Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Legend of the Dream Catcher

Dream Catchers are believed to bless the "sleeping person" with pleasant dreams, good luck and harmony in their lives. According to the old legends which have been passed on throughout the years, dreams are messages from sacred spirits, and there are actually different versions of the legend about how they work; it seems that different tribes have different interpretations. One version says that the hole in the center of the web allows the good dreams through while the bad dreams are trapped in the web until they disappear with the first light of the morning. The other version says that the web catches the good dreams and allows the bad ones to slip away through the hole. The following is one of the legend I studied in my course on Native American legends and myth:

Long ago when the world was still very young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In this vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared before him in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to the elder in a sacred language that only the spiritual leaders of the Lakota could understand...and as Iktomi spoke, the spider took the elder's willow hoop which had feathers, horse hair, beads, and offerings on it and began to spin a web.

Iktomi spoke to the elder about the cycles of life...and how we begin our lives as infants, move on into childhood, and then into adulthood. Finally, we enter old age where we must be taken care of as infants...thus completing the cycle. "But", Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, "in each time of life there are many forces--some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they will hurt you and steer you in the wrong direction."

He continued, "There are many forces and different directions that can help or interfere with the harmony of nature...and also with the great spirit and all of his wonderful teachings". All the while the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web starting from the outside and working inwards towards the center.

When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, "See, the web is a perfect circle, but there is a hole in the center of the circle." He then added, "Use the web to help yourself and your people to reach your goals and make use of your people's ideas, dreams, and visions....And if you believe in the great Spirit, the web will catch all of your good ideas...and the bad ones will pass on through the hole."

The Lakota elder passed his vision on to his people, and now they use the dream catcher as the web of their life. It is hung above their beds or in their home to sift their dreams and visions. They believe the dream catcher holds the destiny of their future.


  1. What a lovely legend.

    And I love the incongruity of Iktomi being both the great trickster and teacher of wisdom.

  2. This is a beautiful story. I've always loved dream catchers, being a rather intense dreamer. I need to put one up again. Thanks for reminding me about these charming items.