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05 August 2006 @ 10:46 pm
Trapdoor Spider as Totem  

Trapdoor Spider - Ground-Weaver


Familiarity with Darkness. Waiting in the Dark. Ground-Weaving. An Insular Life. Agoraphobia. The Ancestor of Spiders. Earth Wisdom. Entrapment. Entanglement. Quick Reflexes. Patience. Timidity. Longevity. Connection to the Goddess. Connection to Cthonic and Underworld Deities. The Underworld. Secret Places. Escape Routes. Self-Protection. The Threshold and Doorways.

General Description:

Trapdoor spiders are among the oldest members of the arachnid family, and are particularly distinctive because most (not all) make burrows for themselves plugged with a ‘trapdoor’ made of silk, and sometimes earth and vegetation. They are found in non-consecutive places worldwide (including Australia, North and South America, South Africa, some parts of Europe and some parts of Russia and Asia), suggesting movement based on continental drift.

Typically, most trapdoor spiders wait inside their silk-lined burrow underneath the trapdoor, with their sensitive claws on triplines (fine radiating lines of silk) that enable them to spring from their burrow at any sign of food. They eat crickets, moths, beetles, grasshoppers etc. Both males and females are naturally timid, though the male will sometimes rear if threatened. They are characteristically loathe to leave their burrows, preferring to never let their rear legs leave the burrow. Trapdoor spiders are especially predated upon by spider wasps and centipedes.

Mature male spiders wander during humid weather to find a mate. They are the only creature able to stop the female from erupting from the trapdoor violently despite triggering the triplines, and science is still unsure how they do this. They mate within the burrow, and the male usually survives to mate with at least several females before dying. Trapdoor spiders take several years to reach maturity, and can have a lifespan of between 5 and 20 years. As the spider grows, it must widen its burrow, and add more to the rim of the trapdoor. They can move up to 140 times their own weight.

Brief mythological associations:

Researching for mythological associations regarding the trapdoor spider has yielded little information, but I am sure with a more extensive search you will be able to yield folkloric and mythological stories regarding this spider.


Please remember that if this animal is contacting you, it will often be the best resource for teaching you what its lessons are. What I write is only intended to be a guide, it is not absolute, nor is it infallible.

- The trapdoor spider comes into our lives to emphasis a familiarity with darkness. Whether we are scared of the dark, or embrace it, trapdoor spider tells us that we must do more things in darkness. Not the darkness associated with night-time, but the darkness associated with being enclosed in walls, away from the stars. Consider meditating or making love in rooms that are dark. Consider going caving. Make yourself familiar with the dark. If you are frightened of the dark, trapdoor spider will force a confrontation with this fear, and assist you through it.

- Trapdoor spider reminds us that sometimes we must go through darkness in order to really find a good opportunity. We must wait in the dark, it is the way of all things. In a way, we are all waiting in the dark, for wisdom, light, and nourishment. Trapdoor spider helps us to become okay with this.

- Trapdoor spider often comes into our life to suggest that we might want to start living a more insular life. Less socialising, and sometimes becoming a bit of a ‘homebody’ can be healthy for people who need to recharge. Focusing on smaller, simpler things – such as the quality of our food and home – is sometimes all we need to grow spiritually. Trapdoor spider can also – on the other extreme – caution against agoraphobia, or warn against a fear of open spaces.

- Trapdoor spider is a more primitive spider, one of the spider ancestors, though not the most primitive. It comes into our life to emphasise a connection to Cthonic and underworld deities, consider exploring deities in charge of ‘underground’ places, and the ancient, nameless deities that come from our magical history. Trapdoor spider also suggests that we should travel to the underworld more often, this might be literally – through activities like spelunking (caving), snorkelling etc. or it might be through visualisations and journeys. Tunnel and cave imagery will benefit you at this time.

- The threshold, and doorway imagery will be particularly important at this time, and you may yourself feel that you are constantly at a spiritual threshold within your life.

- This spider often brings an energy of timidity into our lives, if we feel ourselves become prey to shyness or nervousness, do not admonish or criticise yourself for it. Shyness and timidity can be excellent defense mechanisms, and when trapdoor spider is in our life, we need these to protect ourselves.

