bee symbolism

Spirit Animals: BUSY BEE

There is a plethora of beautiful information available about the general qualities of bee symbolism such as fertility, communication, hard work, rewards, etc. For some variety, I’m going to give a more detailed look at lesser known aspects of bee symbology and biology. 

Bee Symbolism of the Hive

There are only seven species of honey bee, which is a very small portion (0.04%) of the 20,000 bee species on earth. We know the honey bee best because they are the only domesticated bees. The honey bee’s close relationship with humans spans over millennia. This likely explains why most associations we have with bee symbolism are actually attributes that are specific to the honey bee.

When we think of bees, we think of the hive. Naturally, bee spiritual meaning is paired with the idea of community. Honey bees do have incredibly large hives with 50,000 to 60,000 individuals. These massive hives, made of beeswax and formed into a hexagonal matrix, are storehouses for excessive amounts of honey. Humans have harvested this honey since the time of early Egyptian and Greek civilizations.

bee spirit animal

Bumble bee – Fat, furry with blocks of color rather than stripes.

However, the thousands of other species of bees that exist do not congregate in such numbers. Nor do other species of bees produce elaborate hives and a surplus of honey. Is it smart to look at the largest city in a country (say New York) and think that everyone in that country (USA) lives the same way?

Bumble bees, for example, live in groups of 50-400 bees and create a small nest. They only produce the amount of honey they need to feed themselves and their young.

So when thinking of bees, yes think of cooperation, community, and production. But, there’s no need to think that if we have a bee animal totem that we need to join the masses. When a community becomes too large it becomes a crowd in which we can get lost. Bee symbolism reminds us to be mindful of our tendency to escape into the swarm. Bee totem animal encourages us towards genuine connections with others.

For fun, let’s take a closer look at how to tell the honey bee apart from the bumble bee (the photo at the very top of this post is a honey bee).


  • Slender, narrow build
  • Pointed body at stinger
  • Many thin stripes on the abdomen
  • Moderately hairy
  • Only feed on open flowers
  • Mostly domesticated
  • Hives of 50,000-60,000
  • 7 species


  • Fat, broad build
  • Rounded body at stinger
  • Larger blocks of color
  • Very furry
  • Can feed on different flower shapes
  • Always wild
  • Nests of 50-400
  • 250 species

The Eusociality of Bee Spirit Animal

The word “Eusocial” means the highest order of social organization. Many species of bee, including the honey and bumble bee, are eusocial. This means that they tend to young as a group, have many generations working together, and practice division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive adults. The division of labor is also known as a “caste system”. There’s a queen bee, worker bees and drones.

Bee spirit animal challenges us to accept the roles we have in life. There is a value to dividing up labor and having a job description. There’s a security and a freedom in that. When we embrace the work we have to do in our lives and really put ourselves into it, we can truly benefit the whole. Of course, the downside of this is when we go numb to the routine of life. The bee totem animal can help us find the joy and the creativity in playing our discrete roles. By not being everything to everybody or not being the queen bee, we can specialize, focus on the work at hand, and be really good at what we do.

The Sting of Bee Animal Totem

Ever heard that bees die after they sting? This is only true of honey bees. When they sting animals with thick skin (such as humans) their barbed stinger gets caught in the skin. Part of their inner organs ruptures out of their bodies as they pull away from the stuck stinger. The venom sac continues to pump toxin into our bodies after the bee flies away and dies. Other bees, including bumble bees, have straight stingers that don’t become lodged in skin, so they can sting repeatedly.

When we get angry we can attack someone again and again. We may also become attached to the person and rupture our energetic systems. This causes us to pour way too much of our own energy into making the offender pay. Like the bee, we may feel compelled to go back to the hive and rally the swarm to join in on the attack.

We all have the potential to harm others. No matter how much we say we won’t harm another creature, we still snap at our spouses or tell the telemarketer to take a hike.

The majority of bee species are known for using the sting as a last resort. They retreat whenever they can. Bee teaches us to watch carefully how easily we are offended. We can ask bee spirit animal for the wisdom to strike back only when it is necessary for our protection. The honey bee reminds us to watch carefully afterwards to be sure we aren’t rupturing valuable energy into the situation long after it is over.

