Praying Mantis Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

praying mantis

Praying Mantis symbolism is complex and varies from situation to culture to even how and when you end up seeing a praying mantis. In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about praying mantis medicine and omens as well as mantis symbolism in the form of power animal and tattoo.

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Praying Mantis symbolism and meaning

The praying mantis is a slender and grotesque insect with a pair of legs that resemble a praying person’s hands. The word ‘mantis’ is Greek for prophet Grecians thought that the insect resembled the priests and priestesses in praying posture. 

Seen as magical and holy, or demonic and devouring, the praying mantis attracts ambivalent symbolism. Most cultures believe that the praying mantis luck symbol brings good omens. 

However, certain mantis character and traits have also brought negative connotations to this insect. The female mantis devours her mate during copulation. 

praying mantis

This has brought about a comparison with the black widow spider that kills its mate. During harvesting, it is believed that if a fat female mantis is found, then the harvest will be plentiful, but if a small male mantis is caught, there will be a lean harvest. 

In most cultures, stick bugs and praying mantises are considered rare yet good omens. Praying mantises are especially valuable in America as they exterminate Japanese beetles. 

A mantis was called the Prophet, and a very ancient superstition obtains even today, that whenever a praying mantis appears, it is a good omen. The wenet, or praying mantis, is an important Asmat lineage symbol that appears on shields, drum handles, and other carved objects. (1)

Praying Mantis Native American symbolism

Connecticut’s state insect, the praying mantis, is a beneficial insect that feeds on harmful insects such as moths, grasshoppers, aphids, and caterpillars. 

All insects, including cicadas and praying mantises, are sacred to the Native Americans who knew and believed that the insects came before man when the Earth was created. 

In fact, many of the Native’s stories and legends talk about the creation of the earth due to Grandmother Spider. That is why; you see paintings, inscriptions, symbols, and carvings in rocks, cave paintings, jade artwork, jewelry, and headdresses have these symbols of insects. 

praying mantis

Natives believed that praying mantises were symbols of wealth and good fortune – they even stood for success and large families. These insects also represented the cycle of life, death, and resurrection. 

Since the praying mantises looked like ‘praying human hands,’ they were believed to be the symbols of the Great Spirit and were often used in ceremonies, medicine, totem animals, and healing. Since mantises arose suddenly out of the ground, the Native considered them the symbols of rebirth and resurrection. 

Many of these insects were placed in the mouth of dying humans for a smoother passage to the after-life. The tribes also used these insects to predict the weather and the harvest. They also listened carefully to the sounds made by these insects when they left on their hunts. (2)

Praying Mantis Eastern Symbolism

Humans may not think too much of them, but, in reality, insects like praying mantises are actually supporting this world and its ecosystem. 

A praying mantis can help in pollination and even aids in recycling and composting of organic matter. The Asmat of New Guinea likened the symbol of the female praying mantis – who decapitates her mate after mating- as a symbol of headhunting and also ancestral lineages. 

The Zuni tribes believe that insects like praying mantises are wise, sacred, and powerful. In China, Poet Lo-Hung-Hsien of the T’ang Dynasty wrote of the mantis: Man, by nature, is never satisfied and resembles a snake attempting to swallow an elephant. 

praying mantis

In life, moreover, the praying mantis pounces on a cicada. The Chinese relate that the mantis will even stretch out its feelers to stop a cart and regard it as a type of greed and pertinacity. 

In Japan, the praying mantis (kamakiri) is an emblem of bravery and a symbol of autumn. When used in a seasonal context, it is often portrayed with the gourd vine, chrysanthemums, autumn grasses, and the cricket. 

Its associations with courage and military are also well known. This weird and fragile insect, resembling a thin stick with four, long angular legs, is an emblem of military courage in both China and Japan because it always advances and never retreats.

Praying Mantis Christianity symbolism

What other insects can have greater meaning and symbolic importance than the one that has legs which resemble praying human hands? 

If you have been wondering about the praying mantis spiritual meaning, then naturally, its spiritual significance is to always keep your focus on God. Early Christian symbology adopted the popular belief in the praying mantis’s power of divination. 

The praying mantis is also rather fearsome in appearance and is carnivorous. It probably accounts for many noxious insects in the course of a season.  The female mantis is known to kill her mate post copulation. 

praying mantis

Based on this, early Christian art and even artists like Picasso used the praying mantis symbol to symbolize life and death, love and hate, ecstasy, and pain. These themes became rather important in early Christian Art. 

The Mantis was also the God of the Hottentot. The insect named after this God, praying mantis, adopted a praying attitude. In general, the word mantis is Greek for a soothsayer and this was given due to significance. 

