Spider meaning and symbolism include artistry, manifestation, patience, feminine power, ancient wisdom, illusion, balance, and interconnection. A source of fear for some and fascination to others, the spider is an ancient being, having inhabited the Earth for more than 300 million years.1 (By comparison, our own ancestors date back to just 2.8 million years ago.) In addition to being ancient, spiders live on every continent except Antarctica. So, they appear in the mythologies and folklore of cultures around the world.
In this post, you’ll learn about spider symbols, meanings, and mythology, as well as the spider spirit animal. You’ll also learn about spider’s web symbolism and metaphors.
Table of Contents
- What do spiders symbolize?
- Detailed Spider Symbols and Meanings
- Spider Color Symbolism
- Black Spider Meaning
- Brown Spider Meaning
- Gray Spider Meaning
- White Spider Meaning
- Red Spider Meaning
- Orange Spider Symbolism
- Yellow Spider
- Green Spider Symbolism
- Blue Spider Meaning
- Purple Spider Meaning
- Multi-Colored Spider Symbolism
- Spider Spirit Animal
- Spider Power Animal
- Spider Totem
- Spider Symbols and Meanings in Mythology and Folklore
- Native American Spider Meanings
- Spider Mythology in Mesoamerica
- The Spider in Ancient Peru
- Australian Aboriginal Spider Myth
- Nauru Spider Creation Story
- Spiders in Greek Mythology
- The Spider in Celtic Mythology
- Spider Meaning in Ancient Egypt
- Spider in African Folklore
- The Spider in Islam
- Spider Symbolism in the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity
- Spider Symbolism in Japan
- Spider’s Web Symbolism in Hinduism and Buddhism
- Spider Dream Meaning
- Spider and Spider’s Web Tattoo Meanings
- Organizations that Protect Spiders
“Almost all spiders are rather nice-looking.”
– E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
What do spiders symbolize?
- Female Empowerment
- Ancient Wisdom
Detailed Spider Symbols and Meanings
As they skillfully create their iridescent webs, spiders are the embodiment of artistry. They patiently weave their webs in optimal places, and if one strand breaks, they will weave again.
Those who consider the spider to be one of their spirit animals are often gifted creatively. Spider people have vivid imaginations and they’re also good with their hands. They can envision, feel, or even hear what they want to create in their minds, and then manifest it in the real world in art, music, cooking, and even surgery or other medical procedures.
The spider is known for being an intelligent arachnid who is capable of strategizing and planning. Therefore, the spider is also a symbol for the power of manifesting. Imagination, artistry, and the power to manifest are a winning combination. So, if a spider suddenly makes themselves known to you, they are reminding you of your own ingenuity.
When the spider is your spirit animal you have the potential to create something wonderful in your life and the lives of others.
The real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, who appears on the TV show Shark Tank, said [paraphrasing], “I have worked with all kinds of entrepreneurs. And the most successful ones aren’t the ones with the best idea or the hardest working or the smartest or even the luckiest. They’re the ones who have a clear vision of where they want to be and what it will look like when they get there.”
This is the essence of the spider spirit animal’s ability to manifest!
Weaving an intricate web is painstaking work. And even when the web is done, a human or strong wind comes along and breaks it. So, the web has to be repaired. In addition, waiting for prey to fly into the web can take even more patience. The spider is not deterred.
The spider spirit animal reminds you that good things happen for those who wait. While we live in an immediate gratification culture, the spider reminds us that patience and self-governance are how we create and get what we want in life.
We’ve all heard stories about a femme fatale who bumps off her sugar daddy husband to collect his life insurance money. She is called a “black widow” because of the black widow spider who does indeed devour her mate. Unfortunately, this archetype hasn’t done many favors for women or spiders.
In a world where some cultures don’t believe girls deserve to get an education and only 8 percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women, there are definitely more women and girls who lack power than those who have it.
Meanwhile, in the spider world, female spiders do have power. They tend to be larger than the males and they live longer. They can also defend themselves. Hence, female spiders are like lionesses in that they are symbols of female power.
