Monday, September 23, 2019

"The Hands of Spider Woman" .... Excerpt from "A WEBBED VISION"

What might we see, how might we act, if  we saw with a webbed vision? 
The world seen through a web of relationships…as delicate as spider’s silk, 
yet strong enough to hang a bridge on.” 

Catherine Keller, Theologian
 From a Broken Web 

I began this Blog in 2007 when I went to Michigan on a Fellowship with Aldon B. Dow Creativity Center and Northwood University.  The basis for my Fellowship was a personal and Community Arts Project I developed based on the ubiquitous Native American "Legends of the Spider Woman". .... a mythic Presence throughout the Americas that has called to me for many years.  My quest to "follow the trail of Spider Woman" has been fraught with beauty, synchronicities, and many conversations with kindred souls.  

The Dictionary defines an "archetype" as: 
"the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.  (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches."
I suppose the mythic and conversant intimacy I feel with "Spider Woman" could thus be explained, by a psychologist,  as the 'presence of a universal archetype that has inspired me'.  I do live in the Southwest, and pentimentoes of the earlier Native American cultures are ever beneath the surface.  I tend to think that "archetypes" are not just psychological patterns, but that they  have a primal life of their own, and they grow and change through time and culture.  Even saying that, it doesn't quite ring true for me.  Spider Woman has been a mentor and guiding intelligence for me, and She has an important message for us all in this time.   She, in my opinion, is not confined to any one culture or time or interpretation - She is simply too big for that!

Spider Woman (called by the Keresan Pueblo people Tse Che Nako, "Thought Woman") is an  archetype that occurs, with many variations,  from the Mayan Earth Mother to the Spider and Cross symbol found among early Mississippian Mound Builders to the Great Weaver of the Navajo, and a Creatrix figure among  the Pueblo peoples.

The Mayan and Hopi Calendars ended in 2012, signalling the end of the Fourth Age and the  advent of the Fifth Age.   Among  Pueblo legends it is Spider Woman who comes at the end of each Age to lead the "new people" through the Kiva hole (which might be seen as a birth canal) into the next World. 
"Kiva at Spruce Tree House" by Adam Baker

I believe She calls to us now, across the ages and across human cultures, to remember that we also are "making the world with the stories we tell", and that at the core of the New Story that MUST ARISE for us to survive into the next Age there is the profound truth of the unity and  inter-dependency of  all life.  The "Great Web" that lies beneath and above and within every manifestation.  

Perhaps the World Wide Web, within which I write, is Her latest appearance......

I've just begun to return to that body of work I did recently, to the many many images I have done over the years that are Woven, Rooted, Webbed..........and I find I do not speak this woven language alone, I have many, many colleagues who are also "Spider Woman's grandchildren".    Among my archives I  found a short excerpt from  a performance piece with two "voices" I wrote some 12 years ago, and never developed.........but I felt like sharing it here.

There is a simple Loom on stage. Long threads extend in various ways from the Loom, some disappearing off stage.  A woman sits musing at the loom.  

Weaver (Voice 1):

At the very very very very very
small quantum level
it gets strange, very strange indeed.

It seems that particles, the playful dust motes of eternity,
can be both solid, and not solid
particles, and waves,
form and not form
Depending upon where the observer is,
who the observer is,
and what the observer is thinking.

Form, it would seem, has an identity crisis.

Voice 2 (off stage, unseen):

Tse che nako
is sitting and thinking as she weaves.

She thought about her two daughters
and together they created this world
and the four worlds below.

The spider, Thought-Woman,
named all things
and as she named them
they appeared. She is thinking of a story now
and the story I'm telling you
she is thinking
as I'm telling you

Weaver (Voice 1):

Water, Dr. Masuru Emoto has discovered,
Is talking to us all the time.
We can learn to listen he says
by freezing water, 
and observing what happens to the crystals that form

"Water", he writes, "exposed to the words "thank you"
 formed beautiful geometric crystals, no matter what language was spoken. 
But water exposed to "you fool" and other degrading words
resulted in broken and deformed crystals."

What's a word, but a crystallization of a thought?

Last night I wrote "thank you" on my water bottle
with a magic marker
I am drinking gratitude now

Voice 2 (off stage, unseen)

Tsityostinako the Spider was called
"thought woman" by Pueblo people
because they believe Her thoughts 
are always becoming something.

Tsityostinako lives
at the empty  Center of the Web
singing  the world into being
with the stories She tells.  

"Your father", she told her daughters,
"lives in the Sky, 
but we live here, in the land and in the red  clay,
and among the leaves, and the night,
and the day, and the animals, and those who fly,
and swim, in all the peoples of the worlds."

Then She taught Her daughters how to sing.

"Here's a basket for each of you", She said,
"filled with seeds, and little pictures of animals.
Go plant what's in each basket
at the four quarters of the world,
and everywhere in between."

And that's how her granddaughters the Yellow Women
were born, along with corn and mesquite and coyotes,
and that's how Sun Youth,
and Spider woman's grandsons
the Warrior Twins were born.
And ravens, and wrens,
and eagles and mice
and how all this world
become populated.

Weaver (Voice 1):

Grandmother Spider can be so small,
like a spider, very difficult to see.
Each strand She spins is so transparent
so invisible,
you'll never see it
unless you learn to look
in a certain way.

So small and yet  everywhere
always there, maybe, whispering in the wind,
on your shoulder, even  now, as you ask
these questions with an open heart. 
Always there, talking,
trying to help Her grandchildren.

Voice 2 (off stage, unseen)

She is sitting in her room now,
thinking up a good story,
an old story, 
a New Story:

I'm telling you
the story 
She is thinking.