Spider Dreams

Interpreting spiders in dreams

An informal survey

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There have been a lot of people wandering into this site looking for information about spiders in dreams.  Enough that we've decided to add a page about spider dreams (as opposed to Spider Dreams, the RPG imprint of Sacred Wolf).  Most of this stuff comes from my own views and experiences with dreams about spiders.  Some of it comes from basic research (I dont have the time I'd like to put together a real paper on this subjectit's terribly interesting, and not as dry as, say, T.S. Eliot).  What little comes from outside sources is documented, though not in MLA format (which I prefer; I know that the majority of university departments have gone to APA format, which I despisewhat do a bunch of psychologists know about language anyway? I barely trust them to tell me how to deal with my problemsI wouldnt trust them with a simple sentence even if it had training wheels).  This isn't a formal research document.  Yet.

                                                                                                William A. Rae, president,

                                                                                                Sacred Wolf, Inc.


                The archetype of the spider has a long history in human consciousness.  In Greek mythology, Arachne was a mortal weaver who challenged Minerva to a contest of weaving.  Arachne's skill was marvelous, both in product and in the act of weaving.  She carried the sin of hubris, and paid the price for it.  A mortal cannot be as good as the gods, the myth goes, and she was going to be destroyed for her arrogance.  However, since her skill nearly matched Minerva's, she was transformed into a spider.  (Bullfinch's Mythology)  Celtic legend tells of prisoners who take the lesson of patience and persistence from spiders, who rebuild their webs daily when they are torn down.  Native American symbolism sees the spider archetype as the keeper of the past and its connection to the future.  (Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews)  "In India the spider is the weaver of the web of Maya, illusion. In her web she stands as the center of the world. In her spinning of the web and devouring her prey she parallels the waxing and waning of the Moon, involution and evolution, the alternation of birth and death. The spider, as the Moon, then weaves the destiny of everything in the world."  (http://www.choronzon.com/tocmirror/tzimon/Magidict/magdic20.html)  The threads of the spider are part of every culture, interpreted in many ways.  Spider is the symbol of Fate, the weaver of the past into the future, a teacher, a destroyer, even a trickster.

                What does the spider archetype mean in dreams?  According to http://www.thecrypt.ca/realm/divin/dreamd_s.shtml, dreams about spiders mean that, "The spider is usually symbolic of an unkind and sneaky individual. Are you the spider building a web, or are you being dragged into one? A spider's web represent[s] entanglement and the general complexities of life. Depending on the details of the dream, it could also be symbolic of a smothering individual in your daily life."  In my own spider dreams, I don't find this to be the case.  Usually, they are more consistent with Carl Jung's interpretation (also from thecrypt.ca), "a symbol of wholeness due to its circular shape. He called circular symbols 'mandalas' and said that they had valuable meaning for the dreamer. 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. Therefore, the spider and his web may be considered profound and spiritual dream symbols which call for greater self-understanding and encourage us to derive meaning and satisfaction from the intricate framework and interplay of life."  Spiders, to me, have represented a deepening of a sense of connection to the world, a physical and psychological symbol of the "string theory" of quantum mechanics.  Everything is, in some way, connected.

                This is a simplification of the many ways that the spider archetype may be seen, though.  In interpreting dreams, the dreamer is the best source for the answers.  How the archetype is perceived by the dreamer has as much to with how it should be interpreted as the generalizations; to one person, the spider might symbolize a fear of becoming trapped in a negative situation (being "caught in a web," as they say), while another person might see the spider as a connecting agent, a symbol of a need for integration, of the Self or into an environment (social, familial, physical, etc).  What is happening around the dreamer in waking life will influence the archetypes that appear in dreams, and how their meanings are manifested.  In my own experience, when my life has undergone a massive and turbulent change, spiders have appeared as malevolent creatures, attacking and feeding on me.  This symbolizes the perception that my energies (life-force, if you will) were being drained by outside sources, and the feelings of entrapment and helplessness that surrounded them.  When the spider archetype has manifested in a less threatening way, it was usually a symbol of connection and reconnection, with people, places, memories, the world outside of myself, a weaving together of the positive things in my life.

                Other interpretations of the spider symbol in dreams include (from http://www.soulfuture.com/dream_dictionary/symbols_s/spider_dream_dictionary.asp):  "the number 8, heightened sensitivity, tuning into your awareness, being industrious or helpful, irrational or hidden fears and phobias, patience, balance, fear, being bitten by a spider may symbolize holding others responsible for your stagnation."  The number eight is interesting to me, since I use the spider symbol integrated with the infinity symbol (an "8" on its side).  The spider's web holds infinite possibilities, patterns, and connections. 

Patience puts me in mind of a story my father once told me...  A man was jailed unfairly (he told it as a Scotsman jailed by the English).  He sat imprisoned for years, pleading to have his case heard, asking the people that he knew for help, only to be told that no-one would hear his case, and learning that his letters were being destroyed.  None of his friends or family knew that he was locked away-- they believed that he was dead, and so didn't search for him.  He sat in his cell, and pitied his existence.  After a few years of this, he saw that a spider spun a web above his straw mat while he slept.  In the morning, he knocked down the web, and went back to feeling sorry for himself.  The next morning, he saw that the spider had returned, and spun a new web.  Again, he knocked it down.  This continued for days.  One morning, he woke early, and saw the spider patiently working at rebuilding the web that had been knocked down.  The prisoner watched the tiny creature patiently weaving, even though it must have known that the web would be gone in a short time.  He thought about the spider as he watched.  He realized that all he needed was a little patience and persistence to escape his prison.  During the next month, he looked for ways to escape, planned his route, and waited for the right time.  When it came, he seized the opportunity, and escaped the prison, and returned to his home.

                The spider is a fascinating archetype, not only in dreams, but also in myths and legends.  From a trickster figure (in the case of Tarantula in Southwestern Native American myth) to a master weaver (as Arachne in Greek myth), the spider archetype enjoys a diverse range of interpretation.  A brief portrait of the archetype was given to me by a shaman once:  "Spider decided one day to give numbers to the People.  Crow argued that the People already had language, and could pass the stories along.  Rabbit said that the People had pictographs, and could write the stories for others to see.  Spider said that she gave numbers to the People so that they could tell their stories more accurately..."





If you have comments or questions, feel free to e-mail me at szymd@lycos.com or visit the general discussion forum at http://sacredwolf.proboards1.com/.  This forum is for general discussion, so just start a thread there.

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