Spider Medicine, Boundaries, & the Energetics of Ticks: My Lyme Story

Introduction

The Spiders are weaving
Dancing and spinning
The spiders are weaving, endlessly
Grandmother weave for me the woman that I’m meant to be
Grandmother weave for me, endlessly

- A medicine song, Author unknown

455eacaa 0262 4ab0 9d97 9c524343b548

Did you know that ticks are related to spiders? For the few of us who may have a reverence for spiders and the medicine they offer, this may come as a surprise. Nonetheless, it’s unsettling, for the fear of these arachnids runs deep in those of us immersed in tick country and exposed to the Lyme and tick-borne illness epidemic. When we peer beyond this fear, we may ask-- Ticks, what are you here to teach us?

Once I sat in meditation with a wiley White Rose bush on the edge of the Costa Rican rainforest. I observed her thorns, long as my thumbnails, and her opening, fragrant blooms as large as my palms. When I asked of her medicine, I continually heard her say: Spider. Indeed, as I looked more closely, I noticed a yellow and black arachnid weaving a web amidst the shelter of Rose’s thorny limbs.

The spider wove relationship between one branch and the next with her filaments- connecting them. All the while, with each connection, she wove what was at once her nest, yet also a boundary between herself and the world at large. This web of a boundary was fine, delicate, and intricate; though ignoring or transgressing it would lend one as prey to its maker.

The Rose bush in which this spider spun her thread also began to morph in my eyes as metaphor. Each branch growing out from the Rose’s inner crown was a relationship - an extension of the rose interacting with the external world. Each thorn on these branches embodied an agreement, a boundary between the Rose and the Other. Some thorns stood thick in their poised prime- those promises within a relationship that are tried and true. Other, smaller thorns towards the end of each branch were newly formed agreements, still learning to hold their ground and that they can draw blood. It is normally at these newest thorns that we may get snagged as we grow to understand the terms of a boundary, like getting caught in a Spider’s web.

The medicine of Spiders and plants such as Rose that are ruled by Venus speaks to the energetics of interpersonal boundaries and fostering balance in relationships. This is something I began to learn at the edge of this rainforest with a Spider in the Rose bush, which became ever more clear as I went on to deal with Lymes disease on two separate occasions from one of the most infamous arachnids-- the Deer Tick.

My Lyme Story

Each person’s story of Lyme holds different power. This disease can be debilitating, depressing, and deeply painful. My personal exposure to Lyme has taught me invaluable lessons- allowing me to glimpse into the energetics of ticks.

It started with a dream, in which I witnessed two round rashes over top of my ovaries. When I awoke, I found one of those rashes embodied-- on the lower right side of my womb. At this moment in time, I had been dealing with rashes due to overexposure of stimulating foods. So when I noticed this rash on my belly, I lumped it into the aggregate of other skin flare-ups and went on as before, adjusting my diet.

A month passed, during which I couldn’t seem to shake myself out of the dream world. I was in college and had been taking a class on the philosophy and practices of Tantra - a tradition through which immersion in the “poison” or taboo opens a portal towards enlightenment. I’d been beating myself up for sleeping too much, so Sleep and Dreams became my poison path towards inner understanding.

One late morning, I awoke with the urge to show my housemate Cat what now transpired on the skin of my stomach. It was one spot-- faded pink over top my right ovary where the rash had begun. Except now, it looked like someone had drawn a red line that circled from below my breast, down my right abdomen toward my pubic bone, around my ovary and back up toward my breast - surrounding this pink dot in the lower center.

I lifted my shirt to show her, and she immediately became wide-eyed. “Jordann, that’s Lyme!”

Of course, Cat had grown up in Connecticut- the state where the first cases of Lyme were documented- amidst a family who had suffered near fatalities from it. I, on the other hand, grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania where there had yet to be exposure to Lyme, so I always was free to play in the woods without daily tick checks. Up to this point I had been living in the Hudson Valley for four years, heard about the disease from friends and professors, but now it hit home.

At the doctor’s office, my body was photographed and showed to all the nurses as a perfect example of a Lymes bull’s eye rash. I was prescribed doxycycline antibiotics for three weeks. The rash went away. I still have difficulty getting out of bed in the mornings.

Phase II

Fast forward a year and a half circa the summer of 2017. Despite my best intentions to do tick checks after time outdoors, I awoke one morning after returning from a camping trip to find a tick lodged into my belly. Here’s the reveal: it had bit me in the same exact spot as the first time I got Lyme- on the lower right side of my womb.

