Anthropology: Dreamcatchers, the Deeper Meaning of the Popular Decorative Item

The cute willow hoops where leathers play a game have become a pretty popular decorative item recently. Their fascinating design and colours attract the modern markets. Souvenir shops fill the air with fairy tale magic through dream catchers.

Not only a decorative role exists inside the dreamcatchers, but history and meaning. The Native American tradition initiated the symbol of their identity. Native Americans don’t always agree with the modern exploitation they bring.

Protecting people from nightmares and bad dreams is the pristine purpose of dreamcatchers. The evil influence joins the game here. Their marvellous nature defined the oneness of many indigenous tribes and cultures.

The history of Dreamcatchers

Two similar stories describe the origin of the dreamcatchers. The role and significance slightly differ in both versions. Admiring the dreamcatchers happens commonly but only few people know the history behind it. Respecting the Native culture is connected with the use of dreamcatchers. It’s actually believed that Ojibwe people were the true initiators.

The authentic dreamcatcher with precious stones
The authentic dreamcatcher with precious stones- Credit:

Ojibwe Legend

The Ojibwe called dreamcatchers „asabikeshiinh“, which means „spider“. Asibikaashi or spider woman protected all the people on the land, especially children from harm.

Protecting everyone became a challenging task as the tribe enlarged and moved to other places. That’s why Ojibwe mothers and grandmothers started this creative process. Coming to every child at night was easened by hanging the willow hoops above their beds. The magical webs would catch any bad dreams or other harms. Only good dreams stay after awakening, making children happy.

Eight points on the web that many dreamcatchers have represent the Spider woman’s eight legs. The feather in the centre of the dreamcatcher can often be seen taking the breath in and out.

Ojibwe, also known as Chippewa, lived mostly in southern Canada and northern United States.

Lakota Legend

Lakota legend says that a spiritual leader had a vision of Iktomi while taking the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke about the circle of life, good and bad forces. Iktomi started creating a web in a willow hoop which had a hole in the middle. The hole was a way that bad ideas go away while the good ones would stay inside. Good forces also represented the right direction.

The Lakota people or Teton Sioux derive from today’s North and South Dakota. The Lakota people lived all over the Rocky Mountain ranges before the settlement of Europeans. The Lakota people were powerful leaders, especially appreciating their horses.

The Lakota tribes initiated teepee construction and were the early representatives of Feng Shui. Today, Lakota people still live in the Dakota region but their existence causes a threat.

The Meaning and Symbolism of Dreamcatchers

The circular shape of the dreamcatcher is the most common one, though it can also be triangular. The circular shape represents the circle of life and natural movements around the Sun and Moon. The web catches bad dreams and dispels them when the day comes. It symbolically represents the spider’s web.

Beautiful dreamcatcher shining in the Sun
Beautiful dreamcatcher shining in the Sun- Creadit:

Each part of the dreamcatcher holds a certain meaning. The feathers are like ladders that absorb good dreams.

The beads at the bottom of the dreamcatcher enter into various traditional stories. Some tribes identify it with the spider, while others justify the good dreams that did not pass though the spider web.

The number of points on the web is usually 13, which symbolizes the 13 phases of the Moon. Eight points equalize with the spider woman, 7 points are linked with the seven prophesies. Eagle means 6 points and star holds 5 points.

What Do Feathers Represent?

Feathers that flow gently do not have only a decorative role. Feathers can be one or many and represent breath or air. Feathers are extremely important in helping trapped dreams to go away gently. The bad dreams do not get stick anymore to the person that sleeps. Dreamcatchers give the influence to better sleeping and rest.

The ring of the dreamcatcher represents Sun and the circle is identified with life.

When a feather falls from the dreamcatcher, the bad dreams will slip off. It’s assurance that the good dreams will come true. By hanging the dreamcatcher over the bed, their purpose comes true. In this way, the dreamcatcher protects and brings good dreams to the sleeping person. Feathers are also the symbol of mother’s love and protection.

The Triangular Shape

The circular shape is the most common about dreamcatchers. Sometimes, also the triangualar shape takes place depending to the different cultures.

