Dream catchers are an integral part of Native American tradition in the Ojibwe and Lakota tribes. They play an important role in the folk lore and legends passed down through tribal generations and have also gained in popularity among non-Native Americans as well, thanks to the American Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The legend of the dream catcher states that when hung over the bed, bad dreams and negative energy get tangled in the web while the good dreams and positive energy are allowed to flow through. For this reason, dream catchers have become a symbol of protection of sorts among both tribal and non-tribal people.
How Dream Catchers Work
The Native American people believed that, as a person sleeps, energy and dreams flow through the air and make their way into our bodies. A dream catcher hung over the bed meant that all energy had to pass through the web of the dream catcher and the negativity would get caught in the web while the positive was allowed to pass through. The positive energy and good dreams would flow down the feathers of the dream catcher and into the head of the person below as they sleep. In the morning, the negative energy caught in the web of the dream catcher would be burned by the rising sun.
The Significance Of Dreams In Native American Cultures
Those who are not familiar with Native American cultures may be wondering why dreams were important enough to the Native American people that they needed to be protected. To Native Americans, dreams weren’t just entertaining displays from our subconscious minds. They delivered visions of the future, babies names to the elders, guidance and the answers to prayers. Native American people believed that important information was sent via their dreams from the Spirit World so protecting the passageway to the dreams was vital.
How Dream Catchers Are Made
Traditionally, dream catchers were small and crafted out of a hoop made from willow tree wood. Natural fibers were used to weave the web in the center, with beads and other trinkets added for decoration. Leather was wrapped around the hoop for added support and to give a finished appearance. Feathers and more beads were then fastened to bits of leather and tied to the bottom of the hoop to create the finished product. Today, it is not easy to find a traditional dream catcher as they were created by the Native American tribes. Most are mass produced using cheaper materials of a lower quality. However, some tribal nations have their own stores where handmade dream catchers are still being sold.
What The Parts Of A Dream Catcher Mean
Dream catchers are made from four parts: the hoop, the web or net, beads and feathers. Each one of these four parts plays an important role in the significance of the dream catcher.
The hoop is the foundation of the dream catcher and symbolizes the circle of life. We are born, we live, we get old, we die and then we are born again into the next incarnation, coming full circle.
The web in the center of the dream catcher attached to the hoop is what filters the good dreams from the bad dreams. The web is created in such a way that only the good dreams and energy are allowed to pass through while the negativity gets trapped.
There are beads in the center of the dream catcher have many purposes. They represent the caretaker and creator of the web – the spider. They are also to help catch the bad energies in the web and for adornment as well.
The feathers on a dream catcher serve a few purposes as well. Traditionally, feathers of sacred birds like the eagle were used in creating the dream catchers as an offering to the spirits sending the dreams. Since they are hung at the bottom of the dream catchers, it is also believed that they create a soft path down for the dreams to follow on their way to the person sleeping below. Of course, feathers are also used in dream catchers for adornment as well.
Choosing A Dream Catcher Tattoo
There are many reasons a person may choose to get a tattoo. Of course, those of Native American ancestry may get a dream catcher tattoo to represent their heritage. People who are not of Native American decent often opt for dream catcher tattoos as a symbol of protection against evil energies in the world. Sometimes, people just like the way dream catchers look and make their choice based solely on aesthetic appeal.
Obviously, the only way you can know for sure why someone chose a dream catcher tattoo is to ask them. Regardless of the reason behind them, they are super cool looking and can be customized to add your own personal touch. If you are trying to decide whether you want a dream catcher tattoo – keep reading! We have compiled a list (with pictures) of the best dream catcher tattoos out there to give you a little bit of inspiration.