By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – Milena Sidorova, the spider dancer (below) takes great effort to perfect her dance and it shows. I have watched several of her performances, and although she is more of a dance choreography for other dancers, her spider self shows great promise. When we use creativity to guide our life, we get the benefits of the blessings, even if its small amounts of creativity. Honoring messengers such as spiders and birds and animals can become a direct act of understanding our animal nature (instincts of responses without the uses of the mind) and the beauty of our natural world.
There are four very ancient totems one should be aware of and what they represent: The first is “bird” which represents the “soul”; second is “serpent” which represents the “healing of the soul”; third is “spider” which weaves the two “soul healing” together and fish, which is the “nourishment of our soul”.
These symbols of totems are in every single spiritual teaching around the ancient earth. Grandmother teachings such as this were here long before 3,000 bce. The meanings of spider awareness is a very subtle thing and takes practices and development beyond books and knowledge. We actually have to pay attention to the live and living natural world and how spider interacts with us.
If you really believed, you could call a spider into your room tonight and it will be there if you are sincere about its help. Whether you can see spider or not is a whole different thing. Healing, healthy creativity or even a combination of healing creativity expands our awareness so you can see when we involve nature
Spider and any Totems
The first benefits of symbolism and the practice, is to communicate through observation of the natural world, which is not an easy or a light task mind you. Learning both human or animal symbolism requires work and dedication, such as the spider totem. The first time spider came to you, when you were young, and it entered your personal space, this is a very important first encounter if you can remember that far back. How did you feel? Were you afraid or surprised or were you delighted? My first time I was 8 years old and the neighbors had moved into the home across the street. Their daughter was a college student studying spiders and she had lots of them.
One time she invited me in to teach me about daddy long legs and let them crawl over her arms. I was fascinated and to this day, they are still helpers of mine along with quite a few different types of spider. I noticed she loved them and cared for them and I liked that. Our relationship to the natural world can be as deep or shallow as you want it to be and sometimes not all totems come as friendly totems, they come to initiate and help you overcome your fear.
What makes the difference in our relationship to animals, pets or even bugs between spirituality or rescuing animals or loving our pets. I would have to say it is the hidden veil of the sensitive awareness that animals are their own masters, they do not really belong to us. Mind & Body does not bring us into this reality or the realm of animistic magic, and drug shamanism just distorts and disrespects all of it. So to really truly respect nature as a first step, is to allow it to be free.
In spiritual terms, a naturalist taking a hike, who see’s a spider, investigates its movements, habits and actions, and may love spiders, but he moves along in his hike without the messengers’ soul sharing. As a shaman, I would never do this, I would first thank the spider for coming to me as a messenger on my hike, then i would remain empty and watch the spider as she does her dance, telling me the ancient story of how she communicates, I would watch without any thoughts of what it means, leaving my mind out of the scenario.
The spiritual person lears by practicing over and over again what each particular spider who enters their life does, how it moves and does its language in a dance (movements), hawk does it a different way, and all of these have one thing in common, they do not talk to you in a human way, you have to learn their language. in ‘meeting’ terms, just the connection that is, in the middle of the woods, spider who comes as a messenger to me, I know what message she bring. She says you better watch the rest of your hike, you walk on a web, and there are other messengers, some not as nice as me (if she is not a poisonous spider), she also says, you have some webs to clean up around your personal home today also.
After you learn all the different things connected with spiders through each experience you have with them, and this is only learned by trial and error, good guessing and bad guessing and then throwing guessing in the trash. Keeping a journal of your experience would be more productive, rather than all the LISTS of what they mean in web writing and books, you learn about your soul – not spider’s soul. Then as more experiences and years go by, when she appears again, your intuition begins to activate because your mind practiced silence and no attachments, that sounds very buddhist and yes, it is but to the animal world, not the human one, buddhism lives in the realm of the human or divine human. You will then get the animal or spider more and more.
Spiders in all teachings, talk about their weaving abilities, the ancient story of the women weavers opens up another long journey of spiritual work then, understanding the Goddess weaver stories in ancient myths in order to understand one sentence of a totem explanation in a book or web writing. Great if your an actual weaver or embroiderer, it might come more natural to you, but you may not have a spider animism soul, so you still must practice symbolism, and with the help of myths, folktales and stories, or try looking at ancient art and ponder and meditate on them, then the spider totem starts to come alive. Ancient art has only certain animals, and those were the ones who were going to be used or destroyed by rising Sun Cults of men.
Once spider leaves the waking world and then comes in your dreams or any animal or avian you are woking with, then you know you are going deeper from out here in the waking world to the inner dreamer who knows spider well. If you had a lot of spider dreams, then you are not getting the teaching of change out here in your waking world and doing something about it, spider will keep coming in your dream until you change in your waking life. I encouraged you to start reading about spider totem, keeping a totem journey with your dream journal, and the practices and study get easier when spider or hawk approach your “personal” space.
