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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Saturday, September 17, 2005

spider dream

Feeling annoyed. I finished this post, then my browser locked up ("performed an illegal operation"--why are browsers permitted to attempt this?). I was forced to close it, and there is no trace of the post at Blogger.com. Nothing for it; start again.

I woke at about 5:20 and lay in the dark of morning (personal rule: no getting up on weekends before 6:00). I rose, took coffee to Kimmie in bed, and came down to key notes from A History of Technology. Then I remembered I'd had a dream, and keyed that instead, along with interpretive notes:

Sat 17 September 2005

7:00 a.m. I woke a few times in the night, partly from dehydration after the lack of water (I supposed) when I attended Kimmie's work barbecue at Tyler and Charito's. One dream:

I'm in the ensuite bathroom, maybe brushing my teeth, and I notice a little spider in the sink scrambling to escape the rushing water. I try to help the spider along without hurting it, maybe trying to move it with a piece of paper or cardboard, but the spider is quick, and gets itself into more trouble.

The water does hit it, and I quickly am able to push it (toward me) to a dry place in the sink. Is it drowned? No: it quickly springs to life and scrambles up out of the sink.

Somehow it gets itself on me, and I try to get it away from me by moving my hand and arm so that its defensive thread of silk drops away from me, sending the spider to the floor. But it is much faster than I can react to, and I hear its minute legs tapping on the counter as it scuttles quickly, trying to defend itself. I don't want to accidentally crush the thing after all this effort in saving it, and I feel irritated that its defensive instincts are what stand in the way of its rescue, since I mean it no harm. I also feel the fear of having a bug on my body, when I don't know where it is--will it bite me? Is it actually dangerous?

I think I manage to ensure it's off my body.

What might this mean?

in the ensuite bathroom: Bathroom: place of privacy, cleansing, hidden from the world. Ensuite, connected. I've told people that a big attraction of this house was its master-bedroom suite, with the generous ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet. A sense of inner sanctum: so almost a citadel or home within the home. This is where even guests to our house do not come: so truly our "inner world". So: my inner world?

brushing my teeth: Water, cleaning. I've read recently about the power of water to wash away sin: baptism. Brushing teeth: cleansing the mouth, what I eat and speak with. Teeth are for chewing: crushing food for digestion. Hygiene = health.

a little spider scrambling to escape the water: As I've seen lately--is it there, in the ensuite? Or in the kitchen? There is somewhere here in the house where I've been noticing a tiny spider hanging around (on the kitchen counter? or maybe it is in the bathroom), and think about what a scientist said in a documentary: wherever you are on earth, you're probably no more than one meter from a spider. Their surprising ubiquity struck me. The dream-spider is not so tiny as the one I've seen lately: this one was about the size of maybe a ladybug. (I also recently--yesterday?--found a bunch of cottonlike fiber stuffed in the channel in which the bedroom window slides, which I took to be some kind of spider-made egg-yarn, or something, apparently empty.) Spiders are attracted to sinks and tubs to drink, and then find they can't get out. Trapped. I recently wrote in my blog about the Waste Land, and the desiccation described in Eliot's poem: so water as life, including spiritual life. From Cirlot:

Spider The spider is a symbol with three distinct, sometimes overlapping, meanings: (i) the creative power of the spider, as exemplified in the weaving of its web; (ii) the spider's aggressiveness; and (iii) the spider's web as a spiral net converging toward a central point. The spider sitting in its web is a symbol of the center of the world, and is hence regarded in India as Maya, the eternal weaver of the web of illusion. The spider's destructive powers are connected with its significance as a symbol of the world of phenomena. Spiders, in their ceaseless weaving and killing--building and destroying--symbolize the ceaseless alternation of forces on which the stability of the universe depends. For this reason, the symbolism of the spider goes deep, signifying that "continuous sacrifice" which is the means of man's continual transmutation throughout the course of his life. Even death merely winds up the thread of an old life in order to spin a new one. The spider is a lunar animal because the moon is related to the world of phenomena, and, on the psychic level, to the imagination. Thus the moon, since it holds sway over the whole phenomenal world (for all phenomenal forms are subject to growth and death), waves the thread of each man's destiny. Accordingly, the moon is depicted as a gigantic spider in many myths.


Ah: continuous sacrifice which is the means of man's continual transmutation throughout the course of his life. I see an echo of the symbolism of the tattoos on the girl the other night [another dream]. The eight-leggedness of the spider can't be an unimportant part of its symbolism. From Serpent in the Sky:

Thoth (Hermes to the Greeks, Mercury to the Romans) is Master of the City of Eight. Thoth, the messenger of the gods, is the Neter of writing, of language, of knowledge of magic; Thoth gives man access to the mysteries of the manifested world, which is symbolized by Eight.

