Spider Rock : Home of Spider Woman
Sacred Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly, Navajo Nation
Spider Woman and Spider Rock
According to Navajo legend, Spider Woman lives at Spider Rock in Canyon De Chelly. She was first to weave the web of the universe. She taught the Navajo how to weave, how to create beauty in their own life and to spread the "Beauty Way" teaching of balance within the mind, body & soul. On the other hand Spider Woman has a bit of a dark side. But let's start off with the bright.
In the Navajo creation story, the first world was small and pitch black. There were four seas and an island. In the very middle of the island was a single pine tree. Ants, dragonflies, locusts and beetles lived there and made up the Air-Spirit People of the first world.
The second world was known as blue, where life was given to Spider Woman & Spider Man. Only their inner spirits or souls were made. Their physical bodies were made later to contain their spirits when they evolved into future worlds.
In the third world the holy ones advised Spider Woman that she had the capabilities of weaving a map of the universe and the geometrical patterns of the spirit beings in the night sky. At first she did not know what they meant, and was not told how it could be done. Curiosity became her energy and driving force to learn to weave as the holy ones instructed.
On a beautiful day when she was out on the land, exploring and gathering food, she came upon a small young tree. She touched it with her right hand and wrapped her fingers around one of its branches. As she was letting go, a string streamed out the center of her palm and wrapped around the tree branch. She was not quite sure what the string was. At first she shook her hand to release the string, but it would not break free. She thought if she kept wrapping the string around the branch it might let go.
Spider Woman started maneuvering and manipulating the string into various shapes. At this particular moment, she knew this was the weaving the holy people instructed her to do. Immediately she broke the string with her left hand without hesitation. She sat and thought carefully about how to use her new gift. For the rest of the day she sat close to the tree and wrapped the string into various patterns on other branches of the small tree.
The holy ones heard about Spider Woman's new talent and came to visit her. During the visit the holy ones instructed Spider Man to construct a weaving loom and also create the tools used in the various processes of weaving. At this time Spider Woman began to sing the weaving songs, given to her by the holy ones. The songs empower the weavings and the weaving tools.
Dine (Navajo) of today live in the fourth world, known as the "Glittering World". Young weavers are instructed to find a spider web in the early morning, glistening with sunlight and sparkles. They are told to place the palm of their right hand upon the spider's webbing without destroying or damaging the web. At that moment Spider Woman's gift of weaving enters the young weaver's spirit, where it lives forever.
Spider Woman's dark side. Navajo elders warn young children that Spider Woman is always on the look out for mischievous and disobedient children. When she finds them, she spins them tight with her web and takes them to the top of Spider Rock. There she boils and eats them. Their left over bones melt in the sun which create the white bands at the very top of Spider Rock. Yikes. Kids, be on your best behavior!
Cara Gorman, Master Navajo Weaver, close enough to Spider Rock to see the white bands
Nizhoni Ranch Gallery Master Weavers, near Spider Rock
- Beth Barth