The Divine is frustratingly efficient. Why answer one question when you can answer two? Why help with a blog when you can do that and help the blogger on her journey? Fair enough, I’d say, except that I really wanted to post a blog everyday. But that’s life is it not?
I found the myth of The Spider Woman yesterday, in an piece I’d written almost ten years ago. I thought it would be easy to flesh it out and be a quick post for a busy day. Wrong. In trying to draw a meaningful conclusion from this intriguing myth I completely missed the point: The Spider Woman was talking just talking, she was talking to me.
A little girl came upon an old woman weaving strands of thread with a wooden stick. The little girl watched a while, then asked the old woman what she was doing. The woman replied that she was weaving a blanket. For three days the girl stayed with the old woman and learned how to weave different designs into blankets. With each stitch, she followed the weaver-woman’s instructions until she was able to make the same lovely blankets the old woman was making.
When the little girl had learned all she needed to make her own wonderful blankets, the old woman said, “Child, there is one warning I must give you, and you must pass it along to all those who you teach to weave these designs: Whenever you weave a blanket, you must be sure to leave a hole in the middle—just as the spider leaves a hole in the center of her web. For it is through this hole that all your worries, fears, anger, and other bad feelings must pass. If they have no way of escape, they will stay within you and bring you sadness all the days of your life.”
Later that day, the little girl returned to her village. Over the years, whenever she taught another woman to weave, she shared the old woman’s warning and to this day, all Navajo weavers leave a tiny hole in the middle of their blankets in honor of the Spider Woman’s teaching.
My moment of epiphany came this afternoon, while resting on the couch with my cat. I’d decided to stop mulling the blog and ponder a different dilemma: What to do with a backlog of emotional debris.
I’ve come to a point in my life where I can manage the outward expression of my emotions fairly well. I can refrain from carpet-bombing my loved ones with raw emotion, but the anger, fear, and frustration remain. So my question, for some time now has been, “What do I do with the detritus?” Enter The Spider Woman.
The Spider Woman says, “Let go. Let go of the darkness and make a place for the light to come in.” The Spider Woman does not admonish us to go over our lives with a fine-toothed comb, to replay the difficult moments of our lives and live in the perpetual past. She, like other wise men and women, says the answer is simply, “Let go.”
I find, to my dismay, that I am reluctant to let go of my pet emotions. There is something vaguely satisfying about holding a grudge or wallowing in self-pity. I want to hold on until I have resolution, someone to say, “You’re right and I’m wrong,” but for the most part, it isn’t going to happen. If I want to be free, I’m have to be brave and send those emotions away, back into the darkness from which they came. This is the call of The Spider Woman. May I be worthy of the task. Blessed Be.
Photo: Garden Spider (her name is Charlotte and she stayed with us all summer, until a bright autumn morning when she spun her egg sac and quietly slipped away). – Julie Atkinson