Fear Spiders

If I dream about fear, my own fear, it is often embodied by a poisonous spider. The spider in my dream frightens me especially on moments when I cannot see it.

In real life, spiders only scare me if they are larger than my hand and faster than my arm. In dreams they emotionally disrupt me. They often co-occur with the collapse of my house. In a recent episode, there are giant moths involved, about 30 cm long, which have been eating the foundations of a wooden top floor. They live symbiotically with a black widow in her nest made of half composted, tar-smeared branches. The spider is hiding somewhere deep inside, behind the eating larvae which quickly evolve and fly off. I know I will encounter it when I clean up this nest. And it won’t be happy.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who, albeit below the surface, has a fear for spiders. I do wonder what causes that because honestly, they’re not that dangerous. Only a few exceptional specimens could kill you, but you’ll have plenty of time to find the antidote. It would make far more sense to dream about poisonous snakes or about an aircrash or a bulldozer falling un top of me, because those events are far more threatening. Why the spider?

A spider is generally blackish and has eight legs with which it runs rapidly and with a very light tread. More often, it sits still, hiding in a dark corner, or somewhere on its self-built sticky and artistic web. Most spiders have beautiful patterns on their back which deserve a better look. They are hunters. Top of the food chain. Prevent the blood from clotting, then suck their victims dry. To humans mostly harmless.

My mom and sister used to panic when there was a wolf spider in the house. Motioning after them, I did too. As the man of the house, I had to gradually learn that the easiest way to get a spider out of the bathtub, is to let it walk onto your arm, get outside and push it off the place of your body were it felt comfortable to stay. A spider is most scary when it runs, because we don’t know where it is going. The aspect of the unknown. I think her sudden speed also reflects the suddenness with which our fears present themselves to us.

Do spiders in my dream reflect my mothers fears from when I was a kid? The explanation is interesting in combination with the collapse of my house. The loss of control over my limited, constructed understanding of myself and reality. Is this fear culturally inherited? Is it psychologically entangled with the cognitive challenges of our childhood?

There’s another hypothesis I’d like to propose; one of more mystical nature. It’s connected to the number eight. The sacred geometry of it. In semi-dream mode I sometimes have visions of octangular, tunnel-like structures that seem to be a passageway to a certain insight or to my subconscious. The vision sometimes evolves into spider shapes, and even into highly detailed images of spiders with nice, colourful back patterns and fangs. It seems meaningful sometimes, as if these spiders have something to do with the access to my subconscious. Hiding in the dark, unknown corners of my mind.

The spider. A small, powerful entity that makes our imagination go wild. One day, she’ll trap the bug that ate from my corpse.

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13 thoughts on “Fear Spiders”

  1. Very weird, Gilles. I just published a post on Saturday where I wondered about our fear of spiders, and included a picture of a wolf spider being captured by a skink. They’re not at the top of the food chain and they rarely harm us. I had another beautiful photo of a writing spider (argiope aurantia) that I didn’t post, specifically because of how freaked out people get when they see a spider. Our fear of them is fascinating, isn’t it?

    1. Ah! We are in the same loop! Partially at least. Nice text and photos. Yes, they are very fascinating. And indeed, not all spiders are at the top of the food chain. But that’s a pretty artificial concept anyway.

  2. I believe you are correct in your hypothesis. The thing you fear the most is blocking the access to your subconscious and thus your bliss. My fear is of water and I should conquer it, not because I like to swim but because of the fear in itself. Good post!

  3. In life there are many things to fear. The thing I fear the most is my own ability to allow fears to get between me and what is important in life.

    In the duality of existence there is you, your environment and your locus of control. In your psyche there is you versus yourself in several thoughts and emotions. Dealing with your own psyche is like weathering a storm and you either are the captain of a big ship that stays afloat and on course or you drift along holding on to a plank of wood.

    Spiders are the least of my worries. The fear inside my psyche worries me…

  4. Not too long ago, I overheard someone complaining about their fear of spiders in the house. An older lady chimed in saying that they should be grateful there are spiders in the house, for the spiders in the house are like a canary in the mine, if there are spiders, then it is all well, the house is not filled with dangerous levels of chemicals. I had not checked that out to see if that is true or not, but there, hope that makes you feel better – look at spiders as your buddies. 🙂 My kids love all types of spider, I cannot convince my 4 year old to abstain from his urge to pet every spider he finds. . .

  5. Your post left me wondering about something I hadn’t noticed before: the distinction between geometry and sacred geometry. I’ve been trying to decide for myself what I think the differences and similarities ought to be (without looking it up). If you get a chance and feel like it, I would be interested in your thoughts on it. I should only say that I’m having trouble considering any geometry that was forced on me in school to be sacred, so for me the geometry in my mind that feels more sacred is the geometry that I learned outside of any academic framework. What do you think?

  6. Good post, Gilles, as usual. I used to have that fear. I figured out that for me it was a sign of my fear from unexpected things. I treated that fear with PEAT and the whole spider story has got another direction. Today I am able to observe them, I do not kill them but try the way to help them to leave the place where I do not like to see them. It was not possible before. I am thankful for the information about them as messengers of clean house what I found here in your blog. 🙂
    There is a connection with the symbolism of the number 8 you have mentioned and subconsciousness. Subconsciousness is a kind of the polarity to our polar understanding of the world, therefore the place of unity, and 8 is a symbol for the tendency to unite heaven and earth, human life and after life. Good luck with further thoughts about the topic. 🙂

  7. Very interesting, Gilles! I don’t have a fear of spiders, either awake or in dreams, but I remember being very scared of Shelob when my mother read The Lord of the Rings to me when I was about four. I couldn’t really grasp the terror of Sauron or even the Ring Wraiths at that age, but Shelob terrified me. I think there is something very deep in the wiring about spiders.

    I have had dreams with the eight sided tunnel or figure, and, when it is a tunnel, it scares the poo out of me, largely because I don’t know what is down there. Clearly subconscious imagery, but why eight? I also have tunnels and figures with twelve sides, but for some reason they tend to be illuminated/shining. I don’t know what that’s about.

    Ancient people associated the spider with creation, because it makes a web. Things tend to get associated with their opposite, so spiders also assumed destructive roles. Not to mention that many spiders live in the dark. I wonder if it all doesn’t stem from a fear of our own creativity and the changes that come along with that. The web is sort of a modified reality, a construct built to feed the spider. Perhaps we are afraid of our relationship to reality, that our own constructs will mess reality up or that reality will destroy our constructs and we’ll have to build again?

    Thanks for getting me thinking!

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