Along Came a Spider and Sat Down Beside Her. Well, Actually...

Actually, I sat down next to the spider.

Once a week, I drive to the grand windmills of Cape Ann and arrive at a place called Crooked Cove. In this cove there is a cottage that's the the home of the Gloucester Writers' Center. I drive 60 miles through rush-hour traffic for a two hour meeting to be where I belong. Belonging matters.

The writer's group hosts four to nine women on any given week. Amanda directs our passions and pleas into our pens and pencils. She is an impeccable writer. She harvests life with a word rake. She's succinct and subtle and soulful...when she reads a piece of her writing, I often feel like my breath is taken away. 

This particular morning, Amanda directed us with a suggestion to find a place outside in this urban nature to sit and write for fifteen minutes - only fifteen. 

"Write what you see," Amanda directed, "and then let your expression of what you see develop from there."

I'd already confessed that I felt blocked this week; that I'd been stumbling for ideas to unpack on the page. 

As we broke from our writing circle and scattered to outside places...I considered just sitting and not writing at all. 

Our choices for outside places were contrasted between a bustling convenient store, or the active fishing harbor across the road, or a simple yard.

I chose the safety of the small fenced-in yard out the back door. I'll call it a courtyard where I could see the open sky but still be inside. 

Immediately, I almost walked into a web. Almost. In the courtyard, I met a spider. According to Native American shaman culture, the power animal Spider is said to hold nature's wisdom about weaving ideas with words. 



When any creature from the animal world stumbles into your life in an unexpected manner feel free to be curious about the ancient tradition of human/ animal spirit dance of communication.  Here's a note through the lens of shamanic traditions: 

"...Spider is the keeper of the primordial alphabet and can teach you how to write creatively. Her body is shaped like the number 8 and she has 8 legs, which is symbol of infinite possibilities of creation...Those who weave magic with the written word have Spider in their totem." (credit:

If I wasn't looking for something to write about I would have cut right past your sticky string that suspends between the red chair and the bamboo plant.

Did you go to a spider school for such a craft? I wish I could ask you politely for permission to take your picture as you pose and glow in the sun. May I take a picture of you?

You haven't moved a muscle since I decided to sit here. And yes, I'm quite comfortable on the ground with my cushion here stolen from the red chair -thank you for asking. 

There's no sign, at the moment, of you catching anything but my attention with this web. Maybe you're resting until the sun crosses over your spot. In the shade, perhaps the indoor fly that kept landing on Trish's foot will come out to this gravel courtyard and get caught in your trap.

My apologies for any assumptions. I like to make meaning of things, a habit of my species, so I'll say you're sunbathing. Napping after construction? You seem to be content.

Elizabeth just made me jump. She almost moved the red chair. Almost. The same way I might have if I didn't see you.


Amanda called us gentling to come back to our circle where we sit and weave --women and words. 

Now I feel protective of you because this chair needs to stay unmoved. I'll stand up slowly as I go back to the web of my people. Goodbye and good luck --I leave you in this glistening creation to continue your silent hunt. 

Little Miss Muffet illustration by Arthur Rackham. date unknown

Little Miss Muffet illustration by Arthur Rackham. date unknown




Hilary Crowley