Originating with the Native American Ojibwe and Lakota tribes, dreamcatchers have long been thought of as guardians of the subconscious realm. Used to prevent negative spirits from entering our dreams, dreamcatchers are believed to trap evil dreams in their web where they later perish in the morning light.
Offered safe passage through the hole at the centre of the web are positive dreams. Dreamcatchers have long been placed above the head of the bed to allow these pleasant dreams to glide gently down the feathers to the dreamer below.
Legend states the first ever dreamcatchers were used to protect newborns from nightmares. Also known as ‘sacred hoops’, parents would place these early sacred charms on the cradle, above the sleeping baby, to ensure no harm would come to them in slumber.
Traditionally, dreamcatchers were not made to last forever and were designed to break down as the child came of age and grew into adulthood. Dreamcatchers were handmade from organic materials; the webbing was woven from deer sinew, while the hoops were crafted from red willow and sage. Feathers were then attached using sinew or the stalk of the stinging nettle.
Modern dreamcatchers are generally made from wood or metal wrapped in leather. The design is entirely up to its maker, whose creativity can be expressed through the size, shape and colour of the dreamcatcher, as well as the types of feathers used.
Belief in the power of dreams and the wider spiritual realm is central to Native American culture. The legend of the dreamcatcher is one that resonates with people across the world, many of whom are inspired each day to hang these handmade charms in their homes and keep the negative spirits away.
You can find our selection of handcrafted dreamcatchers here.
Images by Ribbons & Paper Photography for ISHKA.