Spider Basket, detail, 1990, Elsie Holiday, ET513.B-17
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Spider Woman Stories

Na'ashjé’ii Asdzáán (Spider Woman) was the first to weave the web of the universe. She is a teacher, a helper, and among the most important of Diné (Navajo) deities. Spider Woman taught the Diné to weave on a loom and she spread the teachings of the Hózhǫ́ǫ́jí (Blessing Way). Spider Woman was the first deity to help the Hero Twins as they journeyed to see their father, Jóhonaaʼéí (Sun Carrier). She gave them songs, prayers, and the living eagle feather which protected them not only from the dangers of the world, but from the life-threatening tests posed by Sun Carrier. When the twins entered her home at midday, she used her web to quickly cause the sun to set, demonstrating that her power rivaled Sun Carrier’s. She is a reminder that help can come from unexpected sources, even a tiny being like a spider. The Diné use Spider Woman’s songs and prayers in Naayée’ k’egho (Protection Way) ceremonies.