Spiders are the focal point of many fears, stories, and mythologies of various peoples around the world and from different historical periods. They often symbolized patience, because of their hunting technique to build the web and wait for their lurking prey, as also symbolized the pain and ill will because of the toxicity of the venom of some of them.
The ability to build webs has also caused the association with the cosmological myths where it represents something or someone able to build itself its own world, with very similar myths in the West of Prometheus. The Moche culture of ancient Peru worshiped spiders. Even modern art has often depicted the spider figure with various symbolisms.
The spider is an animal which, because of its characteristics has stimulated the imagination of human beings, entering often with the characteristics of a legendary creature in the folklore and mythology of various peoples. Among the many claims, in particular, stand out the myth of Arachne and the phenomenon of tarantism. As the snake, even the spider alternates a positive to a negative symbology, depending on how its characteristics have been interpreted from time to time.
One of the things that most impressed the human imagination is the hard work of the spider, along with extreme precision technique, which demonstrates that animal in weaving their own cloth. This leads to many myths (primarily of the Greek Arachne), where these characteristics become the center or at least the inspiration of the narrative and often the core of the meaning of morality.
Outside of the culture and mythology, the spider is seen by many people as being a creator which gave rise to the world or as a benefactor of mankind for having donated the fire (in this case performing the same function of Greek Prometheus although in a completely independent way).
Spiders are revered in the Micronesian Nauru islands and are the most typical example of creator spider in its two aspects of Ancient Spider. In the popular version in the Gilbert Islands, in particular, Ancient Spider created the heaven and the earth by a shell. They call it the myth of woman-spider Biliku, who is adored in the Andaman islands both as a creator and as a bearer of the fire. Among the Hopi of North America, a very similar creature called Kohyangwuti helps Sokutnang to create humans.
In India however, while not being an animal creator, the spider is also tied to the universe in a very tight way. The perfection of its web is in fact, the cosmic order as opposed to chaos. The spider, in this case, is, therefore, a symbol. The link of spiders with the myth of the fire is more prevalent and attested than the origin of the Universe.
In African mythology, a man-spider named Yiyi brings fire from heaven to men, while in North America the Cherokee narrate so adventurous as Kananeski Amaiyehi (a water spider) has managed ingeniously to carry fire in a bowl.
At different populations, the spider, like many other animals is taken as an example as a totem for its characteristics. The case better attested and documented is that of the Australian Aborigines, for whom the spider urges us not to be greedy, demonstrating with its canvas that the necessary objects can also be beautiful and artistic.
Even in shamanism, the spider can be a totem, a spirit-guide sage who temporarily left the world of the dead, who appears in dreams of a shaman apprentice. In China, people see a spider instead has a meaning of good luck. In some circumstances, for example, it can mean the return of the prodigal son.
In different cultures, the spider in addition to being an animal on the borderline between reality and imagination is also a creature which they attributed magical powers. According to the cases, it, therefore, becomes a shaman, a healer, a door and so on.
In particular, the miraculous power of the spider is documented in some recipes of folk medicine. According to one of these, for example, to recover from a fever which is actually a symptom, not a disease, people should crack a nut and tie themselves with a live spider, wearing the amulet for 48 hours. According to another, to eat a spider by a patient (provided this is done without his knowledge) helps heal from malaria. A similar practice was also recommended for infants and women who, instead of quinine, were invited to take cobwebs to avoid infection to their child during the feeding.
In general, amulets shaped like a spider or derived from it are believed to be particularly effective. In apothecary jars in use at one time, it was indeed an inevitable ingredient along with several others the spider web. Moreover, according to the alchemist Crollius, killing a spider from which you have been bitten, smashing it on the wound, would be a foolproof antidote against the poison that entered the blood from the animal itself, in accordance with the general theory of Athanasius Kircher (must be, however, the same spider, not of another example of its species).
Quite positive is however, the magic wrought by spiders. As skilled surgeons, these creatures mend the torn skin, giving it again tone and life. The image of spiders that cover a human body is here in contrast with the horror that, normally, such a view should arouse with all intent to weave the web as a precise surgical thread.
Magical attributes similar to those of folk medicine are also found outside of folklore, especially in literature and films. The negative spider symbology is attested in every continent, although it is more entrenched in the West and in the populations of deserts. It derives, probably, from the atavistic fear and therefore prehistoric man against that creature.
