Here is the rest of my telling of the myth of Grandmother Spider. But of course, a good story never really ends. It lives on in our imagination and weaves its way through the plot lines of our lives and our dreams...
The world was very beautiful. But as the people lived and moved about, problems developed and needs arose. Far, far back in the mists of time, when people-eating monsters still roamed the earth, Kokyawuhti, Grandmother Spider helped the Hero Twins of many nations slay these monsters. Another time, almost as long ago, there was a long drought and the people were hungry. Garndmother Spider sent the hummingbird to show the people where to look for food.
And another time, Grandmother Spider taught the youth Tiyo how to work with the powers of the rain to encourage it to fall. Tiyo thought about many things. One of them was water. People need it to drink and grow their corn. But the rain was scant. Tiyo noticed that much of the rain that fell flowed into the Far-Far-Below River and down into the Underworld before it could be used by the people.
When Tiyo told his father that he planned to go to the Underworld, his father said, “No one knows much about that place. It might be too far.” But he helped Tiyo make a box from the trunk of a cottonwood tree so he could float on the water. Tiyo’s mother gave him food and bowl with the image of Grandmother Spider painted inside. His father gave him four prayer sticks and a handful of down from an eagle’s thigh. “Grandmother Spider will show you how to use this,” he said. And she did.
With the help and guidance of Kokyawuti, Grandmother Spider, Tiyo made his journey. Whenever a new ceremony has been required, Grandmother Spider has appeared to teach the people songs and prayers.
Even when the people forget the meaning of life and disregard the web that connects us all (and this has happened several times) Grandmother Spider comes to guide the good hearted into the next world.
In times of need, she emerges from a small, small hole in the ground or appears overhead, hanging from a slender thread.
Some say the world hangs by this thread.