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  • Mj Pettengill

The Fate of a November Spider


Spider Web, Dew

There are many spiders here. I used to scream and break into a sweat when I saw the big ones. That was a long time ago. Being out in the woods and fields has been enlightening. I made a conscious decision to comprehend my arachnophobia. Was it because they were simply so much different from other forms of life? 

When I was bitten by a brown recluse spider and treated in the emergency room, I realized that they should be respected but not feared. It had the opposite effect on me than I would have imagined.


I delved into my indigenous roots, traditions, and customs when writing the first novel in the Etched in Granite Series. I became more aware of the wisdom of acknowledging spirit animals and symbols that come into your life. To scream and run is to miss the point entirely.

Accepting spiders and calming my initial, automatic hysterical response was not easy. The first encounters were with large grass spiders that liked to dwell on the tall mullein stalks in the fields. They are sizable creatures. I decided that their yellow and black stripes made them pretty. Wearing long-sleeves and my pants tucked into socks, I would go out to gather mullein flowers. (This is an activity that takes place daily during the peak of the summer season and beyond.)

I started to take my interest in spiders a step further. When outdoors, I look for their webs and follow them. When digging into the earth, I speak to the ones that scramble to escape. I am on a quest to be around spiders and act respectfully. I don't lose it.

When my children were growing up, I taught them to scoop them up and toss them outdoors. They knew that I feared them, but they also knew that I would do everything in my power to honor them as living beings. When my sons got a little older, I could call upon them to come and do the honors. One of my sons couldn't resist throwing fake spiders on my path now and then for a laugh.

Then, they grew up and went out into the world. I taught my daughter to respect spiders and all life, but I never relied on her to bail me out. I set a good example. She is not one for insects. She actually gets creeped out by butterflies. She is further down this path than I ever was.

So a few nights ago, I spotted a spider on the door frame in the kitchen. I stopped and told it that I was going to toss it outdoors. This was getting to be second nature for me.

I scooped him into the spider cup. When I threw it outside, it looked as if it jumped back on me. I was wearing a purple-flowered nightgown, so it was difficult to see if he was on me. I gasped (just a little), brushed it off, and went about my business.

I was beside myself when I saw a flattened spider—unmistakably the one that I had tossed out the door—on a cream-colored blanket where I had been sitting. Indeed, it did jump on me and was on the back of my nightgown when I sat down and squished it.

I should have left it alone to wander about in the house. This brought me to the inner debate, do I just leave well enough alone? Do I take a chance, leaving its fate to another end, possibly at the heel of the shoe of one not as kindly to spiders as me? Knowing me, I will continue to rely on my spider cup and toss them out to find their way. I will call for assistance if the spider is too massive for me to handle. We share the space; I got that. They are incredible beings that assist in balancing the eco-system. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (Image: CCO)

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