Spider Symbol

Spider Symbol

Spider Symbol

Native American Symbols, like the Spider symbol, can vary in meaning from one tribe to another and across the culture groups of North America. The Spider symbol was used by the ancient Native Americans of the Mississippian culture.

Discover facts and information about the meanings of secret and mysterious symbols used by Native American Indians in our List of Symbols including the Spider symbol.

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The Spider Symbol
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.

The Meaning of the Spider Symbol
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. For additional information refer to Power Animals. 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.

The Spider Woman
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  

Spider Symbol Gorgets
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.

Spider Symbol - Bullroarers
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.

The Spider Symbol - Mississippian culture
The most ancient Native American Indian symbols, like the Spider symbol, came from the Mississippian culture which was established in 1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The Mississippian Native Americans were the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. The Mississippian culture was based on warfare, which was represented by an array of emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian culture Spider icons like the Spider symbol provides interesting history and ideas for tattoos that include cosmic imagery depicting animals, humans and Mythical beasts, creatures and monsters. The Mississippian Native Americans practiced body painting, tattooing and piercing.

Shaman ritually vomiting Black drink

Shaman ritually vomiting Black drink
Attribution: Herb Roe

Native American Indians - Spider Symbol
Native American Indians of the Mississippian culture were sun worshipers and had a highly complex warfare culture. Their symbols, such as the Spider symbol, reflect the warfare culture and the religious beliefs and cosmologies of the different historic tribes who existed at the time of the first European contact.

The Mississippians believed that the universe consisted of three parts with good and bad spiritual forces. These three worlds were linked together and their connection was usually portrayed as a cedar tree or a striped pole. The Underworld was inhabited by spirit snakes, the Upper world was inhabited by spirit birds and the people of the earth who were ruled by these powerful spirits like the Spider.

Items displaying symbols, like the Spider symbol, from the Mississippian culture have been found in burial sites that contained war axes, knives and other weapons. This type of symbol was embossed in valuable materials such as rare shells, copper and lead and depicted on pottery and stone tools and weapons.

Spider Symbol



  • The Spider symbol of Native Americans
  • Meaning, symbolism and interpretation of the Spider symbol
  • Interesting facts and info for kids and schools
  • Pictures, meanings, patterns and designs of symbols
  • Native American Spider symbol meaning

Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Spider. Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History of Native Americans and illustrate many symbols used by American Indians. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - Spider. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a Horned educational resource for kids.


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