A Gift From the Spider Woman
Bawaajige woke screaming from the nightmare that had, once again, plagued her sleep. Her bad dreams were affecting the sleep of the whole family as her screams resonated throughout the small cabin.
“Nimaamaa,” she sobbed, throwing herself into her mother’s warm embrace.
“What is it, my Nindaanis?” her mother asked. “Is it the same dream again? Can you tell me about it?”
“I don’t remember much, Nimaamaa. Just that I was lost in the dark, and there were glowing eyes watching me from everywhere.”
Her mother sat with Bawaajige, gently stroking her hair, until she finally settled back into a fitful sleep.
The next day, Bawaajige’s grandmother came to see her. “Nookamis,” said Bawaajige, “I’m so happy to see you.”
Her grandmother kissed her cheek. “I hear you’ve been having nightmares, Bawaajige. I’m going to show you the Ojibwe way of getting rid of them. Today we will make a dreamcatcher together.”
She took up a wooden hoop and showed Bawaajige how to wrap it with thin strips of deer hide. Once this was done, she guided her granddaughter in stringing a spiderweb design across the inside of the hoop; some of the lines were strung with pretty, decorative wooden beads.
“The Spider Woman says that the night air is full of bad dreams and evil spirits. The dreamcatcher attracts and ensnares all kinds of dreams and thoughts,” said her grandmother, tying feathers to strings dangling from the bottom of the dreamcatcher. “The good thoughts and dreams pass into the threads and slide down the feathers and into your mind. The nightmares you have been having will be trapped like flies in a spider’s web. We will hang the dreamcatcher over your pillow and right in front of your window. When the sun rises in the morning, it will burn away all those bad dreams, thoughts, and evil spirits that upset you so much.”
Once it was complete, Bawaajige hung the dreamcatcher as instructed.
That night, she had the first peaceful sleep that she’d had in many weeks—her dreams filled with joy and happy memories.