Dreamcatchers and masks

A fully vaccinated friend was over for dinner a week ago. Peter and I, also fully vaccinated, are tentatively stepping back into the pleasures of having (fully vaccinated) friends to dinner, and eating at other friends’ (fully vaccinated) houses too. Indoors!! What a treat! It feels so new to have other people in our house, and equally strange to cross over other people’s doorsteps.

My N95 COVID-19 mask and our dreamcatcher

This friend happened to notice our little dreamcatcher hanging over a COVID-19 mask on a windowframe hook in our dining room. Powerfully meaningful, she pointed out, having the two things together.

Not to me, as I had no idea what dreamcatchers meant. Back in my hippie days, certainly I’d seen them, knew their name, but thought of them as nothing more than a kind of decorative macrame, with the added benefit of symbolizing that us white kids supported Native Americans in an admittedly undefined and diffuse way.

Today dreamcatcher images are on tattoos, jewelry, fabric, etc. and are one more example of cultural appropriation wrought by our ever-expanding consumer economy. Dreamcatchers’ real meaning, however, was explained to me by our dinner companion: they are a device used by many indigenous tribes to protect from misfortune and encourage happier times, whether in the dream world or the daily wide awake world.

The juxtaposition of the N95 COVID-19 mask and the dreamcatcher, which I had unwittingly hung together, turns out to visually (and perhaps spiritually?) express my heartfelt wish for all humans to be free of this terrible virus.

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