Because they’ve inhabited the Earth for more than 300 million years, spiders are also symbols of ancient wisdom. They hold in their DNA a memory of how the Earth once was and how it has changed.
The spider spirit animal reminds us to study history and learn from the past. Spider people tend to be old souls who have experienced many lifetimes, therefore they are open-minded because they understand. They can easily put themselves in others’ shoes because of their soul-level experience. Hence, it’s important for spider people to be patient with younger souls and to help guide them as they navigate their life path.
Spider Symbolism: Illusion
The spider is skilled in the art of illusion and entrapment. The Australian crab spider is capable of manipulating ultraviolet light signals to attract bees to flowers where they lie in wait to catch them.2 As heinous as this sounds, not all illusion is negative.
The spider spirit animal also embodies the idea of “fake it til you make it.” Even if you don’t have the internal confidence to take an action, like getting up on stage, introducing yourself to a stranger, or going into that interview, the spider spirit tells you to “act as if.” Act as if you are capable, act as if you are confident, and you can manifest it. The spider reminds you that with your imagination you can create something beautiful and other won’t be able to resist your alluring web.
Spiders are cunning and carnivorous arachnids who are commonly seen figures in haunted houses and Halloween decorations. It’s easy to see why they scare so many people. Not to mention, some are also venomous. But despite their bad rap, spiders play a critical role in keeping natural ecosystems in balance.
Because of the important role that they play, the spider is also a symbol of balance. While they are killing machines, they also help to support life. This dichotomy is why the spider is both a symbol of fertility and the underworld in a number of ancient cultures.
Spider’s Web Symbolism: Interconnection
The spider’s web may have inspired early humans to weave and make fishing nets. It has also comes to symbolize something life-changing in our modern-day, and that’s the World Wide Web. The idea of a web illustrates how we are interconnected with each other in immeasurable ways. One way is via technology communications. But also, through personal networks, whether with extended family, friends, through work or other affiliations.
The Symbol for Infinity
It is interesting that the spider is also associated with the number eight, which on its side is the symbol for infinity. Unlike insects, which have six legs, spiders have eight legs. In addition, most spiders have eight eyes.
Spider Color Symbolism
There are more than 45,000 known species of spiders, and they come in a stunning array of color combinations. Besides the biological reasons for their different hues, many wonder what a spider in a specific color might symbolize. Here are some spider color meanings:
Black Spider Meaning
Spiders that are black include the black widow, the black house spider, the black jumping spider, the black mouse spider, and black tarantulas.
The color black symbolizes mystery, formality, elegance, and rebellion.
Seeing a black spider can be a reminder to bring more mystery and discretion into your life. In our culture of easy access to information and over-sharing, privacy is a blessing. We sometimes forget that we have a right to privacy and keeping some things to ourselves.
The black spider can also be a reminder to think for yourself and do your own thing. In other words – in a world of ants who are doing what all the other ants are doing, be a spider.
Brown Spider Meaning
Brown spiders include tarantulas, wolf spiders, the brown recluse, and others. The color brown is associated with groundedness, security, and stability. As the color of wood and soil, brown is no-nonsense, “down to Earth” color.
Seeing a brown spider can be a reminder to ground yourself and to get back in touch with what really matters in your life. As self-help guru Tony Robbins says, “Most people major in the minor things.” The brown spider reminds you to honor those things in your life that give you the foundation from which to blossom. This might be your relationships, your health, and your financial security.
Gray Spider Meaning
The American house spider, the gray widow spider, and the cellar spider (also called daddy long legs) all come in gray hues.
Gray is the color that stands between black and white, so it symbolizes balance as well as subtlety. In addition, gray is the color of mist and fog, so it symbolizes calm and mystery.
Seeing a gray spider can be a sign to manifest more calm and balance in your life. It’s easy to get caught up in one drama or another. Sometimes we get addicted to our own adrenaline. The gray spider says, “Chill.” Let the mist of cool, calm collectedness wash over you.
White Spider Meaning
Spiders that are white include the female goldenrod crab spider (who can change her color), the white recluse spider, and the white-banded fishing spider.
