Who among you reading this would like a spider as your totem helper? You might want to think about that for a while as I did this past weekend while on a Women Gathering retreat sponsored by Way of the Willow. We were told we would journey with a drumbeat, our breath, and come to know our totem animal. I wondered how that might happen. I had some preconceived notions of animals that hold special meaning for me and I wondered if it might be a wolf, deer, coyote, fox, or armadillo. But no, it was none of those. With my eyes closed in the shaded room, and the steady beating of the drum, a spider showed up.
I didn’t want to believe it at first, but there it was just a darker shade of the dark, plump and fuzzy, suspended from a thin dark thread. I asked myself what it could possibly teach me and then began thinking:
Suspend judgment of others and myself.
Suspend anxiety for things undone.
Suspend the need to be perfect or right.
Look around and know that all is good.
When the exercise was over I eagerly sought out a book in the room, “Animal Speak--The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small” and began to fall in love with my spider as I read: “Spider is the keeper of primordial alphabet. Spider can teach how to use the written language with power and creativity so that your words weave a web around those who would read them.” Spiders were also said to be a combination of gentleness and strength, and part of spider’s medicine is to maintain balance between life and death, waking and sleeping. Who wouldn’t love that?
Each woman attending this retreat had a different totem animal come to her with unique and appropriate gifts and medicines. It was a serious, but also very fun weekend, as we shared pieces of our lives and helped heal one another through our laughter and tears.
In a Saturday evening ceremony we each put on our wise woman shawls and spoke words that told what was important for us to remember. I prayed, Dear God, Thank you for the gift of these women. I know my serenity will be subject to forgetting so may I always remember the way back to it. Help me trust what comes, comes because it needs to; show me ways I can celebrate what doesn’t get done so I can enjoy the present; help me let go of feeling too responsible; help me hold the questions with infinite patience and learn from them; may I find joy and new ideas in the accomplishment of others; remind me there is always a choice versus the victim role. Thank you for being my power within and reminding me to “Be not afraid.” And thank you for my spider.
What if everyone had the opportunity for a fun and healing time and could remember the way back to it when it fades? I think we would all heal our planet.