Re-visiting astrological symbols: The Spider

Re-visiting astrological symbols: The Spider

Like words, symbols have the power to move, though in the case of the latter, the movement is embodied rather than cerebral. An image can hit the gut and literally turn the stomach or it can create a feeling of joy or reverence. Symbols are embodied and yet they are not. Currently, I am exploring symbols of the feminine for a workshop on the divine goddess in Amsterdam. One of the things my colleagues and I we will be doing, is opening up the concept of the feminine in astrology by re-examining powerful feminine symbols and images, like the spider, a pre-historic survivor that remains one of the most reviled species on the planet. Yet the spider is a powerful symbol of the feminine. Is there, I ask myself, a relationship between arachnophobia and fear of the feminine ? After all, a female spider will often dine on her partner after mating. Is the spider a Moon or a Venus creature?

In ’the Spider’s Web, Goddesses of Light and Loom’, Justine Snow, associates the weaving maiden with pan-Eurasian myths about weaving, spiders and celestial dawn goddesses. The web of the spider is often used metaphorically: we talk of a web of lies or deception, being caught in a web, the world wide web and we spin a yarn. The silken thread of our lives is reminiscent of the three Fates in ancient Greece, the Moirai: Clotho (the spinner of the thread), Lachesis (who appoints us our time) and Atropos (she who cuts the thread). As I child, I was fascinated by the poem by Mary Howitt, ‘The Spider and the Fly’. I couldn’t understand the stupidity of the fly, yet how could she resist such flattery ?

“……Sweet creature!” said the spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment dear, you shall behold yourself.”
I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good-morning NOW, I’ll call ANOTHER day.”…

According to William Lilly, spiders and all creeping creatures fall under Saturn. These creeping creatures in the old astrological anthropocentric scheme of things, do not merit more mention than that, when in fact creeping creatures, or insects make up around 80% of the world’s species. Spiders symbolize patience, diligence, creativity and cruelty. Spiders have four pairs of eyes and miss nothing. Through the link to spinning, spiders are related to creation myths, think here of the function of the spindle, in Plato’s ‘myth of Er’.

I think the spider is a female creature which, in terms of symbolism, is more closely affiliated with the Moon than with Saturn or perhaps if we could re-think Venus, with Venus in Kali mode. Spiders take back us into a primordial world, a place of deepness, a place of foundations, to a time when words did not exist. So while we might not feel entirely comfortable with the spider, it is a survivor, and to my mind, magical creatures.

Though I don’t always respond, I would be interested in reading your views. For information on the workshop, in Dutch, send an email to:

Liz Hathway, Amsterdam, 25 January, 2017

spider, Lous Bourgeois, Tate Modern exhibition 2007, picture Guardian, Felix Clay

Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor

Over Liz Hathway

Liz Hathway is a British born astrologer currently based in Amsterdam. Liz studied astrology at the Kosmos in Amsterdam, at the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London and with well known horary astrology John Frawley. Liz also holds an MA (with distinction) in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, from the University of Wales, in Lampeter, and was short-listed for the 2016 Alumni Association MA CAA Dissertation Prize.
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