The first color  is blue representing Father Sky and all that lives in the sky; grandfather sun, grandmother moon, Star nation and Creation.

The second colored beads are purple this is the color of the inner self and the introspection of where the Creator lives, within us all.

The third color is Yellow this represents the direction of the East where the Yellow Nation is and we call upon their ancestors and the wisdom they carry to come in and teach us.  It is also the direction of where the sun rises every day therefore a new beginning.  We put the Sacred Eagle in that direction and call upon the abilities to see far beyond what is in front of us and to focus on the task at hand.

The fourth color is Red for the Red Nation.  In this direction we call upon their ancestors to come and teach us how to take care of the land and do the work necessary for our families to grow in a strong foundation.  It is the direction of honesty, hard work, family, integrity and love.

The fifth color is black.  This color represents two roads.  The direction of the Black nation and we call upon their ancestors to come and help with healing, also how to care for the water.  It is also the direction of the black road, the one of self destruction, abuse and so on.  Therefore we pray for understanding of such since we say Creator of all good things.  We pray for the lessons that these people bring to us.

The sixth color is of the White nation.  We acknowledge the white people and their ancestors.  The knowledge and the wisdom on how to use that knowledge in a good way.

The 7th direction is of the color green representing Mother Earth.  The one who feeds us, clothes, and protects us from the elements.  She supplies all that we need in order to live on this earth.  We give thanks for her.

In your Dream catcher, I have finalized the eye with purple again.  This is to remind you that we are spiritual beings in all aspects of life and that without such believe then we continuously search the reason of our being and try to explain it in many different formats.

Once the ring and the web are weaved, it represents love, honesty and purity.  All of the elements of the dream catcher together represent the earth, fire and water. Things we need to live. So when I make a Dream catcher the feathers are of the Eagle one of our most Sacred Animal Spirit.  The Eagle to me is part of my Native ways and is in my personal medicine wheel in the East which represents the ability to fly high and close to the Creator.  It also represents part of my name and the Society that was founded for the purpose of advancing the Native American Way of living.

It represents the ability to be love and to love, to take the risk and get out of the nest and fly on your own, the ability to live beyond your shadows.  Once put on the dream catcher it represents the air.

If you received a dream catcher you have received an object that represents the 4 elements of life.  Earth, Water, Fire and Air, all the things necessary to sustain life.  May you have a happy, dreamful life with this dream catcher and good Karma.

Awaken Consciousness

Awaken Indigenous


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