- Trapdoor spider carries with it a strong theme of self-protection, many trapdoor spiders have additional secret places and escape routes within their tunnel, and those that don’t usually disguise their trapdoor, and home, by camouflaging the ‘door’ or not placing their burrow completely in the open. Know your home and your living space, learn your own secret places, and know your ‘escape routes.’ They might be physical ways to enter or exit your home, or alternatively they might be systems that you place into your everyday life so that you are always able to get out of a situation that might become overwhelming.

- Trapdoor spider as a guide presents to us the idea that if we lived closer to the home, and cared about our living space, we might live longer. If we live simpler lives, close to the earth, we are able to look after ourselves far better.

- Trapdoor spider is the ground-weaver, it teaches us how to remain creative whilst staying close to home, with our feet firmly on the ground. It also teaches us how to make the earth around us sing with creativity, consider endeavours like gardening and landscaping, or consider visiting a rock garden. Earth wisdom has entered your life if trapdoor spider has come to visit.

- All spiders indicate a connection to the goddess. If spider has come into your life, it indicates that the goddess, or the sacred feminine, is watching over you.

- All spiders come into our lives to suggest the theme of entrapment and entanglement. Spider as a guide can help us to get out of situations where the malicious intent of others to entrap or use us will do us harm, they can also teach us how to use entrapment for our own benefit. Sometimes you must be creative, and weave a web of opportunity for yourself.

- All spiders teach the value of patience followed by quick reflexes. We must always wait for opportunity, but we must not grow so used to waiting that we cannot jump up and seize opportunity when it presents itself. Keep your mind honed and alert, and remember that you can’t have what you want all the time, though you can maximise your chances or finding opportunity by ‘spreading your web.’

If you have Trapdoor Spider as your Totem:

People with this animal as a totem will often manifest traits similar to the animal itself. I work on the philosophy that we only have one totem, and it teaches us lessons as well as representing the core aspects of our personality. Therefore –

- People with trapdoor spider as their totem will be quite insular, anti-social, shy people who are able to seize opportunity, but also prefer to remain in places they consider safe and secure. Trapdoor spider people may sometimes struggle with agoraphobia or other social problems, disorders or phobias in their early life, and finding a compromise between seeing friends and family, and becoming completely reclusive will feature more than once as their spirit grows. Once trapdoor people have started to find a balance, they have much wisdom to share about maintenance and care of the home and garden with others, and will teach others to get the maximum benefits both spiritually and literally out of their living space.

- Those who have trapdoor spider as a totem will, if they choose to lead a spiritual life, often have a very deep and profound connection with the underworld and/or underworld deities. They will often be drawn to ancient mythologies, and veer away from ‘neo’ paganism, or ‘neo’ practices in general. Their wisdom is great, but their closed nature makes them hard to ‘access’, others may always feel they have a wall of protection around them, that very rarely opens.

There will be other ways your totem manifests, and you will recognise them with awareness and communion.

As shadow guide/totem:

The shadow totem is the animal we often fear irrationally, that teaches us things about ourselves that are profound and difficult to confront. Often the traits we fear most within the shadow totem, are the traits that we dislike in ourselves. We must scrutinise why this is, and learn how to work with them.

- Those who specifically fear trapdoor spider may hold a strong literal or metaphorical fear of the ‘darkness.’ They may be unwilling to face their own inner predator, that lies in wait for opportunity, or they may find it very difficult to face complete darkness. These people may fear closed spaces, and may be claustrophobic. They will benefit greatly by working with trapdoor spider, to confront this literal or metaphorical fear.

Contacting Trapdoor Spider:

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. Trapdoor spider can be contacted through visualisation methods that involve caves, the underworld, tunnels, or burrows. Likewise, its energy can also be evoked literally in ‘underground’ places. Trapdoor spider is quite a ‘primitive’ energy, and its presence alone is often enough to stir a deep knowing inside of us.

x-posted to totem_animals and totemoftheweek
blackdragon5 on August 5th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
The spider, my shadow totem, taught me that fear can be overcome with knowledge. It's also taught me that large size isn't necessary to be strong or powerful. The spider is the only animal spirit that appears to me in different forms, usually one of the orb weavers or a jumping spider like my icon. I have never met the trap door spider because we don't have them where I live. I've seen pictures of their burrows and they are beautiful.