Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.




Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.






Animals and Witchcraft

(The Witches Familiar)


By Lillian Norman 

I’ve been walking in my neighborhood lately and have been admiring all of the Halloween decorations set about in people’s yards.  There are, of course, Jack-O’-Lanterns, ghosts, witches on broomsticks, piles of gourds on porches, bats, and spiders in webs and hanging from trees.  Spider visited with me much this summer, so what better venue to explore her meanings than this time of year when she is welcomed in the windows, yards and on the porches of neighborhood homes. 

There are many depictions of Spider in myth. The most recognizable and the one from which the class of arthropods spiders are named for, arachnid, comes from, is the Greek myth of Athena and Arachne and their infamous weaving contest.  Arachne was a talented young peasant girl who Athena herself tutored in the art of weaving. It had been said that nymphs would abandon their play in the forests just to come and watch Arachne’s lithe arms and nimble fingers work the shuttles and threads. As the girl’s talent and skill grew, so did her pride.  Someone once commented that her skill rivaled that of Athena and that she must be one of her pupils.  In her arrogance, Arachne denied that Athena had ever taught her and even boasted that she was the better weaver. She put forth a challenge to Athena. 

When Athena heard this she was distressed so she came to Arachne disguised as an old woman offering her a chance to redeem herself from her haughty words. She told Arachne that with age comes experience and she invited her to acknowledge the goddess superiority. “Seek all the fame you will among mortal men, but yield place to the goddess.” (Athena to Arachne. Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.30)  All Arachne saw in the disguised goddess was an unknown old woman and she scoffed at her.  “It is too long life that is your bane… Why does your goddess avoid a contest with me?” (Arachne to the disguised Athena. Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.37) 

Athena then revealed herself and the contest began.  Both wove with speed and artful skill.  In her tapestry, Athena depicted the gods in their splendor. She also wove scenes of mortals who had offended the gods and the consequences they suffered. She edged her tapestry with olive leaves and branches which to this day, are symbols of peace. 

Arachne also wove depictions of the gods, but not in their glory. She wove their lustful seductions of mortal women.  She exposed their weaknesses and folly.  Her tapestry was framed with flowers and ivy. 

When the tapestries were finished, all could see that each one was a masterpiece.  No one could find any flaws.  Athena was angered by the themes in Arachne’s tapestry and she tore it to shreds.  She beat Arachne about the head with her shuttle.  Arachne, shamed, hung herself in an attempt at suicide.  Athena took pity on the girl and did not let her die.  Instead, she turned Arachne into a spider so she could live, but continue to hang from the ceiling and weave.  In this way, spiders were born into the world. 

In Navajo mythology, the People were taught how to weave by Spider Woman. Today, many Navajo weavers will rub their hands in spider webs in order to absorb the skill and wisdom of Spider Woman before they sit at their looms. Grandmother Spider is said to have created the universe. She wove her web and when it was laced with dew, she flung it into the air and the dew became the stars in the sky. Each day as she re-weaves her web, she re-weaves creation and life.  Other Native American myths tell of how Grandmother Spider brought fire and the sun to the People.  Further, Grandmother Spider is known as the “Keeper of Words.” As she wove her web, she brought writing to the People. 

Robert the Bruce, King of Scots from 1306-1329, learned a valuable lesson from Spider.  After losing many battles and sore from war and toil, he hid in a cave for some rest. He was down-hearted and lacked hope. While there, he observed a spider as she went about weaving her web.  She’d spin her silk and jump to attach it to the next spot and she’d fall.  Repeatedly she would try and fail.  Robert began to identify with the spider because of all the times he’d engaged the king of England and been beaten.  Still the spider labored on and finally, she succeeded.  This victory for the spider encouraged Robert the Bruce and gave him hope.  He went on to gather his troops, win in battle and secure the independence of Scotland from England.  Allegedly, this is where the saying, “If you don’t succeed, try, try again” came from. 

