Anyone who has seen my Facebook page will tell you that I have a deep love for crochet, because I’m always posting photos of my latest projects. What I once viewed as an old lady hobby has become both art and therapy, as I chain and stitch my way through a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. Something about the repetitive motion and the weaving that can be done with a simple hook and a ball of yarn seems to grant peace of mind, at least for a few hours anyway.
I believe women have always enjoyed this mental escape through the craft of weaving from the time that looms were first created—and some of those date back to 9,000 B.C.—on to the finer needlework that we still enjoy today. My great-grandmother raised sheep, spun her own yarn, and excelled at both crochet and knitting. My aunt followed in her stead and put her crochet hooks to good use through most of my childhood. Being part of this abundant, matriarchal legacy brings to mind one of my favorite chants:
We are the flow and we are the ebb,
We are the weavers, we are the web.
My favorite crochet patterns are usually those that require stitching in rounds. They begin with a tiny circle that spreads wider and wider to become a hat, a purse, or whatever my heart desires. When I am working in rounds, I cannot help but think of spider webs—how intricate, strong, and highly functional they are—and of the spider herself, the ultimate weaver. No doubt she was the inspiration for prehistoric humans to expand their wardrobes beyond animal skins and furs, much to the relief of our four-footed friends. (While I have nothing against leather loin cloths, it’s rather hard to imagine life without cotton and wool).
Native Americans, especially the Pueblo and Navajo tribes of the Southwest, recognized the wisdom and grace of the spider and gave her a prominent place in their myths and legends as Grandmother Spiderwoman. They envisioned her as a Creatrix who spins the world into being with all of her thoughts and ideas. She is constantly weaving the cosmic web of life, and we are co-creators in this process as we also think, dream, imagine, and build our own unique webs and connections.
Perhaps my crochet habit was influencing me, but I decided it was time to visit Grandmother Spiderwoman through a shamanic journey. I truly wanted to understand more about the connective strands in my own life, and who better to answer such a question than the wisest of all the weavers?
Letting the drumbeat carry me, I found myself floating before the largest spider web imaginable. Each strand glittered with crystals, and in the center, I met Grandmother Spiderwoman herself. Her black dress billowed around her, and her white silky hair hung down past her shoulders. Her piercing gaze met mine, and she asked why I had come to see her. I explained the purpose of my journey, and she had plenty of advice—far more than I can relate here. She cautioned against spinning too much for the future and advised releasing old webs that serve no purpose. “The best web,” she said, “is the one you are creating right now. It is the culmination of all you have thought or imagined. The strands you hold dearest—those that tie you to everyone you love—will always remain strong. So, keep weaving with your words, and keep making connections. You are always at the center.”
Spider Medicine for the Soul
The following links were useful to me in researching Grandmother Spiderwoman.
- “Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire” Mississippi Choctaw Legend
- “Grandmother Spider” from Grandmothers of the Light by Paula Gunn Allen
- “Grandmother Spider Brings Sun to Earth” Cherokee Creation Myth
Weaving the Web