Tarentulas belong to the spider (Arachnida) family given the scientific name Theraphosidae.
They are characterized by having tarsi (feet) with two claws and claw tufts. Lycosa Tarentula, common name “European Wolf Spider” or “Spanish Tarentula” belongs to the family of Lycosidae. For the preparation of the homeopathic remedy, the tincture of the living spider, collected in the month of July, during which time the poison is stronger, is used.
Originally, the name “tarentula” was exclusively given to the species of wolf spiders. Today, the word tarentula applies to two very different kinds of spider. The spider that originally got this name, the Lycosa Tarentula, is neither particularly large, particularly hairy, or particularly venomous. When people who knew about the tarantulas emigrated to the Americas and discovered fearsomely large and hairy spiders in the New World, they bestowed the name “tarentula” on them. Those spiders belong to the Suborder Mygalomorphae, the Family Theraphosidae (Greek for thera “wild animal, beast” + phos “light”) and the Families of Atypidae, Hexathelidae and Dipluridae. Hence, there are more than 850 different species of tarantulas under this broader definition of tarentulas, sometimes called bird spiders, monkey spiders, baboon spiders and rain spiders. These spiders can be quite large.
The Spanish Tarentulas is a long-legged, long-living spider (10 years and more), whose entire body is covered with short hairs called setae. It lives in southern Italy, mainly in an area around the town of Taranto, but is found all over the South of Europe. Tarantulas in general inhabit any tropical to temperate regions in South- and Central America, Mexico and the south-western United States, Asia, Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The mainly black body of the Spanish Tarentula is covered with hair and approximately 2 inches (5 cm) across with a 3 to 5 inch (8-12 cm) span of brown legs and a weight of approximately 1-2 ounces (30-60 grams). Despite the scary appearance and reputation, it does not make the list of deadly spiders.
To grow, tarentulas, like other spiders, have to shed their exoskeleton periodically in a process called moulting. Young tarentulas may do this several times a year, while full grown specimens will only moult once every year or sooner in order to replace lost limbs.
Tarentulas are nocturnal predators, killing their prey including birds, lizards, snakes, frogs and toads by injecting venom through their fangs. The hungry tarentula typically waits partially hidden at the entrance to its retreat to ambush passing prey. It has sensitive hairs that enable it to detect the size and location of potential victims from the vibrations caused by their movements. Like many other spiders, it cannot see much more than light, darkness, and movement and uses its sense of touch to perceive the world around it.
The town Taranto (or Tarentum in Latin), a town in Southern Italy gave the spider its name. The bite of this spider was once believed to cause a fatal condition called tarantism. It was believed unfoundedly that Lycosa Tarentula spread the disease “tarantism”, thought to be inflicted by tarantulas’ bites, in southern Europe. The illness was first recorded in medical journals in the 14th century. Occurring every summer for three hundred years, Tarantism reached its peak in the 17th century. According to the local belief, the only cure was to dance to certain music — tarantella — for days or even weeks.
Actually, the bite of this kind of spider is not even particularly painful, let alone life-threatening. There are no substantiated reports of tarantula bites proving fatal to a human. Because proteins are included when a toxin is injected, some individuals may suffer severe symptoms due to an allergic reaction rather than to the venom.
In the 1600s, people discovered that these spiders were virtually harmless. Many then concluded that the whole phenomenon of Tarantism was simply an excuse for a wild party. However, it is now suspected that there has been an entirely different kind of spider in the fields around Taranto that caused fairly severe bites (one candidate being the malmignatte or Mediterranean black widow, one of several species in the genus Latrodectus), but the tarentulas, being wolf spiders, were fairly large, out in the open, and were frequently seen running around, which drew attention to them, and so they got the blame. Join that factor with the belief in tarantism and the supposed need for wild dancing to prevent sure death, and the fearsome world-wide reputation of the tarantula was guaranteed.