One rule of shamanizing animism is that the animal, bug or bird must look you “straight in the eyes” and make eye contact, this is a soul to soul connection and the only one you should concern yourself with in the beginning, they are not trying to save our life or tell us some giant heavenly bird tribe message (angels), they are just wanting you to pay attention to mother earth and her natural world, in which they belong, they also want you to understand that you have more than one soul and that they have arrived, thats all, and this is so important to remember.
I encouraged you to start reading about spider totem when one shows actually up, yes, that is an important level and stage of growth, those who are completed with that stage, the next connection to move further allows you to bring the totem home for dinner (nourishment of your soul) into your personal life. If a bird or spider does not look in your eyes, when you start paying attention, then there is no reason to waste your time with this totem. If it flies into your car window, then you have missed every past opportunity to connect, and they have shown up in a drastic effort. Eventually they will give up on the person who doesn’t get.
I remember one time I drove the same stretch of highway and 3 hawks, everyday, sat in the same place of the 30 mile drive… for seven years. One snow storm I was driving and one was dead on the road, I was devastated, but my life was falling apart from choosing a divorce, and it took me seven years to make sure it was the truth, the hawks waited patiently for me to make that final move, they were some difficult choices I had to make. I turned around and went to the exact point where the dead hawk was, and there was no hawk, and the 3 hawks were never there again, my life changed and I began to have intense mystical experiences after that. Death of animals, avian etc. in totem work is more complicated and maybe I will write an article on that in the future.
Animals, bugs, oceanids, they all give us a part of their life for you in soul communication, when you decide to interact with them in a shamanistic way, as well as meat or fur for warmth. Spider is an older and more archaic and complicated wise one, and deeper than the writings and categories or fashions that others try to fit her into, like the ‘lists’ of spider totem or random writing that goes on and on without experience to make it very clear her roll in our lives. Spider is first and foremost, a bug clan, so she works in the realms of the Fae & Fairy clan people, just as bee and wasp do.
I don’t write totems about things I don’t have experience at, why would I, its not respectful to nature or myself or to first to the black, yellow, red, white and brown peoples traditions of spirituality and shamanism. So use common sense when an animal or spider keeps appearing in your life. After many decades and even as a life of a shaman animist I still learn more and more about my natural relationship of my soul with the soul of the natural world, its an expansive consciousness that opens up more as you expand, and that requires working with teachers and especially healers, like energy work.
To completed this little article, if you are a creative person, or need creativity to enhance your life, an artist, a dancer, a writer or singer, try to respect paying attention to mother earth more, and see how it mirrors both your karma and your light.
Be very diligent in path, it not only pays off and brings you into healthier circles of healthier mirrors in your life, but also teaches you discernment and that both the shadow self and the light self have an important interplay with the natural world, its animals, avians and bugs.
Respect the Spider, this ancient great Weaver who manifests, who has been around a few million years and shows up again to say – are you ready this lifetime to take my messages more seriously of your real living life or do I have to wait another lifetime for you to see and understand me?
Totem, Weaver & Fate Archetypes, Age Old Destiny
From Ted Andrews of Animal Speak:The spider as totem has shown up in myth and lore throughout the world. Usually it’s symbolism has been very similar wherever it is used. In India, it was associated with Maya, the weaver of illusion. It has had connections to the Fates in Greek mythology and the Norns in Scandinavian lore — women who would weave, measure, and cut the threads of life. To the Native Americans, spider is grandmother, the link to the past and the future.
Unlike insects, spiders have a two section body instead of three, often giving them a figure eight kind of appearance. This in conjunction with its eight legs (unlike an insect’s six) links it to all the mysticism associated with the geometric form of the figure eight. On its side, this is the symbol of infinity (which is death). It is the wheel of life, flowing from one circle to the next. The difficulty is learning to walk those circles or even hold your position within the middle between the two.
Spider teaches you to maintain a balance — between past and future, physical and spiritual, male and female. Spider teaches you that everything you now do is weaving what you will encounter in the future. In the tarot deck is a card – The Wheel of Fortune. This is a card that has to do with rhythms– the rise and fall, the flow and flux. It is linked to the energies of honor and fame, and the sensitivities necessary to place ourselves within the rhythm of Nature. Meditation upon this card would be beneficial for anyone with the spider totem.
The spider awakens creative sensibilities. It weaves a web of intricate and subtle fabric, as if to remind us that the past always subtly influences the present and the future. Often the webs will take a spiral shape, the traditional for of creativity and development. The spider found within the web reminds us that we are the center of our own world. The ancient mystery schools had one percent inscribed about their portals: “Know Thyself and Thou Shalt Know the Earth!” Spider reminds us that the world is woven around us. We are the keepers of our own destiny, weaving it like a web by our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The spider, because of its characteristics, has come to be associated by mystics and in mythology with three predominant expressions of magic.
