Dream catchers were traditionally made by Native American Indians as a form of talisman to protect people from bad dreams and nightmares. They believe that during the night all dreams – good and bad – float around in the air. The dream catcher, or sacred hoop as it was often known, is hung above the bed so that it can catch the dreams and thoughts on its inner web. The good dreams are allowed to drift down to the sleeper, whilst the bad dreams come become tangled in the web, where they destruct as the first light of dawn shines upon it.
There's a lot of meaning and symbolism associated with dream catchers. The circle or hoop represents nature and the circle of life, which is an important aspect of Native American tradition. The act of hanging up a dream catcher represents that you're keen to be more aware of your dreams and want to catch the good ones and hold onto them.
These days the symbol of the dream catcher is used in a variety of products – not just catchers to hang up. You'll find it in jewellery too, such as earrings and pendants, and in clothing and art.