Dream catchers are highly respected in my household because we believe in their purpose and also we believe that they truly do work. I hope by the end of my essay you will completely understand what their purpose is and also why we value them in our household. I am going to tell you a little story and I am only going to tell you because it is winter and in our culture we can only pass on stories during the winter. Long ago in the ancient world of the Ojibwa Nation, the Clans were all located in one general area of that place known as Turtle Island.
It is still told by the old Ojibwa storytellers how Asibikaashi (the Spider Woman) helped Wanabozhoo bring giizis (the sun) back to the people. To this day, Asibikaashi will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn, as you should be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there. Asibikaashi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day.
When the Ojibwa Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, to fulfill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, and grandmothers took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. The dream catcher is in the shape of a circle to represent how giizis travels each day across the sky. The dream catcher will filter out all the bad dreams and allow only good thoughts to enter into our minds.
You will see a small hole in the center of each dream catcher where the good dreams may come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish. When we see little Asibikaashi, we should not fear her, but instead respect and protect her. In honor of their origin, the number of points where the web connects to the hoop are 8 for Spider Woman’s eight legs or 7 for the Seven Prophecies. It was traditional to put a feather in the center of the dream catcher; it means breath, or air.
It is essential for life. A baby watching the air playing with the feather on her cradleboard was entertained while also being given a lesson on the importance of good air. The use of gem stones is not something that was done by the old ones. U. S. Government laws have forbidden the sale of feathers from sacred birds, so using four gem stones, to represent the four directions, and the stones used by western nations have been substituted. The woven dream catchers of adults do not use feathers.
Dream catchers made of willow and sinew are for children, and they are not meant to last. Eventually the willow dries out and the tension of the sinew collapses the dream catcher. That’s supposed to happen. It belies the temporary-ness of youth. Adults should use dream catchers of woven fiber which is made up to reflect their adult “dreams. ” My children have been taught at a very young age the meaning and purpose that dream catchers serve to our family.
They each have their own dream catcher that was made by a family member of mine. So not only does it serve as catcher of bad dreams but it also was a gift so that it makes it extra special to them. My children will happily proclaim that they truly do believe in it because they have never experienced a bad dream in their life. As long as I have had a dream catcher hanging in my bedroom I have also never experienced a bad dream as well.
Not only is the dream catcher held with high regards in my household but also within my extended family as well as our nation of Native American people. If you were to travel to my reservation you would not find your “typical” dream catcher. When I say typical I mean that most people don’t use the materials that were traditionally used. Instead they use more modern materials. The Native American people look down upon those dream catchers and believe that people are mocking them when they display a non-traditional dream catcher.
My family and I don’t hold to that belief because most people that buy typical dream catchers are not aware of the tradition and value that are associated with dream catchers. Within each dream catcher is a special meaning and connection that I will forever hold with the creator of that dream catcher and my heritage. I choose to represent that connection by having one in each room. By having one in each room I am also ensuring that no bad dreams, thought, and/or visions are allowed into my household.