Lupa’s Den – Creepy-Crawlies and Heebie-Jeebies

Lupa's Den - Creepy-Crawlies and Heebie-Jeebies

I had a nightmare last night — about bugs. Scorpions, spiders, biting flies, centipedes, and other creepy-crawlies that could potentially do damage to the soft flesh wrapping my endoskeleton. (Why couldn’t it have been butterflies? Or snails?)

Back when I was a kid, I spent countless days when the weather was warm overturning rocks to catch various insects and other bugs. I walked through the grass scaring up grasshoppers, and while I never touched spiders, I did marvel at them, particularly the big, fat yellow and black garden spiders in their webs with the little zigzag. I had no fear in handling what I found, as long as it wasn’t poisonous. However, as I got older and more detached from the natural world through circumstance, I found myself picking up the common revulsion associated with bugs. Instead of being wowed by the structure of an arthropod’s body, I found the prickly, sharp sensation of the exoskeleton to be unnerving at the very least. Eventually I found myself yelping in fear at the sight of a bug on the floor, no matter what it was. (To be fair, I got startled as a child whenever I found bugs in the closet, or under the bed, or wherever else they hid themselves in the house — but it wasn’t as bad a reaction!)

I find myself regretting this change in my behavior. While I’m still quite comfortable with the warm-and-cuddly animals (and even the cool and scaly ones), the creepy-crawlies still bother me to a degree they didn’t used to. As I’ve become a grown-up and, unfortunately, lost some of the seemingly easy connection to Nature that I had as a child, my discomfort with the “icky” things in Nature has grown. Like most Americans, I’ve become antagonistic towards those parts of Nature that don’t fit my comfort level.

There’s a lesson in all of this, of course. A large part of why I became a neopagan in the first place was to reconnect with Nature, to try to rebuild what I lost somewhere in my teens. For years I focused mainly on the abstractions, the symbols, the nice, safe, distant representations. Once I began practicing (neo)shamanism a couple of years ago, though, I could no longer distance myself, and was in fact encouraged to dig in to the earthy, raw bits of Nature as much as I could. It’s been good for me — I’ve come to appreciate the joys of compost as I’ve gardened, and I’m more liable to let myself go out and get muddy in the wetlands near my home. But I still have issues with the bugs, and that’s who I need to be learning from.

Some people would try to categorize the totems of these species as “shadow totems,” totems which scare us and, through that fear, teach us about things we may not want to face. If that’s the case, then I have a lot of shadow totems to work with! However, this is a complex situation. It’s not just a matter of “I don’t want to get my clothes dirty” or “EEEEK! SOMETHING JUST LANDED ON ME!” It’s an overarching detachment from the natural world, through my perception of it, as well as the decrease in the amount of time I’ve spent in it.

I can shut myself away from lions, tigers and bears, and so forth. However, the Little Ones won’t let me forget that, even in my nice, warm home, I’m part of Nature. From the tiny brown ants that persist in poking into the kitchen and garage (and occasionally the bathroom), to the moths that attempt to gain access to the pantry, to the wandering spiders who find shelter and food in the corners of my home when it rains, they all let me know that there’s no place to go where Nature doesn’t touch me. If it weren’t those critters that were reminding me, it would be the tiny beings in my digestive system, or the food that I eat. It just so happens that the creepy-crawlies are the ones who make the biggest impact, for all their size, right now.

And I write this as I have a healing spider bite on the inside of my left elbow, probably sustained while I slept. (There was no dead spider in the bed, so I’m guessing it got away!) I’ve been thinking about the creepy-crawlies in the couple of weeks since that happened, because if nothing else the bite made it clear that I do have to live with their existence, even in the comfort of my own home. This is my decision on how to deal with it, rather than the typical “GET OUT THE BUG BOMB!” reaction that most Americans would have.

I am a natural being; I am a mammal. I eat, I breathe, I drink, and I live in an environment populated by numerous other beings, large and small. They don’t exist according to my convenience, and the creepy-crawlies especially remind me of that. Time for me to remember that lesson.

Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at and see her website at

©2009 Lupa
Edited by Sheta Kaey

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6 Responses to “Lupa’s Den – Creepy-Crawlies and Heebie-Jeebies”

  1. Grey Glamer says:

    One of my closest spirit companions takes the form of a rather intimidating looking spider I’ve nicknamed Doc Ock. (One of my favorite comic book characters back in the day – Go figure!) I’m sure my mind is just translating Doc Ock’s actions into something familiar, but astrally I perceive the webs he spins around my home, strands of faerie glamer which capture and hold negative energies, until he can devour and transmute those energies into something more life-affirming.

    One consequence of his presence is an increase in the number of spiders around my home. Now I won’t tolerate black widows or brown recluses anywhere close to the house, but otherwise, if the spiders stay out of the walkways – and I have two cats, so they don’t really get a choice – then they’re welcome to spin their webs. Consequently, I’ve got spiderwebs around the front porch and the deck, but far fewer skeeters. (I know, I know – the mosquito may be one of my shadow totems, but call me cruel, if the skeeter tries to bite me, it forfeits its right to live!)

    Living in harmony with nature can be difficult, I will give you that much, yet to delve into our fears, our discomfort, this teaches us something important, I should think, and your article here speaks well to this truth.

    Blessed Be!
    .-= Grey Glamer´s last blog ..A Thinning of the Mists =-.

    • RTV Admin says:

      I get a massive increase in spiders in my home, particularly very large (but harmless) spiders — and by “large” I’m talking 2.5 – 3 inches across or more — every time I am the focus of someone’s smear campaign or negative energy. I don’t yell “psychic attack” much, but when I start killing several a week then I take notice. I killed one yesterday in the kitchen, a palm-sized house spider that isn’t of the usual type I get indoors when I’m being slandered. I’m thinking it was just passing through on its way to spider heaven.

      My fear of spiders is greatly reduced since I lived in Seattle and had wolf spiders in my house every single night that I’d face a fearful or anxiety-provoking situation during the day. So while I’m not yet ready to scoop them up and take them outside, they don’t terrify me as much as they once did. I even held a tarantula in the pet store a few months ago — which is a miracle.

      I like your spider companion’s methods. I also like that “spirit companion” is becoming such an oft-used term these days…. :D

      – Sheta

    • Lupa says:

      I generally figure the spiders that show up are ones that have found refuge in our home from the heat; it’s up to me to draw the conclusions from their presence.

      • RTV Admin says:

        And of course, yes, there’s the flat out pragmatic approach. ;) So far, none have yet spelled out, “That’s some pig!” so I count myself sane.

        Btw, I’ve got you an account set up that will link to your avatar. Remind me to give you the details tomorrow.


  2. MagusFool says:

    Learning to live harmoniously with arthropods is a challenge for almost all of us. In the last couple of months, I came to a sort of similar conclusion that I need to work on increasing that harmony. So recently I’ve been purposely allowing an ant or some other harmless bug to crawl upon my skin and resisting the urge to flick it away. This attempt at desensitization has had limited success, but there are many years of conditioning to combat. The real point is to realize that these creatures are part of my local ecosystem and to understand that they pose no threat to me or anything I care about.

  3. Business Tax says:

    I think that a lot of people these days, with the common “yuck!” reaction to insects and other similar types of creature, are really missing out, though I do understand that for a lot of these people the reaction is involuntary. The world of arthropods is so vast and beautiful, and the sooner people realise that these are creatures too, in the same way as cats and dogs, the better. Insects should not be seen as worthless creatures to be trodden on, but instead as a wonderful animal with its own life, its own family and its own purpose. Good post.

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