“If that you would live and thrive, Let the spider run alive.“
You should follow the above rule, unless a freak hurricane dumps deadly spiders on the streets of Los Angeles. A “Spidernado” would be much more frightening than Sharknado, because spiders really do sometimes fall from the sky (sharks don’t … it’s just a silly story)! However, the old folk saying above does not apply to black widow spiders or brown recluse spiders … if you see one of those, smash ’em flatter ‘n a flitter in the flutter of an eyelash.
Many folks are totally unnerved by spiders, but I don’t share that phobia. Mostly, I find them interesting to watch (although, I admit, I prefer to watch from a distance). Surprisingly, even with their “ick factor” there are almost as many superstitions about spiders as being good omens as there are about them being bad omens. The quote above probably dates from Medieval times, when folks began to realize that spiders eat flies, which lessens the spread of disease.
I often tell funny folktales in schools about Anansi the Spider, who is an African trickster, and notice that some kids just can’t get over the fact that the main character is a spider. Y’all aren’t gonna tell me that you are scared of an itty-bitty old spider are you? Neither am I, unless it surprises me. EEK!
Oh, wait … that’s just a banana spider eating a pear (technically she is a “golden silk orb-weaver”). She won’t hurt you, and she spins a lovely web… it usually looks as if it has a zipper woven right down the middle. Let me tell you a few of the superstitions surrounding spiders, and perhaps you will feel differently about them (or not).
- If you see a spider hard at work spinning a web, your own hard work will soon pay off. So take a walk today and watch for spiders spinning (or check out the windows at my house, where tiny spiders are “decorating” for Halloween year-round).
- “Kill a spider, bad luck yours will be …until of flies you’ve swatted fifty-three.” You don’t want to go to that much work just to smash a spider, do you?
- If a spinner or weaver kills a spider, it causes their work to be faulty. I was told this when I first began spinning wool into thread on my spinning wheel and weaving it into cloth. I don’t know if abstaining from killing spiders has helped me make better product, but more than one spider has “taken a wild ride” when it got on my wheel while I was spinning.
- If a spider crawls in your pocket it is a sign you will always have money. In fact, there was a time when people thought that if you kept a live spider in your purse it would attract money. I’m not sure about that, but I’m positive I don’t want to test the theory. In Roman times, people wore spider amulets to attract good business deals, so let’s try jewelry instead, shall we?
- Small red spiders in particular are known as ‘money spiders’ and killing one is considered bad luck which can cause financial loss. A look at my finances will tell you that I have never even seen a small red spider!
- “A spider in the morning is a sign of sorrow;
A spider at noon brings worry for tomorrow;
A spider in the afternoon is a sign of a gift;
But a spider in the evening will all hopes uplift.”
This just proves that timing is everything!
- If a spider walks across your clothing, you will soon get a new set of clothes. First, of course, he has to walk into your pocket so you have money to go to the mall.
- If a spider builds its web across your door, you can expect company. So, don’t forget to empty the litterbox and make the beds.
- A spider dropping on your face is supposed to be very lucky. Probably not lucky for the spider, though. Remember that I don’t like surprises!
- If one dreams of cleaning the spider webs from the house, it signifies a change in habitation.
- If you dream of the actual spiders, you will soon lose money or something precious.
- Stepping on a spider will cause it to rain. This one isn’t true, for sure, so don’t go smashing spiders hoping to end the Texas drought. Wash and wax your car instead. If that doesn’t work, at least you will have a pretty ride.
- If a black spider comes into the house, it is a sure sign of death. For the spider, certainly.
I’ve heard old folks tell me that it was bad luck to clear out cobwebs, because a spider web saved the baby Jesus from Herod’s soldiers as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph hid in a cave. The legend goes that a spider spun a web over the entrance, making it look as if no one had entered the cave for a long time, so the soldiers didn’t go inside. The same story is told about King David and about Muhammad … just so you know … spiders are ecumenical.
I noticed a bit of “folk medicine” about spiders and their webs that totally grossed me out. Try it if you would like, but it isn’t for me:
- “Eat a live spider in a pat of butter for anyone fearing an attack of jaundice.” I’ve never had jaundice, so I don’t know if it would be worth doing this. Tell me about it, if you have tried it.
- “A spider eaten in an apple or in jam or treacle will ward off fever.” I’ll take acetaminophen instead, thank you.
- Spider webs have been used for wound dressings since the first century A.D. However, you can give me Neosporin and a Band-aid!
If you are afraid of spiders, don’t worry. There is not going to be a “Spidernado.” Live, and let live … and let those spiders go about their business.
Remember the words of a storytelling friend of mine, the renowned Elizabeth Ellis, who tells a lovely story of how, in the long ago time, Grandmother Spider stitched the earth and the sky together so our world wouldn’t fall apart. She cautions:
“If you see a spider, do not kill it. It is only doing the work of all small things … the work that holds the world together.”