SPIDERS >> Deceit
Spiders we know chiefly as spinners of webs, sometimes with much apparent beauty, the purpose of which is to ensnare other insects which they may devour. By long threads of webs, also, spiders sail in the air sometimes considerable distances.
In Swedenborg’s Diary is the following account of men who appeared like spiders in the spiritual world:
There was seen a spider’s thread and web, which reached up on high into the interior heaven; this thread was drawn down, and there followed thence a diabolical spirit, who appeared before angelic sight like a great and horrid spider. . . . It was then told and shown who those are; namely, that they are those who learn the arts of raising themselves towards the interior heaven, which is done especially by the habit of entering into the feelings of others, and almost absorbing them, even so far as to think as they do. Especially do they learn truths of faith and learn to enter into the affection of truth, by holding the thoughts long in them, but this always with the intent to deceive, make sport of, and rule; thus it is full of cunning, deceit, and malice. By such things they insinuate themselves among the angels of heaven. . . .
The angels said that sometimes they are observed, and that they sit in corners, and sometimes appear and sometimes do not appear; and that they cannot be removed before the time of their casting down has come. (Spiritual Diary #4735–37)
A spider appeared, dropping down from heaven by a spider’s thread. The form and the slipping down were altogether like a spider. At first it appeared small, and was able to let itself down by the thread, and also raise itself up; it was borne to the right, and also there wished to draw itself up towards heaven; but he could not, because thus who and what he was was detected. Others said that he appeared to them as a man. It was said by angels that he was from the third heaven, and that such are they who have long been poisoners, or assassins, and practiced such things with cunning and deceit; but afterwards seemed to repent, thinking of heaven, and also believing, and externally practicing piety; these, when in this latter state, are elevated into heaven; but still their inner quality is there disclosed; for their interiors are more and more exposed; and so they cast themselves down thence, and appear like spiders. (Spiritual Diary #4889)
I have seen many, who appeared like spiders which let themselves down by threads, who were cast down from heaven. Their affections thus appeared. They were women who in speech, gestures, and appearance seemed pious and devout, but inwardly overflowed with adulteries, thefts, and every malice and deceit; thus their interiors were full of poisons. (Spiritual Diary #5199) “They weave the spider’s web,” is said of evil men, who by treachery and craft seduce others in spiritual affairs. . . . Their treacherous falsities are signified by the spider’s web which they are said to weave. (Arcana Coelestia #581)
The web of the spider bears some resemblance to the silkworm’s thread; and, representatively, they both are spun from knowledge of heaven or heavenly good. But the spider spins it from her abdomen, with no care for it but to catch those who can be deceived by it; while the silkworm spins lovingly from her mouth, from sincere desire to become heavenly herself. Flies are much like insect mice, in their love for pleasant frivolities; and the crafty spiders in their beautiful webs, zealously condemning the flies for evils much lighter than their own fierce lusts, are not unlike insect cats.
Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875