What Does It Mean To Dream of Spiders?

7 Min Read | By Nicholas Barber

Last Modified 14 May 2024   First Added 28 March 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

What does it mean to have a spider dream?

Creepy crawlies. Two words that perfectly sum up how millions of us feel about these tiny creatures that often live silently in the dark corners of our houses minding their own business. In dreams, spiders characterise our fears of what may suddenly materialise in our lives. They represent all the terrifying things that may unexpectedly scuttle out of the shadows.

Because dream symbolism is highly subjective, a spider in one person‘s dream may not mean the same thing as in another’s. According to dream analyst and author of the book Bird of Paradise: Taming the Unconscious to Bring Your Dreams to FruitionJane Teresa Anderson, the symbolism of a spider in a dream will depend on your personal associations with spiders. “If you had a particularly frightening experience with spiders when you were three for example, then a spider may call back to that,” she explains.

In this article, we explore what Anderson and other leading dream experts have to say about spider dreams.

The Dream:

There’s something in the room.

Something small. Something dangerous. Something that you can’t yet see.

Hairs prick up all over your body and a shiver of pure terror passes over you. Instinctively you sense your life is in danger.

Gingerly, you switch on the bedside light. There it is at the foot of the bed. A huge, hairy tarantula, as large as a dinner plate is slowly crawling up the sheet, advancing ever closer towards your face. You’re completely transfixed and can’t move a muscle to get away.

Fortunately, it’s only a dream – isn’t it?

Meaning of the Dream:

The meaning of dreams relies as much upon the interpretation of the dreamer as any other interpretation. But it helps to know how such things have been interpreted throughout history.

The spider, for example, plays many roles in dreams and not all of them are negative. Spiders are also thought to symbolise anxiety or protection. Psychologists such as Freud believed spiders symbolise the fear of a mother figure.  If they do appear in your dreams the meaning of the dream will depend upon your own attitude towards spiders in general.

Common takes on dreams about spiders:

From anxiously watching a spider crawling on top of you, to observing one spin an intricate web, we look at some of the more precise meanings of specific spider dreams below:

1. Dreams about tarantulas

Tarantulas’ unnerving reputation has arisen because of their comparatively large, hairy bodies and legs. The biggest tarantula leg span is 11 inches, so they are still pretty small in relation to humans.  As shown on IFLScience, tarantulas molt their exoskeletons as they grow. So, according to The Symbolism, dreaming of a tarantula could symbolise that you are going through, “a big growth spurt in your life.” This might be physical or emotional development, or just be a change in how you present yourself to the world.

If you ever dream of a large frightening spider, this could mean you need to connect to your inner self and discover the answers in order to overcome a problem. Dreaming of tarantulas is said to represent your own self as well as good luck. This dream indicates that you need to understand the beliefs, fears, and limiting beliefs that are stopping you from achieving your goals.

2. Dreams about a spider’s web

Spider silk is thirty times thinner than a human hair and very light, but do not let this fool you. It is the strongest fiber found in nature– Kay De Silva

Seeing a spider’s web in a dream connects to emotions that you feel stuck in a situation and it may represent the fact you can’t actually see what’s going on right in front of you. We usually associate spiders with what is known as the orb web (made in a wheel shape). Dreaming of a spider in the act of spinning a web has a much more positive connotation. In this case, the dream is said to imply that you’ll soon be appreciated because of your hard work.

If you get caught in a dream spider’s web, consider this a warning from your sleeping brain, says Jane Teresa Anderson in The Cut. “Spiders may come up in your dreams when you’ve got that sense like, I feel like I’m very stuck in something that I can’t get out of, or I feel like I’m maybe afraid of somebody,” she explains.

3. Dreaming about a spider crawling on you

Jung believed that a dreamer seeing spiders crawling on top of them is connected to the darker side of our personality, or our shadow personality. If you dream about a spider crawling on your body, it could mean you’re facing some kind of adversity that’s affecting your life negatively. It could also imply that a certain aspect of your life, including your projects or work ethic, is being affected by those people around you.

“Our dreams are helpful in showing us that however much we manage our lives and do the right kind of thing, we do have unconscious feelings and emotions,” according to Anderson. She reveals that spiders crawling on skin may have been especially common dream symbolism amid the coronavirus pandemic pandemic, when people were isolating at home and unable to get space from their family members or housemates.

4. Dreaming about killing a spider

Killing a spider in your dream signifies that you’re able to work yourself through the feeling of being trapped. If you kill multiple spiders in the dream, this is said to signify your extreme need for security and protection to the point where you may be isolating yourself from others.

Answering the Dream:

Recurring or particularly vivid dreams may not predict the future, but they can indicate a feeling of imbalance in the dreamer – an unexplored or purposefully ignored anxiety. As such, the best way to deal with dreams of spiders is to meditate on the questions that these dreams raise.

If you suffer from arachnophobia in real life then the origins of the spider dream can be associated with your own fear and to dream of seeing a spider indicates you may have anxieties about life.

Why could this be? The answer lies in our evolutionary past. Historically we were often surrounded by dangerously venomous spiders and this favoured our ancestors who would run a mile on seeing them. And it seems this fear has been passed on down the generations; a study by City University London found arachnophobia can run in the family. Out of 118 participants surveyed, the 75% who reported being afraid of spiders also reported having a family member who was afraid of spiders.

Notable appearances in popular culture:

The spider holds a special place in the public imagination as a creature that provokes a uniquely strong emotional reaction. If you’ve read or watched Lord Of the Rings you’ll never forget Shelob, a monsterous man-eating spider, described as “an evil thing in spider form.” Similarly, countless children have been brought to tears by Aragog, the giant spider in the second Harry Potter story.

Despite their generally negative portrayal, spiders are occasionally represented in our culture in a positive light. The 1952 children’s novel Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, is notable in its portrayal of the spider as a heroine rather than an object of horror. In the same vein, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach tells the tale of abused orphan James, who makes friends with fantastical characters such as Spider and Centipede after entering a magical peach.

However, perhaps the most positive representation of the spider in film and books is that of ‘your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman’. One of the greatest of superheroes, alter ego Peter Parker fights evil with his spider-related abilities, gained with a bite from a radioactive spider. These spider-powers include clinging to surfaces, superhuman strength and agility, and detecting danger with his “spider-sense.”

For more dream meanings, take a look at what being chased in your dream means, or what dreaming about the end of the world means. 

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