Meaning and history of dream sensors

Whether it's a craft, a tattoo or a decorative object, the dream catcher is more than that. This small decorative object, which looks like a woven spider's web, is full of the history of an entire tribe. Its legend goes back a long way, to the time of the American Indians. If the dream catcher is nowadays hung in the bedrooms, it is because it has the virtue of protecting from bad dreams. Let's take a look at the meaning and history of this small object.

What is the dream catcher?

A very trendy object at the moment to decorate the bedroom, especially a child's bedroom, the dream catcher acts as a dream catcher. This simple handmade piece is made up of a circle, a woven fabric inside the circle and various decorative objects such as feathers, lace, ribbons or beads, etc.

The dream catcher, as its name suggests, means that it catches dreams. Its ultimate purpose is to protect its owner's sleep, filtering out bad dreams and letting good dreams through. The traditional model of the dream catcher is made in the shape of a circle, but more and more manufacturers do not hesitate to adapt other shapes such as the triangle, the square or the shape of a heart.

Origin of the dream catcher

The dream catcher is a handcrafted piece that comes from the Amerindian culture. Several legends revolve around its origin, depending on the tribe. But its greatest origins go back to the Ojibwe or Lakota tribes. Three great stories are indeed at the origin of the dream catcher.

The legend of the hunter

This legend tells the story of a hunter who set out to find food for his family and his tribe. After several days of walking, without finding anything, the man got tired and stopped to rest. He then decided to rest in a cave where he encountered an evil spirit in the guise of a huge and terrifying beast. The man was frightened out of his wits and returned home. Haunted by the spirit of this beast, the man kept having bad dreams during the following nights.

One day, when he returned to the forest, the man, tired of his sleepless nights, found himself asleep in the middle of the forest. When he woke up, he was very surprised that he had not had any bad dreams. When he got up, he saw a spider's web, beaded by the morning dew, close to the tree where he had fallen asleep. He deduced that this spider's web was the one that protected him from his bad dreams.

When he returned to his tribe, the convinced man decided to make an object in the shape of a spider's web which he hung in his hut. The tribe did the same and began to weave the web to catch bad dreams. She decorated the web with beads to symbolise the morning dew that had settled on the spider web.

The dream catcher is an integral part of Native American spirituality and beliefs.

The legend of the spider woman

This is the most widely told legend about the dream catcher. This story dates back to the time of the Ojibwe tribe in Canada. It tells of a spider woman, named "Asibikaashi", who is considered the benevolent spirit over children. The spider woman would spin a web every night to catch the first rays of sunlight and bring it back to the village.

Later, the Ojibwe tribe began to grow and the spider woman could no longer watch over all the children in the tribe. She decided to create an object that could replace her with all the children, to ensure that they remained protected. She ordered all the spiders to weave webs in the wooden rings that made up the villages of the Ojibwe tribe. The purpose of this dream catcher was to protect the natives from evil spirits and especially from bad dreams.

The cobwebs on the wooden rings were called sacred circles. Later, the villagers and shamans, convinced of the power of the sacred circles, decided to make a dream catcher themselves. The dream catcher consisted of a willow wood circle with 8-point weaving representing the legs of the spider. The dream catcher brought peace and serenity to the village during the night and woke the tribe up in a joyful mood.

The legend of the Great Spirit

The legend of the Great Spirit is the one that tells the story of the dream catcher among the Lakota tribe in America. It is said that the people of this tribe were haunted by bad dreams and evil spirits. The children were often frightened and tired. Faced with this phenomenon, the village chief decided to summon all the wise men of the tribe.

It was then that a great shaman went into seclusion in the forest to invoke the spirits and to reflect calmly on what was happening to his tribe. During his meditation, the great sage met the Great Spirit of the forest. The Great Spirit appeared in the form of a spider and explained to the wise man that his people were influenced by both positive and negative forces and that they needed a filter to keep the positive energies. The Great Spirit would then have woven a web to guide the sage in his choices.

Back in the village, the Wise Man told the rest of the tribe about his meeting with the Great Spirit and convinced them to make an object in the shape of a spider's web. They all set to work making webs in a sage circle. The purpose of this object is to filter bad dreams in order to pass on good energy and make the people happy again. The first dream catchers were made. Feathers and ribbons were added as time went on.

Dreamcatcher Ying & Yang
Symbolises opposites and complements
Symbolizes balance
Captures evil spirits
I discover

The dream catcher, a symbolic object

According to the various legends surrounding the dream catcher, this object has only one purpose: to capture the bad dreams or evil spirits that swirl around the people during their sleep. The dream catcher is used to filter dreams, to trap nightmares and to let good dreams through. But more than that, because the dream catcher has become a symbolic object in belief and spirituality. The dream catcher serves to filter out the bad experiences of life in order to keep only the good ones and to collect the positive forces.