The first is the magic and energy of creation which can never be separated by destruction, or birth and death. It is a symbol of creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web. It is also associated with assertiveness of that creative force, of keeping the feminine energies of creation alive and strong. As will be discussed further, this has ties to the characteristics of some spiders, i.e. the female black widow, which will kill and eat the male after mating has exhausted it.
The second predominant magic of the spider is associated with its spiral energy, the links with the past and the future. The spiral of the web, converging at a central point, is something to meditated upon by those with this totem. Spider is the guardian of the ancient languages and alphabets. Every society has had myths about how the different languages and alphabets were formed.
The Chinese alphabet is attributed to Ts’ang Chien, the god with the dragon face and four eyes. He formed it from the patterns of the stars, the marks on the back of the turtle and the footprints of birds in the sand. The Norse god, Odin, created the Runic alphabet after hanging upon the great tree of life for nine days and nights. After this time, the twigs fell off and spelled out certain formulas and words.
To many, there was an alphabet even more primordial. It was formed by the geometric patterns and angles found within spider’s web. To many this was the first true alphabet. This is why spider is considered the teacher of language and magic of writing. Those who weave magic with the written word probably have a spider totem.
The spider has long been associated with death and rebirth. Part of this may have to do with the fact that some female spider will kill and eat the male after mating. This is often found in the insect world, the praying mantis being another such example. Because it is constantly building and weaving new webs, it has also been a lunar symbol, with ties to the waxing and waning of the moon. For those with this totem, this pattern is a reminder to maintain balance and polarity in all aspects of life. Spider teaches that through polarity and balance creativity is stimulated.
Most spiders are poisonous. This how they kill or stun their prey. They serve a vital function in controlling insect populations. The black widow probably has received the worst reputation undeservedly and is found all over the United States. It is jet black, but it has a red hour-glass shaped marking on the belly. It is a poisonous spider, but it is not fatal to humans as many assume. It is actually a very timid spider, and it is usually as much or more afraid of humans than they are of it.
Parts here are from Goddess as Weaver of Creation, We are the Weavers of the Web by Dr Tricia Szirom – On the light or positive side, Weaver & Spinning Mythologies who about those who spin and weave our fate, and are those who bound demons as hunters and huntresses. Middle East and Islamic oral tradition held that during the Hijra, the journey from Mecca to Medina, Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr were being pursued by Quraysh soldiers, and they decided to take refuge in the Cave of Thawr.
The tale goes on to say that Allah commanded a spider to weave a web across the opening of the cave. After seeing the spider’s web, the Quraysh passed the cave by, since Muhammad’s entry to the cave would have broken the web.
This ancient land is one of many spirits, which add meaning and depth to our understanding of the web of life and the Great Mother. Many of the world’s people believe that the world is woven and that a weaving Creator Goddess wove its designs into being; for example the Navajo legend of the Spider Woman; she who sits at the great galactic center. She is the feminine force of all creation who joins all nations, all tribes, all families, and all realities together, in her web. The Weaver is the Female Principle of creation.
Myths of weaving exist around the world as metaphors for creation. However, there is, in all the world, no god of weaving — only goddesses. Often the weaving goddesses are also teachers of wisdom and midwifery. While there are one or two examples of Weaver Goddesses who are connected with the Sun mostly they are of the Moon.
Greek Mythology – Weaving Destiny & Fate
The Moirae (the “Fates”) are the three archaic grandmothers who control Destiny, and the matter of it is the art of spinning the thread of life on the distaff as its symbol. Ariadne, in Minoan Crete, possessed the spun thread that led Theseus to the center of the labyrinth and safely out again.
Athena was a weaver and the Goddess of Wisdom is described as having shining gray eyes and She would always be accompanied by her Owl, now a symbol of wisdom. Often, Athena is accompanied by the Goddess of Victory, Nike. Athena is always depicted wearing armor and a helmet.
A woman called Arachne used to boast that she was the best weaver ever and Athena challenged her. Arachne, in her vanity, wove a scene of Zeus in trouble with his many wives at which Athena became furious and burned the tapestry down along with Arachne. Later on, she regretted it, and turned Arachne into a spider so that she would weave her beautiful designs forever. After Greece was conquered by Rome, Athena was incorporated with a similar goddess from Roman Mythology called Minerva.
“The Voice of the Shuttle” comes from Sophocles and refers to Polymela, a young woman who was savagely raped by her brother-in-law, a Thracian king. To prevent her from telling her sister (his wife) what had happened, he cut out her tongue. Desperate, Polymela used the only means she had available — she let her wooden shuttle speak for her as she wove the scenes of her rape and mutilation into a tapestry. When her sister saw it, she understood w hat had happened and took a terrible revenge upon her husband.