Lycosa Tarentula’s bite was said to cause hallucinogenic effects. In some versions of the legend, the venom itself caused the dancer to move uncontrollably. The condition that results from the bite of Lycosa Tarentula was common in southern Italy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. There were strong suggestions that there is no organic cause for the heightened excitability and restlessness that gripped the victims. The stated belief of the time was that victims needed to engage in frenzied dancing to prevent death from tarantism, although the wolf spider’s venom is not dangerous enough to cause death. Many people have suggested that the whole business was a deceit to evade religious proscriptions against dancing.
The cultural history of tarantism and the tarantella dance is discussed in John Compton’s introduction to the world of spiders called The Life of the Spider, pages 56-57. He suggests that ancient Bacchanalian rites that had been suppressed by the government went underground under the guise of emergency therapy for bite victims.
Some theorize that the frantic dance was a means of purging the body of the spider’s poison and thus avert death. In any case, neither the wolf spider nor tarentulas have dangerous bites, so there is no need to dance to ward off any ill effects. There are no arachnids known to have hallucinogenic venom.
The venom of Lycosa Tarentula contains Arachnolysin, the active haemolytic principle of spider venom. Even though it is being discussed, whether in tarantula provings and observations from Kent, Allen and Hering etc it truly was Lycosa tarentula that was proved or indeed the Mediterranean black widow. It doesn’t exactly matter, as Arachnolysin is common in all poisoning spiders, though the quantity of the poison injected into the victim differs from species to species. Besides the actual spider venom, some spiders also have some venom in their claws which also helps to decompose the victim. In humans these protein containing substances often cause allergic reactions. Lastly, spiders are not the cleanliest animals and hence a spider bite often causes bad infections and ulcerations of the bite.
Symptoms of Arachnolysin are not constant and vary from person to person. Especially convulsions and dyspnoea can occur in intervals. The symptoms come on first as precordial anxiety, palpitation, oppression of the chest followed by dyspnoea, then abdominal colic, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, later convulsions, trembling and twitching all over the body, hyperactivity and restlessness (more or less combined with anxiety). Mental symptoms include anxiety, melancholia, complaining and sighing as well as restlessness and overactive senses and over sensitivity towards sound and colors.
Lycosa Tarentula’s face is unmoved, almost mask-like, while it is waiting in front of its hole in the ground, which it built to trap other animals, for a victim to pass by. Then it suddenly attacks and bites to kill. Just as foxy is the patient in need of the remedy Tarentula: Especially when nobody is watching, Tarentula children for instance will destroy their buddy’s toy. Adults will spin intrigues, be friendly with fellow humans to their face and at the next best occasion talk bad about them behind their back. They might even report somebody they’ve been just very nice to, to an authority for something these people never did.
The amatory dance is a very important feature in the spider’s romance life. Several males will dance for one female and it is her, who then picks her chosen one to reproduce. The dance also, as discussed before, is important for the Tarentula patient as his symptoms are influenced by music.
After mating, the male has to get away as quick as possible from the female spider or it will most likely be eaten by her. This is a common habit in many spiders and shows quite clear the violence, the destructiveness and the foxy character of the spider. The same applies to the Lycosa Tarentula patient: He, too, is destructive and at times violent and will most probably bully or abuse animals or weaker persons whenever he can. Tarentulas often destroy things purposely to blame somebody else for it.
Restlessness & Excitement
Tarentula cases are sometimes caused by
- Anger (2)
- Bad news, (1)
- Excitement, emotional (2)
- Joy, excessive (1)
- Love, disappointed (1)
All these possible causes suggest that in a Tarentula case, unexpectedly the rhythm or the balance get upset. Tarentula’s nervous costume is tensed, like a coiled spring ready to jump any time it is released. And this is exactly what Tarentula does: the least emotional / mental excitement brings the normal flow of emotions and thoughts in him to a stop or changes the direction and he ‘jumps’.