This is because the South Africans gave a lot of respect and veneration to this insect. So much so; that they fell to their knees and prayed when they saw one. If by accident, they killed one, they were believed to be ‘unfortunate’ for the rest of their lives. (3)

Praying Mantis Celtic symbolism

Praying mantis meaning is varied in Celtic symbolism and mythology. It can mean courage, persistence, cruelty, voracity, and greed camouflaged by a hypocritical attitude of prayer or religiousness. 

It also means female viciousness, which probably stems from the fact that female mantises gorge down their male counterparts after intercourse. To the Christians, the symbolism of the praying mantis is prayer and adoration. 

To the Greeks, it stands for divination. In Ireland, the people related Asmat art and its symbolism – especially the praying mantis designs – to headhunting practices.  

praying mantis

Not surprisingly, a host of European folklore and magical superstitions are associated with mantids. The word mantis means soothsayer. This is because an insect would be able to ‘divine’ by pointing its praying hands or even answer questions or desires. 

The insect is a stranger to the British Isles but is found in warmer parts of Europe. It has a slender shape and a beautiful green color. In its sitting posture, it is considered to hold its front legs in the gesture of praying. 

In Europe, there was superstition associated with this insect that a child or traveler who had lost his way could seek help from the praying mantis – the insect was to be taken into the hand and the traveler was to follow wherever the insect pointed. (4)

Praying Mantis Medicine

Praying mantis medicine will come to you when you are experiencing some changes and difficulties in your life. The insect is asking you to listen closely to your Inner Voice and have a clear vision about your future. 

This is an ally that will transform your life when you listen closely. This insect medicine is asking you to add color and music in your life. 

Just as the mantis changes its color to camouflage itself, it wants you to use color when you undergo a transformational phase in your life. When a praying mantis jumps in your life, you must observe the transformational jumps in your life too. 

praying mantis

Just like this insect keeps its focus on God with constantly folded hands in prayer, keep your sight on God. Know that faith can move mountains and so you must keep the faith. 

Just like the mantis molts and changes its skin with every cycle, you must also be open to changes and undergo changes and learn to keep up. 

Only then will you get emotional and cathartic relief. The praying mantis medicine will help you become a better listener. And like this insect has stereo vision, you will also develop the ability to ‘see’ things in a clairvoyant way.

Praying Mantis in dreams

What does it mean when you see a praying mantis in dreams? It mostly symbolizes good luck. A praying mantis is a soothsayer or diviner. So it may be pointing you to something- perhaps your current life situation has left you confused. 

Perhaps you feel you need an answer or a direction to head to. The praying mantis may be pointing you in the right direction. 

The mantis has clairvoyant abilities. It can also sense danger and camouflage themselves with colors. So, seeing a praying mantis in dreams may mean that you need to be cautious and not let down your guard. 

praying mantis

Perhaps you need to camouflage yourself. Someone in your circles may be having some ulterior motives or may be plotting against you. 

So, it may be time to take action and transform. Set your sight on the divine. A praying mantis is always in the gesture of praying- so it can mean spiritual transformation. Keep the faith no matter what- God is watching over you and has your best intentions at heart. 

They are powerful insects. Dreaming of this insect shows metaphors in the land of dreams and it means that you have the power to achieve all that your heart desires. (5)

Praying Mantis encounters and omens

In most cultures, a praying mantis is a very fortunate sign. Never disturb one, or it will change any good luck to bad. 

In the East, seeing a fat female praying mantis just before the harvest means that the harvest season will be a good one. On the other hand, seeing a lean male mantis means that the season will be bad. (6

Traditionally, most insects are signs of good omens and that includes mantises. If you see a praying mantis by your window, say a prayer and be grateful for the abundance around you. 

praying mantis

This insect is a sign that you must always keep your eyes on the Divine. It is a bad omen to kill a praying mantis. If you wish to thrive, let the mantis stay alive. 

The singing of the praying mantis is also viewed as an omen. The destructive habits of this insect may have something to do with inspiring terror at its appearance. 

The mantis sits still and when a smaller insect approaches, it quickly moves in and traps it. The Hottentots will run any risks to secure these insects because killing one accidentally and dead mantis would bring every man, woman, and child to a miserable end.

Praying Mantis mythology and folklore

When a mantis kneels, it sees an angel or hears the rustle of her wings. If a mantis lands on your hand, it is a great sign, and it may be directing you in the right direction. 

According to folklore, if a mantis lands on your head, you will be in for great honor that will be conferred upon you. If by any chance, a mantis bites or hurts you, then you will lose a friend by calumny. The praying mantis, according to most legends, is a good luck charm. 