I enacted all protocol I had since learned. Carefully with tweezers, I took the tick out by the head. I saved it and sent it to the UMass testing department to check it for diseases (https://www.tickreport.com/). I applied iodine to disinfect the bite and a few Plantain poultices to draw out what I could from it. Unfortunately, it had been latched for 24+ hours, so the transfer of any pathogens from it to me was complete.

The bull’s eye rash didn’t form right away, yet on Summer Solstice, I drank a quart of Elderflower infusion and began to sweat profusely that night with fever. Elder’s job as a diaphoretic is to heat the body to support our ability to eliminate viral infections. While this fever didn’t break the Lyme, Elder showed me what I’d feared. Surely, the next morning I awoke with a bull’s eye on my stomach and went to the doctor as soon as I could for a script of Doxycycline.

An Invitation for Depth

I don’t truly believe in coincidences. Surely, you might say that a tick biting me in the same spot on two separate occasions was simply coincidental, but I took it as an invitation to go more deeply into the reason why - why this part of my body? I started to consult intuitive friends and my own inner knowing. As an energy worker, I’d already done a lot of healing around issues of boundaries and my ability to say no. Though, I could feel that the energetic boundary around this part of my body was weak; there was a numbness here in my womb that enabled the ticks to go unnoticed. It was a tear in my aura - a point through which energy drained from me and I let energy in that did not serve me. I continued on my path of healing boundaries and started to gravitate towards certain plant medicines to assist me in the process. Thorns became essential in my practice; I worked closely with Rose and Hawthorn. Yarrow also stood as a main pillar for my healing. Shortly, I will go further into the medicine of these plants, of Spiders, and repairing interpersonal boundaries. But first, I’d like to finish the final chapter of my Lyme Story.

The Trauma We Carry

Two years had passed since my last dance with Lyme. At this time, I’d been healing and overriding internal programs I felt were subconsciously running my life. I pinpointed an almost existential fear - the fear of getting caught - that I had difficulty breaking through on my own. A friend suggested I get an Akashic record reading from someone she knew, and I agreed.

In the reading, I posed this question- what lies at the root of this feeling that I’m going to get caught, even for doing things that aren’t wrong? This person, the reader, who I’d never spoken to before in my life, recounted to me a past life where I was a medicine woman in what is now Honduras. In that life, I was helping to lead a revolution with my people against the threat of imposing colonizers. In the revolution movement, I’d become well-known and held a lot of power. One night, I worked with plant medicine in a ritual context and later dreamt that I was killed by our oppressors. Upon awakening, despite having been shown the dream on behalf of plant allies, I shook it off as paranoia, thinking that I could not be killed because my people would protect me. I didn’t pay heed to the sign; nor did I ask how to prevent this death. Lone behold, within days, my home was broken into and I was stabbed to death -- in the right side of my lower womb.

The reader progressed to tell me that I may have issues with that part of my body and energetic field. I didn’t tell him, but I sat amazed: that is where a tick bit me on two separate occasions to transmit Lyme. In the first case, I had a dream foretelling it that I ignored…

Lessons Learned

The Spiders are weaving
Dancing and spinning
The spiders are weaving, endlessly
Grandmother weave for me the woman that I’m meant to be
Grandmother weave for me, endlessly

spiderandrose photo lorenwebster

The spider casts a web - and energetically, this net serves as a boundary between ourselves and the world at large. This web is delicate, flexible, and nearly invisible. We can open up the space between the threads to let other energies come through when we so choose, but otherwise, without our consent, the Other gets caught in the web. The medicine of Grandmother Spider weaves our aura - this web - that enables us to be, as spoken in the Song of Songs, a garden locked. The Song of Songs is a text in the Hebrew Bible that celebrates relationship, sexuality, and interpersonal connection. “A garden locked” is often thought to mean a chaste woman - but instead, I see it as a person with boundaries that are respected - who chooses what they let into their home and energetic field and is not transgressed otherwise.

Through trauma, in this life or another, this web of our aura may tear, enabling energy to enter into our gardens despite our best intentions. Do not think for a second that this break in the boundary is your fault. It is caused by a trauma, at any point in time, that has lingered, like a ghost that needs released. Often times, where there has been trauma to the auric web, there is related physical numbness or imbalance. When I was stabbed in a life past, my aura was wounded in such a way that caused my womb to feel numb and enabled ticks to enter in rather than get caught in the web of my awareness.

