Our dreams can have a profound effect upon our waking moments, as buried emotions are spontaneously unearthed as fluctuating, vivid scenes that are pieced together in a series of mismatched realms. Dreams have the ability to either lift us up into heavenly heights or plunge us deep into the heart of fear.
Dream catchers are a Native American creation that have been integrated into Western homes as a commercial product, inspired by tradition and the concept of combining naturally occurring forms as a means of filtering dreams. It acts as a decorative addition to a sleeping environment, suspended in an airy space, where its feathery plumage and webbed intricacy almost lulls the viewer into a relaxed state, as its delicacy belies its powers of protection.
Dream catchers were originally intended for infants and used as protective charms, ensuring dreams were filled with soothing images, just as a mobile, which is placed above a cot, made up of brightly coloured animal shapes and soft light promotes pleasant dreams of innocence. Both serve as a transfixing presence, as the child drifts serenely into slumber.
Native Americans draw most of their inspiration from nature. The dream catcher is based upon different elements of nature that all work in synergy. The robust structure of a spider’s web works to trap bad dreams until the morning sunlight perishes them. The hanging structure also takes advantage of circulating air, in which a composite of floating dreams were thought to hover. The good dreams evade the spider web’s snare and slide down the feathers silky length and onto the sleeper below.
Traditionally dream catchers had a limited lifespan, matching the course of a baby’s development into older childhood; made from willow and sinew that naturally dry out and collapse, as nightmares were believed to occur less frequently as a child grew older. It is true to say that children experience nightmares more often than adults, due to an overactive imagination, which is commonly demonstrated as accounts of monsters that hide under bed or wait in wardrobes, ready to pounce as the inky darkness of night time descends. However, nightmares can be experienced by adults but are thought to be triggered by stress, illness or medication. Most people feel reassured when daylight enters the bedroom, where a nightmare previously resided, as we remained restlessly tense. Daylight automatically brings perspective, as fear dissipates with the clarity of light, just as it can build with the obscurity of darkness. It therefore seems logical that the dream catcher works on the premise of light, in which nightmares caught in its web are vanquished by the morning rays.
Dreams are very much a part of consciousness. They are re-visited as topics of contemplation, influencing the content of songs, art and conversation. As we know, dreams can contain positive and negative elements and can determine how we approach the day ahead. By ensuring that measures are taken to prevent nightmares; be it through the presence of a dream catcher, herbal baths or a memory foam mattress that relieves tension throughout the body; the following day can be invigorated with the memories of pleasant dreams that optimise mood and perspective.
On the land and waters that we sleep, we walk, and we live, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of these lands. We pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their connection to the land.
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