Eight corresponds to the physical world as we experience it. But the physical world as we comprehend it is still more complex. The interacting functions up to Eight do not permit of pattern or plan--of the ordering of phenomena. Nor will an eight-term system account for the source of order or pattern--for the pattern-maker, as it were.


What is a web but a pattern? The spider is indeed the "pattern-maker", using its eight legs, among other things, to weave its web.

Here in the dream, the spider has no web: the web-spinner is something that I suddenly notice as being affected, endangered by my so far unconscious focus on my own oral hygiene. The small living thing comes into consciousness. It is scrambling to avoid being drowned. I think of "drowned out": a signal or message that is overpowered by surrounding noise. It has come to my attention just because I am unconsciously endangering it by my actions. What does this describe? The "pattern-maker" in my life? My "acorn"?

I try to help without hurting it: I don't want it to drown, to be the accidental author of its death. This requires delicacy, for the spider is vulnerable. I need to be skillful and gentle, and to act quickly. Time is of the essence here. The moment is now.

try to move it with a piece of paper: Not sure whether I remember this correctly. If so, paper is for writing. I'm trying to get it on paper: write it down. Capture the intangible through writing. Something that's alive and in danger of being lost.

but the spider gets itself into more trouble: My effort fails, or partly fails. It can't be caught that way--does this mean I can't achieve this "rescue" via writing? It's too "quick", —i.e., alive? I mean well: my conscious intentions are good, but my method is not effective for what needs to be done. Suggests that writing is not the answer for this? It's more existential than that? The situation in the dream was dynamic, fast-moving: like a real rescue. Every moment counted. Some part of me would have thought too, Is this worth it? Is this little spider worth all this trouble?

water does hit it: The water of life paradoxically seems to kill the living spider. Water a paradox like the spider: life and death. Also paradoxically, this gives me the opportunity to save its life, by slowing it down. Just as the little web-weaver is knocked out of commission, I can (consciously) move it to safety.

it quickly springs to life and out of the sink: Surprises me again: it's got more vitality than I bargained on. It's alive all right--and coming right at me!

it gets itself on me: Although it isn't "trying" to get me, its instincts have sent it straight at me, right on me. It sees me as the way to save itself. Is it my Self? The acorn--that which "spins" my life, my thread--my story? We were separate, but now we're united--and I find it frightening. The non-frightening spider has become frightening by coming into contact with me. (Last night at the barbecue a wasp hovered near me while a woman looked on. I stood calmly, an example of how not to panic around wasps.) It can't really harm me, I don't think, and yet I feel icked-out and alarmed. Maybe it can bite me--again not because I wish it harm, but because it doesn't know better.

it drops away on its silk: I use my knowledge of how spiders like to escape to try to get it away from me. Now it is spinning: doing its spider-job. I'm relating with the spider skillfully, not in panic.

it is much faster than I can react to: I'm simply too slow for it. It's not at my mercy; it moves quickly under its own power. Autonomous.

I hear its minute legs tapping: I don't expect to be able to hear the spider--but I do. Again from Cirlot:

Sound In India, the sound of Krishna's flute is the magical cause of the birth of the world. The pre-Hellenic maternal goddesses are depicted holding lyres, and with the same significance. There are traditional doctrines which hold that sound was the first of all things to be created, and that which gave rise to all others, commencing with light, or, alternatively, with air and fire.


Yes: even in the Bible light is created because God says "Let there be light". Sight is the sense of reason, consciousness, but hearing is a way of sensing the remote but invisible. Hearing lets us position things in space all around us. In the dream I found it unsettling to hear the spider; it made it so much more real and immediate. From Cirlot, it seems sound is connected with phenomena as the spider is: they go together, even though spiders are usually silent. I remember years ago Jackie talking about how she could hear spiders crossing her bedroom floor in the basement at St. Georges. So I hear the action of its eight legs. I'm involved with the spider via sight, touch, and hearing now. It's here and now.

I feel irritation and fear: Emotions, negative ones, after my attempted positive actions. I was only trying to do a good deed—which I thought I could do without risk. But I was wrong: there is a risk: I get "involved". This little thing that almost died turns out to be a big deal. Will it wind up killing me?

I think I manage to ensure it's off my body: The crisis has passed, but the spider is invisible again. Where is it? I don't know. It might be on my body after all--a disquieting, uncomfortable thought, but one I might have to get used to. Have we merged in some sense? (I seem to be in pajamas in the dream--which I don't wear, haven't done since childhood.) Have I take my acorn on board?


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