Volume 4: No. 1, January 2007
About This Image
When the universe was still so dark that not even shadows could be
seen in the night, Grandmother Spider sat in her web in the Sky World,
waiting and watching. No one knows how old Grandmother Spider is, or how
long she sat waiting for the Universal Mind to awaken. But every
Creature Being who has ever lived knows her song and dance as the weaver
of the Web of Life. (1)
Although mythological traditions often focus on the threatening qualities
of the spider, Native American society reveres the spider as a graceful
weaver, creator, and teacher. Grandmother Spider of the Hopi tradition is
the mother of all life. Together with the Sun she shapes thought into being,
using her arts of molding clay and weaving to bring to life the forms of her
imagination. She shares her artistry with her creation, teaching the Hopi
how to spin and weave cotton. Cherokee stories credit her with bringing
sunlight to her people, after larger creatures try and fail to steal it.
Possum burns his tail and is left hairless and Buzzard burns the feathers of
his head and is left bald, but Grandmother Spider is able to achieve what
the others could not. She makes a pot of clay and spins a web that reaches
to the other side of the world; because she is small, she goes unnoticed as
she captures the sun in her pot and speeds back along the web to her side of
the world. She brings to her people not only light but also fire and the
craft of pottery making.
Other stories speak of the Spider Woman as a spirit of great power
who advises and teaches, a being of warmth and kindness who spins webs of
creativity that connect and inspire all living beings.
These and other tales of Grandmother Spider are themselves the threads of
an intricate and delicately woven tradition, adapted and reinvented over
time by storytellers. In the same way, approaches to health throughout the
lifespan are dynamic and changing, and this issue of Preventing Chronic
Disease celebrates the richness and diversity of “the
weaving way,” the knitting together of
threads that make up every stage of life.
- The Healing Center Online. Grandmother spider and the web of life
[Internet]. The Healing Center Online; 2000 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available
Cover artist: Kristen Immoor
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