DESIGN INSPIRATION: THE SPIDER AND ITS SYMBOLIC MEANINGS March 17 2015

Once again, it is time to launch a new collection and this season I chose to revisit symbols that are very dear to me and very influential to my jewellery. The Metamorphosis Collection is all about amulets of personal transformation and the first design to arrive in stores is the Spider, which we are calling The Creation.

The Spider was a powerful symbol to some Native American tribes, especially the Hopi tribe but is also common to others from the Mississippian culture such as the Cherokees and in pre-Columbian Central America.

In Hopi myths, a Spider Woman, or Spider Grandmother, was a messenger and teacher for the Creator, interceding between deity and people. She was responsible for bringing life to Earth, creating plants, animals and humans. Spider Woman was the weaver of the fabric of life, creating all from a central source.  And so became a symbol of creativity, growth, patience and persistence, female empowerment and fertility.


Ancient shell gorget, depicting a spider (Tennessee, USA).

Clay jar by Hopi Artist Burel Naha (1944-present)
Spider symbolism can also be found in Greek mythology, in the character of Arachne, a shepherd’s daughter who became a great weaver. She boasted that her skills were better than Athena’s and refused to believe that her skill came from the goddess. In disguise, Athena warned her of the dangers of bragging, but Arachne laughed and said that even if Athena herself challenged her, she would win. The goddess then revealed herself and the weaving challenge began. The loser would promise to never weave again.
Illustration by Gustave Doré in Dante's Purgatorio

There are many versions of how this myth ends. In one of them, Arachne wins and Athena, infuriated, rips her weaving to shreds and turns her into a spider, cursing her and her descendants to weave into eternity. On another version, Athena is amazed by Arachne’s skill, but infuriated by the mortal’s pride and curses her to live in guilt. Devastated, Arachne kills herself. Athena takes pity on her and brings her back to life as a spider, and ever since, Arachne weaves her web.