Spider Woman





Spider Woman appears in the mythology of several Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Keresan, and Hopi. In most cases, she is associated with the emergence of life on earth. She helps humans by teaching them survival skills. Spider Woman also teaches the Navajos the art of weaving. Before weavers sit down at the loom, they often rub their hands in spider webs to absorb the wisdom and skill of Spider Woman.

In the Navajo creation story, Spider Woman (Na'ashjéii asdzáá) helps the warrior twins Monster Slayer and Child of Water find their father, the Sun. The Keresan say that Spider Woman gave the corn goddess Iyatiku a basket of seeds to plant.

According to the Hopi, at the beginning of time Spider Woman controlled the underworld, the home of the gods, while the sun god Tawa ruled the sky. Using only their thoughts, they created the earth between the two other worlds. Spider Woman molded animals from clay, but they remained lifeless. So she and Tawa spread a soft white blanket over them, said some magic words, and the creatures began to move. Spider Woman then molded people from clay. To bring them to life, she clutched them to her breast and, together with Tawa, sang a song that made them into living beings. She divided the animals and people into the groups that inhabit the earth today. She also gave men and women specific roles: Women were to watch over the home and men to pray and make offerings to the gods.

sorcerer magician or wizard

Another Hopi myth says that Tawa created insectlike beings and placed them in the First World. Dissatisfied with these creatures, Tawa sent Spider Woman to lead them, first to the Second World and then to the Third World, where they turned into people. Spider Woman taught the people how to plant, weave, and make pottery. A hummingbird gave them fire to help them warm themselves and cook their food. However, when sorcerers brought evil to the Third World, Spider Woman told the people to leave for the Fourth World. They planted trees to climb up to the Fourth World, but none grew tall enough. Finally, Spider Woman told them to sing to a bamboo plant so that it would grow very tall. She led the people up the bamboo stalk to the Fourth World, the one in which the Hopi currently live.

See also Animals in Mythology ; Changing Woman ; Corn ; Creation Stories ; Native American Mythology .



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