The color white symbolizes purity and simplicity. Therefore, seeing a white spider can be a sign to embrace more minimalism and simplicity in your life. This can even relate to your own thought processes. Most of us have very cluttered thought, repurposing the same thoughts over and over that don’t really help us.
The white spider says to clear out the cobwebs in your mind, then you can start anew and create something more beautiful.
Red Spider Meaning
Spiders that are red include the red house spider, red jumping spiders, red widow spiders, red orb-weavers, and others.
The color red is a power color that symbolizes primal energy, passion, excitement, action, and wealth.
Consider Spider Man’s spidey sense: It gives him the power to react to something before it happens.
The red spider symbolizes your own spidey-sense. It’s a sign to pay attention and take action. This can mean protecting yourself, someone you care about, or even your possessions. And it can also mean sensing an opportunity and acting on it. The red spider can bring blessings, but you have to act on them.
Orange Spider Symbolism
Spiders that are orange include the pumpkin spider, the marbled orb-weaver, and the orange hairy spider.
The color orange symbolizes wellness, creativity, joy, and sensuality. So, an orange spider can be a reminder to use your creativity more to manifest what you want in your life. It can also be a sign to bring more balance into areas of your life to foster wellness, such as your diet, exercise routine, or work habits.
Spiders that are yellow include the yellow sac spider, the golden garden spider, the goldenrod crab spider, the blunt-spined kite spider, and the wasp spider.
Yellow symbolizes optimism, happiness, honor, and prosperity. So, the yellow spider is a good luck symbol that reminds you that you have reasons to feel optimistic about an area of your life. As well, you have the power to create happiness where it may not have existed before.
Green Spider Symbolism
Spiders that are green include the green lynx spider, the green orb-weaver, the green striped spider, and the magnolia green jumper.
Green symbolizes renewal, growth, fertility, and emotions. It also symbolizes financial abundance and security.
So, seeing a green spider, whether in real life, artwork, jewelry, or elsewhere, is a positive symbol for creating abundance in an area of your life. Remember that the spider symbolizes artistry and manifestation. So, a green spider is a powerful symbol for growth.
Blue Spider Meaning
Spiders that are blue include blue tarantulas, blue jumping spiders, and the blue wolf spider.
Blue symbolizes faith, loyalty, trust, and wisdom. So, the blue spider is a reminder to live up to higher principles. If you are in conflict with someone, take the high road. Never lower your vibrations to match those of undeveloped souls. The blue spider reminds you that you know better.
Purple Spider Meaning
Spiders that are purple include the purple tree tarantula, the purple jumping spider, and the purple grass spider.
Purple symbolizes royalty, aspiration, wealth, peace, and devotion. So, the purple spider can be a sign that reaching your goals is possible, but it’s not necessarily about being an overnight success. The patient spider envisions what they want to create and then methodically goes about weaving their web to make it happen. If you are dedicated to your outcome, you can make it happen.
Multi-Colored Spider Symbolism
Spiders that are multi-colored include the peacock parachute spider, the peacock jumping spider, the blue legged tarantula, the sequined spider, and others.
While some may not think about the spider as a creature of beauty, the fact is, there are many beautiful spiders, and the multi-colored ones are among the loveliest.
Seeing a multi-colored spider in real life, in art, or some other creative work, is a reminder to tap into the diversity of your personal networks for help. You are more connected than you might realize. The colorful spider reminds you to look beyond the immediate and the obvious and you will find the answers you seek.
Spider Spirit Animal
For those who are not spider people, the sight of one in their shower or closet can be a traumatic event. But for those who understand spiders, seeing one is always a good omen.
When the spider is your spirit guide, you are an ancient soul. You are also most likely an adept networker, even if you’re an introvert. You have a diverse set of social and familial contacts and can help foster introductions.
In addition, spider people have the ability to create something magnificent out of nothing. And what’s more, others will be drawn to your creation.
If you are curious about other animals and insects who might be your spirit guides in addition to the spider, you can read more and take UniGuide’s spirit animal quiz in my overview post on spirit animals.
Spider Power Animal
As the name implies, a power animal can empower you with their most dynamic traits.
