‘If you wish to live and thrive, let the spider run alive’. This may be a familiar saying and in the Middle Ages spiders were highly prized. It was considered the height of good breeding and sanitation to have spiders in the house as they served the useful purpose of getting rid of any flies which carried many dreaded diseases.
If you were lucky enough to see a spider spinning a web then it was considered a sure sign that within a short amount of time you would receive new clothes. Webs have long been said to have the power to stop bleeding from a wound if laid over it. It is thought that this belief stems from the Bible and how the baby Jesus was hidden from Herod’s soldiers in such a way.
In fact many of us today are still drawn by one of the most common of all beliefs in the ‘money spider’ - to find one dangling from your clothes or person was thought to be a sure sign of imminent prosperity in a venture.
The appearance of a web that was broken or was very small and unevenly made was thought to indicate that a terrible storm was about to arrive according to medieval weather lore.
When Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland (UK) 1306-29, was a fugitive it is said that he waited in a room, for his pursuers believing that the fight to save Scotland was at an end. He was ill, ready to accept defeat. Dangling from one of the roof beams was a spider spinning a web and attempting to secure it between seven beams. The spider struggled for some time with the seventh strand. Bruce watched closely and felt his strength return and his faith grow when the spider finally attached the web. This he took to be an omen that perhaps through hard toil success will be the outcome. It certainly affected Bruce as he came out from hiding and went on to ensure a separate identity for Scotland.