The Spider is another popularÂ tattoo symbolÂ that crosses manyÂ tattooÂ genres and is prominently featured in the traditional tribalÂ tattoosÂ of manyÂ indigenousÂ peoples around the world. There are very few cultures that do not have stories about spiders within their mythological histories, no doubt in part because spiders can be found on nearly every part of the planet, even on far-off islands, as spiders can travel vast distances using their webs as little parachutes! And who amongst us has not been fascinated by the webs that spiders weave and the way they capture their prey. Such images have fired the imaginations of men and women since the dawn of time.
Native American storytellers speak of Spider Woman who existed at the dawn of creation before humans arrived. Not surprisingly, she taught the people the art of weaving. Today, the Spider is a symbol of fertility, balance and harmony, and is often personified as Grandmother, the teacher and protector of wisdom. Spider shows up on prehistoric Native American clay carvings. It’s a stylized Spider with a cross carved on its back, which, according to some archaeologists, symbolizes the centre of the earth and the four cardinal directions – north, south, east and west.
You can adopt the Spider also as a mark of creativity and cunning, and when found dangling at the end of its thread, see it as a symbol of good luck, because it’s thought to be bringing down joy from heaven. Amongst weavers, worldwide, the Spider tends to be the symbol of their craft.
From ancient Greece comes the tale of a beautiful maiden named Arachne, who was so brilliant a weaver thatÂ the goddessÂ Athena became jealous. According toÂ the myth, Athena made Arachne’s life so miserable that the maiden died. So great was Athena’s remorse that she resurrected Arachne as a Spider, so she could spin beautiful webs for all time.
Spider gets a particularly bad rap in Europe, a hangover from the days of the Plague when the Spider was thought to have spread the disease. Naturally, it became an object ofÂ fear and loathing. For some people, their fear of Spiders became aÂ medicalÂ condition, a phobia called ‘arachnophobia’, named for the Greek maiden, Arachne.
If you or your forbears hail from bonny Scotland, you will know all about Robert the Bruce and the Spider. This legendary king of Scotland took refuge in aÂ caveÂ after being defeated in battle by the English. Seeing no hope of recovering his kingdom, he was prepared to leave the country and never return. In his depression, he watched a Spider at theÂ caveÂ entrance building its web, and in the process failing over and over again. But the Spider did not give up. King Robbie was inspired to fight on, and is known for instructing his men, “If at first you don’t succeed — try, try and try again.” It’s a saying familiar to every schoolchild in Scotland.
In popular culture, today, the Spider and its web represent a force that’s even more treacherous. You only need to observe it processing innocent victims caught in its web to know that it’s a deadly, blood-sucking carnivore. It’s no surprise that evil, flesh eating Spiders are the life-blood of comic book characters, children’s games, and ghost stories. They spell terror and fatal entrapment, and every one who loves a horror story, loves Spiders.