Dreamcatcher Tattoo Meanings

Dreamcatchers are one of the most iconic symbols of Native American culture. Traditionally, it was believed that good dreams would be able to pass through the small hole in the center of the dreamcatcher and into the mind of the sleeper below, while nightmares would get tangled in the web, and would dissipate in the morning sun.

Full color dreamcatcher and cat tattoo

Dreamcatcher and Cat tattoo by @kudutattoo

While many Native American tribes make use of dreamcatchers, it is believed that the Anishnabe tribe were the original creators. Legend goes that the people of the Anishnabe were plagued by nightmares that no one seemed to be able to cure, until an elder had a vision of a spider’s web inside of a hoop with feathers attached. Some believe that a figure called the Spider Woman used to go around weaving webs to protect the dreams of children, but when they became too numerous she gave the vision of the dreamcatcher to the elder so that the tribes could protect the little ones on their own.

Colorful dragon and dreamcatcher tattoo

Dragon and Dreamcatcher tattoo by by @darkscanner

What Does a Dreamcatcher Symbolize?

Typically, a dreamcatcher is a powerful symbol of protection. Dreamcatchers protect our thoughts from evil influences when we are at our most vulnerable. Most Native American tribes who have used dreamcatchers consider them especially important for protecting the dreams of infants and young children.

Though dreamcatchers are now mass-produced as decorations, originally the creation of a dreamcatcher was meant to be an intensely personal process guided by meditation and reflection. Each dreamcatcher was meant to be unique and hand-crafted.

Dreamcatcher tattoos have gotten incredibly popular in the last decade. If you’re thinking about adding a dreamcatcher to your ink collection, here’s an explanation of a few different meanings to help you plan it all out.

Watercolor Heart Dreamcatcher tattoo

Heart Dreamcatcher tattoo by @arteternal

Yin-Yang Dreamcatcher Tattoo Meaning

Dreamcatchers are symbols of protection against negative or evil spirits, and when drawn with a Yin-Yang design they can represent the balance between the positive and negative forces of your life. The ring of the dreamcatcher also represents unity, and can represent embracing all aspects of yourself/ your personality as one whole, complete person.

Compass Dreamcatcher Tattoo Meaning

Many people believe that dreams can be prophetic, and give us insight into our lives and choices. A Compass and Dreamcatcher tattoo can signify a desire for guidance, especially from the spiritual realm.

Nautical Compass Dreamcatcher Tattoo

Compass Dreamcatcher tattoo by @victor_mka

Wolf Dreamcatcher Tattoo Meaning

It is very common to see Dreamcatcher tattoos with spirit animal elements, as both as important aspects of Native American culture. Adding a wolf to a dreamcatcher design creates a meaning of intense loyalty and family.

Full Color Wolf Dreamcatcher tattoo

Wolf Dreamcatcher Tattoo by @tattooguyanderson

Bear Dreamcatcher Tattoo Meaning

Bears are a great symbol for strength, and for motherhood as well. Most bear species are fiercely protective of their young. Considering that dreamcatchers are extremely important for protecting the slumber of little ones, a Bear and Dreamcatcher tattoo can be a great choice for a motherhood/ parenthood design.

Owl Dreamcatcher Tattoo Meaning

Owls are important spirit animals representing wisdom, prophecy, and the afterlife. In many cultures, owls are thought to be protectors of the souls who have passed on. Combined with the protective significance of the dreamcatcher, this makes an Owl/ Dreamcatcher combo tattoo excellent for a memorial design. It can symbolize the desire for your loved one’s spirit to be watched over and guided safely to the Heaven/the afterlife/ etc. after death.

Black and Gray Owl and Wolf Dreamcatcher tattoo

Owl and Wolf Dreamcatcher tattoo by @waynesworldtattoo

Dreamcatcher Feather Meanings

Feathers are an important part of the dreamcatcher design; they represent breath and air, and help good dreams to slide safely down into the mind of the sleeper.

In the various Native American cultures, feathers from different birds carry different meanings. You can check out a full list of different feather meanings on our article [here], but in the meantime here’s a quick rundown of the most popular choices.