How Pollen Baskets Influence Bee Spiritual Meaning

We are told that bees pollinate flowers by picking up pollen on one flower and carrying it to another flower. It sounds like an accident that the pollen is just brushed onto the bee’s legs and they just happen to carry it elsewhere. Female worker bees intentionally collect pollen. It is a valuable protein and fat resource for them and the young.

The pollen is carried in “pollen baskets” which are dish-shaped indentations on their back legs that are surrounded by a basket of hairs. The workers rub the pollen off their bodies and pack it into their baskets. You can see the bright yellow-orange globs on the back legs of the honey bee in the photo at the top of this post. That is all pollen.

Bees also harvest nectar and carry it back to the nest in their bellies. They regurgitate it upon return which creates honey.

Harvesting and carrying resources is a huge aspect of bee symbolism.

Like the bee, travel far and wide seeking out the richness of life. Gather it up. Pack it into your soul and swallow it into your belly. Then feel the hum of the hive, of your community, calling you home. Bring back the harvest. Share it with others. And get up the next day to do it all over again.



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spiritual meaning of butterfly spirit animal


Resurrection & Transformation

The spiritual meaning of butterfly spirit animal is widely understood as resurrection. Hindus take the butterfly’s time in the chrysalis as a reminder of the importance of meditation on the road to enlightenment. Christians see the emergence of the winged butterfly from the chrysalis as a metaphor for Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

The meaning of butterfly as resurrection could be seen literally in the example of Christ or symbolically as our own rebirth into a revolutionary way of being and viewing the world. Butterfly spirit animal, like dragonfly and ladybug spirit animal, is about transformation, but in a much larger, grander way. Butterflies undergo complete transformation changing from one body type (caterpillar) to an absolutely different type (butterfly) with an immovable stage in between (pupa in the chrysalis).

Sometimes in life we take things in stages and other times there is a giant leap in our evolution. This leap is a signature of butterfly spirit animal working in your life.

Moths build cocoons and butterflies construct chrysalises. During and just after the chrysalis stage is when the butterfly is most defenseless. This stage is short in the scheme of things, but many people I’ve met in the midst of the chrysalis stage are very impacted by how vulnerable they feel. It is both a tender and terrifying time. Everything is dismantling and it is hard to see what new form will emerge.

We must give ourselves fully over to the death of the chrysalis before resurrection can come.

Departing Souls and Visits from Departed Spirits

In many cultures, most notably Japanese, Greek and Aztec culture, butterfly is seen as a direct representation of the human soul. Butterfly is seen as the soul departing from a dying body and butterfly is told to be the soul of a loved one coming back to visit.

There is a wispy, ephemeral nature to the teetering flight of a delicate butterfly that tells us how much we intuitively know the nature of the human soul. The meaning of seeing a butterfly could literally be that a deceased loved one is dancing by for a visit or it could be a calling into a deeper relationship with your own immortality.


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The Butterfly Effect

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the smallest change, such as the flap of a butterfly’s wings, could result in enormous ripple effects. This was initially proposed in relation to weather patterns positing that a hurricane may ensue from the flap of a butterfly’s wings but has also been widely applied to science fiction novels and movies as a warning of the dangers of time travel.

Regardless of the truth or relativity of the butterfly effect, it has a firm root in our unconscious. We intuitively know that the smallest action can have the biggest effect. Butterfly symbolism helps us realize this deep seated mystical truth. Butterfly spirit animal is the guardian of our conscience reminding us to act with care.

Putting Up Your Defenses

In the natural world, butterflies and plants are in a great arms race. Plants create toxins to protect from hungry caterpillars and caterpillars find ways to overcome the toxins. Some caterpillars and butterflies internalize and assimilate the plant toxins turning them into their own self-defense from predators.

Both caterpillars and butterflies are also well known for developing signals to deter predators. The most notable signs are bright colors that say “I’m unpalatable.” What we interpret as beautiful reds, oranges and yellows are actually warning signs. When looking at spiritual meaning of butterfly, ask yourself, “Am I heading the warning signs that others are putting out? Am I comfortable with not having everyone like me? Can I be in my own inner beauty and not have to have it feed others?”

