Reflecting On The Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis ~ Springwolf 🐾 © 2014

Praying Mantis ~ Springwolf 🐾 © 2014

Animal Sign

I believe animals cross our path to bring us spiritual messages. Sometimes the messages are about us, our character, strengths or weaknesses. Sometimes they’re about events in our life and our thoughts impacting those events.

I’ve mentioned before, my favorite author on this subject is Ted Andrews. He has two books that I highly recommend, “Animal Speak” and “Animal Wise”.

He puts into words the wisdom of the Shamanistic approach to animal sign I was taught in my early studies. I high recommend his books. 

Today I was heading out to do some errands. Resting on the side of the car was the little guy pictured above. I haven’t seen a Praying Mantis in years. He was obviously trying to get my attention. I was concerned about him getting hurt as I drove away and took him away from his home. So I tried to move him from the car to the nearby tree. He climbed on my hand, for about 2 seconds. Then I worried about the tires running him over as I backed out of the driveway. Once again I got him to climb into my hand, but like before he was and off in a quick hot Virginia second. Sorry NYC, Virginia in summer is unbearable hot.

I was able to “shoo” him out of the driveway and into a safe spot by the tree. Then I headed out to do my errands. I couldn’t help but look for him when I returned. Of course I couldn’t find him. I felt a little sad about that. But that also means he was safe and went on about his afternoon too. It’s nice to know he’s out there somewhere. Doing what it is the Mantises do.

To understand the messages from animals, you must first understand the characteristics of the animals themselves. Where they live, how they live, when they’re prominent in nature, what their instincts are and so on.

Mantises are part of the stick insect family. What I like most about them, they resemble one of my favorite dinosaurs, the Velociraptor. In fact Mantises have two grasping, spiked forelegs referred to as”raptorial legs”; in which prey items are caught and held securely. They’re stealthy hunters, using their stillness to their advantage. Working smarter not harder to acquire their prey. Something we need to do more ourselves. Instead of pushing forward and leaving a mess in our wake, we need to sit still, look for the opportunities as they arise and we won’t have to work so hard to capture the prize we need.

The eyes are widely spaced and laterally situated, affording a wide binocular field of vision and, at close range, precise stereoscopic vision. They tell us we have the ability to see far away and to see the tiny details up close. They remind us not to get lost and distracted from the prize we’re hunting.

They are primarily day time predators because they rely on their vision. But seeing with their eyes are not all they can do. At night, they have fewer of their own predators to watch out for. It’s also a good time for male mantises to find slow-moving females who are relaxing in the darkness. While their vision maybe impaired by the darkness, their other acute senses emerge. Male mantises rely on the pheromones of females to find them in the dark.  Reminding us that we have more senses than sight to rely on as well.

They also have a magikal kind of ability to help protect them against night-time predators who use echolocation to find their prey. Many mantises also have an auditory thoracic organ that helps them to avoid bats by detecting their echolocation and responding evasively. Imagine if you could turn on a little organ within yourself to fool your enemies from seeing or hunting you!  You can read more about the Mantises on Wikipedia.

Here’s what Ted Andrews says about the Praying Mantis.

Keynote: Power of Stillness

Mantis has shown up in mythology and lore. In China, a system of the martial arts evolved around the activities of the praying mantis. Kung Fu is based upon the imitation of animals and aspects of nature. One form of it is the praying mantis.

Most prominent though are the tales of the praying mantis found within African lore. To the Kalihari Bushmen of Africa, Mantis was a Bushman. There are abundant tales that speak of Mantis and his adventures. In many ways, they are similar to the coyote tales of the plains Indians and the raven tales of the Northwest Indians. Whenever Mantis got himself into trouble, he would go off and hide. He would then go to sleep and dream a solution to his problem.

This epitomizes the keynote for this insect – the power of stillness. Through learning to still the outer mind and go within, we can draw upon greater power – physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. That stillness can be simple contemplation, a meditation, or even sleep and dreams. The ancient mystics spoke of seven levels of silence that can be used by us, the first being simple contemplation and the last being death. In between them are dimensions that can add tremendous power to our lives. This is part of what the praying mantis teaches. It teaches how to still the outer, so that when it is time to act (in any form) it is done with surety, accuracy and great power.

According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, mantis comes from a Greek word meaning “Prophet”. If we learn to go into the stillness, we can open ourselves to prophecy. One form of meditation sometimes taught in conjunction with traditional Kung Fu is called “chi kung”. This meditation helps the individual to go within and direct the body’s life force along specific avenues, strengthening and empowering it through the various organs and systems of the body. This has healing and strengthening applications. We can learn to use the stillness in varying degrees – whether for creativity or for healing – and this is part of what the praying mantis teaches.

It is this ability that makes the mantis a great hunter and enables it to survive. It will wait motionless, blending into its surroundings. Then at the most opportune time, it will suddenly grasp its prey in its long forelegs, which fold over its victim like closing a jackknife upon it.

For those with this totem, some examination may be necessary. Are you letting others know your plans before they are even laid? Are you being indiscriminate in what you say and to whom? Are you being impatient? Are you needing help meditating and quieting the outer mind? Are you missing opportunities to grasp life’s rewards because you act or speak too hastily? All of these things praying mantis can help with.


© Springwolfs Hanko

© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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