Saturday, 30 September 2017

Luminous Beings Spin the Sun

Luminous beings spin the sun, photo taken in our garden, September 2017

Today, I am deep in writing about the ‘No Faith in War’ event at ‘Stop the Arms Fair’ which I attended earlier this month, of which more soon, but I wanted to share a dream that I had this morning and which seemed beautiful. We live in a little house that is full of spiders, and recently with the turn to autumn our garden has been full of them too. These are the little orb spiders with a beautiful fleur-de-lys pattern on their backs. I am a little afraid of them I admit but I have had to come to terms with their presence and have been spending some time this week in awe of their web-making and hunting skills. And yes, even finding them beautiful. Yesterday, I was gazing at the image that accompanies this piece, and which was taken in our garden last week. I have spent long moments communing with this little spider as she has chosen to suspend her web right in the middle of our lawn and in front of our front room window. There is just no avoiding her. And so, I was looking closely at this image of her and noticed how translucent she is, how the sun seems to shine right through her legs and light up the little hairs on them; radiant, radiating. I had never thought of spiders as being full of light before.

And then this morning, in that space between waking and sleeping, I dreamed of her. And the dream told me that the orb spiders, and other spinners, in our gardens and hedgerows as the year turns to autumn are catching the last rays of summer sun, weaving them into wild and sparkling threads to hold close to the earth, warming her, and carrying us into the winter surrounded by sweet memories of long days and salt-sweat skin; us and all the beings who are contemplating the dark months ahead. It is a beautiful thought and a gentle blessing to sink into as the cold returns.

As I was reflecting on my dream this morning, I remembered that I used to often dream of spiders and that in those dreams they were again filled with light. I came to associate the dreams with good things happening in my life, although often they frightened me. On one occasion, I was staying with a friend and sleeping in an unfamiliar bedroom. I dreamed of a shining spider but, thinking that I was awake and that it was real, I suddenly sat bolt upright and banged my head on a shelf! But still, my spider dreams continued to promise good fortune. I came to look forward to them.

Although spiders have always been a huge fear for me ~ I once came home very late as a teenager, found a huge spider on the stairs and slept downstairs for fear of stepping over it, only to cause my dad to raise the alarm in the morning when he saw that my bed hadn’t been slept in. I found him unsympathetic in the extreme when he discovered what had really happened ~ my slightly quivering and tentative love affair with them began I think when I first attended the Glastonbury Goddess Conference in 2001. I remember that every night when I went back to my bed & breakfast room that there would be a spider of increasing size on the wall. I climbed Glastonbury Tor and, feeling exhausted, sat down on a bench and began chatting to a stranger who happened to be sitting there too. It was all very lovely, and I was feeling quietly holy in that way that you sometimes do when you are young and foolish, but I felt a tickling on my hand and, looking down, saw a huge harvest spider sitting there. Naturally, I flung my arms in the air and fled for my life! I’m not sure what the stranger, or the harvest spider, made of it..

But when it began to feel truly significant was when, on the last day of the conference, there was a ‘giveaway’ of a small gift from the organisers to the participants. We were invited to put our hand into a bag and draw out one of the cards inside, which were goddess images created by my now-friend and talented artist, Clare Beloved. And, of course, my card was ‘Spider Woman’, who is an important Creation figure in Native American culture, and who symbolises creativity and, for many of us, coming to terms with our fears. I still have the card.

The year before I had stood under Louise Bourgeois' awe-inspiring sculpture, 'Maman' ('Mother'), at the opening of Tate Modern in London. It was a powerful experience of what fierce mothering feels like. I found her sacred, her body a cathedral. Maybe that was what called her in...

'Maman' by Louise Bourgeois at Tate Modern, 2000 (Image: The White Review)

During my third year of priestess training, we were asked to do a daily meditation in which we called the barge to take us through the mists to the Isle of Avalon. We were asked to take note of what the barge looked like and who our barge-keeper might be. To my horror, mine was often a dark 6ft long spider with jewels dotted along her sides! I found it quite challenging to get into the barge as it felt so real. When my feeling began to change though was an occasion when I had been worried for some time about having a headache. I very rarely have a headache at all and this one seemed to have been going on for several weeks. During one of my daily meditations my spider barge-keeper came towards me, put the tips of her two front legs gently against each side of my forehead, and my headache went away, never to return. How could I not love her?

