Spiders intrigue me.
There are more than 48,000 species of them around the globe, some yet undiscovered by humans, and all of them, bar one that we know of, are predators. They are hugely diverse, reflect all spectrums of light, and are individually character-full.
I am being lured into their web of life.
Araneae are air-breathing invertebrates, with eight legs, fangs to inject venom, and spinnerets that extrude silk. Silk is a protein fibre, and used to create food traps, nests, egg coverings, and air transport systems. Imagine if we, through our own bodily secretions, could produce all these things: fishing lines, bed linen, baby blankets, and parachutes. There are at least 7 types of silk-making glands, and all spiders have at least three. Some silks are stronger than steel for their weight. Spiders are an essential group of living beings (predators are essential), who may live deep in caves we humans will never visit, and float as high as the clouds when ballooning across continents. They have their own microbial symbioses, most of which we still have little idea. Some spiders are crucial for distributing fungal spores. In rainforests all around Earth, some larger spiders rely on narrow-mouthed frog species for survival, and in utter reciprocity.
They can fish, fly, cave and row. The largest family jump. Some can sing, dance, and vibrate.
The diving bell spiders live in bubbles underwater for most of their lives.
My booted foot was once challenged, briefly, by a female Sydney funnel-web spider, the males being the most venomous in the world, and, in my view, both most fearfully angry. And unforgettable.
But the vast majority of spiders are harmless to humans. Most are solitary, though some are social. Some females cannibalize their male mates. Some males offer gifts in the hope of sparing their own lives. Some even fake them. Some mothers offer up their own dead bodies as food for their offspring.
Spiders have been evolving for some 300 million years, and are powerful, intricate and exquisitely adapted. Their relevant-stimuli (emotional responses to you and I) are basic, understudied, yet apparent. And they do feel pain.
I want to credit these rainbow warriors with a special kind of wisdom. Spider Wisdom, more spider than Spiderman. To have such wisdom is to be fiercely beautiful amongst all other life ~ to be spennowan.
I offer this to all fellow humans right now.
(S)pen – PIE root to draw, stretch, spin
Gnowos – PIE root wise, to know.