You Are What You Eat

In the mythology of resurrection, the caterpillar is the earth-bound soul tied to material wealth and concerns. This metaphor blends flawlessly with the fact that caterpillars eat solid, rooted plants. Caterpillars eat voraciously like we do when we get caught up and grounded by our need to posses things, property and people. Some of us never leave this obsession and stay grounded as caterpillars, wandering from leaf to leaf for life.

Others of us lose a taste for things of this world just like the caterpillar who stops eating a few days before going into the chrysalis. Dissatisfaction and restlessness are hallmark promptings from our soul that a transformation is coming. The caterpillar begins seeking a place to undergo the change. Within the chrysalis, the former form is shed and the new is shaped.

The butterfly eats primarily nectar of flowers. Nectar is known as the elixir of the Gods. (To learn more about the significance of eating nectar read this article about hummingbird).

Challenges of Psyche

The Greek Goddess Psyche is always pictured with a set of butterfly wings. Her name, “Psyche,” literally means “soul” in Greek. Today we take the word psyche to represent our mind. This shows how we’ve tried to supplant the wonder of the soul with the faculty of intellect. One reading of the tale of the stunningly gorgeous Psyche tells us how much we miss in knowing our own souls.

Born a mortal, Psyche’s beauty caused humanity to worship her to the point of extreme alienation. By a trick of his own, she was taken by Aphrodite’s son, Eros, and they left the world to find bliss in each other. But, Psyche couldn’t resist the temptation to please others and destroyed the fragile promise they were pledged upon. Exposed, she then suffered great torture and grief at the hands of Aphrodite. She endured the trials put before her with great stamina to eventually be made immortal, a goddess with butterfly wings, and marry Eros in front of the Gods. Zeus served nectar at their wedding. The whole beautiful story can be found here:

Allowing Butterfly Symbolism

We so often think we’ve fledged the chrysalis and become a butterfly before we actually have. As long as a hunger for this world as well as the need for the acceptance and love of others contaminates our hearts we still have many challenges to overcome. Butterfly spirit animal does not symbolize the sweet triumph over small adversity. The impact of butterfly medicine cannot be forced.

True butterfly spiritual meaning brings the involuntary experience of a life shattering hurricane that tests us at our core. Butterfly spirit animal guides us through this torturous and wondrous experience only a few precious times each life. If you are in the midst of a resurrection yourself, cherish it and remember to thank the Gods no matter how painful it is.


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Spirit Animals: LOVELY LADYBUG

The name “ladybug” is actually an American name for members of the insect family Coccinellidae. Ladybugs also known as ladybird beetles or lady beetles. There are over 5,000 species of these typically red beetles often with black spots found around the world.

Ladybugs are Good Luck for Farmers

The meaning of ladybug spirit animal is closely associated first and foremost with good luck, but where does this idea come from? Ladybugs are well known amongst farmers and gardeners for their preference for dining on aphid and scale crop pests. Legends of ladybirds saving an entire crop from pest decimation abound. These stories were passed down through the centuries, resulting in a general association with good luck. Now simply seeing a ladybug is considered good luck for anyone, and the ritual of sending wishes off on a ladybug’s wings is commonplace.

Beetles of Our Lady the Virgin Mary

Originally, it is said that in the Middle Ages farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help to save their crops from a plague of harmful pests. A swarm of ladybugs came, ate up the pests and saved the day. Thus, they became known as the “Beetle of Our Lady” or Lady Beetles. The most common species of lady beetle in England is the 7-Spot Ladybird Beetle. Many came to link the seven spots to the seven joys and sorrows of Mother Mary and the red of the ladybug with her red cloak.

Ladybug is a messenger of the divine feminine and goddess energy. So often we prize action, logic and strategy, but ladybug spirit animal brings us closer to our intuition and our ability to open up to receive the gifts of the cosmos. Ladybug spirit animal opens up her wings, lifts off and carries us into the heart of the mother. Her red and black protective outer skeleton (known as an exoskeleton) opens to uncover her transparent wings showing how the goddess bestows protection over all of our freedoms, including the freedom to wish and dream.


