Recently I greeted the morning on the patio off my room at Dancing Deer Lodge. The sun had already been up at least an hour when I joined its beauty. The morning stillness surrounded me as I watched and listened to the world wake up.
A glistening spider web caught my eye in the sunlight. It was the shape and size of an old 78 rpm record; it even had the grooves. An orb spider had woven this masterpiece. From a distance, the web looked like it intersected with a second web, making it appear like a three-dimensional spiral or helix. I walked closer to admire the artistry of the web designer and saw that the optical illusion was actually two webs about two inches apart created by two spiders. It was one of Mother Nature’s wonderful gifts.
Long before computers and the internet became part of our lives, spiders created beautiful web designs as intricate as any computer program. Although the web appears fragile and delicate, it is stronger than it looks - a web design of art, engineering, science and geometry. The spider creates its web by secreting a liquid protein from silk glands or spinnerets located beneath its abdomen. The silk strands harden as they are released. Some are actually stronger than a steel thread of the same diameter.
To begin its fanciful web design, the spider attaches the outside framework to plant parts or other strong structures. The frame radiates threads from the center and the spider works from the outside in, often rappelling to create a design of angles, triangles, rectangles, and squares.
The architect of its own home, a mobile home in fact, the spider can travel and set up “camp” or housekeeping wherever the best food source is. The web is the lure and trap for its insect meals as well as a beautiful piece of art.
The spider’s web is the source of several legends. For Native Americans, the spider is the Keeper of All Dreams, also named Iktome. The Ojibway and Pawnee tribes give us the legend of dream catchers. Many people hang them in their windows to filter out bad dreams and energies, allowing only good dreams to enter.
Legends claim that an ancestral spirit known as Spider Woman would go to each baby’s cradleboard and spin a silken dream catcher above it. The spider’s web catches all negative dreams and energies and entangles them in the sticky web. The small hole in the center allows good energies and dreams to pass through to the sleeping dreamers.
May the webs that spiders weave around your home weave protection from bad dreams for you and your family.