Triangular dreamcatcher
Triangular dreamcatcher- Credit:

In Western society, the main reason for the triangular shape is the holy trinity of Christianity- Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The blessings of holy trinity awakens the meaning of the dreamcatchers.

The other opinions connect dreamcatchers with masculine energy and feminine energy. The point-up triangle represents the masculine energy, taking into view the elements of fire and air. The point-down triangle symbolizes feminine energy and the elements of water and earth.

What Are Dreamcatchers Made From

The original dreamcatchers were quite small and made with natural materials. These include wood, leather, string and real feathers. American Indians have traditional spiritual items that have now become too commercialized.

Beautiful dreamcatcher with beads and colourful feathers
Beautiful dreamcatcher with beads and colourful feathers- Credit:

Traditional dreamcatchers were far from using plastic but took the natural materials that delight the meaning. A small wooden hoop was a base for the magical web decorated with wooden beads. The feathers hanging down initiated the world of fairy tales.

The red willow branch was the authentic part of the construction which had a deep meaning in the Native American culture. Spirituality touches Red Willow bark during many celebrations. Red willow alone was used for spiritual protection.

The wool doesn’t create the web like today but sinews that tribes used as a food from animal leftovers. The principle was to use one gemstone on each web as it represents one creator.

The Modern Meaning of the Dreamcatchers

Dreamcatchers today have lost their traditional meaning, mainly serving as the enchating home decor. They are bigger in size, bringing images to the fantasy world. The jewelry comes as the mysterious shine of the ancient world.

White dreamcatchers above the bed
White dreamcatchers above the bed- Credit:

Many plastic materials also decorate the dreamcatchers today. The cultural significance they bring is gone, only a lovely piece to admire at home.

This symbol of unity still connects many Native Americans. Appreciating the ancient culture of Native Indians absorbs the proper use of the dreamcatchers. Disagreement of their modern use is the common issue among native people. The Pan-Indian movement spread these lovely native crafts worldwide in the 1980s. Promoting unity of the Native Indians is their iconic goal.

In recent times, the Little Thunderbirds Drum and Dance Troup from Minessota shares the healing values of dreamcatchers. They’re pretty suitable gifts for the schools that experienced loss and school shootings.

Pan-Indian Movement

The Pan-Indian movement rises out of the Indigenous people to protect the interests of Native Indians. The Four Mothers Society in 1912 signalized the early stage of modern unity among the tribes. It included the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee and Chikasaw tribes.

Oklahoma Indians deserve special praise for these efforts. Powwows, as sacred gatherings celebrates the native culture through dance, songs, prayers and celebrations. Originating in Oklahoma, powwows today include a large event of such kind in Oklahoma City.

The Society of American Indians was the first political organisation in the USA, starting in 1911. The Indian civil rights got the political power in 1926 thanks to the National Council of American Indians.

The National Congress of American Indians appeared in 1944 and gained much success.

Different Types of Dreamcatchers

The three most popular types carry different meanings. The Native American dreamcatcher resembles most to the spider and according to this, has eight points. Also, the spider has eight legs. The virtues of learning, wisdom and energy glitter deeply inside the spider’s web.

The dreamcatchers of Siberian Shamans are not appropriate for the home as their purpose is mostly purifying. They attract all types of dreams so the shaman can visualise his consciousness.

The Asian versions hold the animal figures or zodiac symbols within. The different colours of dreamcatchers hide the specific meaning also.

Dreamcatchers and Creativity

Though dreamcatchers signalize the ancient practice that is today over-commercialized, it’s been a fabulous creative process. Not so easy like it seems, it’s an inviting world of patience and imagination. The reasons behind can be very particular to each person.

The Moon-shaped dreamcatcher
The Moon-shaped dreamcatcher- Credit:

The boho vibes involve the relaxing soul of the dreamcatchers, something to smooth our lives. Pretty and colourful, they can awake the soft rhythm to inspire our world and motivation.

