For this entry in my Magic in Popular Culture (MIPC) series, I would like to share with you a love potion from the 1984 motion Picture Supergirl. Those of you familiar with this series will note that I have written about this movie before as it is rich with spells, concepts, and symbolism
"Take a spider off its web and shut him up inside two shells of a nut. Boil the nut in oil, into which has been added a piece of the web. With a silver spoon, put two drops of oil into the water. He who drinks the water shall be in love with the first person he sees, so long as the spider stays shut up inside the nutshell, or one day goes by...which ever comes first."
See the Scene
See the Scene
While on the surface this may seem to be something that was made up by the writers to move the plot along, however, a closer looks at elements of this potion reveal that it is quite sophisticated.
First of all, like men in primitive cultures, spider's are endeared as hunters. They often build their web to trap their pray. Nuts, symbolically are associated with the testicles and therefore male sexuality. Therefore, I believe this potion is about capturing a man's nature so that he can be controlled (i.e. the spider trapped in his own web) under the guise of love and sex.
Boiling the nut is symbolic of putting "heat" on the situation, to make the man "hot" for you and susceptible to your charming ways (the silver spoon, being born with "a silver spoon in your mouth").
Finally, feeding the man two drops of oil in water is all about duality and confusion. We all know that oil and water do not mix, and so here we have the heat of desire, symbolized by the oil, conflicting with the cool clarity of the water to confuse the man and keep him under your control.
The fact that the victim will fall in love with the first person they see goes all the way back to Shakespear's time, and probably earlier than that, and is a common element place on love potions. (See A Midsummer Night's Dream).
The spider sealed inside the nut then comes to represent the man himself and in that respect it is similar to a Voodoo Doll, in that so long as the spider stays trapped in the nutshell so will the man remained in the witch's thrall. However, the fact that the spells is broken after 24 hours tells me that this spell is less about love and more about seduction and sex.