owl & crow

stephanie anderson ladd

The Teachings of Spider Woman

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Spider Woman by Susan Seddon Boulet

Spider Woman by Susan Seddon Boulet

For some reason, as these things go, I have been seeing lots of spiders, reading spider lore, and learning about two women, Greta Binford and Maydianne Andrade, who study spiders. I have also been noticing spider webs lately — wherever I go, it seems — glistening in the sunlight. There’s a spider that has built an intricate web on the outside of my kitchen window so that every time I do dishes I can watch her clever and industrious ways of capturing her prey. There is an egg sac, as well, which I am watching, hoping to see her brood emerge one day (my very own Charlotte’s web).

That's Charlotte\-\-the little brown blob in the middle

That's Charlotte--the little brown blob in the middle

Spiders have mythic and symbolic significance in every culture. In Greek and Norse mythology, there were goddess associations having to do with the art of weaving, writing and spinning man’s destiny or fate. One Greek myth tells how Athena, a great weaver of tapestries, turned Arachne, who dared to challenge her talent,  into a spider. In the Mayan tradition, Spider Woman was a goddess of the darkness and the underworld. In the tarot, spider is associated with the major arcana card, The Wheel of Fortune, symbolic of the rhythms of life, the world and the many cycles revolving within it, eternally bringing about new beginnings.

Spider Woman or Grandmother Spider was important in many Native American tribes, as the creatrix, who brought everything into being by thinking, dreaming, or naming. She was also seen as weaver of the web of life. Among the Choctaw, she is attributed with stealing fire and bringing light to the world. She is generally seen as a creative force, who can weave magic using her own resources.

Unlike insects, who have three body parts, spiders have two, which gives them the appearance of the mystical figure 8 (not to mention spidey has 8 legs), or on its side, the symbol of infinity. Grandmother Spider is therefore thought to be a link between the past and the future, and the difficulty of learning to walk between the two… and that is precisely where I have been spinning for the past year or so.

Because the female spider is typically regarded as the stronger entity between males and females because of her reputation of devouring the male spider after mating, she is associated with matrilineal cultures and traditions. As such, she is often portrayed as a strong feminine leader who nurtures, trusts, and helps others reach their potential. An inspiring symbol I chose to help me feel connected to the Source and to realize my full potential! I feel she is helping me see how all of my striving and experiences are connected and how my attitude and emotions reverberate across space and time and affect not only myself, but others. Having achieved two of my goals since moving to North Carolina — receiving one of my professional licenses to practice here, and owning/developing my creative and artistic self – I feel she has come to guide me to better understand my place on the wheel of life.

spidercrownchakra1

I made this SoulCollage for my 7th chakra, the crown chakra, which is the highest chakra representing enlightenment, spirituality, connection to God or the higher Self, and oneness. I used a photo that I took last summer in the garden of a spider (argiope orbweb spider) and her amazing web, and loved the way her zig-zag web line ( called a stabilimentum) connected right to my crown. I then read this: “It’s generally accepted… that her “thread” connects the human world with creation, god, or the world of spirit.” I was pleased that in my collage, the pieces came together to illustrate that connection.

For this card, I wrote: “I am one who connects with the great web of the universe through the light that flows through my crown chakra. Like the butterfly effect, when I spiral down into fear and negativity, I lose sight of the reality that we are all one, connected by the threads Spider has woven, and I can affect others negatively. When I dance on her web in trust and joy, it ripples across to the other side, perhaps causing someone to smile for no reason. It is important to remember our connection to all life.”

If Grandmother Spider speaks to you, it might be worth asking yourself: Am I taking advantage of my creative opportunities? Am I weaving my dreams into reality? Am I living in the present, in balance with what has gone before and the mystery of what is to come? Or am I stuck, caught in a web of my own making? Am I mindful of my connection to all other living beings and to the universe at large? How might I nurture myself better?

“In ancient times, Spider Woman wove together the reality of our world, casting a giant matrix of energy lines throughout the entire universe with fibers of light and power. When you dance on her web in one part of the world, your vibration is felt all the way to the other side. If someone is being negative on one side of the world, you feel it in some inexplicable way. When you create beauty and power, this also goes out on her web like a pulse of energy that recreates itself around the world. Shamans have always known how to use their luminous fibers to move along Spider Woman’s web to meet with another and with the great masters of enlightenment.” – Lynn Andrews

“Our souls sit close and silently within,

And their own webs from their own entrails spin;

And when eyes meet far off, our sense is such,

That, spider-like, we feel the tenderest touch.”

-  John Dryden

“Our egos tells us we’re the only ones that have any kind of feelings. We’re the only ones with a relationship. We’re the only ones with family. You know, I think that if you kill a spider, there is a relationship that you’re ruining. There’s a conversation going on outside with the other spiders. ‘Did you hear about Chris?….Killed yeah….Sneaker. And now Stephanie has nine hundred babies to raise all alone. Well, she’s got her legs full I’ll tell you that right now. Chris was so kind, wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s just been tough for them lately. They just lost their web last week. Those humans think they’re so smart. Let them try shooting silk out of their butt and see what they can make.” -  Ellen DeGeneres


About The Author

I am in a stage of new beginnings, of starting over on the other side of the continent from California, where I spent 38 years of my life. Moving to North Carolina was a bit of a shock to my system. Not so much culture shock but the shock of transplanting myself and starting over as a therapist, artist, and wild woman. I had to figure out how I was going to do it differently than I had been doing it. Because I knew I needed to change the way I worked outwardly to match the way I was feeling and moving inwardly and make it more playful, and at the same time, deep and meaningful. I knew I wanted to work with women primarily, to help them find their way on the heroine's journey to wholeness. I knew I wanted to bring more creative expression to my work because that was what was working for me--a way to bypass all the analytical thinking, perfectionism, and psychological paradigms largely created by men, and find more more intuitive ways of Being, Creating and Flowing with Life, in keeping with the Divine Feminine. I like working with the triple goddess: maiden, mother and crone, which describes the three stages of life as well as inner states of being--the innocent/adventurer; the nurturer and active doer; and the wise being who has the advantage of overview and doesn't care as much what others think of her as long as she is being true to herself. The triple goddess is found in most all cultures and traditions and helps us move out of dualistic thinking patterns and find our way to a more integrated and balanced way of life. As I forge a new path, I want to connect with women all over the world, to help women own their power, and to both explore and offer tools for self-discovery and self-care. Creating my interactive e-book, "In the Lap of the Goddess: Connecting With the Divine Feminine," and my Goddess Temple e-courses based on the workbook are my offerings, a way to share with women the knowledge and wisdom we all hold within us, reflected in the goddess throughout history, across time, and in every corner of the world.

Comments

3 Responses to “The Teachings of Spider Woman”

  1. Izzy says:

    Ironically enough, I wrote this two months prior to you. Maybe we were hanging out on the same web. =)

  2. Stephanie says:

    That’s cool! Seems like I’ve been seeing lots of beautiful spiders and their webs in North Carolina and lots of teachings from Spider Woman. I’ve got one now by my front door at my new house. She’s kind of intimidating, but I’ve decided she’s just the welcoming spider, reminding all who enter to keep weaving beautiful webs of words, thoughts, pictures, homes, families, friends…

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