My favorite time of year. I love the wind. I love the leaves changing (even when it’s only about a half a percent of the trees in Southern California.). I love the lengthening shadows. I love the feeling of urgency and anticipation. Fall winds bring me great things, and this year is no exception (to put it mildly!).
I don’t love the sudden emergence of spiders, but aside from the year that we had an hysteria-inducing giant red spider invasion in LA due to El Nino, I have learned to deal with it, in my way. Um… most of the time. There is one particular spider which has made a gigantic nest (and I do mean nest, this thing is as big as a small bird) in between a window and a storm window in the living room. It rarely ever emerges into sight but when it does I am either mesmerized or paralyzed with terror – I haven’t been able to identify which. But it is behind glass, and so far I have not prevailed on the Alpha Male in my life to DO SOMETHING about it, because…
Well, to be honest, I’m not sure why. For one thing, I know he’d just kill it. Alpha Males are all about the direct approach. But it’s more than that. I leave it because it’s some kind of self-test, I think. Of nerves. Maybe it’s partly a research experiment - I’m taking note of my overwhelming emotions toward this creature to use them later in my writing.
But even more than that - this – thing - is just too big, and black (did I mention it was black? Black as tar. And it has the thickest legs I’ve ever seen on an arachnid – legs perfectly capable of kicking through a storm window…) for me not to think it’s some kind of cosmic sign, some vital life lesson to be learned.
(It really is walking the edge, though. I feel certain I would not survive a face-to-face encounter. If I ever suddenly disappear from this blog, now you’ll all know why. The glass broke.)
The point is, spiritually, I have something to learn from this spider.
There are certainly no end of spider myths in world mythology. It’s one of humankind's most enduring archetypes. You all probably remember (at least vaguely) the Greek story of Arachne, the weaver who challenged the goddess of weaving to a weaving duel.
So is it a lesson of vanity? I’m challenging the goddess? Or doomed to live forever in my own web (caught up in another book, or actually, at the moment, three, that’s just a sounding a little too familiar…)
Witches talk about all things being connected by the web of life, an analogy that has always seemed to me a little, well, sticky, but maybe it’s something I should pay more attention to.
Carl Jung's interpretation of a spider (he was speaking about spiders in dreams) is "a symbol of wholeness due to its circular shape.” “The spider and his web may be calling for an integration of the dream[er]'s personality leading to greater self-awareness and resulting in feelings of completeness”.
Spiders are also traditionally a symbol of feminine power – both constructive and destructive feminine power – the weaver of the world in India, the Spider Grandmother in Native American mythology, and of course the black widow as the ultimate expression of destructive femininity in our own culture.
I know some women who embrace the image… but I’ve never felt very comfortable with it. Frankly, I think I scare enough men already. But perhaps comfort is not the point. In fact, I’m assuming it’s not the point, because we’re talking about a SPIDER. Comfort has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
In Native American spirituality, a power animal, or Medicine animal, or Guardian Spirit, is one that has made itself known in dreams or visionquest at least four times, each time in a significant way.
Well, I haven’t had any dreams about the – you know – and I haven’t been on any visionquests lately, but I’d say I’ve seen the - it – at least four times, and every time is certainly significant if you count my elevated pulse.
So I think I’m going to take a deep breath and accept it as my power animal, for now, and see what I can learn from it.
That is, as long as the glass holds.
What about you all? Any unlikely guardian spirits, or interesting archetypes, visit you lately? Do you ever pursue them and see where they lead?