Thursday, January 19, 2017

Honey, There is a Spider in Here

“Honey, there is a spider in here, can you come take care of it? It is a monster!" My wife, Laurie, had spotted the creature on our bathroom ceiling and wanted it dispatched, post haste. When a spider, especially a big one, shows itself in our home, it is up to me to dispose of it. I have often tried to impress upon my loving spouse a more compassionate and cohabitational attitude towards our web-weaving friends. Sharing Navajo cultural stories about spiders and gently encouraging her to overcome her personal fear factor concerning these eight-legged creatures has been, as yet, unsuccessful.

Here at the trading post, Steve and I deal with web weavers on a regular basis. In the Navajo culture, there resides a benevolent being known as Spider Woman; she dwells within the psyche of Navajo rug and basket weavers who frequent our establishment. The aura of Spider Woman surrounds them, tenaciously attached by threads of wool and sumac.

It has been a real adventure becoming familiar with our local weavers. Through the hearts and hands of these artists, Spider Woman spins her web of myth and legend, prolongs a fading culture and expresses her opinions. Materials gathered from the earth are artfully reworked into expressions of the ancient Navajo stories. If you look closely and open your mind, the Navajo perspective begins to come together in a tapestry of form and movement.

Through the weavers, the culture begins to unfold in unique and fascinating ways. What once seemed only visually intriguing becomes doubly stimulating when the stories associated with the weaving are told. Interpretations of a practical and functional belief system are expressed through skills passed from hand to hand through the generations. Tradition, ancient ceremonial practices and suggestions of harmony and balance are woven into exceptional works of art. Spider Woman spins and weaves her magic into each creation.

Mountains, mesas and monuments are stylistically and lovingly portrayed; geometric red rock canyons and scattered juniper trees come alive on these textural canvases. Subtle images such as lizard tracks across a desert sand dune, wispy cloud formations and lively displays of early morning light find their way onto the two dimensional art forms. Their portrayal brings forth depth of field and a feeling of experience that tempts the senses into loftier realms of reality.

Spider Woman lives in the art of those who believe and welcome her into their world. She provides her followers with skill in gathering necessary materials, the patience required for proper preparation and the ability to incorporate singular mental images into the art. With her aid, Navajo weaving becomes more than warp, weft and design. Spider Woman provides the motivation and creativity to produce exceptional art pieces.

It wasn't long after the spider incident with Laurie that her mother and three sisters came to visit. Somehow the fact that I had an affinity for spiders came up, and I was chastised for tolerating their presence for any reason (The spiders, not the sisters-in-law). Laurie and her siblings are sticklers for a clean house, and arachnids do not blend well with that philosophy.

Before I knew it my in-laws had formed a posse and rounded up three more of my crawly associates. Much to my dismay the "tidy team of bug bashers" banished the creatures to the rich earth of the flower garden. I am having trouble convincing my family that spiders are good and beneficial allies. I may have to weave a web of deceit and liberate those spiders from their snowy exile. I know the perfect little corner where they will have the opportunity to grow and prosper.

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