The knowledge that its bite as well as being often particularly painful is also more poisonous (if not fatal), should soon have justified an immediate association between the unconscious and the appearance of the animal predator and consequences the bite itself. This vision, initially instinctive and psychological gradually becomes an integral part of the various aspects of culture among peoples who share it. Here then the spider acquires its character and its role in mythology and religion.
Many populations, for example, practice rituals specific to heal from the spider venom or to quench or remove the creature, seen in this case as a semi-gods or a true gods and own. It fits in this context the well-known phenomenon of tarantism. Over time, in other areas, the spider makes its appearance, more or less a protagonist, from art, literature, and music, to the more recent claims in film and television.
Stories, myths, and legends about giant spiders fit into the broader context of folklore related to monsters theriomorphic (or zoomorphic) suffering from gigantism. It is, therefore, in general, of arachnids featured similar or identical to those of species existing in nature but from abnormal size. The fear atavistic against spiders is thus amplified by their huge and portentous growth.
Stories about the giant spiders are attested in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. In a Japanese legend, for example, Raikō and his gang, lured into a cave by the appearance of a beautiful woman, they find themselves caught up in the cloth woven from a magical giant spider; Raikō after praying Shoki him away demons gets rid of the monster with a sword.
A legend in Burma, which originated in the city of Pindaya (whose symbol, pin-gu, means spider) instead tells of the seven princesses who were bathing in the lake Boutalake and took refuge in a cave because it surprises by a storm. Here they were imprisoned by a giant spider and then freed by a prince who had heard their pleas and killed the monster.
Perhaps the most famous myth of the transformation from human to spider by a deity is that of the hapless Arachne, daughter of Idmon, who dared challenge the goddess Athena to a weaving contest, winning it. The goddess, angry, turned Arachne into a spider, condemning her to weave cloth for a lifetime. The myth, repeated in numerous works of art and literature, also appears in the Divine Comedy of Dante:
Often due to its negative traits (real or supposed), the spider is able to evoke eerie and mysterious atmosphere with his presence alone. In this case, therefore, is not a moral value or narrative, nor is a real character, as happens in myths, folktales, and fairy tales. It is instead a simple scenic element.
The trickster spider is documented only in some regions of West Africa. Among all, they stand out the stories related to the figure of Anansi, the so-called Anansesem or stories of spiders, and the myth of Agni The spider girl and Ceiba. The only statement outside the African area is in North America, from the tribe of Oglada Dakota. The spider, as well as a symbol on the physical plane, also has on the spiritual, that is, linked to the human spirit, to the world beyond, or, more generally, to the worlds that exist parallel to the habitat of the man.
In the popular culture of Europe (Western and Eastern), there is a widespread belief that the soul during sleep, can come and go from the mouth in the form of a spider. In pre-Columbian mythology, it is rather frequently the link between the spider and death, not in a negative sense (as it usually means the Western culture). This creature, in fact, is seen as one psychopomp, even in an indirect way. The population of the Chibcha, for example, believes that the dead cross the lake of death on boats made of cobwebs.
The spider, therefore, as a guide for the hereafter, acquires the function of bridge or port, that is the intermediary between worlds that, normally, they are not communicating with each other. The web, in particular, is in the folklore of South America the means to rise from the lower to the higher worlds.
In some cases, the link between the spider and the hereafter implies that such a creature is also wise and be able to advise the man, as well as would a deceased. In shamanism, for example, it may happen that the spirit-inner guidance (linked to the world of the dead) is present in vision apprentice shaman in the form of a spider. A theme, therefore, closely linked to the totemic spider.
Weaving brings together different realities on the cosmological plane, but also create, let out from its substance, as its canvas is the spider building by itself. In the image of the web, there would thus among many peoples a coexistence of archetypes of the creation, the bridge, and the fate.
The web, however, also assumes the meanings more pragmatic although always linked to the perfect architecture of its realization. Among these, we remember the symbolism associated with the dialectic, based on the idea that words can trap the caller as the spider its prey.
The ordered structure of the web draws, among some peoples, the equally ordered of universe understood as Cosmo opposed to Chaos. The spider, therefore, appears as the architect of the world, while his work (the painting) a metaphor of creation. At many populations of ' Central Africa and Southern, Divinity (Mulungu), after living on Earth, seeing that the men killed his servants, and set fire to the bush, he retired in the heavenly paradise along the giant spider webs that seem to hang from the sky in the foggy morning.