According to Native American legends, the dream catcher must be made by oneself for its protective effects to be more powerful. If a person decides to make dreamcatchers as a gift, it must be the person who made the gift who gives it to the recipient. There are several beliefs associated with the dream catcher. In addition to its power to filter out evil spirits, the dream catcher could also, in some tribes, read the future. Many beliefs about the dream catcher require it to be placed in the window for it to work, others believe it should be placed on the bed.

The dream catcher catches bad dreams at dusk.

The meaning of the dream catcher

Each element of the dream catcher has an important meaning for all Native American tribes. This is why the elements of the dream catcher have been carefully chosen, both in terms of material and shape:

The hoop

The dream catcher is round and represents a circle. The circle is supposed to represent the cycle of life. This includes all the elements around human life such as the earth, the planets, the moon, the sun, water, fire, the cycle of day and night, but also the variations of the seasons. The hoop also represents the sun which brings positive forces.

The hoop is usually made of red sage branches. In Native American culture, sage is used to purify souls and places, but also to chase away evil spirits. That is why it was carefully chosen to form the dream catcher.

The weaving

The traditional weaving of the dream catcher is based on the spider web. But the number of contacts with the sage circle represents different meanings which are divided as follows:

  • If the weave makes 7 anchor points on the circle, it signifies the 7 foundations of Native American culture.
  • If the weave has 8 anchor points, it represents the 8 spider legs
  • If the weave has 13 anchor points on the circle, it represents the 13 phases of the moon

The hole in the centre of the dream catcher is the passage of good dreams. While the web is used to filter bad dreams, evil spirits or negative energies. The web is also used to gather the first rays of sunlight which are supposed to bring peace and serenity during the day.

Even today most dreamcatchers are handmade in a traditional way.
The central bead

In some dream catcher designs, there is a pearl in the centre of the weave of the fabric. The central bead signifies the presence of the spider. In some Native American tribes, notably the Lakota, the spider represents the Great Spirit. Among the Ojibwe, the central bead represents the Spider Woman who protects children. These are the protective spirits that guide the tribes and protect them during their sleep.



Feathers are a symbol of lightness, softness, but also of air. It is the first foundation of the Amerindian culture. Feathers are chosen because they allow dreams to glide to the owners of the object. In addition, feathers also create the link between people and the Great Spirit Protector.

The beads and ribbons, as well as the feathers, are also meant to collect the dreams that have passed through the holes, i.e. the positive energies that have been let through.

Understanding Native American culture to understand the dream catcher

In Native American culture, the dream catcher is a symbol in its own right. It represents an essential element without which the tribes could not live. Thus, they made the dream catcher according to the foundations of the Native American culture. These foundations are based on 7 essential points which are :


The air represented by the feathers in the dream catcher means life, the air that we breathe. It also represents the wind.

The spirits

Spirits are very important and form a large part of belief and spirituality in Native American culture. Spirits could take many forms and appearances. In the origin of dreamcatchers, spirits were represented by spiders.

The cardinal points

The cardinal points were their reference points in time and space. North, South, East and West indicated the direction to take, but also served as landmarks during various ceremonies and rituals.

The Land

The Amerindian culture cherishes the earth and considers it as a mother. It is from the earth that all life comes. Therefore, it must be protected, respected and cared for. The Amerindians lived in perfect harmony with the earth. They nurtured it so that it could continue to generously offer the earth to future generations.

The cycle

The life of the Native Americans followed cycles: days and nights, sun and moon, movement of the earth and the planets, birth and death.

The prayer

The Native Americans were truly spiritual. They associated with the Great Spirit through prayer. It is a link that unites them with life and soul.

The name

Among Native Americans, each name given to a newborn child has great significance. Often the name is obtained through a vision after a dream, but also to honour a loved one who has passed away.

The 13 phases of the moon

The dream catcher is also made according to the 13 phases of the moon. The phases of the moon were a kind of time marker, a kind of calendar for the Native Americans. Each lunar cycle has a name according to the period in which the phase occurs. Each moon symbolises the forces of nature that nourish each human being.

  • Moon of the Spirits (January): the time when the spirits dance in the sky.
  • Bear Moon (February): the Bear awakens and brings healing
  • Ice Sheet Moon (March): the beginning of Spring
  • Broken Snowshoe Moon (March-April): renewal of creation, healing
  • Sugar Moon (April): maple sap is collected to make a remedy that cleanses the blood
  • Miller Fish Moon (May): the Miller Fish purifies the water that gives life to the one who drinks it.
  • Berry Moon (July): berries represent fertility and the cycle of life
  • Rice Moon (August): signifies the time of harvest
  • Moon of Change of Leaves (September): signifies the acceptance of change
  • Moon of the Frost (November): signifies the time of rest
  • Little Spirit Moon: this is the time when ancestors and those who have just left are celebrated.

The dream catcher is more than a trendy decorative object. It represents a link between the positive energies, spirituality and beliefs of Native American tribes. It is a symbol of life that needs to be cared for so that it can give complete satisfaction to the person who holds it.