In our upcoming world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ new play Dream Catcher, Opal is a young Mojave woman living on the reservation being threatened by the construction of a huge new solar energy plant. She describes to her engineer lover Roy the power of the hoop-shaped object hung over her bed. What is it? A dream catcher.
Dream catchers are one of the many fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.
The dream catcher has been a part of Native American culture for generations. One element of the Native American dream catcher relates to the tradition of the hoop. Some Natives held the hoop in high esteem because it symbolized strength and unity.
The legend of the Native American dream catcher varies somewhat from tribe to tribe, but the basic theme was to allow positive dreams to slip through the web and into the sleeper during the night while the negative dreams were caught in the web and would die at morning light. Other tribes have the opposing belief that the web will catch your positive ideas and the negative ones will go through the hole.
The earliest dream catchers, also called “sacred hoops,” were crafted by parents to protect their children from nightmares. Newborn babies were given charms that were woven in the form of webs to protect their dreams so their innocence would not be harmed by the troublemakers of the night. The dream catcher charm would be hung from the hoop on the cradle.
Dream catcher hoops were originally made out of red willow and covered with sage, the webbing was made from deer sinew. Modern dream catchers are made with wood or metal wrapped in leather strips, artificial sinew replace the now forbidden use of deer sinew. The decoration of the web along with the shape, size and colors used is left to the artisan’s imagination. Feathers attached to the dream catcher are meant to assist the flight of positive dreams.
Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day.
Pretty cool, eh? Want to make your own dream catcher? Here’s how:
You’ll experience more about the power of good dreams and bad dreams in our riveting and mesmerizing world premiere of Dream Catcher, directed by Cameron Watson and starring Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell. Don’t miss it!
Dream Catcher Jan 30 – March 21 More Info/Get Tickets