Q: Alright, so the other morning, I had a terrifying dream of a huge yellow spider sitting on my chest. I’m a pretty rational guy, but I woke-up convinced that there were actual spiders in my bed and I had to get up!
A: My dear boy, rational or not, these kinds of dreams are scary!
Modern research on the brain is validating what our bodies have long known: instincts often don’t know the difference between what is real in the outer world and what is real in the inner world. If there’s a huge spider on your chest, you get the heck out of bed! So don’t feel too silly about this kind of thing, you were doing what anyone would have done… and maybe, in the meantime, you got a taste of how the unconscious mind can influence your behavior…
But you’re probably wondering what that spider was doing there. Well, as with all dreams, I would be curious about the details and I’d recommend you explore them: the location, who you were with, what was happening before the spider landed on your chest, and so forth. These details will offer you more clarity about the specific meaning of the dream.
Spiders are certainly archetypal symbols: that is to say, they have deep symbolic roots that extend cross-culturally and across time in the human psyche. Perhaps encoded in our human DNA somewhere, the image of the spider is evocative of the ancient feminine, mothers, and the mother complex. That the spider is huge suggests that something related to this archetype is looming large in your life these days; and that it has landed on your chest and “woken you up” suggests it is seeking your true attention. (If I were a shaman, I would say you’ve had a visitation.)
Given that the spider appeared in your bed, I would pose the following questions: Is your mother somehow lingering in your relationship with you? Is your partner’s mother in bed with you?
These questions are obviously not to be taken literally, but… in a way they are. Contemplate how your own mother, or your subtle relationship with your mother, may be influencing your romantic relationship. This image of spiders in bed is a very dream common image, and it’s my own hypothesis that it has something significantly to do with the way that a certain kind of energy or confusion, perhaps sort of bewitching, perhaps hypnotizing, can enter into relationships and mess shift them.
If you find spiders in your house in your dream, spend some time journaling about your emotions and the chaos in your life. Assess, in particular, your love relationships and the relationships to the mothers in your life.
While the spider can often point to the dark feminine (as opposed to a house cat), and while it was scary, I wonder if its yellow color suggests a less ominous connotation. I find that when yellow appears boldly in dreams it is often reflecting a deep sense of aliveness, contentment and richness, as if representing our associations to gold or the sun. Yellow can be a symbol of culmination or change. If you’re not too opposed to journaling, I would recommend you take a little time to explore this dream (it sounds like a big one!), as well as why these images from the unconscious mind might be tugging at your conscious attention.
Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!
Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com