Arachnophobia – symbolic of our fear of disconnection?
After lunch, I headed over to the teaching room for the start of sessions. I picked out a chair from the circle placed around the room and sat down. As I waited for my fellow students to arrive, my thoughts turned to my conversation with Karina. Her remarks on the symbolism of spiders as told by the indigenous tribes of the Amazon, was both encouraging and intriguing to me.
I’ve always had a professional fascination with the fear of spiders. In my counseling work, I’m aware that treating arachnophobia requires a different approach from other phobias and irrational fears. The therapeutic technique I use from Energy Psychology methods has its own distinct protocol. Furthermore, when it comes to irrational fears, arachnophobia beats all. Interestingly, it is the most prevalent phobia in the Western world—yet apparent not so within indigenous cultures.
- What is it about spiders that puts them top of the scary things list?
- Why is this phobia such a significant part of the human condition?
Our Western rational minds cannot figure this out. Our fearful response to spiders far outweighs their inherent threat to our survival. After all, the majority of spiders are quite harmless and their physical presence is hardly an imposing one—unless they gang up of course.
My renewed attempt to rationalize this phenomenon in the minutes before the start of course proceedings had me recall Carl Jung’s work on the symbolism contained within the “collective unconscious.” The collective unconscious being the psyche’s repository of our cultural stories on the nature of being human. It is a non-physical place filled with cross-cultural myths and deeply rooted archetypes of the human personality. I knew that the mythology and symbolism surrounding spiders is there to be had in the deepest recesses of our collective psyche—and for good reason, because I also know that nothing exists, not even a phobia, for no reason. There is meaning behind all creations. Consciousness doesn’t create stuff just for a laugh, it stopped doing this after creating the duck-billed platypus.
[bctt tweet=”Consciousness doesn’t create stuff just for a laugh, it stopped doing this after creating the duck-billed platypus.”]
Many cultures associate spiders with having a deeper symbolic significance, some regarding them as a positive sign (e.g., signifying connectivity, patience, or creativity), others as an omen of negativity (e.g., cruelty, manipulation, “shadow” influences). Whatever the particular mythology involved, the point here is that the collective psyche of humanity perpetuates a curious link between a largely innocuous creature in the physical world and a primal emotional expression—fear.
So the question I posed to my pondering self as class assembled was why does our collective psyche need to maintain this link?
A personal myth to add to the collective unconscious
With due consideration of my encounter with the spiders of Schumacher, the lovely Karina of the Amazon, and other influencing factors provided by the overall psychological setting of this learning experience, I offer what came as a personal revelation to me on why our collective psyche wants us to take heed of spiders.
Here’s my own myth on how the fear of spiders came into being:
When Consciousness (God, if you prefer) bestowed conscious self-awareness upon the individualized portion of itself we call the human race, it knew that there was a probable consequence to this evolutionary act. (Consciousness contains, and therefore knows, all probable outcomes of an action.) Consciousness knew that by giving us a “conscious-mind” so that we could reflect on our self-awareness and explore the energies of thoughts, feelings, and emotions—indeed, to fully “Self”-reflect—it would also need to create another psychological addition to the structure of human consciousness.
We would need a director of operations, a decision maker—an ego-self.
The probable consequence of this liberating creative act for the human species was that the ego-self could very easily become, well… up itself.
[bctt tweet=”The probable consequence of this liberating creative act for the human species was that the ego-self could very easily become, well… up itself.”]
As the ego-self set about practicing its abilities to self-reflect, to choose how to act, to consciously create its own reality, there was a very real probability that it would get carried away with itself. It could likely imagine that its “self” was the be all and end all of the entire Self, and thereby arrogantly assume that it would not require any assistance from any other aspect of its own consciousness—or Consciousness Itself for that matter—as it went about the business of choosing what to make real.
There was a distinct probability that the ego-self would disconnect from the other emotional and psychological layers to the Self—along with its spiritual heritage, inner guidance and the Natural Principles* that describe the creative process through Divine Love.*
It is my belief that Consciousness has created a cunning psychological safeguard against this probability of the ego-self permanently adopting an autocratic, dictatorial, even psychopathic, personality. After all, such a thing would play havoc with the integrity of its experiment with the expression of human consciousness.
Consciousness therefore placed an emblematic spider in the collective unconscious of the human mind. The function of this mythical metaphor is to keep us consciously connected to our Essence selves, to the Natural World, and to All That Is. It achieves this re-connect by getting the ego-self’s attention.
Fear concentrates the mind
Fear is a state of being specifically designed to get our ego-self’s attention. Consciousness has opted for spiders to be the creature in the physical realm to quickly generate fear and thus gain our conscious-mind’s attention. It cleverly chose a species that populates most areas of the globe. I read somewhere that there is a spider within six feet of you, wherever you are.
Now—when you’ve stopped checking your surroundings for a moment—what we don’t do as yet when our attention is focused upon a negative emotion, is attempt to discover the message that is contained within its expression.
[bctt tweet=”All emotions inform you of important psychological events.”]
For example, the feeling of frustration carries with it the information from your subconscious mind that you are beginning to narrow your choice of actions; anger carries with it the message that you are continuing to narrow down your choice of action; and rage is telling you that you believe you have only one choice of action available to you.
The understanding and investigation into the messages contained within emotional energy is a cognitive development that comes as part of our collective shift in consciousness. For now, you will need to trust me when I say that “pure fear” tells you to save yourself; you need to act now for your physical (ego-self) to survive. Step away from the lion. Nothing wrong with that! All part of the survival instinct.
However, when it comes to “irrational fear,” that is, a fear generated from within your psyche, from your thoughts and beliefs; like when asked to speak in public, or unable to take a flight on a plane, or confronted with a spider, then this type of fear tells you to look within and examine your thoughts and beliefs.
Now this is where it becomes interesting. Honestly.
If you look within and cannot find a rational explanation for when the fearful reaction may have originated, then the energies behind it are likely buried or hidden deep within your subconscious, or even within our shared “collective unconscious.”
In my estimation, the fear generated by spiders is a constant reminder to us to check in regularly with our collective unconscious. Consciousness wants us all to get to grips with our most primal fear—that we are disconnected from Source/All That Is—our God.
Because it knows this to be untrue, and thus a problematic belief in our collective psyche that needs addressing if we are to ease our passage through this period of psychological transition. We cannot be separated or disconnected from Source as we are an intimate, although individualized, portion of it.
This is my personal interpretation of the symbolism of spiders and our irrational fear of them. Through the filter of my own personal mythology, my talk with Karina had led me to realize that for me the spiders I had created in the reality of the moment at Schumacher were reminding me of the primal fear anchored deep within the subconscious of the collective human mind. They were a symbolic reflection of the fear that festers in the collective mind of humanity.
The spider on my shirt was resting on my heart. This signified to me that this story, this rvelation, was coming from the heart. Perhaps the heart of the human psyche where lies a collective belief we will all need to address in our pursuit of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
As the last participants arrived in the teaching room eager to learn more from Charles Eisenstein about the Age of Reunion now upon us, and how we might become reconnected to our spiritual heritage, my eyes were drawn to the ceiling cornice directly above our circle of participants.
There sat a spider, out of reach of a cleaner’s duster, patiently surveying the gathered ensemble. It remained there for the duration of our course.
*Natural Principles: A set of principles by which Consciousness operates when expressing itself through any medium of existence.
*Divine Love: The term given to the all-pervasive force that describes the vitality of Consciousness.