I’m a bit of a nerd, and when it comes to words, a total nerd. I love words (and they love me back, at least that’s how I feel) so let’s go with that.
weft – the horizontal threads in a fabric or on a loom. The vertical ones are called the “warp”. And while technically spiders don’t weave in the hash tag patterns that humans have adopted (i.e. copied from observing nature) it is a very “weaverly” word, and so I chose it. It also has a nice feel when spoken aloud, and rhymes with “heft” which gives it some weight.
spider – what isn’t there to like about spiders? Unless of course one is dangling menacingly overhead in the shower or crawling across your face in a nightmare – and hopefully, never, never in person! Yes, I used to be terrified of them, and now, fortunately, am much less afraid.
Spiders are a very powerful symbol in “mythology” (more on “mythology” later). And except for the very far north and south of the globe, beyond the tree line, I’m pretty sure they are everywhere.
alphabet – in some cultures, spiders are considered to be the creators of the written alphabet. As a storyteller I have great respect for the spoken word. But as a reader and writer, I am fascinated by the written word. And the first time I came across the idea of Spider as the creator of the alphabet I remembered reflecting on one of the things I used to think to myself as a very young reader, “What is the spider thinking?” You know the little teeny, tiny red ones, not much bigger than an asterisk that sometimes crawl across your page when you are reading outside? “What is that spider thinking of as it crawls across this page, and across the words that have so much meaning for me? What is it thinking, what is it aware of, and what am I moving or walking across every day that I don’t understand is even there?”
I like the idea of a web, a web in terms of connection. Some people speak of a web of energy that connects all living things on the earth. And there is an awesome web of fungi in the soil that connects plants to each other by their roots. Really. It is mind-blowing. Read more here.
The trick with webs is that you have to know what your relationship is to them.
For the more scientific-minded there is the world-wide-web a.k.a. the internet or “www”. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine life before it. Before it was possible to connect with friends and strangers at the click of a mouse or a touch on your phone. Before it was possible to find out the answers to random questions at any time of day or night, such as “How many months is a cat pregnant for?” “How to crochet a slip knot.” and “What does ineffable’ mean?” The idea of social and business networks also has a web-like feel.
The trick with webs is that you have to know what your relationship is to them. Are you the weaver or are you the prey? For me, the web is a great resource and way to interact with others but at the same time, it can be a tool I use to disconnect from myself. Finding balance is an ongoing process.
When I see a spider, I often ask myself if I have been neglecting my writing. The bigger the spider the faster I ask! Sometimes Spider is a sign that I need to get back to my creative pursuits, and sometimes s/he is a confirmation that I am going in the write/right direction.
Today’s questions for myself: Am I the weaver or am I the prey? What relationship do I have to others through networks? And are these networks beneficial or detrimental (in both directions)? As a writer, and storyteller, how do I connect to others doing similar work? How do I connect to the audience, reader or “village” and how does that energy affect me? Have I been giving adequate time to my creative pursuits? If not, why?
Links to Spider, creation and weaving lore, all links are meant to be jumping off points if you are interested in learning more:
Anansi comes from a Twi language and means “spider”. See more on the Twi language here.
Although this link is written for a younger audience, it gives a good overview of Anansi, Anancy, Aunt Nancy, the spider trickster brought to the diaspora from West Africa during the slave trade. Anansi is known as the keeper of the stories.
Spider in Celtic lore.
Spider appears variously as the creator of the world and/or textiles/weaving and the alphabet in many Aboriginal traditions, across North and South America:
Spider as creator.
And Spider appears in Greek lore
If you find interesting links in your search, please share them.