"If you wish to live and thrive, Let a spider run alive. " - Old English nursery rhyme.
I don't hide the fact that I don't like spiders. I'm practically terrified of them. That could be because I'm uneducated about them or the fact that some are extremely poisonous and I let my fear get in the way of finding out which ones are harmless or not. At this point, I truly don't know. However, what I do know is that spiders hold a place in myths and history across the world.
Christians see Spider Webs as traps. Like Flies, people become ensnared by vain works and become stuck fast in the webs. Spiders represent human fragility and the enticement of evil. Over 3,000 years ago, David was being pursued by King Saul and took refuge in a cave near Jerusalem. Afterwards, a spider came along and spun a web over the entrance. When Saul spotted the web, he sent his men away, stating that the web showed that no one could enter. Thanks to the spider, David's life was spared and went on to become King of Israel.
David wasn't the only who saved by a spider. Fourteen hundred years ago, Mohammed was fleeing from his enemies and also hid in a cave. It was then when an acacia tree sprang up from the ground and covered the cave. A wood-pigeon made a nest and a spider spun a web from the tree to the cave entrance. As a result, his enemies overlooked the cave and Mohammed escaped to become the Prophet of Islam.
Pretty much the only time a spider web is put up as a decoration is during Halloween. However, in Germany, Christians use them to decorate their Christmas trees. Why? They believe that on the day Christ was born, a spider realized what a special occasion it was and spun silver and gold webs on trees to show her faith and to glorify his birth.
According to Aboriginal traditions, spiders are an important Burnungku clan totem for the Rembarrnga/Kyne people in central Arnhem Land. In their webs, they are associated with a sacred rock on the clan's estate and the design is connected with a major regional ceremony. These spider totems provide a link with neighbouring clans who also use spider totems in their rituals.
You ever wonder why a spider has eight eyes? In the US, it is believed that when the Earthmaker finished creating the world, he looked for a creature to watch over it. He first appointed Turtle to oversee things, but his legs were so stubby that he could not see very far at all. Then, he appointed Crow/Raven to oversee the world. Crow could see far and wide but he constantly gave orders and never was silent for a single moment. So, he appointed Bear. Bear could stand on his hind legs and see well and could even climb trees so that he could see in every direction. However, Bear had a terrible temper, and soon frightened the whole of creation.
Then Earthmaker appointed Spider to watch over the world. Spider was without any passion, so no one feared her. Her voice was so small that only Earthmaker himself could hear her. Because she could climb, Spider was able to see far and wide. In the beginning, Spider had only two eyes like everyone else, but just to make sure that she could see everywhere, Earthmaker gave her six new eyes, one eye for each direction. Ever since, spiders have had eight eyes.
A strange and mysterious epidemic broke out in a small town called Taranto in southern Italy. Interesting enough, the only cure for this epidemic was dancing and music. Occurring every summer for three hundred years, this disease was thought to be caused by the bite of a large, hairy Wolf Spider which became known as a Tarantula.
In the 1600s, people discovered that these spiders were virtually harmless. Many then concluded that the whole phenomenon of Tarantism was simply an excuse far a wild party. However, it is now suspected that a spider was involved and the real culprit was a European relative of the Redback or Widow Spider.
As Europeans colonised the world, they saw even bigger and hairier spiders, and called them Tarantulas too. As a result, many large and hairy spiders are now commonly, but incorrectly, called Tarantulas.
I'm still not a fan of spiders but it's nice to learn something new about them.