Dream Catchers: How do they work?

Dream Catchers

The dream catcher is one of the wide-spreading concepts from Native America. It is not only for decoration but also a powerful protective talisman, just hanging above the bed and restricting any bad dreams from seeping in. Native American tribes first used dream catchers in the 60s and 70s to avert the bad energy all through the night. 

The iconic hoop-and-web handmade craft is made of a wooden hoop, generally the willow, and tied with thread that resembles a web and has objects like feathers and beads hanging below the circle. Generally, it is known as a good luck charm. 


There are primarily two beliefs:

  • Ojibwe Tribe: Legends said the dream catchers originate from Asibikaashi – “The Spider Woman”. Asibikaashi, the guardian spirit of tribal children and women, invokes her power of protection by creating the dream catchers and hanging them above the bed. The design has a deeper meaning along with the decorative aspect. The central round shape depicts the earth and the center of life. Bad dreams are caught here. The feathers or beads below the center are treated as slides, down which good thoughts pore into the person below. 
  • Lakota Tribe: Lakota legends also explain dream catchers started with spiritual beings associated with spiders. Lakota culture portrays “the web of life” and its good and bad choices. It is believed that a dream catcher will get rid of a bad image from society, thus, it will help people to achieve their dream. This is enforced by Iktomi, the great trickster and wisdom teacher, who created the dream catcher in the vision of an old Lakota leader.


To appreciate the culture, recognize & honor the origins and respect the legends, one should understand the symbolism behind the dream catcher, and it is as follows:

  • Frame: The circle frame, made of willow, shows the cycle of life and represents unity. It also shows how the moon and sun go in endless circles in the sky. 
  • Web: The web resembles a spider web and is thought to trap unwanted and bad thoughts and dreams, and the circle lets go of good things from the middle.
  • Beads: There are various interpretations of beads. Some legends believe the beads count has significance- one bead is to pay homage to the ‘spider’ that wove the web, while many beads indicate the count of good dreams that failed to pass through it. 
  • Feathers: The length of the feather is important. A long feather can help good dreams to slide down and enter the sleeper’s mind.
  • The number of web points: The meaning of the number of web points is different with varying numbers. The 5-point one represents a star, the 6-point one represents courage and an eagle, the 7-point one represents seven prophecies of grandfather, 8 point one represents the legs of the spider woman, thus celebrating and honoring her, and the 13-point acknowledges the 13 phases of the moon.

How is it used?

Legends tell you to hang the dream catcher above a bed, and it will catch the bad dreams and lets the good ones go through the middle of the circle. As the sun’s rays touch the dream catcher in the morning, all bad dreams will evaporate. It is believed that it radiates positive energy and repels the bad ones. One important thing is that it should be kept in a place with enough sunlight. As the sunlight touches it, it is rejuvenated and strengthened to do its job.


Sometimes referred to as “Sacred Hope”, dream catchers are gaining popularity for their bohemian look. The dream catcher is now used in many forms, like earrings, neck pendants, key chains, and cars. Knowing how it works and its tradition brings more significance to the collection. Understanding that it symbolizes a mother’s blessings to her children, one would 

realize this keepsake of Native American culture is not only a fashion statement. If you are looking to buy the dream catcher for your space, then you must visit Karma Living.


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