Beatrice Bowles Spinner of Spider Secrets
At first, because Miss Muffet ran away when a spider sat down beside her in the nursery rhyme, I was scared of spiders. Then I read Charlotte’s Web and changed my mind.
Now as a writer, storyteller, and gardener, I’m fascinated by spiders’ crafty, beautiful webs and give thanks for all the good they do…and for the survival secrets they spin. Spiders have survived for more than 360 million years and they exist everywhere on Earth from sea level to cloud level. Spider silk remains the strongest, most flexible fabric of all. And now scientists claim that evolution happens in lateral as well as linear directions–like a web, that is!
Long lasting cultures from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas respect spiders as witty little teachers of children. In Cherokee, Hopi, and Native California traditions, children learn to listen for Spider Grandmother‘s wise little voice to guide them on the risky road of life. Spider stories connect children to their own inner seeds of goodness and wisdom, seeds that are always ready to sprout.
Since the human race has made such “a queer mess of the planet,” wrote EB White, author of Charlotte’s Web, spiders’ survival wisdom is sorely needed, perhaps more than ever before.
I loved fairy tales and nature myths as a child. Their defense of the sweetness of life against evil forces thrills me still. When my children loved hearing and reading stories in the same way, I became a storyteller.
At my first storytelling conference in New Mexico, Jose Rey Toledo, a Hopi-Tewa artist with long, white braids, stood unmoving as he told how Grandfather Sun and Spider Grandmother awoke from a dream and sang a song that brought the world into being. On a long, dangerous journey, Spider Grandmother led the way to three successive and evolving worlds in which first spiders and insects evolved into animals and then some animals turned into people. In this fourth world, Spider Grandmother still watches over us, whispering wisdom to guide us away from the four evils–fighting, hating, hoarding, and gambling–and toward happiness. With its vast perspective on nature and human nature, the story astonishes me still. Its timeless and loving wisdom leads us towards survival, and if ignored, towards destruction.
With Jose Rey Toledo’s permission, when telling the story to children, I remind them to listen for Spider Grandmother’s wise little voice, our spark of imagination.
My connection with Spider Grandmother deepened when publisher Malcolm Margolin (Heyday Books, News from Native California) introduced me to writer Darryl ‘Babe’ Wilson, PhD, from the ancient Achomawi culture in the Mount Shasta area. In the Achomawi story, Spider Grandmother and two her littlest children lead the way to survival through cooperation, imagination, and hard work. Then in other long-lasting cultures worldwide, I discovered more spider stories, and they inspired my first storybook, ‘Spider Secrets.’
My upcoming storybook, ‘Spider Grandmother’s Webs of Wonder’ (2010 online & print, late 2019) holds my favorite fairy tales and nature myths to tell and record and why I tell them–in schools and places near and far–from the Silk Road House in Berkeley, Marin Art & Garden Center, Filoli Garden in Woodside, San Francisco in Sintra, Portugal. On September 14, 2019, I am telling stories at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, New York City.
I hold a BA in English and an MFA in Writing for Children from Spalding University in Louisville, and belong to NSN’s Healing Story Alliance. I am a director of the Miranda Lux Foundation, a fellow of the Garden Conservancy and the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawai’i, and a Voting Member of the Grammy’s Recording Academy. I tell the first story on Audible.com’s series for children, ‘StoryParty.’
I loved faiiry tales and narure myths as a child. Their defense of the sweetness of life against evil forces thrills me still. When I became a teller of stories, at my first storytelling conference in New Mexico, Jose Rey Toledo, a Hopi-Tewa artist with long, white braids, told how Grandfather Sun and Spider Grandmother awoke form dreaming and brought the world into being with a song. Then on a long, dangerous journey, Spider Grandmother led the way to successive worlds in which spiders and insects evolved into animals and animals evolved into people. Spider Grandmother still whispers advice to warn young people away from the four evils-fighting, hating, hoarding, and gambling and toward the good.
This wise and witty story with its vast perspective on nature, evolution, and the trickiness of human nature astonishes me. Clearty, this hard-won wisdom points us towards survival and, if ignored, towards destruction.With Jose Rey Toledo’s permission, I tell the story to children on the risky road of life and remind them to listen for Spider Grandmother’s soft little voice My connection with Spider Grandmother deepened when publisher Malcolm Margolin (Heyday Books, News from Native California) introduced Darryl Babe Wilson, writer and teacher from the Achomawi people in the Mount Shasta of California. In the Achomawi story, Spider Grandmother and two her littlest children lead the way towards survival through cooperation, creativity, and hard work. Connections like these weave a web of wonder that grows ever wider and more amazing. Come in and explore stories of nature’s secrets for yourself. My first storybook, ‘Spider Secrets,’ offers five tales of wise and witty spiders from around the world.
My upcoming storybook, ‘Spider Grandmother’s Web of Wonders’ (Autumn, 2019) includes almost all the wonder tales I tell and why I tell them. I hold a BA in English and an MFA in Writing for Children from Spalding University in Louisville, and belong to NSN’s Healing Story Alliance, the Miranda Lux Foundation, the Garden Conservancy, and am a Voting Member of the Grammy’s Recording Academy. I tell the first story on Audible.com’s new series for children, StoryParty. In July 2019, I will perform at the Hans Christian Andersen Center in Central Park, NYC.