Deep in the dark of night the child lay motionless, her hands clutching the folds of her bedsheets, drawing them tight against her face. Looming over the foot of her bed was the prickly body and legs of a spider. She screamed but only a raspy croaking sound escaped. Wide-eyed with terror she watched as the enormous front legs tapped further up the bed, measuring the outline of her body before moving forward. The little girl once again croaked out a scream. “Mom!” but the sound barely made it past her lips. Finally, she just screamed. At first, the sound was a muffled squeak but as the spider advanced the scream took hold and grew in volume. This wasn’t a dream.
One of my first dreams about spiders occurred when I was a young child and that experience is inspiring me to write a short story based on my spider dreams. Those dreams have evolved into hallucinations so real that I’ve leapt out of bed in the dead of night trying to flee the creature skittering across the ceiling or dropping onto my comforter.
It turns out, many people have spider dreams and since fear of spiders is also common, it is natural to assume these dreams are imparting an evil or foreboding message. Author Samantha Grindell wrote that because of cultural connotations that evoke terror of spiders, they become even more frightening in our dreams as they "…often point to deceit, a web of lies, or a sense of feeling trapped, since the web is created to trap the spider's prey."
My re-occurring spider dreams since childhood has raised my curiosity, especially since others in the family have also been taunted by similar dreams and one nephew even collects and raises tarantulas. Are these dreams and obsessions a sign of a family curse? Or something more mundane?
What I discovered lifts my spirits and has caused me to reconsider the spider. To be clear, I am one of those people who overcome my disgust of spiders long enough to save them rather than squash them. I’ve tried to co-exist with spiders as I understand their value in nature. But there are boundaries, and my bed is one of them!
Over the years I’ve often wondered what animal my spirit guide was and envisioned panthers, crows, and wolves. I’ve finally wrapped my mind around the concept that my spirit animal is actually the spider. It turns out, spiders as a spirit guide is a positive force.
Numerous resources discuss the spider as representing a number of life-positive qualities: Creativity, patience, feminine energy, and receptivity of new ideas and connections to the spirit world. The spider also symbolizes the shadow spirit within us, and the spider spirit is excellent at balancing these light and dark forces.
As a totem animal, spiders weave their dreams into reality. They are the maker and keepers of their destiny. Some Native American folklore include Grandmother Spider – the keeper of time – a spirit that maintains all aspects of the future and past within her sticky web.
My research has succeeded in turning my internal concept of spiders as a fearsome force to be vanquished into a consummate figure to be treasured.
What spirit animal guides you?
REFERENCES & NOTES
Image Credit: Spider art by Jolanta Anna Karolska
Samantha Grindell, 2020, Cosmopolitan