We were leaving the cinema the other night when we passed a poster for the latest Steven King movie, “Dreamcatcher”. Dementia commented that she had never understood the legend behind dreamcatchers, and I stopped and stared at her.
“Really,” she said. “How are they supposed to work? What is it about that shape that makes any difference?”
I sighed. “It’s magic.” Which is usually, when dealing with fantasy, meant to imply, “Don’t ask; it isn’t supposed to make sense (sort of like Star Trek science).” Fortunately, Dementia knows me better than that, and pressed me to drop the other shoe.
A dreamcatcher is a physical artifact of a piece of ritual magic, and it works because it is supposed to work (more or less; we are talking about magic, after all, and all of the rules are a bit dodgy). Someone wants to cast a lasting anti-nightmare spell. He visualizes an object that symbolizes what he wants to achieve, and then (having done whatever ritual preparation he feels is appropriate) proceeds to build the thing he has visualized. The shape of the thing only matters to the extent that it helps the maker to concentrate on the end result, and that it helps the recipient to do the same.
So… A cast vinyl dreamcatcher (if such things exist, and I hope they do not) is a knick knack. A dreamcatcher hand made with assembly line methods is a BIG knick knack, but… There is the fact that dreamcatchers are participatory spells. So there is something to be said for simply believing that your trade junk dreamcatcher is effective; it will draw some power from your belief. It is better if someone who believes buys it and gives it to you; there is power in the act of giving. It is better still if you can make one for yourself (allowing for appropriate belief and reverence) and best of all to receive one which was properly made as a gift from the maker.
Typical Friday night light conversation…