The circular shape of the dreamcatcher represents the circle of life, with no beginning and no end. This is significant to many Native Americans because they believe that death is a part of life and that the spirit lives on. Dream interpretation has been directly influenced Native American cultural and spiritual beliefs for centuries. American Indians believe dreams influence the conscious soul of the dreamer, oftentimes acting as a means for change in personality traits such as confidence, maturity, kindness, and loyalty.
Infants were given dreamcatchers as a protective charm. Traditionally, two spider webs were hung on the hoop, and it was said that they protected the child from harmful dreams and other dangers passing through the air. The legend states that in a spiritual vision, a Lakota leader met a trickster with great wisdom named Iktomi, who appeared to him in the form of a spider. Iktomi told the man that light and dark forces would try to enter the dreams of people. Iktomi instructed the man to make dreamcatchers to catch the light forces and let the dark ones slip away. Whether dreamcatchers catch the good dreams or the bad, many Native Americans hold to the belief that the charms dispel nightmares and help protect them from negative forces.
More About Dream Catchers: Classic Navajo Dreamcatchers have always been a fundamental part of Ojibwe culture and have many purposes.
Prophecies: Dreams can show future events that will affect a tribe or individual person.
Names: Spiritual leaders can receive the name of a newborn child through dreams.
Spiritual Strength: Many Ojibwe people pray, meditate, and fast in order to bring on dreams that will give them spiritual guidance during difficult times.
Symbolism: Dreamers will often see a symbol that has personal meaning to them throughout their lives. Many Ojibwe make a charm to keep with them to remind them of the symbol. Some even take them to the grave when they die for strength in the afterlife.
The Ojibwe people, often referred to by their anglicized name, "Chippewa", so insightfully understood the importance of dreams, especially in children, that they attempted to assist a child’s ability to receive good dreams and filter out dark or negative dreams with the use of a dream catcher.
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