Over the past couple years, I have been working on mending my relationship with spiders. They creep me out, but I respect their power, creativity, and skill in hunting. I have done my best to relocate the ones I find indoors and to share space with those outside. I have been envisioning each spider as an embodiment of Anansi
and this has helped me to see them as a keeper of wisdom and not just a household pest.
There is an orb weaver that lives in the outdoor stairwell to our basement that I have been trying to cooperate with. Since the first sighting in the spring, this spider and I have been working towards mutual respect and boundaries. I have agreed to not disturb its webs and it has agreed to not build them in such a way as to obstruct my path down the stairs.
This agreement has had little issue and through the summer I have watched this tiny spider grow to nearly an inch and a half across. They have had plenty to feast on, and I have had fewer flies to deal with in the moist, dark corner where the basement door is. All in all, it has been a good relationship. So much so, that when I started my new job a few weeks ago, this spider, or more likely its kin, greeted me at the front door as I left for my first day. Seriously, all summer there had not been one web on the front porch, but that morning there was an enormous and elaborate web just to the side of the door with a very similar looking spider right in the middle. It was gone when I cam home, likely taken down by a human, and I haven’t seen one there again.
Over the last week or so, there has been a shift in the relationship. There have been a few times when the anchor threads have been cast to block my path down the steps. The first time it happened, I was annoyed. The second time, I was frustrated. I knew that the spider was gearing up for fall and winter and likely trying to get more food. But I did not treat it with respect. I took down the anchor thread and chastised the spider for violating our agreement. After all, this is my house and I am allowing you to feed here, dammit.
This morning was the final straw. Again, the thread was across my path and again I was angry. In retrospect, petulant might be a better word. I did not treat the spider with respect, and frankly, I was kind of pissy with it. I still did not rip the web down, but I did remove the anchor that was blocking me and sent the spider clamoring for safety as the wind whipped the web around. There was no apology on my part, just another chastising for being in my way. Previously when I have taken down the thread, the spider would stay off to the side of the web for the rest of the day. Today, when I came down the steps the next time, there it was. Right there in the middle waiting for me. No thread blocking me, just eight little eyes staring me down as I came down the steps. As I walked past, my petulance was repaid. My foot missed the last step and I went tumbling forward into the cement wall.
Point taken, Anansi.
You see, I tell myself that I have this friendship relationship with the deities that I work and associate with. I work to view them in less of a master/servant or ruler/subject kind of way and try to see them as the kind of best friend that everyone really needs. The kind that you can tell your deepest secrets too and the kind that will do anything you ask of them because they know that you will do the same in return. Also, the kind of friend that will call you out when you are being a tool. I failed in my part of the friendship today as I removed the respect from the relationship. I would not have treated a human friend like that, so why did I treat an ancient spirit friend like that. Today, my friend called me out for being a dick.
I have since apologized to the spider and I am working to rebuild the relationship. I am also trying to use this as a teaching moment for the rest of my deity relationships. Each day, I want to be a better person and a better friend than I was the day before. I know that this is one of my biggest challenges but I am up for it.