Is it spiritual? Is it symbolic? The Shadow Spiders, also called Astral Spiders, and the lore surrounding them.
To take a look at the lore or beliefs that Ancient Cultures might of had, we have to focus more on Spiders themselves, what they are good at and what comes of it.
They are known to make webs, spinners and spinning itself is linked to the fates.
There is a story about the Athene (a Goddess) who became very jealous over a maiden named Arachne. Out of that jealousy, Athene turned Arachne into a spider. Who was Arachne? She was actually said to be a mortal who had a mind blowing skill of weaving. Later stories make her out to be boastful which was her downfall. Although, earlier ones say nothing concerning this, only that certain Goddess’s such as Athene and Minerva became very jealous of a mortal having such skills. Arachne was put through challenges and contests, each she won hands down. Her victory though became her end (or was it) as Athene turned her into a spider. In later writings, Arachne’s skills were reduced to something less than Athene. Apparently as a mortal, her skill proceeded the Goddess in charge. It was only after that the priests of Athene rewrote her stories and she became something of a villain or a lesson not to outshine those of power.
After Arachne was turned into a spider, she was showed beside Athene and viewed as nothing more than a tool but a tool that always sat at the hub of the wheel of fate. It was still believed, especially by medieval writers that Minerva was the source to Arachne’s gift. It was Minerva who gave spiders the ability to spin webs that could foresee the future and of the fates. That’s what Arachne became known for, spinning the web of fate. And from those webs, which each of us had, the future could be foreseen. Later on, Arachne would not only be seen as a spider but one of the three fates themselves, women.
Now in Hindu beliefs, Maya was the spinner of webs. Her webs would be of magic and fate of course but also earthly appearances. The spider was the same if not another version of the Wheel of Fate, known in other cultures and in art. A Goddess was shown with the wheel and a spider would be sitting somewhere in the picture along with her.
We know some spiders devour their mates and this was also known in the Ancient World. This to them represented the destructive side of the Goddess since the Goddess, represented the creator and destroyer. She would destroy only to recreate again, rebirth and so on.
According to the Aztecs, spiders were the souls of women and they said that these women would come down from their ‘heaven’ by silk threads (the web) and would devour all of the men of earth. They were kind of like Valkyries (Norse).
In other lore, Odin’s horse was not what we think of a horse but a gigantic Spider, gray. It represented his fate or fate itself.
Man represented the fly caught in the web,(fate, destiny and so forth). The spider represented the Goddess. ‘May the Goddess eat the fly and give unto him new life.’ So in truth, it became just a part of death and then a journey into the new.
Greek lore…three women of the fates:
- Clotho (pronounced in English IPA: /ˈkloʊθoʊ]/, Greek Κλωθώ IPA: [klɔːˈtʰɔː] – “spinner”) spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Her Roman equivalent was Nona, (the ‘Ninth’), who was originally a goddess called upon in the ninth month of pregnancy.
- Lachesis (/ˈlækəsɪs/, Greek Λάχεσις [ˈlɑkʰesis] – “allotter” or drawer of lots) measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. Her Roman equivalent was Decima (the ‘Tenth’).
- Atropos (/ˈætrəpɒs/, Greek Ἄτροπος [ˈɑtropos] – “inexorable” or “inevitable”, literally “unturning”, sometimes called Aisa) was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner and timing of each person’s death. When she cut the thread with “her abhorrèd shears”, someone on Earth died. Her Roman equivalent was Morta (‘Death’). –Wikipedia
Remember, one of those names in Greek lore concerning the 3 fates was Arachne. So one of the names above is indeed linked to her.
So, in summary but without end, spiders seem to be linked with the Goddess, some Gods, the Wheel of Fate, spinning, weaving, each individual human, the world, creations and creation.
Now, here is a picture of the Wheel of Fate:
Now lets look at a web…
Notice the main lines which always seem to be straight. Then you have the curved lines, connecting the straight ones. So, is it possible that the web is indeed connected with the Wheel of Fate? If you go by mythology, it is.
Look at a dream catcher…
Dream Catchers are getting more Celtic in design with their curved features but, an actual dream catcher was not so curved. It looked like an actual web. The purpose of the web was to catch negativity so that no harm would come to the sleeper. It would trap bad dreams and let the good ones flow through.
See the hole in the center? That’s where the good dreams would flow through.
I suggest you take a look at a show that has been airing on the History Channel. This week is called Armageddon week and even though I don’t buy into the whole ‘end of the world scenario’, in fact I don’t even believe that’s what prophecies are trying to convince us of, there is one very interesting show that I watched last night concerning Nostradamus and his Lost Books. There were drawings he did and in quite a few, there was the wheel of fate. A man is indeed the wheel of fate.
Now they do show it on the show, so if you can catch it, go right ahead. The people or experts trying to decipher the code focused on the book, claiming it could be the book of life and the fact that it was empty whereas in the other pictures it was not, and then the wheel of fate above, means it could be the end. However, I see this differently. I see it as being a new era, age where as life begins again. The pages are blank only because we are starting something new.
Interesting stuff, check it out. They discuss Hopi prophecy and so forth which also says, some of us will go on into this new age while others do not.
For further reading concerning lore…
You can check out the Grandmother Spider lore that the American Indians believe in. This is the most common lore that is out there though so I didn’t really discuss it here. I will probably do another article concerning spiders and the wheel of fate so stay tuned for that one. This one is getting pretty long to read so I am going to give your eyes a break lol.
The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets, Barbara G. Walker
The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Witches Second Edition, Guiley
The Witch Book (Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca and Neopaganism, Buckland