So, if you want to transform an area of your life, consider the attributes that the power animal represents. For example, you can summon the spider power animal when you:
- Have specific life goals that you want to materialize and need to fine tune your visualization skills.
- Want to be more creative in an area of your life, whether it’s work, in your relationships, your home, or a hobby.
- Want to become a better networker and bring people together to achieve common objectives.
Animal totems embody the protective powers of the animal they represent. Thus, the spider totem serves as a helpful symbol for female empowerment, and for men who want to tap into their own female power. (After all, the spider is a symbol for balance and we all have feminine and masculine aspects to our personalities!) The spider totem is also a helpful symbol for fostering creativity and for manifesting what you want to achieve.
Spider Symbols and Meanings in Mythology and Folklore
Native American Spider Meanings
Native American tribes in the eastern and southwestern U.S. have legends about a Spider Grandmother. In these stories, the Spider Grandmother might live underground but she will come out when called upon to help people. For many tribes, the spider represents an old wise woman.
The Cherokee tell the tale of how sunlight came to the people. During a period of cold darkness, the fox told the people and animals that the other side of the world had plenty of warmth and sunlight. So, all of the animals got together to discuss how they would capture the sun so they could bring light and warmth to their side of the world.
All of the animals had ideas for how they could do it. However, after much discussion, each one was ruled out for one reason or another. Finally, the spider spoke up and said she had a plan. First, she would make a giant clay pot. Then, she would weave a web that reached to the other side of the world.
Off she went…
All of the other animals thought this sounded like a good plan. So, once she made her pot, the spider traveled on her web to the other side of the world. She was so quiet that no one on the other side heard her approach.
Once on the other side of the world, the spider spun her web all the way to reach the sun, and then she climbed it. Grabbing the sun, she put it in her clay pot, descended on her web, and returned to the other side of the world. And this is how the spider brought light and warmth to the people.3
In other Native American stories, the spider is a trickster like the coyote or the crow. The plains and western tribes called the spider trickster Ikto’mi. Possessing special gifts, Ikto’mi had the power to see the future. But if anyone questioned his gift of foresight, Ikto’mi also had the power to make his premonitions comes true.4
Spider Mythology in Mesoamerica
The Mayans and other pre-Colombian societies in Mesoamerica celebrated an Earth goddess who came to be called the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan. She was often depicted in the presence of numerous spiders, so she is also called the Spider Woman of Teotihuacan.
Archaeologists believe she was both a fertility goddess and a goddess of death. Hence, one of the reasons that spiders symbolize balance: They are providers of both life and death. The Spider Woman goddess was also an Earth and water deity, as well as the goddess of war.5
The Spider in Ancient Peru
The Moche, Cupisnique, Chavin, and Nazca People of ancient Peru all depicted spiders in their artwork. Archeologists believe that spiders’ webs most likely inspired early hunting and fishing nets. Thus, the early Peruvians associated spiders with abundance, fertility, and prosperity. In addition, they associated spiders with water, which was vitally important in the geographical area where they lived.
Archaeologists discovered temples built by the Cupisnique and their successors, the Chavin, which were dedicated to spider deities. One of the temples is more than 3,000 years old.6
The Nazca also revered spiders. Their civilization is famous for the Nazca Lines, the gigantic drawings in the desert, created sometime between 500 BC – 500 AD, which some believe were made for extra-terrestrials. One of the Nazca Line geoglyphs is of a giant spider.7
Australian Aboriginal Spider Myth
The Aboriginal Australians also depicted spiders in their artwork. In addition, they told tales of a “red-backed spider,” which is most likely the Australian black widow. In some stories, the red-backed spider is called Kara and she is a female temptress who captures young men.8 The Aborigines also say that Kara is seen in the sky as Rigel, which is an especially bright star in the Orion constellation.9
In other stories, the spider is a male deity called Karr. He travels from swamp to swamp, coordinating with the winds to bring the rain.
Nauru Spider Creation Story
In another story from Oceania, the people on the island of Nauru tell the story of a giant creator deity named Areop-Enap, which means Old Spider.
