Arachne was a mortal, gifted in weaving, who boasted that her work was superior to that of the goddess Athena, patroness of crafts. Incensed, the goddess, disguised as an old woman, appeared to Arachne and counseled her to repent her pride and acknowledge Athena’s greater skill. Arachne replied that if the goddess was so accomplished, she should descend from Olympus and challenge her to a contest, whereupon Athena revealed herself and the competition was on.
Here the versions of the myth differ; in some, Athena emerges as the victor, and punishes Arachne for her insolence. In others, Athena loses, and is enraged, seeking vengeance on Arachne. In all versions, Arachne is transformed into a spider, either after hanging herself, disconsolate at her loss, or as punishment by the wrathful goddess. In any case, Arachne has given her name to the taxonomic class Arachnida, which includes spiders.
Astrologically, Arachne represents intricate, complicated interactions, especially ones in which we become enmeshed or entangled; the “web we weave” when we deceive others; the complex, thorny or convoluted ways in which we relate to others; layered meanings and entrapment. It can also indicate involvement with weaving, knitting, or crafts such as macramé, lacework or crochet, and contact with spiders.