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Complete Transformation

meaning of ladybug spirit animal larvae

Ladybug larvae, also known as an “alligator”

Like butterflies, ladybugs undergo what is called a “complete transformation”. Dragonflies, on the other hand, only undergo “incomplete transformation“. This means that ladybugs have a pupae stage during which they completely transform from one form (a crawling larvae) to a drastically different form (a winged beetle). With butterflies the pupae stage happens in a cocoon. Ladybugs undergo this stage in the open attached to a leaf. Ladybug spirit animal shows that the last, big step of your transformation will result in a quantum leap from one way of being to a brand new one. You will have a gap or quiet, inactive time when this shift is happening in you, but others will be able to see it taking place.

meaning of ladybug spirit animal pupa

Exposed ladybug pupa attached to a leaf

When you see what you know to be a ladybug you are actually only seeing one aspect of the beetle’s lifecycle, the culmination of all growth. We forget oftentimes that the beetle is the finished product and we expect as much from ourselves and our dreams. We grow impatient to reach the end without delay.

The ladybug spiritual meaning speaks of going through a number of transitions in the beginning because the crawling larvae (informally called “alligators”) have to molt four times before reaching the pupae stage. The larvae between molts are called “instars”. The larvae are little stars to farmers because they are voracious eaters of aphids and scale pests. This reminds us that even though we may not be complete, we are well underway in our development and we can be of great service along the way.

Does the Number of Spots on a Ladybug Mean Anything?

You may remember hearing as a child that the number of spots on a ladybug indicated the age, in years, of the beetle. At a young age, I realized quickly that insects don’t live that long, but I still wanted the number of spots to mean something. Science tells us that the number of spots usually tells us what species of ladybug we have in hand, which is useful albeit sort of bland.

Looking at the spiritual meaning of ladybug, we can discern more by counting dots. By using numerology, we can understand the meaning of the spots and how this speaks to a process of transformation we may be going through in our lives right now. The spots may tell how many stages there are to our process or by looking up the numerological significance of the number of spots we may learn more about the theme of our transformation.

Here is a VERY quick list to give a sample of the meaning of the numbers one through seven carry: 1 –  union; 2 – duality; 3 – transcending opposites; 4 – cardinal directions, elements; 5 – center; 6 – love, perfection; 7 – completion, center, eternal life. I encourage you to do your own research to learn more about the specific number of spots the ladybug you saw had. You can always ask in the comments below and I’ll let you know about your particular ladybug.

Innocence and Childhood

Children’s songs and stories abound about the ladybug and children’s toys, clothing lines, and room decor continually incorporate the image of the ladybug. I recall being squeamish about picking up any insects as a child, except for ladybugs. Ladybugs could crawl on my hands and arms for days as far as I was concerned. There is an intangible connection between ladybugs and kids. Ladybugs are easy to find and accessible, giving children their first intimate chance to relate hands-on with a wild and truly free being.

Ladybug spirit animal can be the spark of a child-like wonder in the natural world, waking the nature child within us all. She reminds us to go outside and crouch down to come eye to eye with the flowers. So much of the weight of the world can be forgotten in a moment of childlike communion with the natural world. This is how the healing energy of ladybug spirit animal works.



Dragonfly symbolism


Dragonfly’s Gift of Agility

Dragonfly symbology is intimately linked with the ability to move quickly and swiftly in all directions. Like hummingbird, dragonfly is an agile flyer that can hover, go up or down, forward or backward, and left or right. This speaks of an ability to encompass all seven directions of the medicine wheel. He also has four different styles of flight from gliding to speeding through the air.

When studying the meaning of dragonfly, be sure to examine your own agility. Are you able to adjust the speed and direction with which you are moving through life? We can sometimes get stuck going forward 100 miles an hour only to find ourselves laid out flat with a cold regretting past decisions. Dragonfly spirit animal reminds us to experiment with different paces and directions as we navigate through life.

Small, Fierce Dragons

Dragonfly gets his name after, yes, the myth of dragons. When you learn that a prehistoric dragonfly once existed that had a wingspan of over 2 feet wide, you may start to imagine that dragonfly is the real-life counterpart of dragon energy.

Both as a young nymph in the water and winged adult, dragonfly is a fierce, ruthless predator that is known for eating more than a fifth of his own body weight in one day. He will sometimes kill more than he needs to eat. He grabs prey on the wing with his strong jaws and carries it with his legs. Dragonfly also staunchly defends his territory at a given pond. Dragonfly symbolism is about hunting out what you need and/or want and being a brave and courageous warrior in the process.