And now, through the dream paths, I feel that the spider people have shared a little more of their magic with me. For some time I have thought of autumn as the season of softening, of the breaking down of barriers, of letting go of the hard edges and rigid shapes that we set ourselves in, and so of forgiveness for past hurts and misunderstandings; a mending of the broken web. And, for me, Grandmother Spider has come to symbolise that work. We have much need of her, and of all her luminous children and the light that they seek to weave into our darkest hours.

Orb spider showing her beautiful markings, taken in our garden, September 2017

As an aside, I will just mention that whilst writing I had a phone call and went into the garden to take it. Afterwards I chatted to my neighbour for a few moments. He told me how much he hated all the spiders that had been coming into his house, that they were all over the garden, and that the biggest one he has ever seen is in his shed, making him frightened to go in. Our spider relations have much to endure, energetically and otherwise, living in such close proximity with the human world. My prayer is that they will be sent some light, just as they send it to us. Aho mitake oyasin, amen, blessed be. Inshallah.


Since writing this piece my friend, Cathy Hookey, has very kindly allowed me to share her art; 'Spider Grandmother's Map'. She says, "This was for a project on maps where I had to map a mythology. I chose to look at Native American myths that include the spider in various versions of the creation myth. Known as Spider Woman, Spider Goddess or Spider Grandmother, the feminine spider deity is tied to the Earth & created the world with the Sun God. In one myth Spider Grandmother & the Sun God create the world in stages; the sky, then the earth, the plants, beasts & finally humans, with four women & four men. I represented these in separate circles, I sort of hoped to give a feel of categories to show the order they were created, but also of oneness. I also quite like the idea of the Web of Life, where we are all tied to everything in the world by strands of web, & tried to get that across in a sort of subtle way in this with the spokes on the circle. The layout of the piece was inspired by zodiac maps."

'Spider Grandmother's Map' by Cathy Hookey

I am so grateful that she gave me permission to share her beautiful work of heart here, and we have had quite a marvellous discussion about spiders too!


  1. This is so beautiful, thank you for it. Long ago, within a sacred ceremony I found myself far away in a huge hall in darkness. I noticed the curve and joints in the walls and followed them up... to see that they were in fact legs, and I was under the belly of a vast long legged spider. She was not alone, the entire hall was made up of her kind. She was still and quiet, and I understood that somehow these were the architects of the universe.

    There is much more to understand. Thank you for your dreaming.

    1. Thank you so much. It felt important to share. And thank you, thank you for sharing your own experience, which resonates deeply with me. There is much about our spiderkin that we know little of xxx

  2. I've had a similar love/not like so much relationship with spiders since my childhood. My mum still teases me about it and buys me spider related things. Since moving into the country years ago, I've come to learn to respect their ways, and learning more about them and taking the time to really see them makes all the difference. Thank you for your interesting words on these eight-legged magical creatures. x

    1. Oh, my mum used to tease me mercilessly too. And I once drank a cup of tea only to find a small shrivelled thing in the bottom of my mug. It was a raisin of course but my dad told me that it was a spider and that I had swallowed its legs! I think that he regretted it when I went hysterical though. Ha! I agree though that learning about them really helps. They are such hidden but fascinating beings. The more I know the less afraid I am. I find that naming them helps too. My favourites were called Ermintrude and Guinevere. I was rather fond of them.

  3. I'm one of the lucky ones who's never had a fear of spiders. I don't claim it as a virtue though -- simply luck!

    We get _beautiful_ orb spiders here in New Mexico, weaving vast, intricate (& VERY sturdy!) webs. We also have tarantulas but I haven't managed to see one yet! I hope to, one of these years. They're wonderful creatures. Thank you for sharing your dream about them!

    1. Oh yes, you are lucky. The whole being scared of spiders thing makes no real sense. I'm not sure that anyone understands it.

      Orb spiders are so beautiful. It's hard not to be enchanted by them. And I think that I would like to see a tarantula too, especially in its true environment. I might squeak a bit but it would be worth it! They are obviously very shy. Fingers crossed for you xx


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I genuinely do appreciate and value what people have to say.