Redback Spider – Surrender
Female charm and seduction. Surrender. Worshipping the female principle. Networking with humans. Exploiting suburbia. Human habitation. Theft. Stealing. Taking another’s nourishment. The web of life. Surrendering to the Goddess. Offering. Giving yourself away.
The redback spider is one of the most famous of Australian venomous spiders, alongside the funnelweb. The redback spider is a small spider (females being larger) with a classic hourglass pattern on its back that can range in colour from brown to red. Despite its reputation as a deadly killer, only a single death has been reported in Australia since the antivenin was introduced in 1956. As it is, the redback spider’s neurotoxin is slow acting, often giving the recipient of the bite at least forty eight hours to seek medical attention.
Redback spider males have a unique relationship with the female. During mating, the male will sometimes somersault and actively present his abdomen to the female for food. Approximately 70% of the time, the female will accept this offering and eat him. This nourishes the young, and seems to be a successful adaptation. The redback spider is attracted to human habitation due to the increased number of nesting sites for its disorganised webs.
Lessons and Challenges:
Redback spider usually comes across as a female energy, and tends to teach about worshipping the female principle. This – for occultists – may involve focusing more on worshipping the goddess in all her forms (though focus may specifically be on spider goddesses), and in a more mundane sense it can involve focusing on femininity, what it is to be a strong woman, and how to respect that within, or within others.
Redback spider can emphasise the presence of female charm and seduction. Redback teaches us how to enthrall others with femininity, or alternatively, how to recognise that we are being enthralled. Redback is an exceptionally strong teacher for women and men who want to embrace what they feel to be ‘feminine’ qualities, particularly those that are empowering.
There is a lesson of surrender with redback spider. Most people fight the idea of surrendering to anything, whether it is to themselves, to others, to a higher power etc. It may be one reason why so many develop phobias of spiders, and of redback spiders specifically (for, as venomous as they may be, they certainly haven’t killed anyone in a long, long time). Redback spider teaches us to surrender to something that is greater than ourselves. This may be the idea of the Goddess for some. Or it may be the idea of surrendering to an inevitable challenge that we are struggling against, or struggling to deny.
Some people feel that surrendering is a sign of weakness, but redback spider, like many spiders, teaches that surrendering to the inevitable is a sign of humility, understanding and wisdom.
Spider is the weaver of the web of life, and associated with fate and those struggles and changes that are coming whether we like it or not. Spider asks us that we do not face such struggles with denial or stubbornness, but that we walk forward instead and surrender ourselves to what is coming. Such a surrender of itself can be a profound offering to the greater powers and energies around us, but moreso, a profound offering to ourselves. Surrendering is another form of acceptance, one that some people forget to embrace with grace and dignity.
There is a sense of giving yourself away with redback energy in particular. Redback spider males have evolved to literally give their lives away, for the chance to procreate. Redback spider females do the same, to give their offspring a good chance at survival. For us, giving ourselves away may come in the form of giving up a great deal of our time or energy for a loved one. It may involve regularly offering and paying fealty to a deity or deities that you worship. It may involve simply committing more time to a project that is already consuming a lot of your time. The presence of any redback spider (or any spider for that matter), lets us know that such a sacrifice is not needless nor given in vain.
There is an emphasis with redback spider on themes of theft and stealing. Watch out for behaviours that involve you taking another’s nourishment or energy away for them, in turn, keep an eye out for people in your community who are doing the same to you. There is natural give and take when it comes to energy, but at this time, beware of an unhealthy level of give and take.
The theme of theft may also be literal, and redback spider can remind you to make sure that you keep your valuables secure and that you do not take a lax attitude towards the things, people and ways of life that you care for.
Redback spider specifically teaches us to consciously work with suburbia. Redback spider itself is drawn to human areas of habitation, and exploits suburbia. Many times, humans mistakenly think that the only places they can connect with nature is by getting out of suburbia and into areas that lack housing and human establishment. Redback spider firmly pushes us back to the direction of our own homes and communities no matter how lackluster we find them to be. Wisdom is found in the suburbs, as is nature, as is nourishment, wisdom, profundity, and all the other things that we may convince ourselves are better found on a mountaintop or in a cave.
The Shadow Aspects:
Redback spider comes into your life to ask you to ‘give it up.’ It’s time to surrender. Whether this is a literal surrender to something someone has been asking you to do for some time, or a spiritual surrender to a god, or an emotional surrender to feelings you’ve been denying, is regardless. What is important here is the actual act of surrender itself. Redback spider will continue to come into your life as a shadow aspect until this is confronted and you ‘let go’ of something important to you, in order to gain something far more valuable. While redback spider teaches this in general, this lesson may be a particular challenge for you.
Those who dislike or fear redback spider may have a problem with ‘femininity.’ If they are a woman, they may fear that stereotypically ‘feminine’ pursuits or activities may be ‘weak’ or unworthy of their time. If they are a man, they may be misogynistic, or dislike any woman who uses charm and seduction to win over others. If they are nonbinary, they may have dysphoric associations with femininity, or may need to do some work with their relationship to the concept. Redback spider brings this threat to your attention, and asks you to evaluate how you feel about ‘femininity’, what it means to you, and how you might change your attitudes towards it.
Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or share messages with you. Redback spider is a fairly cryptic teacher in visualisation and in journeying. Many spiders communicate more frequently by presence alone, rather than by dialogue, though there are exceptions to this depending on what spider wants you to learn.
For people in Australia, redback spider may communicate with you by simply drawing your attention to it, you may notice it more around your living areas. In general, redback spider can be a guide that is difficult to approach (and tends to be one of the animal guides that approaches first), and requires respect and often a sense of quietness and stillness in order to communicate with you wholly. Don’t be worried if your encounters with redback are strange or bizarre, and remember to pay attention to your surroundings in visualisation when working with any type of spider. Redback appreciates offerings of ants, or drawings of ants. All spider energies appreciate offerings of time and patience, as they are more common as long-term, rather than short-term guides.