Lakota Dreamcatcher Legend
Long ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared to him in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to the old man in a sacred language that only the spiritual leaders of the Lakota could understand.
As he spoke Iktomi took the elder's willow hoop which had feathers, horse hairs, beads and offerings on it and began to spin a web. He spoke of the cycles of life....how we begin as infants and move on to childhood, and then to adulthood. Finally, we go to old age where we must be taken care of once again as infants, thereby completing the life cycle.
Iktomi said, "In each time of life there are many forces and choices made that can affect the harmony of nature, and interfere with the Great Spirit and all of his wonderful teachings." Iktomi gave the web to the Lakota elder and said, "See, the web is a perfect circle but there is a hole in the center of the circle. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your good dreams and ideas - - and the bad ones will go through the hole. Use the web to help yourself and your people to reach your goals and make good use of your peoples' ideas, dreams and visions."
The Lakota elder passed on his vision to his people and now the Sioux Indians use the dream catcher as the web of life. It is hung above beds or in homes to sift dreams and visions. The good in their dreams are captured in the web of life and carried with them...but the evil in their dreams escapes through the hole in the center of the web and are no longer a part of them. They believe the Dream Catcher holds the destiny of their future.
Dreamcatcher Legend (origin unknown)
Another tale is told of a Shaman who had been very ill and plagued with bad dreams and visions. He slept with a Medicine Wheel hanging above him attempting to make himself well. One night a spider found its way down to the wheel and began to spin a web. In a very short time the web covered the wheel except for a small hole in the center. As if it were intended, an Owl flying above in the dark of night shed a feather which floated down and became caught in the web where it hung from the center hole. As the sun rose the following morning, the Shaman awoke from a peaceful sleep free of bad dreams and his illness was gone. He looked to the Medicine Wheel feeling that this must be the source of his healing and was amazed to see the web and feather hanging from the hole. From that day, the Dreamcatcher was used to protect and guide the Sleeping Ones.
To Learn More About Dreamcatchers:
Burkhart, Louise M. The Slippery Earth. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989.
Densmore, Densmore. Chippewa Customs. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society, 1979
Lentz, Mary Jane. The Stuff of Dreams: Native American Dolls. NY: Museum of the American Indian, 1986.
Toor, Frances. A Treasury of Mexican Folkways. NY: Crown Pub., 1947.