07 September 2012

The Dreamcatcher

A teacher used to read us a book in class every morning-"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White.  A chapter a day got me to school as early as I could so I wouldn't miss anything.  Out of everything I learned that year, I remember the spider talking to the pig.

The spider's web is important in my culture.  It's where we got the design for the dreamcatcher basically for babies, a mobile on the ticananga {cradleboard} that catches bad things and lets good things come through.  It's so much more than that.

Now, imagine what a book about the spider talking to a pig did for all of us in that class.  Here was the dreamcatcher helping a pig with his problems.  And the emotion evoked when the spider died was akin to when we'd sit and listen to the storytellers in the village. When the spider's babies flew off in the wind leaving us behind we were sad. And then the voice spoke to the pig; hope. The thing I remember most was the spider's web in the barn door.

That image has stayed with me through bad times and good times.  I make dreamcatchers. I remember learning how to get the web portion just right.  I remember going out with my mother and sister to gather the right kind of wood.  Then we'd get the sinew ready.  It had to be just the right length, the right thickness.

Learning to start the web was the most frustrating part for me.  The circle had to be divided just so to get the required amount of strands.  I'd look at my mother, hoping she'd take pity on me and start the web.  After the first time, it was nothing doing.  To this day, she still shrugs her shoulder, grimaces, then tosses her head whenever I look like I'm going to get that "help me" look.  My heart sinks.  Then I carry on with whatever I'm doing.

Writing is like that process for me.  Gathering the words, the images, putting them together in just the right way and then satisfaction with the finished product.

I've gathered words, mostly by myself in the beginning.  My son started on this particular path with me. We each started gathering our words and now we've gone on our separate paths.  I've met others while traveling along that web who've helped or hindered.  Glad to say that those who hindered proved to have helped me become a stronger person, able to appreciate the help.

The final portion of constructing a dreamcatcher is the selection of the ornaments.  Some are dictated by tradition, others with a special meaning to the maker and some are intended for the recipient.  Some of these are worked into the strand while the web is being made, the rest are attached when the web is finished.

Constructing my books has those same elements: tradition, meaning for the maker and intent for the recipient.  Getting those words into the proper shape has been an experience I'll remember each time I look at the dreamcatcher, my books, the words and images I use in that construction process. Even the image of my mother shrugging her shoulder and tossing her head whenever I get stuck and have to find my own path.

My own dreamcatcher hanging alongside the original in the barn door.

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