THE SPIDER AND THE GODDESS
The legend of Arachne and the spider, is interesting and hides a secret. Arachne was a young woman. A mortal. She was very good at weaving. So good, that she challenged Athena (the Greek goddess of weaving, war, strategy, wisdom, art and craft) to a weaving contest.
There are slightly different versions of the story, but in all of them Athena was apparently angry with Arachne's arrogance, but she still rose to the challenge. In the contest Arachne wove a tapestry that depicted the corruption of the gods – particularly Zeus's (the boss–god's) abuse of women.
This enraged the gods even more, and Arachne was immediately struck dead. But Athena pitied her and brought her back to life – as a spider. To this day, spiders bear the name Arachnid.
And that is the end of the story. Or is it?
The legend of the young woman who challenged the authority of the patriarchal hierarchy, using just her creativity, is a universal and timeless tale, as relevant today as it was in ancient Greece. If we, the current generation, take up the story, we have the ability to tell the next chapter.
There's also an interesting subtext to this story. A secret message. Why would Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy anger so easily and kill a girl and then cast a spell on her? Perhaps the anger was an act, part of a clever subterfuge. The Athena archetype martyred Arachne, and in doing so added her to the lexicon of legend. When she turned Arachne into a spider, perhaps she had the long term plan to immortalise the symbol of Arachne and keep her present and active in our minds – for all time.
This is just one example of how participants, at the Cult of Signs Workshops, have been entering the realm of myth and imagination, and questioning the existing cultural narratives. At the workshops we discuss, remix and reconnect symbols and archetypal imagery. Then through our art we invent our own, more relevant, narratives, symbols and creative currents. We Occupy the Archetypes!
Mark Angelo Harrison (graphic artist of Spiral Tribe, SP23 and Cult of Signs) has been hosting Occupy the Archetypes workshops for the past 3 months in Berlin. The next Berlin workshop will be on Thursday the 19/10/17, then the workshop goes to Portugal for 3 days. Details below.