Reconnecting and Reweaving the Web of Life with Threads of Love

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Lessons from the Spider Grandmothers

By Constance Washburn

Singing her song and weaving the Web of Life, Grandmother Spider continued with her work. The Sky World filled with light and life as her creative process unfolded. As the stars, suns and planets prepared to give birth to their children, Grandmother Spider spun her cord even longer, so that all of the newly born could be included in the Web of Life. Grandmother Spider continues to weave the Web of Life throughout every cycle of creation.every Creature Being who has ever lived knows her song and dance as the weaver of the Web of Life. (from The Web of Life by Spider – Taino Ti)

(Stories of Grandmother Spider are found in many Native American cultures. In some she weaves the Universe and the web of life and in others she teaches humans to weave and weaves webs to hold them safe.)

On September 11th, 2018 I evacuated my home because of a fire on Mt. Barnabe in Lagunitas CA. From my garden, I had watched the flames reach up over the tops of the trees on the ridge of the mountain. Thanks to the Marin firefighters no houses burned in my community that day, but thousands of other Californians have not been so lucky.

Mt. Barnabe 4 months post burn; the grass is much greener in the burnt area. This whole hillside was burnt black and wrapped in spider webs in September.

About 10 days after the fire I hiked up Mt. Barnabe as I often do and I was curious to see the burnt area. Over 100 acres had burned and black charred grasses and coyote bush covered the hill sides. It was getting late and the sun was low in the sky and as I walked past one section of burnt hillside I noticed the sun shimmering on spiderwebs in the blackened grass. I bent down to look more closely at the beautiful webs and from that angle I could see the sun glittering on thousands more strands of spider silk all around me. As I continued to walk along the burnt area I could see that acres and acres of spiderwebs covered the whole of the burnt hillsides. It was so gorgeous and awe inspiring to see the work of the Spider Grandmothers. They had woven their webs, it felt to me, like a protective network of light and love to help the plants, the animals, and indeed the whole mountainside heal.

I am a weaver, not one who weaves on a loom with actual threads but a Weaver who works to re-weave communities together and weave people back into Earth and the web of life. It is something I have done all my life in one way or another. Currently I am on the Core Team of the Work That Reconnects Network Weavers. Our mission is to help weave together a global network of Work That Reconnects facilitators and community members for mutual support, for the evolution of the Work, and to help grow the Work so it can better serve a world that so needs what it has to offer in this planet time.

Network Weaving is an art form and a skill.

Network Weaving is an art form and a skill and there are many books and articles written on the topic (see list below). It is sacred work as the Spider Grandmothers show us and it is how the web of life is created and maintained.

“Networks are the only form of organization used by living systems on this planet. These networks result from self-organization, where individuals or species recognize their interdependence and organize in ways that support the diversity and viability of all. Networks create the conditions for emergence, which is how Life changes.”Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, “Lifecycle of Emergence: Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale,”

The web of life is getting dangerously frayed and torn apart by our Business as Usual industrial growth society. As a result our nervous systems are on high alert, and our souls are crying out for connection and are longing to be rewoven back into the web, our communities and our planet. Network weavers are needed who can learn from the Spider Grandmothers how re-weave the web, darn the holes, and create the new networks of communities that will co-create the future we want for our grandchildren.

The threads of the web are made of our love for the world, and we grow our love for ourselves, each other, and the world through our connections. The Work That Reconnects helps people connect to themselves, to to each other,, and to their love and passion for the world. The Work That Reconnects facilitators and community members are weavers like the Spider Grandmothers,, building nets of protection, love, and connection.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”  Rumi

We can all be weaversThere are many ways to participate in the Great Turning and the re-weaving of the frayed edges of the web of life and the networks we need to survive on our planet home. Gardeners do it by feeding the soil and the networks of mycelium so essential for growing healthy food. Outdoor educators do it by reconnecting children with nature so they learn to love the Earth and care for Her. Therapists do it by helping people love and reconnect to themselves and the support networks of their communities. Naturalists do it by re-weaving eco-systems. Social Justice activists do it by weaving webs of connection across politics, class, and race. Green and ethical businesses do it by providing goods and services that connect producers and conscious consumers.  Network Weavers do it by linking together people and organizations in a living system to support emergence.

We can learn from the Spider Grandmothers and from the vast living system of Gaia herself how to support life, and then consciously choose to participate in weaving the safety nets, the support networks, and the ropes of connection and love that will keep our communities and the web of life together in hard times. Life will continue with or without us humans. We have the ability to support life for future generations, not just destroy it.  

We also can all help weave connections within the living system that is the Work That Reconnects Network. We can link people and organizations together that have similar interests, hold WTR practice groups or book clubs, contribute articles to Deep Times journal, offer a webinar or course on what you love in the Work That Reconnects, introduce the Work to your local environmental club, PTA or senior group, and refer people to, encouraging them to sign up for our newsletter and attend events listed there.

Around the globe there are WTR facilitators and those inspired by the work of Joanna Macy who are longing to reconnect and become more aware of each other and be inter-connected. We are weaving an international WTR Network of people and organizations that support life, build resilience, and share the gifts of the Work with their communities.

I have faith in the self-organizing power and possibilities of the web of life.

I visualize that huge mountainside covered with spider webs made by thousands of tiny spiders, and I have faith in the self-organizing power and possibilities of the web of life. The nets of light and love created by those spiders were so beautiful and so expansive. Humans can relearn that we too can actively weave webs of creativity and compassion. If we each move towards life and connection, and then do what we love no matter how small, then together we can help reweave the web that will hold life on this precious planet on into the future.  

Resources for Network Weaving:

Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving by Valdis Krebs and June Holley

Working Wikily

Enlivening Edge

Pioneers in Justice -building networks and movements for social change

Using Emergence to Take Social Innovations to Scale – Margaret Wheatley

Constance Washburn is an activist, educator, director and facilitator, and a student of the Work That Reconnects since 1991, attending many intensives with Joanna Macy. Along with Molly Brown, co-author of Coming Back to Life, she has lead WTR retreats and workshops in Northern California since 2013. Constance is a founding member of the Elders Action Network, a Buddhist practitioner since 1968, and a Community Dharma Leader.

4 thoughts on “Reconnecting and Reweaving the Web of Life with Threads of Love

  1. I love this Constance! The image of the spider webs healing the burnt mountainside will forever be with me. Those old Indigenous stories have so much embedded wisdom.

  2. Thank you, Constance. I was just wondering last week about the CA fires. Your experience on that amazing burnt hillside amid the light and the industry of the precious spiders doing what they can – for me – magic.

    AND I am, again, remembering my explosion of deep joy 50 years ago, contemplating a New Hampshire meadow offering acres of dandelion fluff glowing in early sunset light.
    Yours is another never to be forgotten ‘glory’ story.

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  4. I really did enjoy this article “Reconnecting and Reweaving the Web of Life With Threads of Love”.

    For years, I have looked for a definition for the word “web” that fitted what I wanted to convey to a team of people I hope to one day have the opportunity to work with.

    I believed that a web was a network. I wanted to prove that connecting with people for a good cause can be called a “web”. You just proved that to me. Like the World Wide Web. But people often think of computers when you use the word ‘web’.

    I hope I read and understood your writing correctly, and I hope I explained it correctly to you. I am not a writer, as you can see, but I really wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your writing.

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