Which animal are you most afraid of? For me, it’s spiders. Bugs in general don’t bother me; I could have them crawl all over my skin and bed without much of a flinch. Spiders on the other hand? No thank you.
My phobia of spiders intruded upon my life for many years, leading to sleepless nights and mindless killing. I wouldn’t dare harm any other sort of creature, yet my terror of spiders threw all sense of inner morality out the window. After a while, the short moment of sweet relief became replaced with guilt and remorse. I realized that my spider killing days would have to cease. So they did. However, anxiety and panic around them didn’t disappear, and I would find myself sleeping on the couch whenever a spider crawled its way into my bedroom.
As I grew older, I developed the awareness that the external world is a mirror of the internal world. Which means our perception of anything outside of us represents the relationship we have to a fragment of our own being. This became an important puzzle piece to my phobia of spiders, because I learned that my terror of them represented an aspect of myself that I was running away from. To kill spiders was symbolic of disowning the qualities and lessons that the spider was here to teach me.
After setting forth the intention that I was to learn from the spider, I started experiencing many synchronicities in my life. I found that they always crossed my path right before (or even during) menstruation, only to disappear the whole rest of the month. This continued on for many menstrual cycles to the point where I knew an appearance of a spider meant my period was coming.
As expected, any interaction with a spider would fill me with panic, fear, and emotional resistance. I knew I didn’t want to kill them, and I wanted to try my hardest not to run away from them. So I would force myself to sit a bit with that anxiety and really focus my attention on the spider. I remember the first time I did this, I felt a lot of irritation and fumed at it.
“I don’t understand how you can just sit there and not do anything!’
It dawned on me that these are the exact same critical thoughts I give myself whenever I am feeling low on energy or ill. It also dawned on me that perhaps this negative thought pattern I held inside of myself was a byproduct of growing up in a culture that wants to do more and be more. I was never taught the importance of rest and recuperation, only spinning on life’s hamster wheel. The spider, who is a professional at conserving energy and is known for staying still for hours at a time, was here to teach me to embrace the cycles of life. Not only do we have to embody a forward moving and action oriented energy, but we must be able to also embody more receptive energies and rest when needed.
During the height of the pandemic, I was met once again with the presence of the spider. Fear and anxiety were already high, which was further magnified by one crawling all over my ceiling.
A day or two later I was met with more spiders. It reached a point where there were about four or five of them in my room- the most I had ever come across. The fear and anxiety within me was starting to heighten to the point where I ended up sleeping in our spare bedroom.
And then the spiders followed me.
There was one specific spider that scared me the most. It was huddled up in a little crevice of my nightstand, near my head. It stayed there for at least two days, patiently waiting in its little burrowed web for food to come. I didn’t understand how this spider could have so much trust and faith that what it was wanting would come. I didn’t understand why this spider wasn’t scurrying around, frantically searching for food that may not even be available. I didn’t understand why this spider had so much faith that the web it created would be able to do its job.
I was faced with the reality of the feelings I was experiencing during this time of my life: powerlessness, intense control issues, and lack of trust. I couldn’t surrender to endings, changes and the level of uncertainty that I was facing. I couldn’t embrace the creative energies pushing me in a different direction, and the level of faith that comes along with it.
When I finally came to these realizations, the spiders magically left my room one by one. I was only left with the emotions left to process; the messenger had done its job.
Spiders are masters of both creation and surrender- something that I don’t always believe is possible. Not only is the spider able to put forth its intention and build a web, but it’s able to wait, be patient, and let go, knowing that what it sets forth will come to fruition. It’s not in a never ending, controlling, and aggressive chase for what it wants. The spider has trust that the web it creates will bring food its way.
This energy of co-creation is something that is present in all our lives. We will find that it’s not enough to do our part; we must allow our dreams and desires to also work for us. Sometimes this means relying on others for help, having trust and faith in a Universe or God, or at the very least, allowing ourselves to practice patience. I’m unfamiliar with the energy inside of me that wants to be patient, slow down, let everything go, and release my desires. And it’s this energy that the spider was trying to get me to understand.
It finally dawned on me as to why I would feel the most fear around a spider when it was still, or why the spider would even cross my path during menstruation (the bleeding phase is symbolic of surrender, release, and letting go). I was meant to become aware of this resistance that was holding me back in life and interfering with a sense of inner peace.
These important lessons are now something that I’m trying to integrate more within my life. I can’t say I have fully mastered this, but everything has to start from somewhere.
My journey with the spider has led me to believe that it is one of my main guides. The lessons from the spider will probably continue to reveal themselves to me throughout my life, but I am thankful for the insights that I have already gained in this stage of my journey.
For those who have a deep fear of any animal, it is my hope that my story will help you gain further insight into why this is. Perhaps you might find that what you have been running away from your entire life is in fact what you have always needed.