Animal Symbolism & Meaning in Spirituality
Female charm and seduction. Surrender. Worshipping the female principle.
Networking with humans. Exploiting suburbia. Human habitation. Theft.
Stealing. Taking another’s nourishment. The web of life. Surrendering to
the Goddess. Offering. Giving yourself away.
The redback spider is one of the most famous of Australian venomous
spiders, alongside the funnelweb. The redback spider is a small spider
(females being larger) with a classic hourglass pattern on its back that
can range in colour from brown to red. Despite its reputation as a
deadly killer, only a single death has been reported in Australia since
the antivenin was introduced in 1956. As it is, the redback spider’s
neurotoxin is slow acting, often giving the recipient of the bite at
least forty eight hours to seek medical attention.
Redback spider males have a unique relationship with the female. During
mating, the male will sometimes somersault and actively present his
abdomen to the female for food. Approximately 70% of the time, the
female will accept this offering and eat him. This nourishes the young,
and seems to be a successful adaptation. The redback spider is attracted
to human habitation due to the increased number of nesting sites for
its disorganised webs.
Lessons and Challenges:
Redback spider usually comes across as a female energy, and tends to
teach about worshipping the female principle. This – for occultists –
may involve focusing more on worshipping the goddess in all her forms
(though focus may specifically be on spider goddesses), and in a more
mundane sense it can involve focusing on femininity, what it is to be a
strong woman, and how to respect that within, or within others.
Redback spider can emphasise the presence of female charm and seduction.
Redback teaches us how to enthrall others with femininity, or
alternatively, how to recognise that we are being enthralled. Redback is
an exceptionally strong teacher for women and men who want to embrace
what they feel to be ‘feminine’ qualities, particularly those that are
There is a lesson of surrender with redback spider. Most people fight
the idea of surrendering to anything, whether it is to themselves, to
others, to a higher power etc. It may be one reason why so many develop
phobias of spiders, and of redback spiders specifically (for, as
venomous as they may be, they certainly haven’t killed anyone in a long,
long time). Redback spider teaches us to surrender to something that is
greater than ourselves. This may be the idea of the Goddess for some.
Or it may be the idea of surrendering to an inevitable challenge that we
are struggling against, or struggling to deny.
Some people feel that surrendering is a sign of weakness, but redback
spider, like many spiders, teaches that surrendering to the inevitable
is a sign of humility, understanding and wisdom.
Spider is the weaver of the web of life, and associated with fate and
those struggles and changes that are coming whether we like it or not.
Spider asks us that we do not face such struggles with denial or
stubbornness, but that we walk forward instead and surrender ourselves
to what is coming. Such a surrender of itself can be a profound offering
to the greater powers and energies around us, but moreso, a profound
offering to ourselves. Surrendering is another form of acceptance, one
that some people forget to embrace with grace and dignity.
There is a sense of giving yourself away with redback energy in
particular. Redback spider males have evolved to literally give their
lives away, for the chance to procreate. Redback spider females do the
same, to give their offspring a good chance at survival. For us, giving
ourselves away may come in the form of giving up a great deal of our
time or energy for a loved one. It may involve regularly offering and
paying fealty to a deity or deities that you worship. It may involve
simply committing more time to a project that is already consuming a lot
of your time. The presence of any redback spider (or any spider for
that matter), lets us know that such a sacrifice is not needless nor
given in vain.
There is an emphasis with redback spider on themes of theft and
stealing. Watch out for behaviours that involve you taking another’s
nourishment or energy away for them, in turn, keep an eye out for people
in your community who are doing the same to you. There is natural give
and take when it comes to energy, but at this time, beware of an
unhealthy level of give and take.
The theme of theft may also be literal, and redback spider can remind
you to make sure that you keep your valuables secure and that you do not
take a lax attitude towards the things, people and ways of life that
you care for.
Redback spider specifically teaches us to consciously work with
suburbia. Redback spider itself is drawn to human areas of habitation,
and exploits suburbia. Many times, humans mistakenly think that the only
places they can connect with nature is by getting out of suburbia and
into areas that lack housing and human establishment. Redback spider
firmly pushes us back to the direction of our own homes and communities
no matter how lackluster we find them to be. Wisdom is found in the
suburbs, as is nature, as is nourishment, wisdom, profundity, and all
the other things that we may convince ourselves are better found on a
mountaintop or in a cave.
The Shadow Aspects:
Redback spider comes into your life to ask you to ‘give it up.’ It’s
time to surrender. Whether this is a literal surrender to something
someone has been asking you to do for some time, or a spiritual
surrender to a god, or an emotional surrender to feelings you’ve been
denying, is regardless. What is important here is the actual act of
surrender itself. Redback spider will continue to come into your life as
a shadow aspect until this is confronted and you ‘let go’ of something
important to you, in order to gain something far more valuable. While
redback spider teaches this in general, this lesson may be a particular
challenge for you.
Those who dislike or fear redback spider may have a problem with
‘femininity.’ If they are a woman, they may fear that stereotypically
‘feminine’ pursuits or activities may be ‘weak’ or unworthy of their
time. If they are a man, they may be misogynistic, or dislike any woman
who uses charm and seduction to win over others. There is an innate
power in femininity that threatens many. Redback spider brings this
threat to your attention, and asks you to evaluate how you feel about
‘femininity’, what it means to you, and how you might change your
attitudes towards it.
Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and
appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or
share messages with you. Redback spider is a fairly cryptic teacher in
visualisation and in journeying. Many spiders communicate more
frequently by presence alone, rather than by dialogue, though there are
exceptions to this depending on what spider wants you to learn.
For people in Australia, redback spider may communicate with you by
simply drawing your attention to it, you may notice it more around your
living areas. In general, redback spider can be a guide that is
difficult to approach (and tends to be one of the animal guides that
approaches first), and requires respect and often a sense of quietness
and stillness in order to communicate with you wholly. Don’t be worried
if your encounters with redback are strange or bizarre, and remember to
pay attention to your surroundings in visualisation when working with
any type of spider. Redback appreciates offerings of ants, or drawings
of ants. All spider energies appreciate offerings of time and patience,
as they are more common as long-term, rather than short-term guides