A Road Less Traveled: Living Pagan in a Christian World
Explores the challenges of living and practicing Paganism in a Christian-dominated culture.
Some Spiders are Poisonous
Two days ago, Bronwen Katzke posted over on Mama Afrika about spiders, and how they began appearing in her life repeatedly. She, like me, saw this as a sign. I thought her post was interesting, mainly because for the first 20 or so years of being on my path, Spider was my totem. I posted this in the comments section and promptly forgot about it.
The next day I had a strange urge, the urge to record my ex-step-father’s recent death in the family scrapbook. This is strange because he was a terrible, violent man who abused our mother as well as us kids (me and his two biological children). When he died in prison, I honestly felt nothing. I had put him out of my mind and moved on long ago. But because he was my siblings’ father, and my nieces’ and nephew’s grandfather, I felt it was only right to include him in our family register.
So I dug the thick, bulging scrapbook out of the pile of books and papers where it lay next to my craft desk. I opened it and took out the page with the family register, then set the scrapbook down on the other side of the desk. After carefully lettering his name and birth and death dates, I picked the scrapbook back up to replace the register.
When I went to open the cover, there, on the spine, sat the largest brown recluse spider I have ever seen. Brown recluses are venomous, and though their bite isn’t directly fatal, it causes a painful necrosis of the surrounding tissue that will spread. If not treated, it will turn into sepsis and can cause death. They like to live in human habitations, near water sources, and they are aggressive. Because of this, they are the only spider that I will kill on sight.
In my path, which I describe as Zen Wicca, I believe that the Creative Force of the Universe is omnipresent, and while it’s not anthropomorphic, it does have a kind of consciousness that is too vast for our human minds to grasp; we can only sense it in a very limited way. Though we are very tiny compared to the vastness that is the Universe, we are a part of It, and It moves through us and around us. It can speak to us, if we know how to listen. It speaks in the language of coincidence, which we might call “signs” or “omens.” So as one who tries to align myself with the Universe, I listen when It speaks to me. And that large, poisonous spider on my scrapbook was a sign.
The challenge is to understand what the Universe is saying. I think it means that, like the poisonous spider, some people are dangerous, and it’s best to get them out of our lives as soon as possible. Perhaps the Universe is telling me that I only thought he was out of my life; like the spider, he (or really, his influence) was hidden, ready to strike when I wasn’t paying attention. But now, because of my experience with him, I know how to identify poisonous beings, and I’m not afraid to dispatch them immediately.
I grabbed a scrap of fabric out of the trash and crushed it, then washed the stain off my desk.
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