Published on May 4, 2013 by Casey
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Spider symbol. The origin of the Spider symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders of North America and were major elements in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of American prehistory (S.E.C.C.). Some of the Siouan Indian tribes still retain some elements of the Mississippi culture and the legend of Spider. Their sacred rites, myths and symbols and are presumed to descend from the Mississippians. For additional information please refer to the Meanings of Animal Symbols. In Cherokee mythology the water spider is said to have first brought fire to the inhabitants of the earth in the basket on her back. Among some American Indians is the legend of a “Spider Man,” whose web connected the heaven worlds with the earth.
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The Spider symbol featured strongly in the Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders and the legends and mythology of the Native American tribes. Spider Woman, or Spider Grandmother, strongly feature in Hopi myths served as a messenger and teacher for the Creator and was an intercessor between deity and the people. The spider woman taught people how to weave and the spider symbolized creativity and was the weaver of the fabric of life. In Lakota Sioux mythology, Iktomi is a spider trickster and shape shifter spirit – refer to Tricksters. His appearance is that of a spider, but he can take any shape, including that of a human. When he is a human he is said to wear red, yellow and white paint, with black rings around his eyes. The Seneca tribe, one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, believed that a supernatural spirit called Dijien was a man-sized spider who survived fierce battles because its heart was buried underground.
Spider Woman, or Spider Grandmother, strongly feature in Hopi myths served as a messenger and teacher for the Creator and was an intercessor between deity and the people. The spider woman taught people how to weave and the spider symbolized creativity and was the weaver of the fabric of life. In a creation myth the Spider Woman, the Earth Goddess, and Tawa, the Sun God were the first. Tawa, the sun god ruled the Upperworld while Spider Woman controlled the magic of the Underworld. There were no humans, birds, nor animals until Tawa and Spider Woman made it so. Spider Woman had Twin sons, the Monster Slayers, another connection with the Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders
Native American gorgets are ancient ornaments worn on the chest and suspended around the neck. They were commonly made of sea shells, turtle shells, copper or slate and were embellished with engravings and colors. The spider symbol at the top of the page was on a conch shell gorget from the Great Mound at Spiro, Oklahoma. Another ancient water spider shell gorget from Fains Island, Tennessee is shown below. Some of these ancient gorgets were created with apertures and believed to be used as a spinner called a ‘Bullroarer’ that could produce mysterious whistling sounds. The spider symbol gorgets illustrate a traditional legend about the water spider bringing fire to humanity.
The spider symbol worn as a necklace, or gorget amulet, was are believed to have held protective properties. As expensive and highly valuable ornaments they were also believed to denote status or rank within a tribe.
The bullroarer is an ancient ritual musical instrument and means of communicating with the spirit world. The bullroarer was used in various religious ceremonies and produced an eerie low, buzzing, whirring or roaring sound that carried over long distances. The bullroarer was spun or whirled around on the end of a thong in a large circle. Nearly all the Native American Indian tribes used bullroarers in religious and Spiritual Healing ceremonies and rituals.