I’ve come to see the energetics of ticks as the shadow side of Spider Medicine. By connecting to the Spider, we may learn to become attuned to and weave our auric web so as to foster healthy connections between ourselves and Others. We can strengthen our webs so as to deflect what is not in alignment with us. However, when the integrity of our web is compromised, it enables energy to enter into our field and to leak out beyond our awareness. This auric wound is like a parasite unto itself, and I see that it creates the space for a tick to latch and go unnoticed for the 24+ hours needed to transmit disease.

A teacher once shared a story with me that corroborated the notion that an integrated energetic field could shield against ticks from biting. He had a client and friend who was a Vietnam veteran who held the guilt of the lives lost in war on his shoulders. Energetically, he was totally broken down by carrying so much blame. This man suffered from chronic Lyme. My teacher would go on walks with him in the woods, and when they’d finish, the veteran would be covered with ticks while my teacher didn’t find any on himself.

Boundary Medicine & a note on Venus

b50fd2cd bd95 43c0 90b6 9c892a85266e

If you so wish, there are Earth allies - plants and stones - that can help us heal and strengthen our webs. My dearest friends for this have been those in the Rose family and Yarrow. The signature of Rosaceae plants such as Hawthorn and Rose as boundary medicines becomes evident upon closer look. Their flowers are soft and intricate - but not vulnerable. If you’d like to smell a rose, you must pay heed to their thorns. These plants aid us in holding open-hearted space for others while not taking on energy that does not serve us. Their medicine offers strength so we may assert boundaries when needed and show our thorns, and all the while, the suppleness of their flowers enables us to hold compassion for the other, reminding us to love and to let go.

Yarrow, on the other hand, is largely known as a vulnerary: if blood is drawn, Yarrow will staunch the wound. On an energetic level, if we carry any wounds in our aura that bleed energy- letting it in and out beyond our awareness- Yarrow can help us to heal those auric tears and reweave our energetic web. After all, Yarrow embodies the archetype of Chiron, the Wounded Healer: its medicine directs our attention towards our sacred wound that we must heal to set us forth on our life’s path. Often times, these wounds of our webs relate to past traumas that Yarrow can help us to witness and work through step by step. After all, this is also the herb of the warrior- named after Achilles- and thus it lends us the strength we need to face our fears.

Since so often these energetic tears relate to a lack of bodily awareness and numbness, my preferred way to work with Rose and Yarrow is in the form of whole, herbal infused oils. By rubbing our bodies-- specifically numbed or troubled spots-- with plant-infused oil, we bring our attention there. I see it that attentive care of our physical bodies can work to heal wounds in our auric web, and in conjunction with boundary-healing herbs such as Rose and Yarrow, the effect is amplified.

As I do this healing myself, I am very conscious as to when a tick jumps on me and am now almost immediately able to release it. It's as if I've become the Spider herself, knowing when someone gets caught in my web. Otherwise, now when I return home from a day in the garden or woods, I have a ritual of coming home to my body. I strip from my clothes, lay out a towel, and commence to rub my body down with herbal oil that's infused with my boundary plants. Touching my body from head to foot in this way allows me to awaken the strength in my sensitivity, while also doing a quite thorough tick-check. An oil I made specifically for this ritual is called I Weave My Web.

Interestingly, I’ve come to realize that Rose family plants as well as Yarrow are all ruled by Venus. Often times, we may think of Venus as being the feminine counterpart to the masculine Mars, but I’d like to look beyond that to witness Venus as the strength of balance. Venus is the dark sky in which stars may shine. She is the container that balances the outward expressive energy of Mars. Venus openly receives - but only in a way that does not tip the scales. Otherwise, the stars might shine so bright as to fill up the whole night sky and there would be no contrast, no darkness. She receives to balance, yet only up to a certain point so as not to be overridden. In her openness, there is still a boundary so she can maintain who she is.

Again the refrain from the Song of Songs, “she is a garden locked” (4:12): an open space for verdancy to thrive. Yet a boundary still outlines the garden to mark it as itself, rather than it becoming lost in the expanse of land and overgrown by other plants. By demarcating where the boundary of the garden lies, she is empowered by the necessity for others to ask consent before entering in. She is receptive, yet protected: like a Rose with its thorn, like a spider sitting in the nest of its web.

The Spiders are weaving
Dancing and spinning
The spiders are weaving, endlessly
Grandmother weave for me the woman that I’m meant to be
Grandmother weave for me, endlessly



__

In my shop, I seasonally carry Soul Oils of Yarrow & Rose. These are potently-infused herbal oils to allow you to connect with the Soul of a Plant Ally, for in Alchemy, the oil of the plant is its soul. If you are interested in connecting with these herbs, Soul Oils are a beautiful avenue to do so.