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Among the Hopi people the Spider is thought as a powerful spirit, and can be referred to as Spider Woman, Old Woman, Spider Lady, Grandmother or Grandma. Her Hopi name is Gogyeng Sowuhti, and she appears either as an old lady or small spider. She is regarded as living medicine, often gives medical advice, aids people in danger, and is kind and can cope with any situation. The spider also is considered a trickster because she is frequently in creation myths.

According to other Hopi legends the Spider Woman is a most important goddess named Kokyanwuuti who plays an essential part in the tribe's emergence creation story. Likewise she can be called Grandmother and is said to have taught the people weaving among other things.

In Native American creation myths there is occasionally an association with the underworld. The underworld in these myths is associated with the womb, a place in Mother Earth where humans, plants, and animals are conceived and gradually mature from a seed-like state in darkness until they are ready to be born through a sacred opening, such as represented by the sipapu in the Hopi kivas. In the underworld it is believed that people undergo a developmental process which prepares them for a new life under the strong light of the sun. Such myths are especially important within agricultural tribes, although other tribes of the Apache and Navajo have similar myths, who have ceremonies celebrating curing being significant of new beginnings.

Occasionally the characters in the emergence stories are animals. Thus these stories are similar to myths of other aboriginal groups representing a mythical time when animals and humans lived together or were in some sense the same. Usually within these stories of people emerging from the underworld they were taught or helped by some representative of the supreme being often a female or male deity. In case of the Hopi people the Spider Woman symbolizes a midwife-like goddess. A.G.H.


Kavi. <>.
Leeming, David, Jake Page. The Mythology of Native North America. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 1998. pp. 89-90
Sipapu. <>.
Taylor, Colin F. Native American Myths and Legends. New York. Smithmark. 1994. p. 31

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