Lessons From Spiders 3: Of Advice Given and Advice Taken – or Not

Lessons From Spiders 3: Of Advice Given and Advice Taken – or Not

Living in constant expectation that a giant arachnid is going to dart out of its hiding place directly into my path is tiresome.  Having all that adrenaline coursing through my body at any given time is not productive and fires the Tourette circuits needlessly in my control centre.

It was time to take action.

Having spoken to everyone I knew or had just met, I learned that the first spider I encountered in my new house was likely a wolf spider.  I “Googled” it and came face to face with my arch nemesis.  Terrified at anecdotes about wolf spiders skittering up shower drains in search of warmth once autumn descended, I searched frantically online for homemade spider repellents.

At the same time, I searched for natural health food stores that just might carry the supplement that tended to dim my anxiety.  My supply brought from Ontario was low and my brain was firing wildly.

Both searches led to the same place:  a local shop where I could buy my precious amino acid and the tried-and-true-remedy-to-keep-spiders-at-bay-sworn-to-work-by-the-internet-community:  peppermint essential oil.

On a sunny September day, I mapped my destination and after swinging around the block twice (hey, I’m still new here!), found a parking spot.

Maybe the purple crystal in the window should have tipped me off.

A waft of dried herbs and incense met my nose as I opened the door.  The store was large and new, bright from windows on two sides.  The shelves were neat and well stocked with brands I recognized.  In fact, it looked very much like a typical pharmacy.  Everything was white and stainless steel and the cash register was tucked into a neat circular alcove paneled in warm cedar.  The bespectacled woman behind the counter was dressed in a starched lab coat and had glossy black hair tied neatly in a bun on top of her head. The herbal smell and the crystal in the window were out of place.

I quickly found the brain supplement I was looking for and brought it to the ebony-haired woman.  She smiled.

“Will there be anything else?”  She asked.

“Yes, actually.  I’m looking for peppermint essential oil.  I read that it repels spiders.”

The woman in the lab coat blinked twice then said,

“Why would you want to repel spiders?”

“I have huge spiders walking around my house and I prefer they stay outside.”

She blinked again.

“Maybe you need to ask what they want,” she said.

I laughed heartily.  “Good one!”  I said but when I looked into her face I realized that she was not joking.  She frowned and put my supplements in a paper bag and made no attempt to show me where the peppermint oil was located.

“Um, do you carry peppermint oil?” I asked.

“In the spirit world, spiders are grandmothers.  And grandmothers are wise.  If you have spiders in your house, then someone is trying to send you a message.”

I blinked.  Grandmothers?

“I know this because my spirit animal is a spider,” she continued.  “I’ve called radio shows and had many discussions about this subject.  They call me the Spider Woman.”

I’ll bet they do, I thought, picturing deejays covering their microphones as they laugh and high five each other at the new appellation they just bestowed on the whack-job calling into the radio show.

I blinked again.

“This is what you need to do if you want the spiders to leave you alone…although they are always welcome in my home…”

My mind wandered again, this time to a dark bathroom where Spider Woman stumbles at 4 am to pee and encounters the wolf spider I met in my hallway. What would be the message then?  Don’t drink so much before bed?  Don’t leave the window open?

“…then you ever so gently pick up the spider and whisper to it, ‘Grandmother, what message do you have for me?’ before releasing it outside.  The spiders will then leave you alone. You just need to receive the message.”

She looked at me expectantly.

Not sure what she expected and conscious of the fact that I hadn’t said anything in a while, I offered, “Grandmother?”

“Oh yes!”  She said excitedly.

I nodded.

“I see.  And I’m supposed to pick up the spider?”

“Of course!”

I shuddered.

“I don’t think you understand the size of the spider I’m dealing with.  I mean, this thing won’t even fit under a glass without its legs hanging out.  We’re talking wolf spider.” I gestured for emphasis, then continued, “And now it’s Fall and I’ve heard the spiders are going to come into the house for warmth.”

She looked at me contemptuously.

“The spiders won’t bother you if you will just listen to their message.”

Was the spider supposed to whisper to me?  Tickle me with its legs then I’m supposed to understand what it means?  Bite me?  Gasp!

“Huh,” I said.  “That’s interesting.”

“I know,” she said as she looked at me knowingly.

Was I going to have to buy my peppermint oil somewhere else?

“And if I listen to their message they will leave me alone?”

“Yes, until they have another message for you.”

What?  No guarantee?  What kind of advice was this?

“Yeah, I’m not going to take that chance,” I blurted. “They are creepy and they startle me.  Can you point me toward the peppermint oil?”  At this point I was thinking I’d just ditch the oil and get some good old fashioned pesticide.

She begrudgingly pointed me to the peppermint oil and I thanked her, thinking she should have been happy I was trying something natural to turn away the arachnid mailmen she so worshiped instead of engaging their entire world in chemical warfare.

As I walked out of the now-the-crystal-makes-sense pharmacy, I thought about what Spider Woman told me.  I thought about her belief the spiders would leave me alone once I listened to their message, her conviction that I just needed to pick up the eight-legged intruder, talk to it and release it, then poof! no more spiders.

I decided this was advice worth disregarding.

The peppermint oil may or may not have worked.  I didn’t see any more spiders once I cloaked all the doors, windows, drains and downspouts in a delightful chewing gum scented mist.  Then again I just may have crushed all the spiders in my house in the days and weeks preceding.  The internet-gained advice to use the peppermint oil may or may not have been good advice.

In the days and weeks to come I think about advice.  I contemplate the advice I’ve received over the years ranging from “Don’t run with scissors” to “I think you should take the job”.  I think about the advice I have given especially as I’ve gained wisdom through the years.  “Don’t ride your bicycle with bare feet.”  “Marry a man, not a boy.”

The outcome usually determines if the advice was good or not and we should always beware the advice we apply.

Whatever their message, I think by the time Harold and Frank didn’t return with the news that it was successfully delivered, someone in the Spider Corps should have been asking some tough questions.  Maybe a scout saw Tony plastered to the bottom of my husband’s giant slipper and they decided to abandon the mission.

I hope the spiders don’t return, but then again there is always a whack-job willing to give advice.

Had an encounter with eccentricity lately?  Been given advice that just didn’t seem right?  Maybe it worked out.  I’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment below.

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