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Old Grandmother Spider



In the creation myths of Native cultures of the South-Eastern United States, Old Grandmother Spider is the embodiment of the power of creative thought: she thinks, therefore we are. She brings thoughts and ideas into being. She spins and weaves the web of life and sets the world in motion.


This magic spider is often depicted with a four-direction symbol on its back because she is the origin of the wind that imparts life’s movement, much like ideas set things in motion and create new realities.


I was really intrigued with their idea that a supreme creative force can be embodied in such a fragile, minute creature as a spider.


In Western tradition we hardly ever think of tiny things as being extremely powerful, yet micro-organisms invisible to the naked eye can be more lethal than windstorms or earthquakes and atoms too, contain incredible amounts of energy.


Many people loathe spiders and many are afraid of even the tiniest. Indeed the bite of the more venomous ones is quite powerful and frail as it may seem, spider ‘silk’ is actually one of the strongest materials Western science has ever uncovered.


This story comes from cultures that honoured and respected the wisdom of elders, in contrast to our Western world that worships youth and beauty while it scorns frail, "little old ladies", or dismisses them as dim witted and inconsequential.


Unlike European fertility goddesses where Mother Nature or Mother Earth was often represented as a large, fecund young woman, Old Grandmother Spider, an ancient, wrinkled, spindly granny is well past childbearing age. Physically she is so tiny and almost weightless that she is practically reduced to nothing, yet her mind is all-powerful and represents the female creative principle.


This is not a fertilized mother goddess, physically giving birth to living things. A grandmother rather than a mother, this creator conceives the ideas that bring the world into being.


Ideas are powerful things because they contain the potential to shape reality and they are born out of wisdom and imagination rather than physical perfection.


Old Grandmother Spider represents the power of vision and creativity.


© Francesca Profili 2015


Print on canvas: 18.7 x 28.3 inches 947.6 x 71.8 cm)

Price: $223 USD stretched (on 1.5" stretchers) or $173 USD rolled. 

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