Joe and I frequent our back deck during the warm months, which is accessed via the sliding glass door adjacent to our breakfast room. Throughout the day we let the dog in and out there as well. It’s definitely a high-traffic entrance. On Labor Day morning, I slid open the door and just before stepping over the threshold, the gigantic spider web that spanned the entry way caught my notice. It was magnificent! Nearly 3’ by 3’ with a brown spider hovering near the center.
“Joe, you have got to see this!!!” I shouted as the spider hurriedly raised itself to the lintel at the loudness of my voice.
Would we have to climb under the web to access the deck? For how long, I wondered. When I voiced these questions, my practical, scientific-minded husband said we would remove the web, explaining that the spider could re-absorb it and re-build in a better location. He also assured me that spiders can build webs fairly quickly. Joe then picked up a stick and gently nudged the web aside like a curtain from the left side of the doorway to the right.
Supporting Joe’s rationale for removal, a new web appeared the next morning!
Mid-week I went out of town for two days to help our son move. On Friday, the first of our newly empty nest, after Joe departed for school I opened the sliding door to have my coffee on the deck and walked right into another spider web! Ick!! Bits of spider web clinging to my hair and clothes!! Joe later told me that new webs had appeared the previous two days as well – making it five days running.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something brown drop to the ground. I paused in my frantic brushing off to confirm that the spider had just landed on the mat inside the house. Using the book in my hand, I gently tried to lift the spider back outside. It scurried away and I tried again a little more forcefully. Alas, perhaps adrenaline increased my effort more than I realized. “Oh no, I did not mean to kill you,” I said aloud to the now still creature in front of me.
I felt terrible, but in the next instant received clear insight that this was never going to end well: Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over when it’s obviously not working, said an unexpected voice in my head.
Since Monday I’ve been following an online retreat called “Earth as Our Original Monastery” with the Abbey of the Arts, which began with the striking assertion that animals were the first monks. The Celtic Christian tradition especially contains stories of saints with special connections to animals. More curious now about my encounter with the spider, I looked into symbolic meanings and discovered even richer resonance. A website called Pure Spirit seemed to best summarize the various sources I reviewed:
- Spider is associated with words and communication.
- If a web is destroyed, spider recycles it and weaves it anew. So spider allows the individual to assimilate negative experiences and use them for gain.
- Spider’s appearance can symbolize one’s fear. When she arrives, it is time to confront one’s phobias. Suppressing them without confronting them means they are sure to surface later.
- Spider allows one to contact one’s deepest wisdom and nurtures a sense of connection and integration at all levels. Her web symbolizes the tying together of loose ideas into a tidy package.
- The lesson of the spider is maintaining balance – between past and future, male and female, spiritual and physical. She teaches you that everything you do and experience now is weaving what you will encounter in the future.
- The spider awakes creative sensibility. She reminds us that the world is woven around us; we are the center of our own world.
The Pure Spirit website also provided these questions to ponder in regards to the spider symbol, which are amazingly relevant to me right now.
- Are you weaving your dreams into reality?
- Are you moving toward a central goal or are you scattered and going in multiple directions?
- Are you becoming too involved and or self-absorbed?
- Are you focusing on others’ accomplishments and not on your own?
- Do you need to write or draw and are not following through?
- Are you developing resentment because of it – for yourself or for them?
Wisdom from a spider’s web.