Some say spiders are from Mars, so weird and unlike any other creature that they must have landed with a meteorite, millions of years ago.
Others think that they’re magical, their webs mirroring a mandela or a far greater cosmic web; one of the most ancient deities of all time was a spider goddess of Mesoamerica.
Oh and there is a (sort of) Spider Asteroid – Number 407 Arachne: the classic telling of her story is that she was a talented spinner who challenged/annoyed Athene who turned her into a spider. So the asteroid supposedly indicates talent great enough to attract envy.
The myth never resonated with me and recently I read this, from Barbara Walker:
Arachne the Spider was a totemic form of the Fate-spinner, other- wise known as Clotho or Athene or the Virgin Moera. The classic myth of Athene’s jealousy of the maiden Arachne, which caused her to turn Arachne into a spider who continued to practice her incomparable skill in spinning and weaving, was mistakenly deduced from an icon showning Athene with her totemic spider spinning the web of Fate, from which the future could be foretold.
This is both fascinating and more plausible. The conventional interpretation seems like a sexist overlay – a goddess flying into a snit over a spinner, mean-girls, female rivalry etc.
Given this, I think asteroid Arachne is more likely to represent the ability to tap into unsung genius – knowledge that’s hush-hush or contravenes the ‘sacred cows’ of our culture. You’d know things – or be interested in finding out about them – that had been varnished over with shitty shellac, a tawdry faux tale to conceal a far richer scenario.
Anyway, I was raised with the vaguely Celtic concept that it’s bad luck to kill spiders and so I don’t. Ever. If I’ve ever do it by mistake, I’m mortified. Even if a tarantula was menacing me, I would probably try to pick it up on a magazine and carry it outside.
This morning I saw two spiders – one real and a baby, hanging off a loo roll in front of me – the other a huge plastic one discarded on the footpath post-Halloween. In my opinion, they’re good omens, signalling wisdom, craft and growth. The webs, when we have time to look at them, really do reflect a myriad of esoteric patterns and geometry.