In some cultures, the spider is portrayed negatively.  In some eastern cultures the spider is seen as a trickster. Maya, the Hindu Goddess, means weaver of illusion and is associated with the spider. 

Spiders have found their way into nursery rhymes and superstition in more recent times.  I found the following on a website, 


When a man fyndeth a spyder upon his gowne it is a synge to be that daye right happye. 


If a spinner creepe upon him, hee shall have gold raine downe from heaven. 


When a Spider is found upon our clothes, we use to say.  Somme money is coming towards us.  The moral is this, such who….Imitate the industry of that contemptible creature… may by God’s Blessing weave themselves into wealth and procure a plentiful estate. 

Other lore from the site includes: 

*If you step on a spider, you’ll bring on rain.

*Superstitious people probably don’t kill spiders because it has been    unlucky since a spider spun a web over baby Jesus to hide him from Herod.

*If a spider crawls into your pocket, you will always have money.

*If you walk into a spider web, you will meet a friend that day.

*If there is dew upon the spider web in the morning, it will be a beautiful day.

*If you wish to live and thrive, Let a spider run alive. 

Spiders are arthropods: arthro->joint, pod->foot.  As above, they are arachnids.  Arachnids are a class of arthropods with a duo-sectioned body, the head/thorax, which are fused, and the abdomen.  Unlike insects, they have eight legs and pincers around their mouths with which they inject venom into their prey.  Most spiders spin round webs, resembling wheels.  They re-spin their webs every day just as Grandmother Spider re-spins the universe and life every day.  After they spin their webs, they lie in wait for their prey.  They are very agile creatures, able to balance themselves on the thinnest silk thread they spin. 

When we look at a spider’s web, we see that it is circular, resembling a spiral and/or a wheel.  In the study of symbols, the circle represents infinity, the universe, the All.  In Egyptian Hieroglyphics, the spiral represents the process of creation and is a symbol of cosmic energy.  The wheel represents the wheel of life, the wheel of the year, cycles of life waxing and waning, giving birth and dying, and giving birth again. 

The number eight has also been associated with spiders.  They have eight legs and their duo-sectioned body resembles the numeral eight.  The number eight laid on its side is the infinity symbol.  Eight in numerology represents patience, perseverance, goals and earthy wisdom. 

When Spider appears in our lives we need to ask ourselves some questions.  Is a cycle of our life beginning or ending? Are we about to give birth to something new, or is something in our lives about to die?  Are we too much in a hurry and is that leading to failure?  Do we need to sit back and wait?  Do we need to persevere, or is what is happening in our lives the end of a cycle?  Where do we need to create?  What do we need to create?  What do we need to communicate as Spider has given us words? 

Or, are we being deceived, by our own selves, or by others?  What is our truth, my truth? Do we need to set new goals and work towards them, or reaffirm goals that have already been set? 

Spider was with me a lot this summer.  As I was painting my house, I had a clean brush that I’d brush the spiders out of their crevices with.  Not ten minutes later, if I hadn’t painted there yet, the spiders would be back. 

This summer we opened a new nursing unit at the hospital where I work.  Before we opened I was touring the unit with one of the pharmacists.  We went into a patient lounge area and there on the window were three spiders, a sign of new beginnings.  New beginnings for the hospital, and a new beginning for me. 

Perhaps the closest you’ll get to a spider this season is the one in a neighbor’s window or a plastic one that someone sneaks into your lunch as a Halloween joke.  Pay attention, though.  Spider speaks softly, but has much to teach.




A Dictionary of Symbols J.E Cirlot, pgs 51, 75,182,379


First published in The Controversial Cauldron - the group newsletter of Email Witches

  October 2009  ©  Lillian Norman

Best wishes and Blessed Be


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About me:


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Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is WiccaWhat is Magick



Traditional Writings:


 Wiccan RedeCharge of the GoddessCharge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches ChantThe Witches CreedDescent of the GoddessDrawing Down the MoonThe Great Rite InvocationInvocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of ChivalryA Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /


Sabbats and Rituals:


Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble




Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras




Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest



Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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