Spider: Creativity and Weaver of Fate

By Milli Thornton

In a post earlier this month, Writing for the End of the World, I decided to use talk of 2012 being the end of the world as a way to explore what I would do if this really was the last year of my life. I said: All I know is that I’m not going to spend 2012 listening to scary predictions. I’m going to spend it on my creative dreams.

A few days later I found a spider in my refrigerator. I didn’t know it was a spider until I wiped up what I thought was a dead bug in the fetal position . . . and its legs flexed open in protest. I was astonished, and actually moved, that a spider could survive being refrigerated.

I don’t have a fear of spiders, I respect them, so I tenderly moved this one out into my yard.

Spider totem: Creativity and Weaver of Fate

Spider webs in the sunshine at Salt Springs | Photo © Betsy Villanella

My interest in animal totems and the symbolic messages they bring nudged me to google “spider animal totem.” I had googled these keywords on several occasions and I was really only looking for the same info so I could refresh my memory. I already knew that the spider as a totem is known for themes important to writers:

Keeper of the primordial alphabet,
Creativity and weaver of fate.

And, as I’d read on linsdomain.com, “those who weave magic with the written word usually have this totem.”

This time, at the very top of the search results, was a site I didn’t recognize. I clicked out of curiosity, not expecting to find anything new. I was inspired to read a Native American legend about Spider Woman, creator of man with his skin colors of earth, red, yellow, white, and black.

The part that had the most impact on me said

To each she attached a thread of her web which came from the doorway at the top of her head. This thread was the gift of creative wisdom. Three times she sent a great flood to destroy those who had forgotten the gift of her thread. Those who remembered floated to the new world and climbed to safety through the Sipapu Pole the womb of Mother Earth.


I haven’t stopped thinking about that ever since. A flood sent to destroy those who forget their gift of creative wisdom. Whether it’s a warning or a myth I’ll leave for others to debate. All I know is that the symbolism of it gave me a new urgency about expressing my creative gifts.

And to remember that they are gifts, not for me to squander but to love them and use them well.


Special thanks to Milliver’s Travels staff writer Betsy Villanella for permission to use her photo of the spider webs with this post. Don’t miss the wonderful story it came from:

Our Secret Garden

Milli Thornton, Fear of Writing Blog | Fear of Writing Online Course

Milli Thornton


Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse.

7 Responses to Spider: Creativity and Weaver of Fate
  1. BetsyV
    January 24, 2012 | 8:30 AM

    Hi Milli,
    I love that quote from animaltotem.com. Great stuff!
    I am not afraid of spiders either. I hate to kill anything, and have been teased many times for putting a bug outside instead of squashing the poor things.
    This is an inspiring article! Thank you for making me a part of it!

  2. Lois
    January 24, 2012 | 10:09 AM

    Spiders creep me out–except for the yellow and black common garden spider and the daddy long legs–but I understand the points you mentioned about the totem. If I had more time in the day, I’d research animal totems more!

  3. Bell
    Twitter: StartYourNovel
    January 24, 2012 | 12:30 PM

    This was an excellent reminder of why I love myth. There is so much truth encoded into old stories and fables from all over the world — and that truth is always there, waiting for a reader or listener with an open mind. (And the cognitive tools to understand it, obviously.)

    Spiders fascinate me. They’re incredible creatures, among the first to develop lungs. It was reading about spiders that I first learned about that odd natural structure, the book lung.

    Some spiders have two sets of lungs and others, if memory serves, more than one stomach. Eye count also varies widely… I think a few species will have as much as 12, maybe.

    Not all of them weave circular webs. There’s one particular species that angles for insects, dangling a silk thread from a foreleg, the way you’d angle for trout. Another thing I learned was that not all the threads on a circular web are sticky. Spiders take care only to step on the non-sticky threads as they approach their struggling prey.

  4. Jo
    January 24, 2012 | 2:58 PM

    Interesting that I have always looked to the symbolism of things and have my own animal totems but never realized that the spider had so much to offer.

    If you ever get the chance to read Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak you will find some interesting insights there as well.

    Have a Chittering Good Day,


  5. Pettina07
    January 24, 2012 | 6:55 PM

    Hi Milli…I actually love the photo you have posted here and especially the content of the post…Thanks for the inspiration…

  6. j
    January 26, 2012 | 4:59 PM

    Wow, talk about a message from the universe confirming your 2012 path! Holy cow…. er, spider! I’m a little squeamish with spiders, I admit, but like so many things that make me nervous, they fascinate me. I love the myth you shared, and the link of the spider to the most elemental aspect of writing.

    I will look at spiders differently now. (Though still from a distance.)

  7. Estrella Azul
    January 31, 2012 | 5:41 AM

    Wow, knowing how freaked out and flat out scared I am of spiders, reading your entry about this myth and totems has brought a fresh, new view.
    It’s amazing how something so scary is able to remind us of our creative gifts.
    Thank you!

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