The web is not always connected with the idea of creation, but also to the destruction, even in the sense cathartic. One example is in the beliefs of the Hopi, according to which the appearance of a colossal spider web that will cover all the countries, will be one of the nine signs of the end of the world. The weaving spider, according to the folklore of the interpretation given by various anthropologists, is closely linked to the idea of the cast, the life that is spun from birth to death.
In Norse mythology, the web is associated with Holda and Norns (roughly the equivalent of Fates Greek). At different peoples, in addition, Moon is often depicted as a huge spider. This happens, for example, in some representations of the lunar goddess Yxchel, revered by the Maya in Yucatan. Often portrayed next to a frame, it is in fact associated with the spider spinning its web under the name Yxcanleom.
A few scientific foundation has, finally, the old folk used to bind up the wounds with cobwebs to prevent infections. The spider's web, in fact, has antibacterial properties. Since ancient times, it is known to the metaphor of the web to evoke a place (also figuratively) long abandoned, disused, forgotten. The spider also has a role of some importance in Islam for at least two reasons.
First, it gives its name to the twenty-ninth Sura of the Koran. In it, it is a spider's web that is mentioned, to compare to its fragility the consistency of the allies that the unbelievers may have if they asked for help from other than God. Moreover, a widespread tradition, when Muhammad, fleeing from Mecca, hid, together with Abū Bakr, in a cave, a spider has built miraculously its web in a few moments at the mouth of the cavity, so that the trackers believed that from there she had not passed anyone and looked elsewhere their own research.
The spiders like tarantulas are considered a culinary delicacy in Cambodia, and by Piaroa Indians of Southern Venezuela. The only living species of the primitive order Mesothelae belong to the liphistiidae family, only found in Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. Most of the structure of the webs in the form of tunnels in door-trap woven by liphistiidae have the shape of silk tunnel camouflaged, characterized by a second door-trap employed as an emergency exit.
Species of the genus liphistius secrete silk threads around the opening of the door trap in order to readily realize the approach of a prey, while the species of the genus heptathela not wasted all this silk and rely instead on their own sensors incorporated into legs to notice immediately approach of a potential prey. The spiders are the only kind of heptathela, among Mesothelae, not to possess poison glands.
Also known as hunter spiders, have considerable size: the larger males of Heteropoda maxima reach the body length in feet stretches of 30 cm. Despite the size bite humans only when provoked and generally bite after a couple of days of swelling and redness, heals. Sometimes confused with tarantulas in Australian territory as it combines the two families, the huntsman spider he distinguished by having the front legs extended forward like crabs.
The color varies from brown to gray, with the exception of Micrommata virescence of a strong green color, which allows them to lurk lurking without being too visible. Their legs are covered by thorns rather prominent, but the rest of the body is quite smooth. The worst bites, that cause nausea and vomiting as well as a large swelling, inflict them those belonging to the Neosparassus genus. The spiders like Heteropoda have a brownish white mottled.
As adults, the spiders do not build webs-hunters, but hunting for food: their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates. They are able to walk on their legs extremely quickly and climb on walls and ceilings. In an attempt to grab or try to hold on to squirm convulsively (hence the name) and, without warning, he bites, especially if there is a female.
The males of heteropoda venatoria exhibit a curious mating ritual who just perceive particular pheromones emitted by the female, anchor themselves where they are and with the legs and the abdomen emit vibrations on the ground with rhythm such that if the female is concerned coupling, will approach and may become available to the male.
There are spiders that live mainly in forests, and piles of wood, but also like warehouses and homes uncrowded. He has contributed much to the dissemination hiding among the piles of firewood that ships carry around the world. In the case of rain, it is not uncommon seeing them enter the house. They were found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, in Florida, and Hawaii and in other tropical and sub-tropical regions. In addition, there are also in colder areas such as England, Sweden, and Wales.
Medusa spider has a body and tentacles. Inside it contains a very irritating substance that comes off after contact with warm skin or fresh water. The poison comes off even when the jellyfish is dead, so it is important to be clear that it should not be touched with unprotected hands, even if it seems not to be alive. The usual jellyfish species in Spain are not dangerous, the most annoying being the Portuguese caravel. Medusa spider bite more than itching produces an irritation and intense itch in the zone of contact. Later inflammation and pain appear. Later, vesicle-like lesions. Allergic reactions are rare, but possible.