What Do Spiders in Dreams Mean? 4 Dream Experts Tell All

The good, the bad and the plain old weird

spiders in dreams CAT
Flashpop/Getty Images/Digital Art by Sofia Kraushaar

All kinds of bizarre things can happen when you close your eyes: teeth falling out at a dinner party, out-of-control cars, and yes, even creepy arachnids. So, don’t fret if your good night’s rest has turned into a Fellini film lately—specifically the kind that features uninvited eight-legged creatures. Your subconscious is a complicated place so there’s no single explanation for spiders in dreams. Having said that, we reached out to several psychologists and dream experts to get the lowdown on what it might mean when you have spiders in your dreams, so read on for the full scoop.

Meet the Experts

  • Dr. Nancy Irwin is a clinical psychologist and certified hypnotherapist in Los Angeles, CA. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology (PsyD) at CalSouthern University and is also a diplomat at the American Academy Experts of Traumatic Stress. 
  • Kelly Sullivan Walden is a certified hypnotherapist and dream expert. She’s also the international bestselling author of seven oracle decks and ten books; her latest is NYC Big Book Award’s A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste and is the upcoming Wild Animal Dream Oracle
  • Danielle Massi, LMFT is a master shadow work practitioner and the owner and founder of The Wellness Collective, a holistic healing space in Philadelphia specializing in mind, body and spirit wellness.
  • Dr. Laurel Steinberg, PhD is a Columbia-trained psychotherapist specializing in treating anxiety, sex, dating & relationship issues and migraine headache prevention.

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What Do Dreams about Spiders Mean?

So, some eight-legged guests have invaded your after-hours brain. (It happens.) But what does it mean when you’ve had a creepy—or even more confusing, a pleasant—dream with a spider in it? Well, it turns out the answer isn’t so cut and dry. In general, the experts agree that dreams are highly individualized experiences, and such symbols leave a lot of room for interpretation. “We are all highly individualized beings, with a whole set of experiences, history, cultural effects, preferences, and associations that color the meaning of dreams,” explains clinical psychologist Dr. Nancy Irwin. That said, here are some common themes the pros have picked up on.

1. You’re tapping into your inner strategist (or seductress)

When you think of a spider in terms of an animal totem while considering its behavior in nature, you can gain a better understanding of its symbolism in your dreams, says Kelly Sullivan Walden. “Some animals pounce, some intimidate, some are elusive—but the spider lures in its prey...Because everyone and everything in your dream is you, dreams of a spider [may] symbolize that you are connecting with the part of yourself that is strategic, methodical, enticing and seductive.” Sounds intriguing, right? If one of these dream weavers makes an appearance while you’re snoozing, consider that your subconscious might be trying to tell you that a methodical approach is in order when it comes to accomplishing your more complicated designs.

2. A message to let things come your way

Indeed, per Walden, “dreams of a spider are the ultimate message that you are weaving your dreams into reality.” Still this dream expert is quick to add that the takeaway could very well be that your best bet is to channel the spider’s patience: “Because spiders weave a web that draws their sustenance to them, this dream may be a message to stop running around, slow down, make your space appealing and await the energy and attention that comes to you.” In other words, if your life is feeling hectic these days, your dream just gave you a pretty sound strategy to practice in waking life.

3. Prosperity is on your mind

What do spiders have to do with prosperity? Well, not nothing, apparently. Walden points out that the anatomy of a spider is also key to understanding its symbolism in dreams, positing that its eight legs carry the same significance as the number in general—namely “abundance, prosperity and infinity.” Bottom line: Walden’s view is that no matter how you feel about these creatures in real life, a night time visit from a spider may in fact be a good omen. Or, at the very least, a message that you should follow your dreams (rather than, say, swat at them with a broom). These eight-legged friends are the original dream-weavers after all.

4. You’re feeling entangled or trapped

As mentioned above, the web-spinning nature of a spider makes it a potential symbol of empowerment. That said, Walden acknowledges that all dream occurrences are an expression of the Self. As such, you might consider what aspect of the spider the Self is identifying with when you’re lost in dreamland. Want to skip the psychoanalysis? (We get it.) Just ask yourself whether you think you are sitting pretty in a web waiting for success or feeling paralyzed with ambivalence and stuck in a rut (read: spider’s web).

5. Fear of the unknown

According to Danielle Massi, spiders tend to represent the unknown, so “it could be that something you fear is creeping up on you and the unconscious mind is giving you a warning.” That said, Massi emphasizes that the key to understanding spiders in dreams is to ask yourself how you felt about seeing it—since dreams are subjective, the emotions tied to any symbols will help give you a clue.

6. You have hidden emotions that need to be addressed 

Dr. Irwin says that dream images aren’t typically literal, but rather “a metaphor to draw your awareness to a feeling you are experiencing at the time of the dream.” What that means is that a spider in your dream could signify any number of feelings that your brain needs to process while you get some shut-eye. This is particularly true if you have a fear of spiders (*raises hand*), in which case they might represent “the presence of a creepy person in your life...or some other uncontrollable factor in your life.” Again, the significance of a spider in your dream has a lot to do with what’s going on in your life, and how you feel about the creatures. Irwin emphasizes that “context is everything” and people should consider dream symbols as an invitation to connect with their own (back-burner) feelings, as a means of release and healing.

7. General anxiety is making itself known

And on that note, clinical psychotherapist Dr. Laurel Steinberg agrees: A dream about spiders can just be pretty straightforward. “While they are typically small in size, spiders are so creepy (and crunchy!)...[they can] invade our personal space, or worse, crawl onto our bodies. For this reason, dreams about spiders are indicative of subconscious anxiety about feeling vulnerable and out-of-control of some aspect of our lives.” Sound familiar? Yep, more than one professional has a similar take on this dream symbol, which isn’t surprising—general anxiety is very common and it has been on the rise. Still, if it starts to interfere with your quality of life—by keeping you awake or giving you stressful dreams, for example—you should absolutely talk to someone about it.

What Does It Mean to Dream about Spiders Biting You?

Dreaming about being bit by any kind of bug is undeniably distressing, and if you have a fear of spiders this particular dream is even worse. That said—and putting the inherent creepiness aside—spiders in dreams could mean that your subconscious is trying to tell you something about your waking life and/or your overall mental health. Per Dr. Steinberg, “dreaming about spiders biting you could mean that you feel anxiety about something going on in real life. You may feel vulnerable and afraid of some elusive, spooky force and fear that it will get the best of you, and you will be left to deal with being bitten.” Don’t be too spooked, though—there’s a good chance that, after a little reflection, you'll be able to identify the real stressor and find ways to work through the negative feelings on your own, or with the help of a professional if necessary.

What Does It Mean to Dream about Killing Spiders?

Now, some good news: “Dreaming about killing spiders could mean that you feel a newfound surge of confidence to go after and annihilate your enemies or worst fears [and] are developing excitement to make big and powerful changes in your life,” says Dr. Steinberg. Depending on your attitude towards the creepy but helpful creatures, you might not want to go around killing spiders in real life; yet, when viewed as a subconscious manifestation of anxiety, killing the suckers in your dreams might mean you’re ready to rock.

Why Do I Keep Dreaming about Spiders?

If you’re being plagued by upsetting spider dreams on a regular basis, Dr. Steinberg says this could indicate that you actually have arachnophobia (to be honest, our skin is crawling, too) or that you feel ongoing anxiety about life—either generally or about some other specific and long-lasting fear. Again, it’s a good idea to seek professional help from a therapist for intrusive and persistent negative thoughts and images, be it in your dreams, your waking hours or both.

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