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Native American Dream Catcher Kit

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Continued from product description on Native American's Page Three...

Historical Background: Since people began having compelling dreams, they have at times placed a great deal of significance on their "night visions." Nearly every culture in man's history has assigned meanings to dreams and associated them with the spiritual world. Dreams continue to play an important part in many individuals' lives.

Over the centuries, dreams have been given many meanings by Native Americans. Because of this, many Native American legends have been created based solely on dreams. Among these is the legend of the dream catcher.

The dream catcher is a "power object" that is hung over or near a person's bed. In one custom, the dream catcher must also be placed where the morning light will shine on it. The spiritual nature of a dream catcher is to attract dreams to its web. Bad dreams are "caught" and prevented from traveling into a sleeper's head. On the other hand, good dreams are able to find their way through the web and into the slumbering mind of the dreamer. When the morning light hits the dream catcher, any bad dreams that have been caught during the night vanish.

Many tribes believed that the night air was filled with both good and bad dreams. The purpose of the dream catcher to them was to move freely in the air and catch any dreams that happened to float by. Again, all bad dreams were caught by the web while all good dreams were capable of traveling on to the owner.

The size of the opening in the web's center was also believed to determine the number of dreams one desired to receive. To many, this opening paralleled the changes that might occur in one's lifetime. Dream catchers were also used to help people remember their dreams. While some people today will look upon a dream catcher as a decorative ornament, others will regard it as a serious tool.

A dream catcher is created from a hoop with a weaving that looks much like a spider's web. The hoop was usually made from a slender willow branch, and animal sinew was used to make the webbing. Different tribes used various materials for their dream catchers, depending on what was readily available. Oftentimes, beads were attached at the bottom of the dream catcher. Beads could be seeds, pieces of carved wood, small seashells, and/or small stones.

Dream catchers were small in size. The width of the dream catcher was usually 3 to 5 inches. While one may see larger diameter dream catchers today, they are "beyond the scope of tradition." And according to tradition, dream catchers must be made entirely from natural materials. Not all dream catchers were circular either! In parts of the northeastern United States and Canada, it was customary to use teardrop hoops to create dream catchers that resembled snowshoes.

Many tribal cultures also placed special meanings on the items used to make a dream catcher. One such item was using a bird's feather, which represented "breath" or "air." Feathers were considered important because they "caught" the bad (unimportant) dreams and allowed good (important) dreams to slide down the feather and into a person's head.

According to one legend, the Native American dream catcher comes from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribe. Long ago in ancient times, the clans of the Ojibwe Nation were located in a land called "Turtle Island" (North America). Here old Ojibwe storytellers recounted the tales of Asibikaashi (or Spider Woman) and her dream catcher.

Asibikaashi was a spiritual being that helped the Ojibwe of all ages bring giizis (the sun) back to them and end the night. Right before dawn, she would build her lodge so that one could see if they were awake to see the sunrise reflect on the morning dew. The sparkling light on the dew was a miracle made by a spiritual presence to the Ojibwe.

Asibikaashi took care of the Ojibwe in many important respects, especially babies. When the Ojibwe Nation migrated to other North American regions, it became difficult for Asibikaashi to get around and protect her children. To help Asibikaashi get to all of her children, mothers (as well as sisters and grandmothers) began making dream catchers.

It was traditional for Ojibwe women to make circular hoops of willow. The circle represented the path the sun (giizis) traveled each day across the sky. Another tradition was to hang a feather from the center of the web. To them, the feather was an essential item for it represented life and allowed good dreams to flow through the web to the dreamer. As the Ojibwe continued to travel to other parts of North America, the lore and practice of using dream catchers spread to other tribes.

To honor Asibikaashi, the web weaving connected to the hoop at eight points. These points represented Spider Woman's eight legs. Sometimes seven points were used to represent the Seven Prophecies.

As stated earlier, there are many legends that describe the dream catcher's origin. Here is one such legend:

A spider was quietly spinning his web beside the sleeping space of Nokomis, the grandmother. Each day, Nokomis watched the spider quietly spin his web. One day as she watched him, her grandson came to her and saw the spider. "Nokomis-iya!" he shouted when he saw the spider. He moved towards it with the intent to kill the spider. "No-keegwa," the grandmother whispered, "do not hurt him." The little boy asked, "Nokomis, why do you protect this spider?"

The old woman smiled, but did not answer her grandson. After the boy had left, the spider went to Nokomis and thanked her for saving his life. "You have admired my work. In return for saving my life, I will give you a gift." Then the spider smiled and left the grandmother, spinning a web as he went. Soon the moon glistened on a magical, silvery web that moved gently in the window.

"See how I spin?" the spider said. "Watch and learn, for this web will snare bad dreams. Only good dreams will go through the web's 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."

If you like reading dream catcher legends, here is another one:

Long ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader had a vision while on a mountain's summit. In his vision, Iktomi (the great trickster and teacher of wisdom) appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to the old man in a sacred language. As Iktomi spoke, the spider picked up the spiritual leader's hoop of feathers, horsehair, and beads and began to spin a web.

He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life: how we begin our lives as infants, pass through childhood, and become adults. "Finally, we grow to old age where we must again be taken care of like infants, thus completing the cycle of life," said Iktomi. "But," the spider said as he continued to spin his web, "in each time of life there are many forces. Some are good and some are bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will guide you in the right direction of life. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they will steer you in the wrong direction and hurt you. These forces can either help you or hinder your path to harmony with Nature." As the spider spoke, he continued to weave a web on the spiritual leader's hoop.

When Iktomi had finished speaking, he gave the elder the web weaving and said, "The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, make good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your bad dreams and your good dreams will travel through the hole."

For those who like reading poetry, here is a dream catcher poem by an unknown author:

The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played.
Hung over 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.

Today, dream catchers are still used to protect us from bad dreams and have remained a spiritual tool for many who seek happiness and wisdom in life. With our Native American Dream Catcher Kit (6008), you can weave a web that will snare your bad dreams and allow only good dreams to pass through its hole to you as you sleep.

Fun Fact: The feather of an owl was used by the Ojibwe to gain wisdom from their dream catchers. An eagle feather was used to gain courage. Women usually preferred using owl feathers while the men usually used eagle feathers.

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Native American Dream Catcher Kit
Native American Dream Catcher Kit
Item Number 6008

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