Some people shy away or have a negative connotation with predatory nature, but it is just as needed as any other way of the natural world. Without the help of dragonfly we would have an explosion of small insects like mosquitos. Dragonfly helps control insect populations that are overabundant. He teaches us that there is more than enough for everyone. Be brave, venture forth, and take the dragon’s treasure as your own.


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Incomplete Metamorphosis

Dragonfly is often associated with transformation because his life cycle includes metamorphosis, but what many people don’t realize is that the dragonfly undergoes what is called “incomplete metamorphosis”. This means that he looks mostly the same throughout his entire life. The dragonfly starts out as a waterborne nymph and undergoes multiple molts (from 6 to over 12 molts depending on the species) out of one body size into the next. He literally crawls out of the old skin, known as his exoskeleton, already in his new skin. His final molt is into a more colorful, winged version of himself. Insects that undergo “complete metamorphosis”, such as butterflies, look completely different between larval and adult stages and must spend cocoon time as a pupa to make the one big transformation.

Incomplete metamorphosis of the dragonfly nymph shows us that transformation doesn’t have to happen in one big, grandiose gesture, but can be unveiled in a number of small shifts. The lack of need for a cocoon stage shows that we don’t always have a rest or time to consider changes in our lives and that’s okay. Now is the time to simply move ahead into the new. Like the dragonfly, you will emerge in your new skin ready for the world.

The Big Transformation

The change from a swimming, brown, wingless nymph to a winged, airborne, iridescent beauty is quite dramatic in dragonfly. The adult dragonfly emerges from the back of his own head. Dragonfly symbolism therefore relates to an intellectual (and likely spiritual) awakening. A birth to not only new ideas, but a more evolved way of thinking altogether comes with dragonfly symbolism. He goes from living and breathing in water to instead breathing and flying in the air. This drastic switch from the emotional realms of water to the intellectual realm of air shows how dragonfly symbolism is about shifting from emotion to thought and higher ideals.

Dragonfly spends most of his life as a nymph in the water, depending on the species and the conditions, a few months to many years. Dragonfly is only a winged adult for a short period of time.  This shows how our maturity may happen under the surface and unrecognized as we grow our capacity to handle the emotions of life.

As a nymph, dragonfly breaths through gills in his rectum. Although not poetic, this interesting adaptation allows him to expel air out his anus as a form of jet propulsion. The anus is symbolic of the way we release what is no longer needed. Now may be a good time to let out a big sigh of release and let go of what is stressful and unproductive in your life. A quick release can propel you forward.

A Bit on Intimacy

Dragonfly mates in a unique posture called the “heart” where the male grabs the head of the female with his tail and she places her tail just below his head. This speaks of a requirement for love and emotional intimacy before physical partnering occurs. This could be a need to get to know a business partner’s character before signing a deal and doesn’t apply solely to romantic relationships.

Dragonfly, Dazzling Illusionist

Dragonfly symbolism is synonymous with illusion. The combination of the dazzling way dragonfly’s body reflects light and the transparent beauty of his wings contribute largely to this association. His “iridescent coloring – created by the play of refracted light – teaches us the value of looking at life from different angles. From each new perspective, the world takes on a different spectrum of colors, reminding us of the illusive nature of reality.” (from Heart of the Ark Cards).

As we mature from watery creatures ruled by our emotions to more enlightened beings we start to take in the universal truth about the nature of reality. The majority of what we thought was “real” is just illusion. In the great teachings of Buddha we learn to not get attached to the spectacle. It is not until the end of dragonfly’s life as a winged insect that he takes on iridescence. This teaches us that it takes maturity and thoughtfulness to embody all the colors of life.

How are you handling your emotions? Are you able to emerge from the illusion and take in the spectrum of life? Remember that the meaning of dragonfly is not just about rising above or shutting off emotions. He remains always over water and the eggs of his offspring are implanted under the water’s surface. The long experience gained in the emotional realms are the foundation for growth.


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spider symbolism

Spirit Animals: MOTHER SPIDER

Spider Symbolism

Spider spirit animal tests the space in front of her by delicately lifting the front one of her eight legs. Her furry appendage tenderly caresses the air feeling the breath of the forest collectively and the movements of the creatures around her individually. The only thing that gives away her active, sentient thoughts is the small, almost nervous, twitching of the two feelers on either side of her mouth.

