Legend of the Dream Catchers

Aztec dream catcher by L.A. Cargill

Do Dream Catchers really help you sleep?

Arrowhead dreamcatcher by L.A. Cargill
Arrowhead Dream Catcher

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turquoise and copper pendant charm by L.A. Cargill
Turquoise and Copper Pendant Charm

How to design the perfect dream catcher

Dream catchers as sleep aids

The purpose of a dream catcher, according to legend, is to catch your bad dreams in the webbing. The feathers guide your good dreams down to your head. When the sun hits the dream webbing in the morning, all bad dreams and nightmares are destroyed. This is why they are called dreamcatchers!

The cycle of the moon is rumored to have an effect on dream catchers. I make dream catchers, and I have learned that they must be made during the waxing of the moon. Never during the decreasing size (waning) of the moon. There are many notions and legends about dream catchers, but basically they are for home décor. They represent the Native Americans of the U.S.A. and beautify your home, thereby beautifying your dreams.

The legend of the first dream catcher

Once upon a time, a native American mother was quite concerned about her fretful baby. He could not sleep well. He tossed and turned and cried as though his dreams were chasing him. She tried all sorts of ways to help her little one sleep.

She tried rocking him in her arms. She tried singing softly to him. She even tried all of the blessing ways that the medicine man could think of. No herbs or poultices or prayers could help the little guy get a good night's sleep.

One day she carried the baby in his papoose down to the river for a bath. The day was exceptionally beautiful and a gently wind was blowing. There was a tree close to the river and a very large spider web was strung from a tree branch to a nearby bush.

Spiders and their webs have special meaning to most native American tribes, so the lady was not afraid of the web being there. It was actually quite a striking web, glistening with dew in the morning sunshine and was properly woven with only tiny imperceptible flaws. There were small beads of trapped colorful insects in the web that resembled jewel beads.

The mother set her baby down by the web where he could gaze on the lovely pattern the spider had made. The baby laughed and waved its little arms at the web. Even the spider herself came down to look at the happy baby boy.

Mother and son watched the spider's antics for a while and before she could think to get the boy ready for his bath, he fell fast asleep.

Mom gazed at the peaceful child and decided that since he was sleeping so well, she would take the time to enjoy a dip in the stream. She stayed close and enjoyed the cool water and watching her baby sleep peacefully for the first time since she could remember.

The baby woke up and again gazed at the wondrous web of the spider and smiled. The lady resolved right then and there to study the spider web and make one for her child to hang over his bed. She decided that the spider's web had caught all of the bad dreams that had been troubling her child.

She took the baby back to the village and gathered up some supplies that would look good in a web. She took some vines and formed the outside holder into a sort of circle. Then she began to weave a dream catching web in the holder by anchoring the sinew with 8 points along the outside. The 8 points were for the spider's legs.

She wove into the web some wooden beads to show how things would be caught in the web. She added some leather fringe that would catch the wind and make the web move. She added feathers for color and beauty. She hung her dream catcher above the baby's bed.

He laughed at the lovely creation and gazed at her dream catching web for hours. From then on, the baby slept with much content.

The other mothers in the tribe saw how pretty the dream catcher was, so they learned to weave their own. Before long, the craft was passed down from mother to daughter and on and on until all babies of the village had their own dreamcatcher. The tradition lives on today.

The elements of dream catcher art.

There are some special elements of the dream catcher art. They may or may not have magical or metaphysical qualities. That is up to the dreamer. It may also depend on how well the dream catcher is made and who makes it.

Dream catchers are by nature associated with the moon. It is during the night that most of us sleep and the moon is the undisputed ruler of the night. The full moon is beautiful and large and round and lit with energy not from itself. Therefore, the moon has the most influential power over a dream catcher.

A dream catcher should be created during the waxing of the moon. As the moon grows, so should the web of the dreamcatcher. Completing the dream catcher on the night of the full moon is important as that is the time that it will be filled with the maximum power.

