Spiders: A Love/Hate Relationship

spiderHalloween is over and it’s time to remove the giant spider you put on your lawn to keep squeamish trick or treaters away, so let’s talk about how people feel about them.  We seem to have one of two reactions when we see a spider: fascination or fear.

One of my friends shrieked and fell off her chair when a spider dropped from the ceiling near her. But this morning I saved a spider from drowning in the sink. I picked it up (on a sheet of paper, I don’t want to feel it’s creepy legs) and moved it to where it can live under the couch, happily catching dust mites. Why the difference?

Mom taught me that spiders are good because they eat mosquitos and flies. Unless it was a Black Widow (She sprayed poison on those) she would catch and release problem indoor spiders.

And Mom’s not the only one, it turns out many cultures both admire spiders and some attempt to spare them the boot heel.

The following are some of the world’s attitudes toward spiders, with those most pertinent to a blog on immortality first:

The Bhil and Mat people of India- Spiders contain the spirits of their ancestors, particularly those living in their houses.

The Chibchas of South America- souls of the dead must use the webs of Raft Spiders to cross over a river into the land of the dead.

spider

Besnier.m assumed via Wikimedia Commons

Italy- The garden spider Araneus diadematus is admired for the white cross on it’s back.

USA and England- I’ve never heard this, but apparently this is a saying here:

If you wish to live and thrive
let a spider run alive.

The Hausa tribes of West Africa, Japanese, and Chinese cultures- have folk tales make spiders out to be wily and wise.

Bali, Indonesia and Cameroon in Africa- people use spiders in divination

Borneo and some Southwestern Native Cultures- Spiders play roles in creating the world.

Some West African Cultures- Legend implies a spider’s web thread is a connection to god.

Whether you like them or hate them spiders can’t help but capture humanity’s attention for their seeming work ethic in creating their delicate yet deadly webs or inspiring fear with their bites. Where do you stand? Respond in comments or my Facebook page.

Sources:
Earthlife Web- Spiders and Man
http://earthlife.net/chelicerata/s-man.html

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