This is mother spider. She weaves webs, climbs trees, and digs burrows. But always, she ambushes her prey.

Spider Dream Meaning

Dreams about spiders can speak about where you may feel trapped in your life or where you are experiencing greater connection to all things. It depends on if you’ve found yourself in an overwhelming web of lies, opinions, or judgements or if you are in the space of owning your power and writing your own destiny.

Most people are afraid of spiders, so having dreams about spiders is a frightening experience. Take a look at what fears have come up for you lately. Spider spirit animal has crept into your unconscious to help ensnare the fears and bring them out into daylight. It’s time to stop blindly running into traps and instead weave the life you envision for yourself.

You are not a victim here. You have the power to navigate your way down the strands that will unlock an unlimited number of options for you. Like spider spirit animal at the middle of the web, you have the potential to go any way you choose. Getting those fears out of the way is the key.


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Help Overcoming Fears

Spider symbolism is powerful and the presence of mother spider in your life is not to be taken lightly. She has come to help you work with your fears. Ask spider totem animal to help you muster the courage to look at the fears that are behind the negative, critical thoughts of yourself and others.

Often when we get critical it is because we are trying to protect ourselves from something we are afraid of. It’s as simple as the arachnophobic person saying, “I hate spiders”…. the truth is “I fear spiders”.

Allow all the little fears to pour out of you into your journal. It is these fears that are preventing the creativity in your life, not the judgments of others. You’ll find that spider spirit animal will come to collect all the little eggs of fear and transmute the energy into creativity, hatching dozens of creative helpers in your life that can help you spin beautiful webs.

Weaving a Written Web

It is said that spider created the alphabet and is the mother of the written word. There is no better companion to welcome to your home to help you wield your words on paper. What more is a story than the creation of a new reality?

In spinning a web, spider literally weaves a new plane of existence, an entirely new world. This world can be flat, round, linear or circular. It all depends on what species of spider you are watching. Each has their own unique weaving style. What is the signature of the species you watch now? What does this mean about the paths you have available?

The spider has eight legs, so spider symbolism is associated with infinity like the number 8. Imagine you now stand at the center of a web of possibilities with an unnumbered variety of paths to follow. Which is yours?

Spider meaning is strongly tied to the networker archetype who expertly crafts webs of interconnectivity.

Burrowing Spider Symbolism

If you find yourself face-to-face with a non-spinning spider such as a wolf spider or tarantula you’ll be examining a different aspect. Rather than hanging suspended by a thread and opening up to possibilities, what is needed now is to burrow into the unconscious.

These spiders dig burrows in the Earth and wait patiently for their next meal to pass by. Go inside yourself. Snuggle into the smell of the soil, know who you are and be grounded in that. Here you are safe to confront your fears. Here spider spirit animal will find you and use the effective poison in her bite to transmute those fears into true power.

All you need will pass by the door of your tunnel. Turn inward, be brave, and trust that you are safe. There is no better companion to have accompany you on any forays into the unconscious to uncover the meaning behind WHY you do the things you do.

Spider spiritual meaning is about being incredibly sensitive to vibrations and sensing things you hadn’t felt before. Spider spirit animal can help you navigate the darkness and the fears and view them from a new, less threatening perspective.

World Travelers

Spider symbolism is about about the journey. Spiders are known to fly for hundreds of miles, even across open oceans, by casting out a strand of web and allowing the wind to take them thousands of feet aloft. This is know as “ballooning”. They have absolutely no control over where their journey will take them or how far they will go. They could go 20 feet or 20,000 feet.

Think about the amount of trust it takes to cast that strand and not know. Let go of control. Face the fears that cause you to try and be in control. Know that there is no such thing as control. Ask spider spirit animal to help you see that you are already on this unknown journey. Anything else is just an illusion.

I love this excerpt from David Abram’s book The Spell of the Sensuous about spiders:
It was from them that I first learned of the intelligence that lurks in nonhuman nature, the ability that an alien form of sentience has to echo one’s own, to instill a reverberation in oneself that temporarily shatters habitual ways of seeing and feeling, leaving one open to a world all alive, awake, and aware. It was from such small beings that my senses first learned of the countless worlds within worlds that spin in the depths of this world that we commonly inhabit.


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