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Weaving a Web of Dreams

Spider Woman Cuff Close-Up

We are now in a season of scary things, of ghosts and bats and spiderwebs, or so it is within the dominant culture. Our traditions include beings who traffic in fear, spirits that might accurately be described as evil, but the scope and scale of their role and effect is less universal, more often individual. For us, they more often serve as cautionary tales against greed and envy, about the ill effects of failing to walk a good road or putting one’s own selfish interests above those of the community as a whole. Witchcraft has a different meaning in our cultures, and we are not much given to notions of demons or the classic understandings of such creatures as zombies and vampires.

Nor are other beings necessarily regarded as particularly fearsome. Bats, for example, tend not to be the alter egos of the fanged undead, just as spiders are not the cobwebby in inhabitants of haunted houses and graveyards. Creatures of the animal world do have their roles to play in our b5roader cosmologies, some for good and some for ill and most for more neutral purposes; after all, our ways do not confuse power with authority, understanding that it’s all in how one uses it.

Some animals play multiple roles across cultures, or even within them: grandmother, gatekeeper, trickster, more. Such is Spider in our indigenous societies and stories — for some of us, a beneficent being who saved the people by teaching them to guard their dreams, for others, a guardian of worlds beyond the dream world, for still others, a shapeshifter and mischief-maker and companion to the occasional nightmare.

We regard spiders as good luck, in a broadly generalized sense. Some indigenous traditions around the world associate them with money or prosperity; for my own, the association is a form of wealth far beyond mere monetary value, in the form of the good health and harmony that comes with sleep untroubled by bad dreams. In more practical terms, they perform a valuable service to the world at large, keeping smaller, more pestilential populations under control.

For the last month or two, we have shared space with an immigrant for Gulf shores, a tropical orb weaver; you’ll meet her here tomorrow. She is the second to appear here since the beginning of the summer; the first set up housekeeping on one of the west windows of the house’s upper story. Our current guest — or, seemingly now, permanent resident — made her own home under the overhang outside the front door, first curling a small length of piñon branch into a hoop and using it as both home and home base for her extravagant web; when a violent nighttime hailstorm damaged that one, she simply moved a few feet further along the ceiling of the overhang, into a corner. There she has spun extraordinary webs of sticky spider silk , mostly in the nighttime hours — webs that seem particularly well-suited to catching and filtering out bad dreams from good.

She is, in her way, the embodiment of the small spirit of the old stories, patient, skilled, with much of life experience and wisdom, and also much to teach us. While her own color is gold, Wings has honored her and her sisters in silver and stones for many years now. Today’s featured work is one such example, perhaps the most beautiful of the various works he has created over the years in her likeness. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

Spider Woman Cuff Side View

Spider Woman Cuff Bracelet

Our dreams are the threshold between our contemporary existence and ways much older than memory. In many traditions, Spider Woman is the gatekeeper of such thresholds, and today, we still use the gift of her web to protect our dreams. Here, her ancient power is embodied in this spectacular cuff, hand-formed from a single piece of sterling silver and adorned with stones of protection and power. Her eight legs, texturized by hand-stamping extend from the dazzling oval lapis cabochon that forms her body. Hand-cut, hand-stamped pincers and silver spacer beads accent the protective Skystone of Sleeping Beauty turquoise that forms her head. Another view shown at top.

Sterling silver, lapis lazuli, and Sleeping Beauty turquoise
$1,200 + shipping, handling, and insurance

This iteration of Spider Woman was extraordinary from its conception. The detail work is exceptionally fine and meticulous; her head is an almost unbelievably clear blue, the color of the morning sky; and her body is crafted form one of the most spectacular specimens of lapis lazuli that I have ever seen. It is not a solid blue, but subtly mottled throughout, shades from indigo to cobalt to violet blue to midnight. It’s the perfect stone for the hours in which she works and weaves her magic, from just after dusk to the moments just before the dawn.

Brought together by way of Wings’s stampwork and smithing, and she becomes the powerful spirit that she has always been, now given tangible being in a way that transcends the impermanence of mortal existence. While the spirit she represents exists outside of the limits of space and time, given new life daily by our remembrance of the old stories and our adherence to the old ways she teaches, this incarnation, in silver and stone, gives her life in a different way.

Now, she can do her work in this world, too, weaving a web to protect the dreams of day as well as night — and weaving a web of dreams themselves, those we are to follow and fulfill.

~ Aji












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