According to the story, when the Universe began it was a vast, dark nothingness except for Areop-Enap, who was a lonely being with great powers yet he was lost in the void.
One day, however, Areop-Enap came across a giant clam in the void. Having never seen anything like it, he approached the clam, which was partly open. Unable to contain his curiosity, Areop-Enap entered the clam, which immediately slammed shut. Areop-Enap tried to open the clam, but he was unable to.
Areop-Enap began to explore…
Trying to make the best of things, Areop-Enap started exploring inside the giant clam. He then came across a small snail who was also trapped inside. Areop-Enap befriended the small snail and the two explored together. Eventually, they met a larger snail, and then a worm, whom they befriended. Together, they all tried to open the clam, to no avail. So, Areop-Enap decide to give his new friends some of his power.
With new power, the worm stretched to the roof of the clam and pushed and pushed to try to open it. He pushed so hard that he began to sweat. Soon the clam was filling up with his sweat. In fact, the worm sweated so much that the clam was unable to stay clamped shut, so it opened. All of the worm’s sweat poured out and became the ocean. And Areop-Enap and his friends were free.
To thank his friends, Areop-Enap made the small snail into the moon and the large snail into the sun. He made the bottom of the clam the Earth and the roof of the calm the sky. The worm was so exhausted from his travails that he told Areop-Enap he didn’t think he would make it. So, Areop-Enap spun a hammock for the worm and threw him into the sky, and the worm became the Milky Way.10
Spiders in Greek Mythology
In a number of ancient cultures, the spider is associated with weaving. Some historians believe that human beings were inspired to create fishing nets and woven fabrics after watching spiders weave their webs.
In one Greek myth, a maiden named Arachne is famous for her weaving. (Incidentally, the class of animalia that spiders belong to is called Arachnida.) Arachne was so skillful in her weaving that the people in her village said she was even better than the goddess Athena.
Catching wind of this, Athena decided to challenge Arachne to a weaving competition. When they finished their tapestries, Athena admitted that Arachne’s weaving was indeed exquisite. However, out of jealousy and anger at Arachne’s confidence, Athena destroyed Arachne’s tapestry and cursed her into feeling endless guilt. Heartbroken, Arachne killed herself. Taking pity on the skilled weaver, Athena turned Arachne and all of her descendants into spiders who would weave beautiful webs for eternity.
The Spider in Celtic Mythology
In Celtic mythology, the spider was also associated with weaving. The Celtic goddess Arianrhod was a fertility goddess who also ruled weaving and is consequently associated with spiders.
In Celtic societies the spider was viewed as a helpful being. In fact, the Celts believed that killing a spider would bring bad luck.
Spider Meaning in Ancient Egypt
The Egyptian creation goddess Neith was also associated with spiders. According to Egyptian stories, Neith, who is the mother of the sun god, Ra, created the Universe. Like a spider weaving a web, Neith is depicted as the weaver who wove the Universe.11
Spider in African Folklore
As they are in Native American culture, the spider is depicted as a trickster in some African cultures. In West Africa and the Caribbean, a spider deity named Anansi ruled storytelling and wisdom. He was also quite cunning and enjoyed causing mischief. So, in Anansi culture, “spider tales” are like fables in that they are cautionary stories.12
The Spider in Islam
In Islamic culture, the spider is viewed as a protector who should be respected. In one story, the prophet Muhammad and his father-in-law, Abu Bakr, are being chased by Quraysh warriors who wanted to kill Muhammad to stop him from preaching. On the run, Muhammed and Abu Bakr came across a cave in Thowr Mountain in Mecca. So, they hid there.
