I learned how to make dream catchers from a woman who ran a craft store that had weekly classes on different techniques. My mom would register me in the classes pretty regularily. I was about 10 or 11 years old and I started a dream catcher business selling dream catchers to my classmates and my mom’s co-workers. It was a very lucrative business and I often could be found at home filling my orders until my fingers hurt from wrapping the sued lace and weaving the webs. Now I am revisiting my childhood hobby and making some more modern takes on the traditional dream catcher.
This felt weird at first because of the idea of cultural appropriation, but I can justify it because creating dream catchers was a part of my childhood, even if back then, I didn’t fully understand the whole notion of cashing in on someone else’s culture. My point is, that I feel that as a third generation Canadian who is part of a multi cultural society, my culture is largely based on cultural appropriation.
The dream catchers in these pictures use fabric instead of sued lace. I’m a vegetarian, hoping to go full vegan so I have tried to make my dreamcatchers as animal friendly as possible. The first nations notion of using the whole animal don’t work for a person like me – I get my food from the supermarket and craft supplies from a store. I have no idea what happened to the bird whose feathers I am using, for example. So I have tried to avoid using animal products where ever possible. I do get my feathers from a cruelty free supplier, meaning the feathers are collected after they have naturally fallen off the bird. Some of my dreamcatchers have fabric feathers.
The traditional idea/legend of the dream catcher is based on the idea that the night air is filled with dreams; good and bad. The bad dreams are caught in the web and burned up in the morning sunlight. The good dreams pass through the hole in the web, or depending on what you read, they pass through the hole down to the feathers and back to the dreamer. Dream catchers were traditionally hung above a new baby’s crib or in the loft of a bedroom.
My husband says that the dream catcher does make a difference in limiting the bad dreams he has. He usually has nightmares right after he has watched a movie about zombies or a scary movie in general. He went to see World War Z a little while ago and had no bad dreams after. Maybe this is a result of the suggestion that the dream catcher is magical, which makes your mind a little calmer – almost a placebo effect of sorts. I think this would work with kids too – if they are having trouble with bad dreams.
When I made a sale in my dream catcher business as a girl, I would include a poem about dream catchers:
The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played.
Hung above the cradle board,
Or in the lodge up high,
The dream net catches bad dreams,
While good dreams slip on by.
Bad dreams become entangled
Among the sinew thread.
Good dreams slip through the center hole,
While you dream upon your bed.
This is an ancient legend,
Since dreams will never cease,
Hang this dream net above your bed,
Dream on, and be at peace.