Most dream catchers are round. There are other shapes for stringing webbing and being round is not a requirement, but roundness does emulate the moon. Round is the symbol for infinity. A round hoop is easy to work with and creates the best web patterns.

The web is anchored to the outside anchor hoop or loop. Using 8 anchors is said to represent the legs of the spider. Some dream catcher designers have noted that although a spider has 8 legs, most of their webs have more anchors or less anchors depending on the weaver. So 8 anchors is just a guideline for designers.

The web is woven according to the weaver's design idea or pattern that she has learned. During the weaving, small beads and charms are caught in the web to achieve a desired look or feel. Every design is one of a kind and can be customized as desired.

Leather lacing or fringe is attached to the hoop after the web is complete. Beads, charms and most especially feathers are attached to give the dream catcher special meaning and to catch the breezes and help the dreamer to fall asleep.

Materials used in making dream catchers.

Almost an unlimited choice of materials is available for making dream catchers. A simple one can be made with only a few items. A beautiful work of art can be made by using high quality and colorful items.

When deciding to make or order a custom dreamcatcher, consider the following:

  1. The overall color scheme - typical colors for leather lacing are: tan, rust, brown, blue, black, white, red, green, orange, yellow, purple, pink
  2. The color of the beads - they should match or compliment the color of the leather.
  3. The type of charm to use - most charms are animal shapes but could be anything. The moon and stars are a good choice for charms or added interest.
  4. The size - most are small to medium. For home décor the size should be 8 inches or more.
  5. The color and type of feathers - Almost any type of feathers will do but they should have meaning to the recipient. The colors should be natural or compliment the leather and beads.

Many people prefer to make dream catchers with all natural elements. They use natural fibers instead of leather. Cotton yarn makes a good substitute for leather. Plastic beads are replaced with glass or wooden beads. Even natural rocks or gem stones can be used for charms. Vines and twigs are often substituted for metal hoops, but they will not last as long or be as sturdy. Nature colors are everywhere and probably encompass all of the colors of the rainbow.

How and Where to hang your dream catcher.

Dream catchers are super nice for decorating your bedroom. Most of the time, the perfect place for a pretty dreamcatcher is right at the head of the bed. Center it over the headboard.

Another great location is to hang one from the ceiling or top of a window sill. The dream catcher will look particularly appealing if the window receives moonlight and sunlight. The beads can be crystal or the charm hanging in the center of the web can be a lovely light gathering prism or crystal.

Some people use the larger dreamcatchers as one would use a decorative wreath. A wreath hanger can be used to hang it right on the front door. I have added a photo of my latest creation hanging on my front door wreath hanger. It's quite a conversation piece.

Perhaps you would like to hang a dreamcatcher in a kitchen window or other window of the house. Decorating a guest bedroom with a lovely dream catcher will assure your guests that you wish for them to have pleasant dreams.

Of course, the original intention of the dream catcher is to hang it over a baby's crib like a mobile. Babies are usually fascinated with the hanging feathers and colorful beads. Giving a new mom a dreamcatcher at a baby shower shows a level of caring that will surely be appreciated by a new mom.

How to clean and care for your dream catcher.

A feather duster is the perfect cleaning tool to dust a dream catcher. The new type of work well also. Just go over the catcher with the duster once a month or so. A vacuum cleaner might remove the feathers, so be careful.

To store your dream catcher, simply wrap it in tissue, tape it closed and store in a box or other suitable container. A large bubble wrap envelope works well too and you can store it in a very small upright place.

Because they are light and moderately fragile, do not stack heavy items on top of your stored dreamcatcher.

Copyright Notice:

This article was first published by me on HubPages in 2012, ©Lela Cargill (Please do not copy other people's work)

Please Visit My Etsy Shop to purchase a custom or hand made dream catcher by L.A. Cargill (Austinstar)


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