The Great Mother Goddess Spider Woman is (in many First Nations tales) presented the great creator: she gives life to humanity.

Spider Woman is present in many American First Nations narratives: she is central to Navaho and Hopi myths in her role as the spinner of tales, the weaver of lives, and as the Wise Woman. A. In other tales Spider Woman is a teacher of survival skills: creating thread, spinning, weaving and creating clay and planting of corn.

Clay and wooden disks Canadian First Nations

Clay disks used for spinning: Canadian Museum of Civilisation, Ottawa. (Image: Janice Jones, 1993)

The disks were incised with patterns so that when the disk spins it becomes mesmerising, and  – with the songs that accompany spinning – this induces a trance in which the spinner becomes in touch with the spirit world.  The spinning disks therefore take on a power associated with their purpose – they become part of Spider Woman teachings, as women use the tools to create and share the wisdom of Spider Woman.