Native North American Mythologies

The Native American Great Goddess

Who is Spider Woman?

Spider Woman, or Spider Grandmother, is a popular goddess. She, or figures like her, are particularly prevalent among the southwestern Pueblo cultures, especially the Hopi. The Navajo and Cherokee, too, have Spider Woman myths. Usually she is the primary agent in the creation process, weaving creation into existence, even if it is initiated by a more distant Great Spirit figure. Once the people are created, Spider Woman becomes their culture hero, teaching them how to live. A Hopi myth tells how the sun god Tawa began the creative process, but sent Spider Woman to lead the people through it. It was Spider Woman who led the people out of the sipapu, the spider hole by means of which they entered our world. Today the Hopi and other Pueblo Indians have sacred and social chambers—often underground—called kivas, in the center of the floors of which is always found a tiny sipapu, representing the place of emergence into this world and perhaps reminding them of the importance of Spider Woman. The Navajo of Canyon de Chelly in Arizona call a tall rock structure there “Spider Rock” in honor of Spider Woman.


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