Grandmother Spider, Pregnancy, and Shamanism

The other evening my family and I were having dinner at a local cafe. At one point, a large, undoubtedly female, and apparently, very pregnant, spider, dropped from the ceiling, and hung directly in front of our  most savvy waitress. The waitress turned, picked up a glass and piece of paper, scooped up the spider, and deposited her outside. It was then that the young woman, apparently pregnant, seated at the next table, noted to her companion that the spider had quietly woven her into its web!

Now Grandmother Spider is very wise and creative, and a bit of a trickster. She weaves the world, creating the web of life. What fun to see her inviting this young, mother-to-be, and her baby, into the web!  What a lovely invitation to open one’s eyes and experience connection with all that is!

We are all invited to awaken to the mystery and magic of the world. When we awaken w have the opportunity to experience joy, to be more creative, and to be of service. As Alberto Villaldo, the noted medical anthropologist and shaman, has said:

And your practice is one of finding how you can be in service, as a steward of nature and to the world that you want your children’s children to inherit. So the core task of the shamanist is to dream her world into being. Otherwise, she has to settle for the collective nightmare that is being dreamt by others….The shaman no longer looks for meaning in life, but brings meaning to every situation. The shaman stops looking for truth and instead brings truth to every encounter. You don’t look for the right partner, you become the right partner. And then the right partner finds you. It’s a very active practice focused on healing.

Via Kripalu

Of course, this is a challenging road, as Edgardo Krebs, speaking of the Quechua speaking shaman, Don Nazario,  says,

“If you are going to be an Indian in the West, it is best to be a shaman, with his aura of supernatural gifts and powers. It is an aura akin to that of celebrities and entertainers, able to hold and console in some way the angst and spiritual longing of others. But the role also comes wit a burden. (The shaman) is often not seen for who he is, his humanity obscured by the thick veil of false perceptions we attach to the words Indian and shaman.” (Quoted by Linda Seligmann in, “The Politics of Knowledge and Identity”, in Border Crossings. Fine-Dare and Rubenstein, eds., 2009.)

But it is not just the Indian, or the shaman, who is not seen for who she is. Anyone who awakens to the Dreaming runs this risk. Yet, Grandmother Spider invites us to awaken anyway. When we do, she shares stories with us, always encouraging us to remember the wisdom she wove into us before our birth.

Want to read a tale about Grandmother Spider? Try “Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire” .

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