According to the legend, Allah commanded a spider to weave a giant web across the entrance of the cave. And when the Quraysh warriors passed it, they thought that no one could have gotten through the massive spider’s web without breaking it, so they moved on and Muhammad and Abu Bakr were safe.13
Spider Symbolism in the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity
There is a Hebrew story about David that is very similar to the story about Muhammad hiding in a cave. In the Jewish story, David hides from King Saul in a cave, and a spider weaves a protective web across the entrance to protect him.14
Generally, spiders were viewed favorably in Judeo-Christian stories. In Proverbs 30:28, the spider is depicted as humble yet exalted: “a spider can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.” The line describes the humbleness and vulnerability of the spider, yet its ability to make silk wins the favor of kings. In other words, those who diligently do their work with humility will win God’s favor.15
Spider Symbolism in Japan
In Japanese folklore, there are spider yokai who are supernatural entities that can shapeshift into people. In one legend, the Japanese folk hero Minamoto no Yorimitsu battles a mythical spider called Tsuchigumo.16 The giant spider shapeshifts into a serving boy who is supposedly administering medicine to Yorimitsu. However it’s actually spider venom, so Yorimitsu has to battle the spider.
Another spider yokai is called Jorōgumo. She shapeshifts into a seductive woman who enchants samurai and other unsuspecting young men. Once she entices them with her feminine wiles, she lures them into her home. She then spins her silk threads around them and keeps them captive, weakening them day by day with her venom.17
The Chinese call the spider ximu, which means happy insect. They view the spider as a positive omen who brings happiness in the morning and wealth in the evening.18
Spider’s Web Symbolism in Hinduism and Buddhism
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the spider’s web is a metaphor for the interconnectedness of everything in the Universe.
Indra’s Jeweled Net
A 6th century Buddhist monk named Tu-Shun told the story of Indra’s Jeweled Net. (Indra is a creator god in Hinduism.) In Tu-Shun’s story, Indra has created a gigantic net. At each juncture in the net is a shiny pearl. The pearl reflects all of the other pearls in what is a cosmic matrix. The pearl represents a life, a cell, an atom, or even a unit of consciousness. And every pearl is intrinsically connected to every other pearl by silken threads.
What happens in one pearl is reflected in all of the other pearls and felt through the threads. If one thread is broken, it impacts the rest of the web.
The metaphor of Indra’s web is a tenet in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy: that one action can have a ripple effect throughout the Universe. In other words, everything is connected. If you perform a positive deed, it creates more positive deeds. Likewise, negative action case more negative actions.19
Symbols of Illusion
Hindus also associated the spider with the concept of Maya, which means illusion. According to Vedic teachings, Maya describes how the physical world is a construct compared to the “real” world of the spirit.20
Spider Dream Meaning
What does it mean if you dream of a spider or spiders? The answer has a lot to do with how you view spiders in the first place. After all, there are people who love spiders and then those who suffer from arachnophobia. What’s important when analyzing your spider dream is understanding how felt during the dream.
Dreams can be the result of fears or anxieties about issues that we need to address in our conscious, wakeful state. Or they can be messages from our spirit guides and information that we pick up metaphysically.
Dream meanings are personal to the dreamer. But having a greater understanding of spider symbolism and mythology can hopefully bring more insights into the meaning of your dream.
Spider and Spider’s Web Tattoo Meanings
A spider, spider’s web, or a combination of the two are intriguing motifs for a tattoo.
The spider tattoo tells the world that you value artistry and that you believe in the power of imagination and manifesting what you want to create in the world. And a spider’s web tattoo can demonstrate that you believe in the interconnectedness of life and relationships and that you value those connections. It also shows that you believe that putting good energy into the world through positive words and actions can have a ripple effect of creating more positivity in the world. .
Of course, tattoo meanings are deeply personal to the individual whose skin they adorn. But hopefully understanding more about spider symbolism and mythologies can bring even deeper meanings to your tattoo.
Organizations that Protect Spiders
While they don’t not garner the level of public sympathy that animals like seals and elephants do, spiders are still in need of our protection. Like other wild creatures today, spiders are being impacted by habitat loss from agriculture and human development. In addition, they are being impacted by fires and climate change, pesticides, the pet trade, and other threats.21
Yet spiders are foundational for keeping the Earth’s natural ecosystems in balance. They even play a role in defending our own food supply. If you care about spiders, please do what you can to protect them. Here are some organizations that are working to protect spiders and other arachnids:
- International Society of Arachnology
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Rainforest Trust
- National Wildlife Federation