All summer I have had some interesting interactions with these amazing creatures who live in my yard. I'll be out nurturing my little slice of nature, and one will slip out from under a leaf to say "Hello!"
A few nights ago, I had an exceptional experience with one.
My boyfriend and I were sitting on the back porch in the late evening enjoying a glass of wine and discussing our current state of affairs. You see, we are both in a state of transition, wondering about our purposes in life, and what are souls are calling us to do. Both of us feel lost, him in his quarter-life crisis and I in my mid-life one.
Out of nowhere this large winged beast landed on my shoulder. I freaked out. My boyfriend freaked out. Something that big and green doesn't usually land ON you!
After a bit of a coniption fit, the creature flitted off onto a plant where I was able to see that it was a Mantis. What happened next enthralled Dan and I for 45 minutes.
This Mantis didn't just sit there and stare at us, he (she?) was engaged in communicating to us; cocking his head from side to side, moving his mouth and sticking its tonguey thingy out, it seriously looked like he was saying something.
At one point, he reached his arm-y thingies out and started motioning them to me, like a baby asking to be lifted up off the leaf. I tentatively stuck my finger in front of him and he happily trotted up my finger and onto the back of my hand.
This interaction with this "bug" had just as much connection as one would expect to have with a dog, horse or some "higher" form of life form. The whole time I was enthralled, amazed, and tickled.
The magic of the encounter stayed with me all week. I couldn't help but feel that he was some kind of messenger, trying to tell me something important, a sign in the midst of my confusion and uncertainty.
So I did a bit of research about the symbolism of the Praying Mantis and this is what I discovered.
The praying mantis is the oldest symbol of God. The African Bushman believed them to be a manifestation of God come to Earth, “the voice of the infinite in the small,” a divine messenger. “Mantis” is the Greek word for “prophet” or “seer,” a being with spiritual or mystical powers. When one is seen, diviners try to determine what the current message is. They are also associated with restoring life into the dead.
Believe me...I have been feeling spiritually dead.
The praying mantis is known to be a way-shower. In the Arabic and Turkish cultures, a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca. In Africa, it helps find lost sheep and goats. In France, it's believed that if you are lost the mantis points the way home.
The adage "Follow Mantis" means putting the core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let Spirit direct your intellect and ultimately your life.
The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we've flooded our lives with too much activity or chaos and reminds us to listen to the still small voice within.
In China, the mantis has long been honored for her mindful movements and is a symbol of meditation and contemplation.
The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to be still, go within, and reach a place of calm and to be sure our minds and souls agree about the choices we are making in our lives.
Like Jiminy Cricket, flying out of the sky to land on my shoulder and whisper a divine secret, Mr. Mantis could not have appeared at a better time to bring this message.