“The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played.
Hung above the cradle board,
Or in the lodge up high,
The dream net catches bad dreams,
While good dreams slip on by.
Bad dreams become entangled
Among the sinew thread.
Good dreams slip through the center hole,
While you dream upon your bed.
This is an ancient legend,
Since dreams will never cease,
Hang this dream net above your bed,
Dream on, and be at peace.”
Growing up I always had a dream catcher above my bed. My family up in Canada is Native American on my dad’s side and as a gift from my Aunt we received beautiful dream catchers one year. I have always been fascinated with the story and tradition of dream catchers.
Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams not knowing the way get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day.
Traditional dream catchers were made using a hoop of willow and decorating it with bits and pieces of everyday life (feathers, arrow heads, beads, shells, etc). My kids and I recently made our own dream catchers for their room and below are the instructions on how you can make your own dream catcher and share the store of the dream catcher with your family. We were able to find some fabric looms and feathers at a local thrift store. I collect feathers of different birds and was able to use beautiful black and white turkey feathers for one of the dream catchers.
Materials Needed to Make your own Dream Catcher
- Fabric loom or any hoops such as bracelets or canning jar covers.
- Thick leather or suede cord
- Twine or hemp cord
- Hot glue gun (if you are using an alternate hoop other than a fabric loom)
Steps for Making your own Dream Catcher
Step One: Cut the twine or hemp cord into several strips to form the web. Make sure the strips are long enough to go across the size of your hoop.
Step two: String beads on a few of the strips. We used two to three beads per dream catcher.
Step three: Cut the twine or hemp cord in long strips to hang the feathers from. We used three feather strings per dream catcher.
Step four: Tie a knot around each bead and place a few feathers through each bead.
Step five: Tie each feather string around the bottom of the hoop. If you are using a fabric loom make sure to take the loop apart before tying on any strings.
Step six: Lay your hoop flat on the table and design your web on top of the hoop.
Step seven: if you are using a fabric loom place the outer hoop over your web and tighten the loom. If you are using a different hoop like bracelet of canning lip take hot glue gun and glue the web strings to the edges to stay in place or you can also tie the strings tight around the hoop.
Step eight: Trim any extra cord from the outside of the hoop.
Step nine: take the leather or suede cord and wrap it around the entire hoop. Make sure you leave enough cord at the end to create a string or loop for hanging.
Make sure to hang your dream catcher freely over your bed and share the story of the dream catcher with your little ones. My kids loved the story and were excited to hang their dream catchers in their room.
Below are two legends about dream catchers taken from http://www.american-native-art.com to share with your little ones.
The Legend of the Dream Catcher
A spider was quietly spinning his web in his own space. It was beside the sleeping space of Nokomis, the grandmother.
Each day, Nokomis watched the spider at work, quietly spinning away. One day as she was watching him, her grandson came in. “Nokomis-iya!” he shouted, glancing at the spider. He stomped over to the spider, picked up a shoe and went to hit it.
“No-keegwa,” the old lady whispered, “don’t hurt him.”
“Nokomis, why do you protect the spider?” asked the little boy.
The old lady smiled, but did not answer. When the boy left, the spider went to the old woman and thanked her for saving his life. He said to her, “For many days you have watched me spin and weave my web. You have admired my work. In return for saving my life, I will give you a gift.” He smiled his special spider smile and moved away, spinning as he went. Soon the moon glistened on a magical silvery web moving gently in the window. “See how I spin?” he said. “See and learn, for each web will snare bad dreams. Only good dreams will go through the small hole. This is my gift to you. Use it so that only good dreams will be remembered. The bad dreams will become hopelessly entangled in the web.
Another Legend of the Dream Catcher
Long ago when the word was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher 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 catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole.” The elder passed on his vision to the people and now many Indian people hang a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good is captured in the web of life and carried with the people, but the evil in their dreams drops through the hole in the center of the web and is no longer a part of their lives. It’s said that the dream catcher holds the destiny of the future.