The practice of assigning symbolic meanings to animals, their sightings, and certain behaviors, is deeply rooted in human history and can be found in almost every culture. Praying mantis is one of those animals which has had a prominent place in the world of animal symbolism. Without further ado, here is everything you should know about praying mantis meaning and symbolism across cultures.
Praying Mantis Meaning and Symbolism
Known in the scientific world for its triangular head, bulging eyes, long flexible neck, or its incredible capability of camouflaging itself in the surroundings, praying mantis holds a significant, deeper meaning in the realm of symbolism.
Just like many other symbols, there are different meanings attached to praying mantis in different cultures. However, what makes praying mantis symbolism a lot more interesting is that the insect seems to hold different meanings depending on when and how one sees it.
In various ancient civilizations, the insect was also believed to have supernatural powers.
Before we discuss the symbolic meanings attached to praying mantis, let’s first take a quick look at why it was given that name.
Why is a Praying Mantis Named So?
The praying mantis is named after the upright posture it upholds when stalking its prey. The carnivorous insect bends its forelegs and holds them at an angle so that it looks like it is praying. Hence, the common name.
Praying Mantis Meaning
The word ‘mantis’ originates from the Greek word mantikos, which in English means ‘prophet’. Thus, the name praying mantis literally translates to ‘praying prophet’, aptly describing the grace and poise it exudes while stalking its prey.
Praying Mantis Symbolic Meaning
Let’s get to it now and take a look at the various meanings attached to praying mantis to develop a better understanding of its symbolic value.
Praying Mantis is a Sign of Good Luck
The most widely held notion about praying mantis is that of a good omen. In most cultures where symbolism is prevalent, the insect is considered a symbol of good luck.
A praying mantis is rarely seen because the insect can camouflage itself into the surroundings. Hence, if someone sees a praying mantis or the insect lands on them, it is considered a sign of God bestowing his blessings upon them and is believed to bring good luck.
Native Americans also recognized the insect as a symbol of success and wealth along with good fortune.
Spiritual Meaning of Praying Mantis
The praying mantis also holds spiritual meanings in several cultures. Some see it as a divine message, while others perceive the sighting of a praying mantis as one of the ways the Universe communicates with us.
Some people believe that a praying mantis is a wake-up call and a sign to evaluate your life and situations more deeply.
Bushmen of the Kalahari region, located in southern Africa, considered praying mantis a symbol of God. Some even believed the insect to be an incarnation of God.
Some Christians consider it a symbol of piety and believe that finding a praying mantis in your home means the angels watch over you.
Many of those who associate spiritual meanings to the praying mantis also believe that the insect brings calm and peace in our chaotic and busy lives. It serves as a reminder to slow down and listen to your inner voice, which is the biggest and most powerful guiding force.
What Does It Mean When You See a Praying Mantis?
An encounter with a praying mantis is generally considered a good omen. It is believed to bring you good luck in various ways. For example, in many cultures, it is believed that seeing a (fat) female praying mantis before harvest indicates a plentiful harvest.
Similarly, seeing one in or around your house is a sign of divine protection. They say that if you find a praying mantis by your house’s window, express gratitude for all you have by saying a little prayer.
While seeing a praying mantis is generally a good omen, it can transform into a bad omen if you disturb or kill the insect. Khoikhoi people, the indigenous pastoralist nomad tribes of southwestern Africa ardently believed in this symbolic interpretation that they would go to any length to protect praying mantises.
They strongly believed that if someone killed a praying mantis, deliberately or accidentally, they would die miserably. People of another African tribe, called Kraal, believed that killing a praying mantis would lead to the death of their cattle.
What Does It Mean When a Praying Mantis Lands On You?
According to folklore, if the mantis sits on your head, it means you will get a great honor in life. If it sits on your hand, it is most often interpreted as guiding you in the right direction.
On an interesting side note, a praying mantis biting someone symbolizes that the person will lose a friend, most likely by slander or calumny.
Seeing a Dead Praying Mantis
Seeing a dead praying mantis can also mean different things. For example, it can be a sign that you’re ignoring your spiritual self and spending too much time and energy on superficial, worldly matters.
However, it could also mean that you’re spending a lot of time introspecting and thinking but not acting enough. If someone in a romantic relationship repeatedly sees a dead praying mantis, it may symbolize a spiritual disconnect between them and their partner.
Seeing a Praying Mantis in a Dream
Just like in reality, seeing a praying mantis in a dream can mean a few different things, depending on your life’s situation and your circumstances. The most common interpretation is that it indicates good luck.
However, the praying mantis is also commonly believed to be a soothsayer. From that perspective, seeing the insect in a dream can mean that it’s hinting towards something that’s about to happen in your life or giving you a direction to follow.
Many people believe that when you’re going through a challenging phase of life that has left you worried, confused, or clueless, a praying mantis can come into your dream to direct you towards the right path.
On the flip side, seeing a praying mantis is also believed to be an indication of an upcoming danger and a warning sign that you need to be highly careful and keep your guards up.
Praying Mantis Spirit Animal
The praying mantis as the spirit animal denotes awareness, patience, focus, and stillness.
Praying mantises are highly skilled predators. They hardly ever miss their prey and are also capable of hunting insects and animals as big as three times their size. Their stillness, concentration, and patience play a vital role in their success as a predator.
A praying mantis is aware of its surroundings and can quickly spot prey. However, it never attacks its prey immediately. It takes time to evaluate its surroundings and wait patiently for the perfect moment while getting itself ready to attack (assuming the unique position it is known for). The insect stays still and doesn’t make a move until it is hundred percent sure of it.
As a spirit animal, the praying mantis teaches us the same – to be calm and patient. It signifies the importance of stillness and tells us to be aware, mindful, and focused.
The act of a mantis’ praying teaches us the significance of contemplation, taking time to think through the decisions or choices we make in life, and not acting until we’re sure that it is the right thing to do.
In practice, praying mantis spirit animal indicates incorporating meditation or prayer into your daily routine so you can introspect and listen to your inner voice.
There is also a notion that learning martial arts can help channel the spirit animal of a praying mantis. Chinese even have a dedicated form of martial arts that is created around the praying mantis.
This is the end of our article on praying mantis symbolism, spiritual and other meanings associated with the insect across cultures. If you liked it, you should definitely check out our detailed pieces on butterfly symbolism here and ladybug symbolism here.
Alternatively, you can browse all our posts on spiritual symbols by clicking here. Thanks for reading with us, see you in the next post!