In the 17th century, Tarantella was recommended after a bite of a tarentula; indeed, such a bite causes violent movements of the muscles that remind one of an eccentric or macabre dance. Tarentula is one of the hastiest remedies in the Materia Medica, if not the hastiest of them. E.g. The patient suffers extreme restlessness of his legs and of the whole body or tosses and turns in bed all night long. Not only is this restlessness of a physical kind, but emotional and mental as well.
Tarentula patients are impatient with themselves as well as with fellow humans, especially when they deal with individuals that are slower. The reason for this impatient restlessness is partly to set free the enormous energy that inhibits Tarentula and partly that these are individuals driven from anxiety.
- Mind – Hurry, haste (3)
- Mind – Impatient (1)
- Mind – Restlessness (3)
- Mind – Restlessness – anxious (3)
The excitement of Tarentula can go from extreme gayety and much singing (as far as) to hysteria, when the state of insanity becomes more severe, and can generally cause all kinds of strange, paradoxical behaviour:
- Mind – Cheerful (2)
- Mind – Vivacious (2)
- Mind – Jesting (2)
- Mind – Laughing (2)
- Mind – Laughing – involuntarily (2)
- Mind – laughing – hysterical (1)
- Mind – Excitement (2)
- Mind – Foolish behaviour (2)
- Mind – Hysteria (3)
- Mind – Insanity (3)
Music & Rhythm
Since Tarentula’s nervous costume is so tensed, so under pressure, music can have a very soothing effect on him. Music comes along with rhythm and brings relaxation of the mind and the body for Tarentula, though the ‘wrong’ music can aggravate the complaints as it will be perceived as a disturbance. The music needs to be of the same rhythm as the patient himself and then his thoughts and his movements will be graceful, flowing and elegant. This is, why Tarentula sometimes sings his own song
- Mind – Music – agg. (2)
- Mind – Music – amel. (3)
- Mind – Excitement – Music, from (2)
- Mind – Singing – hoarse, until very (2)
- Mind – Dancing (3)
Fear & Anxiety
Tarentula is afraid, that he gets out of the rhythm that keeps him in balance. He fears, something could go wrong or that he can’t get all work of the day done. This is, besides the nervous excitement, the other reason he becomes so fast in everything and is so restless.
- Mind – Fear – happen, something will (1)
- Mind – Fear – restlessness from (1)
Violence & Aggression
When the restlessness of Tarentula gets slowed down or even stopped by external circumstances, he can become very aggressive and violent. The patient then develops vandalism, which he can hide very well at first. One has the impression, Tarentula didn’t do anything and it is said that Tarentula is “lynx eyed” and “smart as a fox”.
However, even the smart Tarentula patient can’t hide his anger for long and the stronger the pressure grows, the more his rhythm is disturbed, the angrier he becomes and his anger will eventually turn into rage with a desire to even kill. But whereas Stramonium’s or Anacardium’s anger can get totally out of control and become unreasonable, Tarentula’s anger always has a true exciting cause and will not get out of hand that much. The patient will stop raging, when this cause is eliminated. The greater the disturbance of his inner rhythm is the angrier will the patient be. This is why ‘rage’ is only rated ’1′. The rage is uncontrolled anger. Tarentula however has control about what he’s doing just not about how strong his anger is. He doesn’t desire to bite either. He totally logically tries to get rid of his annoyance, by first getting angry, then trying to punish (striking, wanting to fight) and lastly trying to eliminate the cause of his anger by simply trying to kill the disturber or throw the object of his anger against a wall.
- Mind – Malicious (1)
- Mind – Anger (3)
- Mind – Rage (1)
- Mind – Fight, wants to (2)
- Mind – Striking (2)
- Mind – Throwing – things around (1)
- Mind – Kill, desire to (1)
Tarentula’s anger might also be directed against himself, when he can’t succeed what he had planned on or when something just doesn’t work. He then becomes impatient, angry and in the end might strike himself:
- Mind – Impatience (1)
- Mind -Striking – himself (2)
When the border from sanity to insanity is passed, the uncontrollable movements and restlessness of Tarentula cause acts of vandalism that are more bizarre, but never as bizarre as in most other psychotic remedies:
- Mind – Striking – himself â€¢ head: hands, her body and others; strikes her head with her (2)
- Mind – Striking – himself â€¢ knocking his had against wall and things (1)
- Mind – Tearing things in general (2)
- Mind – Pulling – hair â€¢ presses her head; an (1) (only remedy in this rubric)
- Mind – destructiveness (2)
The male Tarentula lives for about 5-8 years to mature. Then it will go out and start looking for a female, dance his amatory dance, copulate and in case it has not been eaten by the female spider, die soon after, the latest after a year or a year and a half. The main purpose of its life is obviously reproduction and for Tarentula patients, too, erotica plays a big role.
