Posted for Sunday’s Whirligig
Words: kind, bridge, starshine, something, model, except,
clay, kill, made, myself, hand, failed
Want to make it clear, right here at the beginning. I have never killed anyone. I have done away with some flies, and far more mosquitoes. And yes, my share of spiders. Spiders, for me, are an exception, in a singular class of their own, something different from those other pests I have mentioned.
I believe they are an excellent totem (model) for anyone who creates. They make their beautiful webs from the juices of their own beings. The original definition of the word “create”, meant to “breathe life into”. When we create, we bring something, an idea, a single impression, to live in this world, be that in words, clay, stone, or any other medium.
Have you ever stepped outside in early morning sunlight and caught sight of a bush, or some other object, covered in a dew dappled cobweb? It appears to be wearing a blanket of starshine. It should remind us that we all come from the stars, and that creative light dwells in each of us.
When I was a young, stay at home Mother, I tried to put on a practice of meditation. It didn’t go well. At least I didn’t think it did. It led me to create a Personal Mythology peopled with wild animals that represented pieces and parts of my own personality, or psyche. They came in spontaneous imagery, instead of the stillness I was seeking. Each one tested me, but then gave me their name and the lesson they had come to teach.
Years later, after completing college with two degrees, I became the General Manager of a bookstore. It was there, while taking a break, sitting on the steps leading down into the basement, that I once again experienced a spontaneous imagery encounter with a huge black spider. It wasn’t an altogether pleasant kind of experience, but I got the message, she had come to deliver.
She gently let me know that I had failed myself. Had let go of the potential that had fueled my college career, where I had found that I had a gift for writing. And although I had put on a daily writing regimen, I wasn’t using it to reach out to others. She let me know that I was intended to be a bridge for others who doubted their capacity to be creative.
I sat quietly and thought about what I had just experienced. And it was there, that I began to think about creating a small writers zine. And to honor that very unexpected experience, I titled the zine SpiderInk. And that eventually led to my being invited to write my own column in a magazine for about four years.
I also went home and made a deal with any spiders that might be lurking within my personal space. Told them that I wouldn’t bother them unless they happened to, in any way, consider it okay to crawl on my physical being. Then all bets were off and I’d revert to my more primitive instincts. And for the most part, that has worked well over the years. Until just recently, when in the last two weeks, I’ve had three black spiders, suddenly land on my right hand. And yes, I’m right-handed.
I think I understand the message in these visits. At least I hope I do. It remains to be seen if I have any more close encounters with black spiders.
Elizabeth Crawford 6/8/2019
Process Notes: The twelve word Wordle was taken from a poem by Lucille Clifton, who happens to be my favorite poet and the reason why I actually started writing poetry. I saw her in a video in one of my Creative Writing classes and suddenly, finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was almost forty at the time. And the poem these words are taken from, happens to be one of my favorites.
When I first came here today, I was intending to write about my self-published writers zine. But somewhere, in the course of events, I clicked on the Whirligig Wordle and decided to see if I could use Lucille’s words to write about that subject. I believe her words added a great deal to my subject matter. I did use all of the words and thank you, once again Lucille, for fueling my store of inspiration.
There is a myth about Spider Woman in Native American mythology. It is believed that she climbed her way into the night sky and built her web around certain constellations that allowed the People to know when it was time to move their encampments in order to take advantage of the seasonal changes. It is also believed that within those lines of her web, the People eventually found language.
The image is the front cover of the zine, which I typed into my computer, then printed up and bound with a stapler. It was mailed out about once every three months for three years, until my computer crashed and couldn’t be replaced for over a year. It was during that crash that I was invited to write my own monthly column.