Read Part 1 - Honoring the Goddess Lakshmi
For Part 2 of our Honoring the Goddess series, I wanted to focus on one of my personal guides, Grandmother Spider. I have felt her presence for as long as I can remember, but only within the past year have I recognized her for who she is.
I have a handful of recurring dreams that have been cycling through my mind since very early childhood, arguably since birth. Some are scary, some feel like past lives, but one in particular is just this state of being – I see myself, at whatever age I am in the Here and Now, nestled in a spider web, wrapped in silks like a blanket, with a giant spider creating a dome over me with her legs. I never once thought, "this spider is going to eat me!" despite being wrapped in her web like prey. Instead, I felt this immense sense of love and safety. This sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. That I am on my true course. That I am Home. To me, this is the magick of Grandmother Spider.
Who Is Grandmother Spider?
Grandmother Spider, or the Spider Woman, is a Native American deity who appears in native lore across the continent, especially in the southwest. The Hopi believe that she thought the universe into existence; the Navajo taught that she was the savior of human kind. The Cherokee say she brought light to the people. No matter the context, the foundation remains the same: Grandmother Spider is a mother to human kind, protecting and nurturing us, guiding us along our paths with her magick.
"The spider woman is the wisdom keeper, the grandmother figure, the female figure. When I wanted to get out from my illness, there was a spider woman in my mind who spoke to me, and she became my strength and my courage to pull me out," said Hopi artist Michael Kabotie.
Let us delve a little deeper into her rich legend!
Grandmother Spider as Creator
There are many stories of the creation of Earth. It makes sense that as humans, we see this world, the stars, the sun, each other, and begin to wonder, "how did we ever get here? What is this place? Why?" So, it is easy to write off spiritual lore as a fantasy, and this is especially true of non-Christian belief. How easily do we write off the Greek and Roman myths? The divinations of the Mayans?
However, I believe that when we see the same types of legends pop up across the globe, there is evidence of a kernel of true Knowing. This hint of Something Special that has been passed through the collective consciousness and engrained itself as truth. And so, we see many stories of creation, many stories of the flood.
In Hopi belief, Grandmother Spider, suspended in her web covering the vast universe, began to consciously weave this world and each of us into existence. So here, we have Grandmother Spider as Creator.
The Navajo believe there were once four lower realms. Humans wrecked their way through each plane of existence, eventually being banished, much like we see in the story of Genesis and the Garden of Eden in the Christian faith. Finally, they are threatened with a great flood, but Grandmother Spider steps in to save all of humankind, her web cradling them to safety.
The Cherokee believe she brought light to the people. Humankind was suffering from living in darkness and despair. Grandmother Spider, seeing a neighboring selfish populace was hoarding all of the light for themselves, uses her magick web to steal the sun and bring it back to her people. In this tale, the light is spoken about literally, but it could also be viewed through the lens of spiritual enlightenment.
Establishing a Connection
As I said in the first piece of the Honoring the Goddess series, connecting to these energies is not something that will happen immediately. Much like making a true friend in the physical realm, there is a great deal of effort that must be exerted before you can really begin to depend on the relationship. You must first get to know each other's stories, really listen and hold space for one another. The same is true when working with and getting to know a goddess.
Below, I have blazed a trail for you. These are not the only ways you can get to know Grandmother Spider, but they are methods that have worked for me and for others in building a relationship with the Spider Woman.
1. Meditation & Ritual Work
If you have read any of the other pieces I have written in our journal, you know meditation is a key portion of my personal ritual work. Setting your intentions, clearing your mind, and holding space to foster a relationship with a goddess is a great way to get the ball rolling.
I recently wrote a piece on working with ruby record keepers and how to use them to open an ancestral channel. With a few minor tweaks, the same ritual can be used for connecting to Grandmother Spider. Follow the steps of the original ritual I wrote, but narrow the focus to the Spider Woman specifically, rather than connecting to a general ancestral energy. For me and many people from this region, this would be especially potent because many of us have Native ancestors, so the memory of Grandmother Spider is latent in our genetics, waiting to be risen from slumber.
2. Tea Ceremony
Since beginning my spiritual journey, personal tea ceremony has been a crucial part of my ritual work. Intuitively blending herbs to yield a particular result is so fulfilling to me, and yet there is something to be said for letting someone else take you on that herbal journey. So, when I discovered Hanami's Goddess tea blends, I was immediately sold. Their intentional blends aim to evoke the energy of different goddesses across many pantheons.
The Spider Woman blend combines sage, rosemary and dried peaches to honor Grandmother Spider. According to its creator, "the herbs in this blend are inspired by the plants of the Canyon De Chelly, Arizona – part of the Dine' (Navajo) Nation, and Spider Woman's ancestral home. The peaches in this blend honor the memory of the vast peach orchards that the Dine' people grew, destroyed as part of the European genocide and taker of their lands." Profits from this blend are returned to the Native People.
Pairing a mediation with an intentional tea ceremony is perfect ritual work for getting to know Grandmother Spider.
As I mentioned earlier, the dreamscape was the first meeting ground for me. Before I ever knew her name, Grandmother Spider was there, tending to me in my dreams. For that reason, I find dreamwork particularly potent with this goddess.
Stones that resonate with the third eye and the crown chakras aid with dreamwork, like lapis lazuli, amethyst, celestite, sodalite. Gather your desired stones, place a notebook and pen on your bedside table, and lay down for bed. Get truly comfortable and free your mind from this realm. Once you have found that quiet place, begin to set your intentions. Why are you reaching out to Grandmother Spider? What do you have to offer her? What do you want in return? What do you think she looks like? What messages might she have for you? Continue to ponder these questions as you drift into the dreamscape.
If you awaken with any messages or memories of her from your dreams, be sure to jot them down in the notebook, as dreams tend to fade from our minds as the next day progresses.
Creating Her Altar
Once you have begun to foster your relationship with Grandmother Spider, you may find yourself wishing to pay tribute to her in your home or sacred space. Laying an altar is all about intention and intuition, so while the items below are meant to evoke a specific energy, you should always follow your gut. We create truth out of belief. That said, here are my suggestions for offerings to Spider Woman:
- Natural Items, like branches and drying herbs
- Items in Green, Brown, Red and Yellow
- Clay Items, like pots, plaques and incense holders
- Sun Imagery
- Spider & Web Imagery
- Dried Ears of Corn
- Natural Beeswax Candles (beeswax burns at the same frequency as the sun)
As always, we want to know if you try out any of our rituals or have experience with this work. You can reach out on Instagram: @earth.magick.asheville
Sources: American Museum of Natural History (Reference for origin story and quote)