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Kristi Vandenboom
by on December 21, 2019

When I was young, I had an immense fear of spiders and creepy crawlies. I believe my mother might have instilled it in me, as she was ecstatic around them. As I got older, I began to like the darker things in life. Life was very hard growing up, so I did have to spend some time sorting out the beauty of the dark verses using it to reflect my pain, fear and darkness inside. As I sorted this out, the spider came to see me. I mean really came to see me. There were spiders everywhere! Not just the nice spiders that eat house insects, but the ones that can be fatal! In my house, in my garage, in my car, at work, and even found one in my shoe crawling on my foot! At that point I needed to figure out what was going on. 


My shadow work with the spider would begin.


I learned that the key to shadow totems, as with any shadow work, is that I had to face them. Ever stood down a spider face to face? Ha


Spiders have powerful things to teach us about ourselves, but we can’t learn from them if we're running from them or trying to kill them. Sounds deep right?


I began studying spiders, and eventually a lot of insects. I grew in love with them! They are the most amazing little creatures. I began to post pictures of them everywhere all over my house, etc., and if I could let a spider be or transport it somewhere else I would. If it posted harm to me or the kiddos, well I had to sacrifice it. 


I also studied the spider as an animal totem. This truly helped me over come fears of it and within myself.


One of the things spiders symbolizes, is the power of attraction. Spiders do not hunt. Their prey comes to them.  They set up their webs and wait patiently for what they trust will come along. I began to realize that what was coming my way was what I trusted would come my way. If I had seen things out of fear and paranoia, then that is what I attracted to myself. My thinking and perception of life was shaped from a tremulous childhood. So, I had to create a web that would draw more positive things into my life. 


Now, I am not saying that I could have prevented people from harming me or even wanting to. Those that were intent on doing harm, would find a way to do it. But I have learned that there is a lot of boundary-setting that can happen with my own intentions. I could create a web that they were not welcome in, or would even want to be in. I could attract quite a bit of emotional bullshit to myself by simply being too scared to say no or to walk away when I had seen the signs, or I could assertively remove myself from such drama. If I didn’t see myself as worth sticking up for, then I wasn't going to attract too many friends or acquaintances who would respect me. But as I stood up for myself and seen myself as someone worth standing up for, the relationships I built were going to be with people who valued me as I valued myself. One of the things I assumed was that their happiness was more important than my own, thus allowing my own needs to be overlooked. The fear of conflict had a tendency to make me deny my own desires in favor of “keeping the peace,” but how can I expect others to care about or even know about my needs and desires if I myself was too afraid to express it? Well, my web now shows what I allow in my life and rejects what I don't. 

Another aspect that spiders represent is creativity. They are artists, creating intricate and beautiful displays every night. Likewise, I have discovered myself to be a creative soul. I LOVE creating things. I LOVE the creative process. The messier, the better. Ha Oh, but I also feared it. I feared not being good enough. I feared not being able to finish. I feared it being worthless. So, while I valued creation as much as I had a high regard for spiders, fear prevented me from the experience of being a true creator. But what the spider taught me was that it was okay to create something that will not last, something that isn’t perfect, and that not everyone would like. A web, as beautiful as it is, usually doesn’t survive longer than a day. The spider gives it's best no matter what. It enjoys the beauty of it. And not everyone enjoys a spider web. Walking into one can be a creepy experience, not knowing if the spider is with it. Of course, it probably gets better with it through practice. I can create my art, and my life as I want them to be and can stop worrying about others and their opinions. Just create, because that is what I am here to do. 


This leads to one more thing that I got from the spider. Metaphorically, spiders taught me that I could be the weaver of my own destiny, the master of my own fate. I did not have to be at the mercy of external circumstances. I was not at the whim of some puppet master. My life was and is mine and no one else’s. I have always had a choice.  That fate came from inside me. I thought it was outside of me, I would react blindly to the cues of others. But when I recognized that it was not the external circumstances that determined my choices but my internal compass, I could break away from the Pavlovian response cycle and choose to forge my unique path and, by doing so, choose my own destiny.  But this was not a power I could recognize immediately. It was one I could only come to by facing the shadows and befriending my shadow totem, the spider.

Instead of fearing the spider, I allowed it to take my fears away. 


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January 1, 2020 Edited
Kristi Vandenboom
January 1, 2020