Updated: Aug 2, 2021
The legend says that there was a spider woman named Asibikaashi who took care of the people of Earth. She watched over every creature in the world, bending over children’s cribs and beds while she wove a thin, delicate, and strong web that was capable of trapping everything bad in its threads and making it vanish at dawn. This is the way that the old Ojibwa storytellers say how Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) helped Wanabozhoo bring giizis (sun) back to the people. To this day, Asibikaashi will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn, as you should be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.
Asibikaasi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day. When the Ojibwa Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, to fill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters and Nokomis (grandmothers) took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. It is in the shape of a circle to represent how giizis travels each day across the sky.
The dream catcher will filter out all the bad bawedjigewin (dreams) and allow only good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are just abinooji.
You will see a small hole in the center of each dream catcher where those good bawadjige may come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish. When we see little asibikaashi, we should not fear her, but instead respect and protect her. In honor of their origin, the number of points where the web connected to the hoop numbered eight for Spider Woman's eight legs or seven for the Seven Prophecies.
It was traditional to put a feather in the center of the dream catcher; which means breath, or air and is essential for life.
Dream catchers made of willow and sinew are for children, and they are not meant to last. Eventually the willow dries out and the tension of the sinew collapses the dream catcher, representing the temporary period of youth. Adults should use dream catchers of woven fiber which is made up to reflect their adult dreams.