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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]sphinx illustrationFound in Egypt or the Mediterranean and Balkans area (e.g. Greece), the Sphinx is another “guardian” creature (Griffin, Dragon, Basilisk, etc.).  In Greece it is a winged-lion body with a human female’s head, while in Egypt it has a man’s head on a wingless lion body.   In Egypt, it is often found near a pyramid—guarding a pharaoh’s or nobleperson’s treasures.   It is very intelligent, but often overly proud of its intellect.  It enjoys “matching wits” with passerby and various heroes and heroines—sometimes demanding riches or even lives from those it stops and questions with riddles.  Since it is immense, it is very hard to “pass by” without meeting its demands.

The archetype Greek Sphinx was said to be the daughter of Typhon (also the father of the Gorgon, and Cerberus the three-headed dog) and the Chimaera (a monster with a goat’s body, a lion’s head, and a dragon’s tail—which was slain by Bellerophon riding Pegasus).  The Egyptian Sphinx is a characterization of the Sun God—Ra.  As such, it has a more beneficent nature than its Greek relative.

A gigantic spider with eight eyes and able to communicate with human beings, according to newt Scamander, the Acromantula originated in Borneo, where “it inhabits dense jungle.”  Scamander goes on to describe the creature as having “thick black” body hair, a leg span “which may reach up to fifteen feet,” pincers which make a “clicking sound” when the Acromantula is in emotional upheaval, and a “poisonous secretion.”   He also states that the “female is larger than the male and may lay up to one hundred eggs at a time.”…and that these are “soft and white” and “as large as beach balls” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, p.1).

Spiders, quite often hated and feared, are good luck symbols in the British Isles (and other cultures), especially in Scotland which has the legend of Robert the Bruce, the eventual unifier of the Scot clans and a successful rebel against the English monarchy.  After a failed attempt to throw the British out of Scotland, The Bruce escaped to Ireland and was hiding in a hut when he watched a spider try six times to attach a silken thread to the ceiling from the wall.  On the seventh try, the spider succeeded and so inspired the great leader that he returned to Scotland and rallied his followers and subsequently drove the British back to England—winning independence for Scotland.  There are also “good fortune” spider legends associated with Mohammed and Frederick the Great.

In general, however, the symbolism of a spider is often that of imprisonment, torture, and death.  Thus, the phrase, “caught like a fly in a spider’s web.”  Certainly, the great J. R. R. Tolkien used these aspects in his depiction of the giant spider Shelob, who tries to capture Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Still, the spider’s web, because of its circular and/or spiral shape, can represent the idea of creation and development, such as of the wheel.  (Unfortunately, death and destruction can wait at the center of the wheel.)  The spider can also represent rain in certain cultures—a positive and negative aspect depending on where and how much rain falls.  The fact that what the spider catches is often equally as despised as the spider (harmful insects, etc.) doesn’t seem to phase spider-haters one little bit.  The sneakiness and silence of a scurrying spider seems to be all that is needed to set off panic attacks among the spider-phobic!

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