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A Shamanic Healer’s Guide to Dreamcatchers; History, Origins, and 4 Modern Uses

A Shamanic Healer’s Guide to Dreamcatchers; History, Origins, and 4 Modern Uses

Chad McMillan
VC | Creative Artist.

By Tess Bercan

A few years ago, I kept having a horrible, and reoccurring dream, that I was being chased by wolves. No matter where I went, or how good of a hiding place I discovered, the determined, fierce wolves would find and devour me.

The dream was so unsettling that I would wake up scared and the rest of my day would feel off.

My boyfriend at the time thoughtfully bought me a hand-woven dreamcatcher with the hopes of getting me a better night’s sleep.

I hung the dreamcatcher next to my bed and as normal, I caught my precious eight hours of slumber. Fortunately, that wolf dream never returned (and it still hasn’t come back).

It’s hard to say for sure what rid me of the wolf nightmare, but one thing is certain, hanging the dreamcatcher in my room seemed to affect my dreams in a beneficial way.

What are dreamcatchers?

Bernard Alvarez who is a Metaphysician, Sacred Activist, and Shamanic Healer (who began his journey into Shamanism with an Algonquin Shaman Teacher) explains that dreamcatchers are talismans that can protect us while we are sleeping from nightmares.

“I believe that the night air is filled with dreams (both good and bad) and when we hang dreamcatchers above the bed where morning light can hit it, the dreamcatcher catches dreams and thoughts in its webs,” says Alvarez.

A dreamcatcher allows good dreams to gently reach the happy sleeper, but bad dreams get caught in the web, where they can be destroyed by the day’s light, mentions Alvarez.

Whether or not you completely believe that a spiritual symbol, like a dreamcatcher, can really withhold and destroy your nightmares, there is no denying that there is power in belief and intention.

 “Symbols, in general, are a method to tap into the collective unconscious world – each with a multitude of layers and meanings that help us connect with our highest selves,” notes Alvarez.

Do dreamcatchers really work, and how can we use them?

As with all symbols, if we energetically imprint our intentions upon a dreamcatcher, it will do just that. The symbolism of the web and the hanging feathers all lend themselves to this very purpose, says Alvarez.

It’s an awesome gift that we can use dreamcatchers as a positive force in modern day life (such as hanging one in our home). And to adequately appreciate the significance of such a powerful symbol, part of completing the journey is to appreciate and understand the dreamcatcher’s origins.

What are the origins of dreamcatchers?

Definitively unearthing the one true origin story of dreamcatchers is no easy task. Much of the historical truth of Indigenous Peoples has been altered or destroyed over time.

When it comes to dreamcatchers, there are a number of First Nation legends that fascinatingly explain the background and have been carried down from generation to generation.

Alvarez explains that the Lakota dreamcatcher story is his favorite, and it goes something like this:

A long time ago (when the earth was very young), a spiritual leader of the Lakota had a strong vision.

The Lakota Elder saw Iktomi who appeared as a spider. Iktomi was known as a trickster who taught great wisdom.

Iktomi began speaking and took the Lakota Leader’s willow hoop (which had beads, horsehairs, and feathers on it). Iktomi spoke about our cycles of life and how we go from infancy, adulthood, and back to infancy in our old age.

As Iktomi spoke, he weaved a web using the Elder’s hoop. Iktomi explained that in each part of our lives, there are both good and bad forces.

If we listen to the good forces, we will be steered in the right direction and blessed. But if we listen to the malevolent forces, they will hurt us and lead us astray.

The spider continued to speak and weave a web. When he was done, Iktomi gave the Lakota Elder the completed web, which was a perfect circle without a center.

The spider instructed that the Elder use the web to help him and his people reach their goals and that it would make use of their dreams and visions.

Iktomi explained that if the Elder and his people believed in the Great Spirit, the web would catch the great ideas (and thankfully, the bad ones would disappear through the hole in the center).

The Lakota Elder told his people about the vision that he had with Iktomi. And now, the Sioux use the dreamcatcher as a symbol for the web of life, explains Alvarez.  

How do Indigenous Peoples use dreamcatchers today?

“Many Native Americans still consider the dreamcatcher to be a symbol of unity and identification among the many Indigenous Nations and cultures,” says Alvarez.

If you want to use a dreamcatcher to better your dreams and life, it’s worth taking a moment to set conscious and respectful intent for it.

“I have seen people hang it from their rearview mirror in their cars for protection while driving and while it is not exactly for that, the fact that they are using it to catch “bad mojo” is fine to me, because they are displaying it consciously,” says Alvarez.

4 Modern Uses for Dreamcatchers:

  1. Dreamcatcher Jewelry

There are a number of fantastic artisans out there who draw from dreamcatchers as inspiration.  

Wearing a dreamcatcher necklace, ring, or bracelet that inspires you in an uplifting and meaningful way is a powerful way to maintain positive momentum.

  1. Dreamcatcher Tattoos

Dreamcatcher tattoos have appeared in a variety of designs on a number of people – and for good reason.

The influential symbol has found a home on many people’s bodies and may symbolize protection and helpful affirmation.

  1. Dreamcatcher Baby Mobiles

Many Indigenous People’s stories talk of the dreamcatchers being used to protect infants while they sleep.

Nowadays, you can find gorgeously crafted dreamcatcher mobiles to hang over your baby’s crib to encourage a blissful night’s rest

  1. Dreamcatcher Home Décor

Imprint positivity and well-being in your home with a stunning dreamcatcher that can be hung anywhere you want to boost a sense of joy and security.

Powerful symbols of tradition, dreamcatchers can be both contemporary and wise reminders of positive intention and a call to recognize the past with admiration.  

If you enjoyed this dreamcatcher post and desire one for your very own casa, check out our modern, minimalist rendition here.



  1. First photo (from Pixbay):
  2. 2nd photo of dreamcatcher jewelry (From Burt: Creative Commons):
  3. Bernard Alvarez:



I have spent some 15 years building and financing startup companies, with a deep passion for positive social impacts and the creative arts.  Now as I continue about my personal and professional journeys, I share everything I know and have learned with you here.

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