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 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.
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 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 certified hypnotherapist and dream expert 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.” (Plus, no one is going anywhere these days anyway, so we’d say that’s 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, LMFT, 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 a spider in your dream 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 a fear of being petrified by COVID, finances, 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 and Columbia University faculty member 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 since the pandemic struck. That said, 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.