Historically I have found that the one to two weeks preceding a shamanic training, whether teaching or taking, are usually filled with growth opportunities, known to others as “challenges.”
Last week was no exception, but I had no idea of the magnitude of the significance of the events at the time. Now I do.
All my life, despite being a lover of animals and critters, I have had a strong, almost phobic fear of spiders. Years of gardening and of observing spiders have desensitized me somewhat, these days I don’t scream and run as I did long ago when, in Bermuda, a wolf spider the size of my hand came right up to my face while I was leaning against the wall.
This last week on my way to walk my dog, Puma, I walked face first through a spiderweb that had been erected across my front walkway. The garden spider was in the web at the time. As I clawed strands of the web away from my face I became aware of the resident spider flailing madly in my hair. Fortunately she quickly dropped into the flowerbed before things got really interesting. With apologies to her for the loss of her carefully constructed hunting grounds I suggested that perhaps she build a web elsewhere, this was a thruway. The following day the exact same thing happened, except this time I could not find the spider, and continued on the walk worried that she was riding on me somewhere.
Returning, I read up on spiders in Animal Speak, and lo and behold it resonated, especially the parts about not being able to focus and feeling blocked with writing. I determined that it was time to work on my fear of spiders, which is quite intense. It was something I had put on the back burner for some time, and it felt like now was the time.
Later that day I noticed that a garden spider had somehow made it into the house and set up a web in the corner above one of the cat posts, which happened to be the room in which I do my distance sessions. I made a mental note to remove her after my session in two days to deal with the fear.
Well, apparently that was not soon enough for her, she left her web and disappeared. When next I saw her she was struggling to cling to the wall above my desk. She did not look happy and I felt that she was hungry. Taking pity on her, I grabbed a container and swept her into it. I returned her to the outside, leaving her in a nearby plant where I hoped she would prosper.
The next morning I opened my front door to a major surprise, the very same spider had built a web across it! However, she had ingeniously incorporated it into the arched design of my doorway so that I could enter and exit through the left side, leaving her web undisturbed. It did mean that I would get to greet her every time as she was right at eye level. In the many years I had lived here I had not had this happen, my relationship with her was beginning to assume epic proportions. I wondered if she had taken a personal interest in my endeavors to make peace with the spider tribe. Some warm, fuzzy feelings for her surfaced taking the edge off any fear I might have had, and I left the porch light on that night in hopes that it would attract some poor, unsuspecting insect into her web.
The next morning there was a new development, another orb spider had woven a web on my front porch, the spider was twice as large as what I was starting to think of as my spider, and the larger spider’s web was only 12 inches away. Her web design echoed my spider’s, I was now able to enter and exit my front door under a double web archway.
As I came and went I was able to take note of the beauty of their webs, see how the anchoring spokes radiated out, admire the pattern that spiraled out from the center. I noted how still the spiders were, patiently waiting for abundance to come their way.
Then, I noticed a much smaller third spider hanging about, but not building a web. It appeared that a male had come a-courting. Realizing how dangerous that could be for him (if he did not approach his chosen carefully, he could become dinner rather than her romantic partner). I wished him success.
Now that I was taking such a personal interest in the spider drama taking place on my front porch, I became worried that they might be hurt by clients entering who might not see them, so I put a note on the front door warning people to be careful of my spider friends, a new turn of events indeed.
That night I finally had the opportunity to have my healing session for myself, and focused on my fear of spiders. I have to admit that my making a personal connection with my spider made releasing that fear energy much easier. Interestingly, when my shamanic friend, Carolyn, went on a journey around the issue, the Keeper of the Lower World told her to tell me to look on page 233, that I would know the book. As she was leaving the Lower World he again reminded her of page 233, leaving me to conclude that it was really important.
I instantly thought of Animal Speak. Opening the book to page 233 I was confronted with a diagram of a power animal dance. It was the spiral nature of the dance steps that resonated with me, reminding me of the pattern of the web, so I resolved to make time to dance the spider as a power animal.
That night I went out to visit and thank my spider and discovered that she was gone. Tattered remnants of her web undulated in the air currents, but there was no sign of her. The larger spider remained, but next day, she, too, was gone, leaving behind a web with a hole in it from the last meal that she had caught. I felt a sense of loss but also one of gratitude for their assistance. It felt as though they had been watching over me.
Several days went by before I could make time to dance the spider energy. Taking the first steps into the dance, spiraling into the center to meet and embody the spider, it suddenly occurred to me that I would literally be making myself available to spider energy, something completely alien to mammals. Before I could panic completely Spider leapt in, and fear shot out my fingertips.
After the momentary panic was gone I began to attempt to dance, finding it challenging to dance an eight-legged creature with only two legs and two arms. Spider wanted to flex joints I did not have, and I felt very awkward compared to the grace of the energy that I could sense.
I thought about my orb spider friend and what I had observed in our brief two days. Closing my eyes I took up a stance in the center of the web, and turned, and opened my eyes. To my surprise, a small yellow spider, no bigger than the head of a pin, dangling by a single thread from the ceiling, hovered at eye level, four inches from my face! As we stared at each other I realized that whatever was happening was REALLY important and I needed to pay close attention to what Grandmother Spider wanted to teach me. I felt as though I had an incredible opportunity to connect with Spider Medicine if only I could make myself fully available.
I did not want to hurt the little yellow spider accidentally while moving around, so taking a deep breath, for the very first time in my life I deliberately and very delicately touched the spider, inviting her to step onto my finger. She immediately began to spin a thread out, now hanging from my finger and I gently moved her to a nearby plant.
Returning to the dance I closed my eyes to see what I needed to be shown, and was immediately instructed to look at the web that I now sat in the center of. I could feel vibrations through my legs; detailed information about my surroundings.
Looking closer I observed that there were tears in the web, large holes that needed to be rewoven, which I was encouraged to do. Taking my index fingers I energetically mended the holes, hoping that my limited weaving skills would be good enough. It appeared to work, and then my attention wandered to an area beyond the immediate web, to a darkness that did not belong. Feeling drawn to clear it, like wiping a slate clean, I did so. And then the dance felt complete, so I thanked Spider with a full heart, there were many lessons here to be remembered, and I truly felt as though Grandmother Spider had blessed me and taught me a technique that I could use on a daily basis.
And as I began preparations for shamanic training, I wondered how the work I had just done would unfold.
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