Watanbe in a popular Japanese legend battles a vampire like Spider named Tsuchigumo. Watanabe is guarding his master Raiko, who is sleeping off an illness that brought him to the bring of Death. As two of the guards play the game called Go, a spider goblin appears by Raiko’s bed, sent by Tsuchigumo. Raiko wakes up and slashes at the spider’s leg with his sword, but it escapes.
Watanabe and his fellow guards pursue the spider, following a trail of blood droplets that lead them to a deep and dark cave where Tsuchigumo lives. He tries to entrap the men in his web, but Watanabe eventually kills him in a terrific fight. When the guards return, Raiko is sitting up in bed, completely recovered.
Ama-Terasu “Great Shining Heaven” is the Japanese Sun Goddess, guardian of the Japanese people and ruler of all deities. One of her tasks was to weave sacred robes for the gods. After an altercation with her brother she hid in a cave a wouldn’t come out so that no sunlight could reach the earth.
The gods met to plan a way to free her and the lewd dancer Uzume stepped forth. She danced so that the gods all were delighted and laughed so much that the cave shook. Ama-terasu opened the door of the cave to see what was going on. Uzume said that they were happy because a new, better, more beautiful sun goddess has come to replace her.
Amaterasu immediately demanded to see this goddess, and was shown a mirror. She was startled and spellbound by her own reflection long enough for the gods to draw her from the cave, and so the world was light again and there was much rejoicing. Ama-terasu symbolizes warmth, harvest, love, fertility, goodness, wisdom, peace, light, sun, compassion.
In Tang Dynasty China, the goddess weaver floated down on a shaft of moonlight with her two attendants. She showed the upright court official Guo Han in his garden that a goddess’s robe is seamless, for it is woven without the use of needle and thread, entirely on the loom. The phrase “a goddess’s robe is seamless” passed into an idiom to express perfect workmanship. This idiom is also used to mean a perfect, comprehensive plan. The Goddess Weaver, daughter of the Celestial Queen Mother and Jade Emperor, wove the stars and their light, known as “the Silver River” (what Westerners call “The Milky Way Galaxy”), for heaven and earth. She was identified with the star Westerners know as Vega.
In Baltic myth, Saule is the life-affirming sun goddess, whose numinous presence is signed by a wheel or a rosette. She spins the sunbeams. The Baltic connection between the sun and spinning is as old as spindles of the sun-stone, amber, that have been uncovered in burial mounds. Baltic legends as told have absorbed many images from Christianity and Greek myth that are not easy to disentangle.
Dalia is the Goddess of Weaving and Fate in the Lithuanian mythology. She was the giver and taker of goods and property and the omniscient goddess of childbirth and destiny. Dalia is spinner, weaver, and seamstress and believed to cut off the cloth of life.
Ixchel, is the Mayan Goddess of weaving, healing and childbirth. Mayan women say that fabric made on a back-strap loom is not woven, it is “born”. Although associated with floods and rains, Ixchel was commonly worshiped as the patron goddess of weaving and especially childbirth. In Inca mythology, Mama Ocllo first taught women the art of spinning thread.
Net (also Neith) was an ancient Egyptian goddess, not very well known perhaps, unlike her Hellenistic reincarnation – Athena. Net was a warrior goddess, just like Athena, and the goddess of weaving – “weaver” is actually the translation of her name.
Maori passed their knowledge and wisdom between generations through stories and permanently recorded them in the carving and weaving of the various tribes. Weaving was a gift. Weaving is one of the treasures of Hine-te-iwaiwa, the female personification of the moon (Marama) and also the Maori goddess of weaving, plaiting and other arts. The Maori developed the craft of weaving and plaiting to a fine art to make a variety of articles for use in daily life.
The Scandinavian “Song of the Spear”, quoted in “Njals Saga”, gives a detailed description of Valkyries as women weaving on a loom, with severed heads for weights, arrows for shuttles, and human gut for the warp, singing an exultant song of carnage.
The Finnish epic, the Kalevala, has many references to spinning and weaving goddesses. In later European folklore, weaving retained its connection with magic. Mother Goose, traditional teller of fairy tales, is often associated with spinning. She was known as “Goose-Footed Bertha” or Reine Pédauque (“Goose-footed Queen”).
French legends as spinning incredible tales that enraptured children. The daughter who, her father claimed, could spin straw into gold and was forced to demonstrate her talent, aided by the dangerous earth-daemon Rumpelstiltskin was an old tale when the Brothers Grimm collected it. Similarly, the unwilling spinner of the tale The Three Spinners is aided by three mysterious old women. In The Six Swans, the heroine spins and weaves starwort in order to free her brothers from a shapes shifting curse. Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle are enchanted.