Dream catchers have got to be one of the more recognizable forms of Native American art but the true meaning behind dream catchers is often overlooked.
“The Ojibwe believed that the hole in the center of Grandmother Spider’s web was located at the Pleiades star cluster and that the strand of silk would connect all Ojibwe to the Creator.”
The original and authentic dream catchers are created by the Ojibwe or Anishinabe tribe of Native Americans. Grandmother Spider is an important spiritual entity to the Anishinabe. She is said to have created the sky and the stars by weaving a massive web in the sky that separates the spiritual and the physical realms. The Ojibwe believed that the souls of newborns were transported from the spiritual realm into the physical realm by Grandmother Spider. Grandmother Spider lived in the cosmos (sky) and lowered the souls of new babies through a hole in the center of her web using a strand of silk. The Ojibwe believed that the hole in the center of Grandmother Spider’s web was located at the Pleiades star cluster and that the strand of silk would connect all Ojibwe to the Creator. As long as a soul was connected to the Creator (Source energy), Grandmother Spider would always be able to find them and protect them from negativity, especially during that crucial newborn period.
The Ojibwe were located in northeastern North America prior to European contact. The Ojibwe were given the Seven Fires Prophecy which warned the Ojibwe of a new threat originating in the east and stated that the Ojibwe should migrate west to avoid total destruction and death. During this migration, groups of Ojibwe migrated all over the continent and they began to worry about maintaining that spiritual connection to each other and to Grandmother Spider. To help Grandmother Spider maintain a spiritual connection and thus protect their newborns, Ojibwe mothers began to create dream catchers to symbolize the safe transition of souls from the spiritual to the physical world while maintaining a connection to the Creator and Grandmother Spider, thus benefiting from her protection long after arriving in the physical world.
To the Ojibwe, dreaming is a very important aspect of maintaining good spiritual health and acts a communication conduit with the spiritual world. The dream catcher was created to assist Grandmother Spider in her protection of children. One of the ways in which Grandmother Spider was said to protect children was by catching bad dreams, nightmares and negative spiritual entities in her web before they could affect the child.
“The dream catcher is intended to act like a filter that catches negative entities and protects you from them while you travel between the physical and spiritual realms during sleep.”
Over time, the dream catcher was used by adults to maintain their connection with Grandmother Spider and benefit from her protection. It is believed that bad dreams, negative entities and thought-forms are caught in the web of the dream catcher while allowing the good dreams, positive entities and love through the small hole at the center of the dream catcher.
These Native American legends or stories, were just that – stories. Stories intended for children to help them understand and remember general themes regarding spirituality. Most importantly, the stories strengthened a child’s ability to visualize the spiritual world, which was a very important skill for an adult. These myths survived the colonization of Native Americans because they were alive in the minds of the children. From the 1800’s until around 1990’s, native children were taken away from their parents and their culture at age 5 to attend residential schools (like state-run boarding schools) where they were taught English, became Christians and learned to live a Western style of life. As a result, many Native Americans were not educated about their culture beyond the stories they heard as children. However, there are some families that refused to let their children forget the traditions and today they are sharing their knowledge.
The strength and effectiveness of a dream catcher relies on the strength of the visualization and intention that goes into creating dream catchers. Native Americans believe that your intention creates your experience. For example, the Anishinabe have terms, that in English have been poorly translated into ‘good medicine’ and ‘bad medicine’ but could more accurately be translated into ‘good intentions’ and ‘bad intentions’. The Anishinabe believe that if you live your life with ‘good medicine’ you will have a good life. The Anishinabe also believe that an object can become charged with ‘good medicine’ or ‘bad medicine’ and that intention and visualization have the power to create and manipulate our existing physical reality. Therefore, Anishinabe believe that while making a dream catcher, you should hold good intentions and visualize the energetic protection necessary to make the dream catcher effective. This is where the mythology and stories come in handy, as many people find it easier to visualize the web or Veil separating the physical and spiritual and the strand of silk that connects you to the Creator or Source energy.
The dream catcher is intended to act like a filter that catches negative entities and protects you from them while you travel between the physical and spiritual realms during sleep. When created during ceremony, dream catchers can be very effective at protecting you from negativity while you dream and especially while you astral project.