The creative process brings the Moon-sized dreamcatcher that gently touches the vintage style. It can also be a lace full of elegant pattern where its whiteness resembles to the gentle purity.

Heart is the most touching symbol and your dreamcatcher can show the red passion. The peacock feathers flow into the emotional story full of dreams.

The turquoise colours and pearls absorb the soft strings of creativity. Dreamcatcher can be a tribute to the season with gentle and colourful leaves.

Bray Women’s Refuge and Their Creative Dreamcatchers

Bray Women’s Refuge from the Irish mountains in Wicklow initiated the children’s artistic skills. The collaboration with the artist Michelle Hall includes women and children.

This voluntary organisation has worked in the field of domestic violence since 1979. The artist Michelle Hall is an awarded woman bringing her knowledge to the light.

How to Use Dreamcatchers

Taking into account that the dreamcatcher is a sacred item, we should respect its purpose. The most auspicious vibes to hang up the dreamcatcher enlighten the bedrooms. With the first rays of Sun, bad dreams disappear and that’s why there should be enough sunlight.

Several dreamcatchers hanging above kid's bed
Several dreamcatchers hanging above kid’s bed- Credit:

Dreamcatchers shine with the source of the artistic inspiration giving the happiness. The early morning fills us with that glittering star in the eyes when we see dreamcatchers.

The children’s rooms are the pristine place to put the dreamcatchers, having in mind the positive influence. Avoiding nightmares will have its highest effect when protection comes in the first line. Placing it in the window can also be a fantastic option.

Semi-precious stones bring harmony and good energy and this power functions the most in the living rooms. Visitors that come will gain a deeper level of connection and peace.

Dreamcatchers in Your Working Area

According to the principles of Feng Shui, putting the dreamcatchers in the office or workspace brings more energy and motivation. The relaxing rhythm becomes stronger and allows better focus.

The soft colours attract positivity in its essence and the best choice would be green, white and turquoise. The profound palette of colours awakens the spiritual shine and peaceful touch.

The precious stones give a deeper connection and more wisdom. Productivity is intertwined with more happiness and success.

The Deeper Meaning of Mandala

The pattern that shines like a spider’s web transcends the art of mandala and even more symbolism. Mandala in Sanskrit means sacred circle, giving the deeper tribute to nature.

Dreamcatcher with the pattern "Flower of Life" mandala
Dreamcatcher with the pattern “Flower of Life” mandala- Credit:


The sacred geometry lies in the heart of mandala taking into the surface the ancient knowledge. Many world cultures enlighten the golden spiral of the mandala. Pine cones, sunflowers or pineapples hold the similar principle inside.

The flower of life is a very famous mandala, pretty much similar to the dreamcatcher. This pattern shares the recognisable sphere of the most important religions. In Egypt, it can be found in the Temple of Abydos, in Israel it decorates the synagogues in Galilee and Mesada. The symbol of unity englightens the heart of this fabulous mandala.

Dreamcatchers and Feng Shui

Feng Shui supports the idea of getting the dreamcatchers from natural materials, particularly wooden hoops. Five essential materials are wooven deeply into the system of Fen Shui- metal, earth, wood, water and fire.

Beautiful blue dreamcatcher with the peacock feathers
Beautiful blue dreamcatcher with the peacock feathers- Credit:

Hanging a dreamcatcher above the child’s bed is the most appropriate one. The front doors or windows attract positive energy which enlightens the whole house this way.

According to the Feng Shui, dreamcatchers serve their purpose most efficiently as a gift. Nobody should sit or pass under the dreamcatcher. The southwest direction is the best choice to place a dreamcatcher.

Conclusion: The Deeper Meaning of Dreamcatchers

Dreamcatchers play an enchanting touch of mystery, an exquisite decorative addition to our homes. Their gentle vibes can serve much more than a decorative element.

Understanding a true nature of dreamcatchers means appreciation of the traditions of Native Americans. Dance of the Native American Culturealso has a deeper meaning. The constant struggle for their interests intertwines with the social justice.

Enriching world of dreamcatchers fills us with positivity and energy and knowing their purpose is essential.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *