I thought I'd share a dream I had last night as I feel it has some bearing on much of what is being said on this site (indeed, the dream may well have been inspired by things I've read here).
In the dream, a friend had come to visit. While we were talking, a spider ran across the floor and the friend instantly got up to step on it but I stopped him, explaining that the spider was as much a part of the family as the rest of us.
The friend thought this was ridiculous so I pointed out that we have a dog living with us and no one thinks that's odd. Looking around, I saw there were a number of insects in various places around the room and felt overjoyed that they had decided to come and live with us.
The corner of the room that the spider inhabited was hung with heavy, dusty cobwebs and the friend suggested that I at least clean them up. I told him that I didn't have the right because, not only did the spider belong in the house, but that corner was the spider's own private property.
The friend said that I had the right to remove the spider as it was my home. I asked him what "right" means. I said that "rights" were invented by people purely to protect people from people. No one has the "right" not to be stung by a bee or bitten by a snake and I don't have the "right" not to share my home with spiders.
At this point, the spider came down from its corner and settled on the arm of my chair. The visitor immediately became embarrassed because he's been talking about the spider and didn't want to continue in its presence. In the dream, I concluded that this meant he had seen the spider as a person and not as "dirt".
It does raise some questions about how we interact with the life with which we share a planet. How many of us talk about "becoming as one" without being mindful of the impact we may have on creatures we may feel don't warrant our consideration?
The spider issue has been a troublesome one for me... because they love me so much - love to bite me that is. After attending several meditation retreats in Washington state, (CDC statistics claim that more spider bites are reported in the Northwest than any other part of the USA.) I was given to complaining about those critters to anyone who would listen... so one of the teachers asked me to research how to evict spiders from the student residences. I was, of course, highly motivated to understand how to co-exist with them, without them leaving small craters in my flesh.
Later, while researching a paper on Northwest indigenous traditions, I stumbled across their solution to living with spiders in the NW rain forest... cedar. They built cedar homes and wore cedar clothes. Nature provided for them, right in their immediate environment, a solution to a local problem. I now use a cedar oil mixed with other oils on my skin as a repellant.
I know I've strayed from the discussion of your dream... its a dream that seems to have both literal and symbolic representations. Some native cultures saw the spider as symbolic of a bridge between the earth and sky, above and below. The web is the bridge and is built from the spiders body and being. Webs in corners of your home can be symbolic of a need to "clean house", however, given the rest of the dream, I'm inclined to think it has more to do with literally co-existing with other living things... though I still am not hospitable to spiders in my home. Fortunately, for them, my husband and son are both of the bent to carefully remove them.
Back to me... a couple years ago I was exposed to sewage and clung to life by a thread for months. After that, I did not incur a spider or flea bite for over a year, until a couple months ago. I knew then that I had detoxified enough to be "bite worthy." Probably the only time I was grateful to be bitten.
Your following statement is profound... one I will ponder for awhile. "No one has the "right" not to be stung by a bee or bitten by a snake and I don't have the "right" not to share my home with spiders."
I believe spiders are intelligent... I often feel them watching me and will look around and theres one contemplating lunch...
I went from being repelled by spiders to developing a real love of them (we don't have spiders that can give a noticeable bite in the UK). I made a point of watching spiders whenever I got the opportunity and trying to see past the point at which they creeped me out. It obviously worked because I can't see what used to creep me out about them now.
The tiny jumping spiders are amazingly intelligent. They confound scientists who always equate intelligence with brain-size. A jumping spider's brain is microscopic yet it's capable of navigating complex three-dimensional mazes to get to food or another spider. If you look at one closely, you'll see it arching its body to look up at you. If you put your finger close, it will run far enough to be clear of any threat you may pose, but stay close enough to see if you really do pose a threat. Once it is confident that you're not dangerous, it'll hop onto your finger and check you out. You can actually develop a rapport with the things. They're wonderful creatures, which is probably why a spider featured in the dream.
The dream did set me thinking about this delusion we have of "rights". It's purely a human concept and only applies to the treatment we can expect from other humans. A lion doesn't need the "right" to eat a gazelle and the gazelle doesn't need the "right" to try to avoid it. In Nature, inclination is enough. I guess we needed to invent the concept of "rights" because our inclination went too far. Your noble ancestors didn't need "rights" until the Settlers came to abuse them.
If I were to express a belief about where we are now in our development, I'd say we're in the mid to late adolescent stage. We're getting past the stage of pulling wings off butterflies and creeping toward the brink of growing up. Then, we'll be able to stand beside a spider and consider ourselves its equal.
Love your dream Ron and I love spiders too. I've named my bathroom spider Charlie and the kitchen spider is called George. Although they've been around for years I don't think they live for long but are replaced by relatives or offspring and I'm too ignorant to tell the difference. I had a living room spider too, who, late at night would run across the middle of the living rooom floor in full view of five sleepy cats. I didn't name him because he wasn't around for long - one mad dash too many I think.
Amazingly, last Winter, I had one resident fly (Trevor) who'd got left behind in the warmth of my bungalow. He lived with us for 3 months and I talked to him daily as I talk to my cats - I'm certain we communicated. One day my daughter was visiting and I was telling her about Trevor when suddenly he zoomed across the room like a fighter jet within one inch of her face. That was the last time I saw him and I felt he'd communicated his farewell by that action. I was really quite attached to him.
When I hoover cobwebs, which isn't very often, I ask the insect archetypes to protect their charges while I'm cleaning. I'm not sure where this mindfulness comes from, I think it's always been with me. I do draw the line at fleas though, because of their ability to harm my cats. Luckily, as Ron stated, we don't have biting spiders in the UK.
Mel, I'm delighted (though not in the least surprised) that you have a rapport with all the life forms you share your home with. I'm also not surprised that at least one is called 'George' (father figure for the cats, perhaps?).
I've never bought into this idea of "higher" and "lower" life forms. Everything has an experience and that is something we all share equally.
I remember reading a local (Gloucester) story about a girl who used to tell her parents about her friends under the shed. They all had names and the parents often heard her playing with them and had assumed they were imaginary friends. Her father had gone out to the shed on one occasion while she was playing with them. She had about five or six adders in a doll's house and two in a toy pram. Her father got bitten three times and had to go to hospital. The girl had been picking them up and petting them and playing with them and never got bitten. Her dad had seen adders, She had seen friends. Interesting, that.
As a native Floridian and a child of the 60s, in our tropic climate spiders were our greatest allies. We used to catch giant grove spiders and bring them into the house. They were huge, about the size of a hand and were used as natural pest control.. they would chase down any bug that entered the house. Webs were welcomed because they caught mosquitoes.
Ron, in reading your dream, I couldn't help identifying with the spider .. some days I feel like I'm the spider. Like the spider, just trying to be helpful, to co-exist in this world, only to be emotionally escorted from the "house" or worse yet, stomped on some days. I think we are all the spider some days. Just trying to survive and co-exist and feel like we belong in this world.
Spiders are great pest control. They act as a hired gun so we don't have to do the killing and deal with the guilt :o)
Your giant 'Grove spiders' sound big enough include me on the menu so we'd have to come to an understanding on that before agreeing to cohabit ("I don't stomp on the hairy guy and you don't bite the bald guy. OK?")