Dreamcatcher with Rainbow Feathers tattoo

Multicolored Feather Dreamcatcher tattoo by @therapyinktattoo

Crow Feather: Crows are symbols of cunning, skill, and a release from past beliefs. Crows also tend to be heavily associated with death.

Raven Feather: Not to be confused with a crow feather (the two birds are very similar but are definitely not the same), ravens are associated with Creation and are actually considered bringers of light in many Native American cultures.

Eagle Feather: Eagles are proud birds and fierce predators. Because of this, eagle feathers generally represent leadership, courage, and immense strength. Many Native American tribes considered eagles (especially the bald eagle and the golden eagle) to be sacred animals.

Peacock Feather: Though not incredibly common in Native American culture, peacock feathers are still an extremely popular choice for tattoos in the mainstream. Peacocks tend to be symbols of rebirth (because they regrow their fabulous tail feathers on an annual basis), and also represent royalty and wealth. Some people even believe that peacocks can protect against harm, since the “eye” at the top of each tail feather is similar in design to the Evil Eye, which wards off harm and negative spirits.

Full color peacock Dreamcatcher tattoo

Peacock Dreamcatcher tattoo by @alexistattoos

Owl Feather: Owl feathers help grant wisdom to the bearer, as well as the ability to see things for what they are. They are also important to warriors and hunters, as they are believed to attribute swiftness and silence.

Dreamcatcher Color Meanings

Because dreamcatchers are meant to be very personal objects, it is said that the color of your dreamcatcher should correspond with the color that appears most prominently in your dreams. You could also design a dreamcatcher with color psychology in mind, and use the color for the emotion(s) that you feel most strongly, or want to feel more of in your life.

Black and Gray Dreamcatcher and Peonies tattoo

Dreamcatcher and Peonies tattoo by @mi_li3_art

White Dreamcatcher: White signifies purity and innocence. Incidentally, some believe that a white dreamcatcher is best because it enables good spirits of all “colors” to find their way into your mind and heart, rather than restricting yourself to one shade.

Blue Dreamcatcher: Blue is a bit contradictory. Blue can either mean happiness and joy (for example, bluebirds/ blue jays are often considered bringers or joy and exuberance in Native American culture), but the shade can also mean sadness or depression.

Red Dreamcatcher: Red is the color of passion and ferocity. Depending upon the context, shades of red can mean everything from a very strong love of someone/ something, to anger or violence.

Purple Dreamcatcher: Purple is typically considered the most spiritual of all colors, and is also often seen as the color of royalty.

Yellow Dreamcatcher: More than any other color, yellow represents happiness, joy, and positivity.

Full color dreamcatcher tattoo

Yellow Dreamcatcher tattoo by @_isaisai

Black Dreamcatcher: Though many people think that the color black is strictly related to all things evil and occult, black dreamcatchers can also represent a sense of power and elegance.

Black and Gray Dreamcatcher tatttoo on thigh

Black and Gray Dreamcatcher tattoo by @krissydiane_tattoos

Dreamcatchers are truly gorgeous works of art, and with the right amount of planning they can make incredibly unique and meaningful tattoos. Here’s a summary of the various dreamcatcher tattoo meanings we’ve discussed, just in case you missed any along the way!

- Protection

- Balance/ unity (Yin-Yang Dreamcatcher)

- Guidance (Compass and Dreamcatcher)

- Loyalty (Wolf Dreamcatcher)

- Family (Wolf Dreamcatcher, Bear Dreamcatcher)

- Motherhood/ Parenthood (Bear Dreamcatcher)

- Wisdom, Cunning (Owl Dreamcatcher, Crow Feather, Owl Feather)

- Protection in Afterlife (Owl Dreamcatcher)

- Creation (Raven Feather)

- Positivity, joy, light (Raven feather, yellow dreamcatcher)

- Rebirth (Peacock feather)

- Leadership, courage (Eagle feather)

Did you just get a new Dreamcatcher Tattoo?  Check out our informative articles on Tattoo Aftercare, as well as the best ointment for your new ink! 

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