Various folklore beliefs surround the spider. In England,
spiders were known as ‘‘money makers.’’ If found on clothing,
they were a sign that money was on the way, provided that the
spider was not killed. A similar idea prevailed in Polynesia,
where a spider dropping down in front of a person was a sign
of a present. An American belief is that killing a spider will
bring rain.
In folk medicine, a spider was rolled in butter or molasses
and swallowed. As a cure for ague, it was tied up and secured
on the left arm. A spider was also traditionally used as an amulet.
The insect was baked and worn around the neck.
The British antiquary Elias Ashmole stated in his Memoirs
(1717) ‘‘I took early in the morning a good dose of elixir, and
hung three spiders around my neck, and they drove my ague
away. Deo Gratias!’’
Robert Burton (1577–1640) stated
‘‘Being in the country in the vacation time, not many years
since, at Lindly in Leicestershire, my father’s house, I first observed
this amulet of a spider in a nut-shell, wrapped in silk,
so applied for an ague by my mother. . . . This I thought most
Spider Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
absurd and ridiculous, and I could see no warrant in it . . . till
at length, rambling amongst authors, I found this very medicine
in Dioscorides, approved by Matthiolus, repeated by
Aldrovandus. . . . I began to have a better opinion of it, and to
give more credit to amulets, when I saw it in some parties answer
to experience.’’
Spiders were sacred to the ancient Egyptian goddess Maat
and are used today as symbolism of a Maatian (feminist) form
of ceremonial magic.

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