Spider: Animal Dreaming

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Spider: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

Tarantula: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

“No one knows, incidentally, why Australia’s spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space.”
― Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country

It’s common knowledge that Australia has some highly venomous spiders.  Whilst some are deadly, most are not very toxic.  Despite being very feared, they are an important part of the web of life; controlling insect populations.  They have been depicted in aboriginal art and one dreaming focuses on the spider’s sexuality and desire.  She would seduce some men and not others and this caused tension and jealousy.  To escape the consequences of her action, she turned herself and her lovers into spiders.  Be careful of getting caught in your own web.

“Women are spinners and weavers, we are the ones who spin the threads and weave them into meaning and pattern. Like silkworms, we create those threads out of our own substance, pulling the strong, fine fibres out of our own hearts and wombs. It’s time to make some new threads; time to strengthen the frayed wild edges of our own being and then weave ourselves back into the fabric of our culture.”

– Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted

Spider: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

Note, there is a separate tarantula card.

I’m going to say from the start, I don’t like spiders, writing this is making me feel things crawling up my legs… I used to, once upon a time. I would play with them and they were all called Humphrey… Then I accidentally saw an episode of a David Attenborough documentary with a spider the size of a dinner plate which could kill you… I was only little at the time and it instilled a fear of all spiders.

When I was in Ghana I had to face a toilet full of jumping spiders and in Bali and Cambodia there were some pretty huge ones which I had to scurry past *shudder*.

So a hat tilt to Kim who has managed to make this much feared animal still look beautiful. And that’s probably a good first thing to take from this card – all plants and animals are part of the web of life, they all have a role to play and we shouldn’t discount any based on their looks (or their potential to kill).

Obviously it’s not just me, a lot of people are afraid of spiders.  Taz Thornton writes about facing fears in her book, using the spider as an example:

“If you are afraid of spiders, try to remember when you first learned that fear, then work out what, exactly, you believe you are afraid of… Is it the swift movement?  Would they still be scary if they moved at a snail’s pace?  Is it the legs?  Who else do you know with legs?  Are they scary?  What would a spider have to do to make friends with you?  What if they started delivering your favourite treats, or spinning lovely words for you to wake up to in the morning?”

(By the way, you really should get her book, it’s ace – Whispers From The Earth.)

Tell me something that isn’t about fear…

Why is the spider in the earth suit?  Surely it makes more sense to be in the air where they build their webs?  Well… I am glad you asked!

Firstly, not all spiders build webs in the air, some build traps in the ground.  But probably more relevant here is the spiders starring role in a number of creation myths.  In these stories they literally created the earth, weaving it into existence, so of course the earth suit is the perfect place for them.

I think it’s interesting that this spider is weaving a rainbow web – one could take that as a sign of the diversity of life and existence.  The web of life is complicated and varied but we all have our part to play.

In terms of reflection, how are you creating your reality?  There are a lot of things beyond our control but how are you approaching those things which you have influence over?  This might be your physical environment, like the spiders web, or your thoughts, like the spider’s persistence.

So what else?

Random fact: Collectively a group of spiders is a clutter of spiders.

Most of us know that spiders have 8 eyes and 8 legs, making the number 8 very significant to a spider.  In numerology, the number 8 is often associated with balance, something which is crucial when you live on a delicate web!

In terms of how it perceives the world, the spider will see the world in intricate and minute detail.  And all these eyes must come in handy for the hunters of the spider family.  The numerous legs also have a role to play allowing the spider to feel subtle vibrations in it’s web through them.

Spiders have a range of approaches to finding food; some trap it in their sticky webs, some lasso it and some hunt it.  Regardless of how it gets it, spiders cannot digest solids so they have to liquefy their food first using digestive enzymes.  Their hunting approaches have resulted in the spider symbolising patience and persistence, something which is echoed in the nursery rhyme below.  Do you need to pay more attention to the detail?  Do you need to channel some of the spider’s attitude?

Incy wincy spider climbed up the waterspout.
Down came the rain
and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun
and dried up all the rain
and incy wincy spider climbed up the spout again

Probably one of the most well known symbols of the spider is it’s web…

However much I don’t like spiders, I do really admire their webs.  These fantastic, delicate looking creations are wonderful.  Spiders produce silk from their spinnerets which is itself mindbogglingly amazing.  It is very lightweight and yet incredibly strong and it’s elasticity – how far it can stretch without breaking – is far superior to that of anything humans have created.

This delicate looking and yet architecturally solid web allows the spider to catch large prey in an energy efficient way.  And webs are not just the stereotypical design, no, the species have a number of different types of webs depending on the spider spinning it.  There is the funnel web, the sheet web, the orb web and more.

In religion and mythology, spiders have concealed people by spinning webs over cave entrances, earning them respect in some cultures.

8 of Pentacles

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The 8 of Pentacles is an excellent card for illustrating the spiders skills, talents and perseverance.  Some spiders have to remake their web daily and yet they don’t complain, they just get on with it.

This tarot card is all about honing your skills, carefully paying attention to the details, mastering your abilities, and being focused and engaged in what you are doing.

Sometimes it can be asking you to look at your approach to life and other times it can be a much more literal suggestion to make something with your hands.

“Women are spinners and weavers, we are the ones who spin the threads and weave them into meaning and pattern.  Like silkworms, we create those threads out of our own substance, pulling the strong, fine fibres out of our own hearts and wombs.  It’s time to make some new threads; time to strengthen the frayed wild edges of our own being and then weave ourselves back into the fabric of our culture.”

– Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted