Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Jorogumo

Many of the stories you still see today are inspired directly and indirectly from various myths. For the 2015 A-Z Challenge, I'm going to share mythology from all over the world - myths that are familiar and obscure.

The Japanese myth of the Jorogumo reminds me a lot of Medusa's tragic story. Instead of the creature being a woman-snake hybrid, a Jorogumo is part SPIDER. Yes, yet another creepy monster that instills fear in everyone...especially men.

So, when a spider turns 400 years old, it gains the ability to shape-shift. These magic spiders often like to change into beautiful women who could sing. They'd lure unsuspecting guys who want to check out a hot lady singing in the forest, and BOOM! The Jorogumo would devour the poor fella.

One of the most well known Jorogumo myths begins with an innocent guy just cutting down trees near a waterfall. He drops his ax into the water, so he dives in to get it. He finds a beautiful woman who gives him his ax, only if he promises to never tell anyone about her.

Of course, this guy is enchanted by the woman. He goes to visit her everyday, and yet he grows weaker after each visit, as the Jorogumo is sucking his life force. One day, he grows so weak, he's powerless against the spider's thread being wrapped around his feet. Luckily, a Buddhist monk comes to the lumberjack's rescue. He says some prayers, and the spider web disappears.

After his rescue, the lumberjack can't just forget about the beautiful woman, so he goes back to the waterfall and jumps in, never to be seen again.

By the way, Jorogumo literally translates to "whore spider."

Um, yeah. I see that now.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Whore spider - apt title. A bit like a praying mantis as well.

Sarah Foster said...

Ha, interesting translation. Spiders are always creepy, but this takes it to a whole other level...

Anne Marie Schlueter said...

Ewww, that is nasty. Poor woman.

Jo said...

Poor woman? Poor lumberjack. I think you meant threat not threat by the way.

Pat Hatt said...

Damn, never trust a whore spider. But I bet they can do a lot with so many legs, huh? lol

Holly Jahangiri said...

Oh, poor innocent men. Always the victim of the whore spider. (Apparently, even the Japanese have their Adam and Eve stories!) Never realizing that after 400 years of dodging his big, clumsy, hard-soled shoe, maybe she's a little bit within her rights to go sucking his life-force out of him, if he's silly enough to keep coming back for more. ;)

Holly Jahangiri said...

Jo, that was confusing. :) THREAD. Yes, caught that, too. I think "threat" should've been "thread." But it kind of works, either way.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Spiders are scary to every one but I guess men are more afraid of the 'black widow' type. a woman that drains him and then kills him.

Pat Dilloway said...

Sounds like the sirens of Greek myth.

farawayeyes said...

It's always the woman's fault now, isn't it? You gotta love mythology!

Nick Wilford said...

I was reminded of the sirens too. There really are a lot of female spiders that eat the male after mating. I wonder if this was inspired by that or just the general male view of women as an alien species!

Stephanie Faris said...

What a sad, but sweet, story. And "whore spider?" LOL.

betty said...

You would think after he was rescued once he would have learned his lesson and not return :) I'm not sure why people are afraid of spiders; now if it was a snake or a rat or mouse, then maybe :)


A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Reminds me of the female spider-demons in Journey to the West... one of my favorite parts of that epic :)

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

Beth Ellyn Summer said...

yikes, it may have been too late at night to read this story! ha. And whore spider--I laughed out loud at that one, crazy!

Melanie Schulz said...

And I thought I was afraid of spiders BEFORE...

Robin said...

Some people are just gluttons for punishment. That poor bastard gets SAVED and then goes back and jumps in... never to be seen again.

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