Yesterday (Sunday) I posted on Facebook that I thought there was a Spiderwight in the outside loo. (Only I wrote Spiderwiht instead – sorry for any confusion… fingers had a mind of their own, methinks.) Anyway, I promised I would write some more about this fascinating creature.
To begin with, our outside loo has a character of its own. Think of it as a large, rumbling Welshman. ‘Bring it on, boyo, I can take it…’
So why would any self respecting spider, let alone a spiderwight, take up residence there?
Partly it’s the door. It’s going rotten. So is the doorframe. And this attracts woodlice. It’s a sort of smorgasbord for them. Anyway, yesterday I saw this large spidery creature there. It looked a bit like a woodlouse spider (yes, there is such a thing) but it was the wrong colour and twice the usual size.
So… what is a spiderwight? Well, in Anglo-Saxon tradition, a wight is a creature. So a spiderwight is almost a spider, but not quite. And in one of the Anglo-Saxon charms we find one featured in a charm against a dwarf. (I’ve no idea why the Anglo-Saxons were so terrified of dwarves. Perhaps it was a metaphor for some other type of wight.) Anyway, this is the charm:
Here came a spider wight a-walking in,
He had his harness in his hand.
Quoth that thou his blood-horse wert.
He puts his traces on thy neck.
They from the strand began to sail.
As soon as from the land they came,
They then began to cool.
The sister of the beast then came a-walking in.
Then she ceased and swore these oaths:
That this should never scathe the sick,
Nor him who might this charm acquire,
Nor him who could this charm intone.
Believe me, it sounds positively gruesome in the original Anglo-Saxon.
Anyway, it may have worked. There was no sign of the spider this morning…