The erotic possession might drive the patient to active, open, sexual approach which makes him appear pretty shameless and with increasing degree of insanity this erotic mania will become worse:
- Mind – Shameless (2)
- Mind – Shameless – exposing the person (2)
- Mind – Lascivious (2)
- Mania – sexual â€¢ men (2)
- Mania – sexual â€¢ women (2)
- Nymphomania (2)
- Delirium, erotic (2)
Once a year, in July, the Tarentulas will go out and start searching for a partner spider. The females will be sitting close to their hole but the males will be walking around looking for a female. Just like this phenomenon, the Tarentula patient’s symptoms are prone to occur with a certain periodicity. His general complaints might occur only once a year or once every night at a certain time; his sleep might be interrupted and he wakes up.
Delirium & Delusions
The degree of insanity in Tarentula is just as strong as in other psychotic remedies, However, Tarentula does not have such a strong tendency to be unrealistic but his insanity concerns more his behaviour and his attitude. Whereas other insane patients totally loose their sense for reality and develop hallucinations, Tarentula will stay more in the ‘here and now’ and usually knows pretty well, what’s going on. It is his way he thinks about the world and people, and it is the way he acts that makes him appear insane.
- Insanity (3)
Since Tarentula has this tendency to aggression, it might happen, that he feels attacked imaginary or real, verbal or physical; and the delirious patient then can become quite raging, brutal and even develop superhuman strength:
- Delusions – assaulted, is going to be (1)
- Delusions – insulted, he is (1)
- Delirium – hysterical, almost (1)
- Delirium – maniacal (1)
- Delirium – raging (1)
- Delirium – exaltation of strength, with (2)
Though hallucinations are not a very marked characteristic of Tarentula, they do occur (especially on closing the eyes) and if they do so, they are of frightening, of a horrible character and usually concern figures and animals:
- Delusions – visions, has / â€¢ closing the eyes on (1)
- Delusions – visions, has â€¢ horrible / â€¢ monsters, of (1)
- Delusions – spectres, ghosts, spirits /- figures â€¢ seeing (1)
- Delusions – images, phantoms, sees (2)
- Delusions – images â€¢ closing eyes on (2)
- Delusions – images â€¢ frightful (1)
- Delusions – faces, sees (2)
- Delusions – faces, sees â€¢ closing eyes, on (2)
- Delusions – faces, sees â€¢ diabolical faces crowd upon him (1)
- Delusions – faces, sees â€¢ ugly (=hideous) (2)
- Delusions – animals / – animals â€¢ frightful / – insects (1)
- Delusions – absurd, ludicrous â€¢ figures are present (1)
There are strange sensations as if his legs were cut off or he is floating in air. Both show somewhat the affinity to spiders: 8 legs that are so important to crawl along the threads in the spider’s net and the feeling of floating in air, when swinging on these threads. Tarentula might also feel smaller than he actually is:
- Delusions – floating â€¢ air in (2)
- Delusions – legs â€¢ cut off, legs are (1)
- Delusions – small â€¢ body is smaller (1)
Other very peculiar delusions that perfectly reflect his uncertainty and fear, something unforeseen could happen are:
- Delusions – fall, something would / him on (1) the only remedy in this rubric
- Delusions – strange â€¢ room, seem to be in the (2)
- Delusions – unseen things, delusions of (1) the only remedy in this rubric