Ashby, in his Collection of Voyages and Travels, talks about the annoying way in which the Hottentots go out of their way to secure a praying mantis. After all, they consider killing one great sin. 

praying mantis

African Mythology is filled with similar stories. The Kraal of Africa believed that killing a mantis would slaughter all their cattle. 

Dr. Vanderkemp, in his Account of Caffria, talks about the soothsayer insect and how the Hottentots considered it a deity and worshipped it. 

St Francis Xavier legends describe the mantis as “the saint saw the insect with its legs in praying gesture and wanted to hear the insect sing praises of God, whereupon, it caroled forth a fine canticle.” 

French praying mantis mythology mentions that many girls would take mantises in their hands at crossroads and the insect would point out the direction where their lover would appear. (7)

Praying Mantis spirit animal

Praying mantis spirit animal indicates that you might want to learn some form of martial arts- kung fu, karate, or judo. 

These art forms have strong physical, spiritual, and psychological components that can benefit you greatly. They will also help you channel your spirit insect, the praying mantis. 

You may also want to make daily prayer and meditation a part of your routine – even if for a few minutes each day. 

The mantis is telling you to listen to your inner voice. Trust your instincts and keep the faith. Everything will be alright for you. So leave your worries and fears aside.

It is a good idea to read up all you can about your spirit insect. It helps to know the characteristic traits of a praying mantis. The female mantis devours her mate. Mantises have a super-powerful vision and they also molt and transform every season. 

They also have a great sense of hearing and, like bats, they use echolocation. So, try and develop your vision and hearing. You can do so by spending time in nature and listening to birds. 

Try and sit still like the mantis – do nothing but focus upon your breathing. Consider withdrawing your energy and efforts from what isn’t working and focus on diverting it to what is working. (8)

Praying Mantis totem animal

Praying mantis totem teaches you the art of stillness. In China, there is a whole form of martial arts developed around the praying mantis form. In Africa, the Bushmen tribe believes that the mantis was also a bushman. 

Many adventures and tales are told about this insect. These tales are quite similar to the tales of coyotes and ravens. Whenever the mantis got in trouble, he would go off to hide. 

He would then change his form and go off to sleep. In his sleep, he would get solutions to his problems. This praying mantis mythology epitomizes the keynote of this insect as a totem animal. 

praying mantis

It tells you the importance of stillness. It asks you to still the outer mind and go within. We can all draw power from the mental, spiritual, and emotional powers within us. 

This stillness can be achieved through meditation and even sleep and dreams. The praying mantis totem teaches us to still the outer form so that when the occasion arises, we can draw power from within. 

The word mantis means ‘prophet.’ Thus, if we still our minds, we can open ourselves to prophecy. Those with the mantis totem need to introspect and meditate and call upon the mantis to help grasp life’s many rewards. (9)

Praying Mantis power animal

The praying mantis power animal has great power and strength. This small creature, living its whole life in a single season, has some twilight awareness of the natural world in a delicate balance and is praying hard for all of us.  

The praying mantis is associated with the “power of stillness.” People with this creature as their power animal are directed to be still and open up to prophecy. 

Trust the mantis to help you remain still for long hours. Learn from it how to maintain your focus for long periods of time. 

praying mantis

You can do so by spending time in nature during the early hours of the morning. You can also meditate at home and stay still for several minutes each day. And of course: the mantis is also asking you to pray and keep the faith. 

Introspect and ask yourself the following questions: do I make my plans known before they materialize? Do I hastily make decisions? Am I feeling lost and powerless about a certain situation? Then call the mantis to guide you and direct you. 

The Greek word ‘mantis’ means soothsayer or prophet. Thus, the mantis is telling you that all the answers that you seek are all within you. Just be still and let your inner wisdom guide you. (10)

Praying Mantis tattoo meaning

Does the praying mantis keep “jumping” at you? It is, indeed, a good luck omen. If you have your heart set on a praying mantis tattoo, then you have made a great decision. 

This tattoo can have deep spiritual and symbolic meaning. Trust the praying mantis to take the right directions; indeed, this little creature will show you the way. 

You can learn to be still, patient, perceptive, calm, and meditative from this wise insect. The praying mantis appears to pray and so should you. Your tattoo will be a constant reminder to keep your focus on God. 

The praying mantis tattoo is also a sign of good luck. You will learn never to make any hasty decisions as the mantis shows you to be calm, cool, and still. 

At the same time, just like a mantis jumps at its prey, you will learn to jump at opportunities in your life. So, the tattoo will be a constant reminder to still and quiet your mind so that you can seek wisdom from all your spiritual resources within. 

It is a good idea to discuss your vision with your tattoo artist first. After all, praying mantis tattoos are not very common and you need to ensure your artist knows what you want.

Conclusion

Praying mantis symbolism, as you can see, varies quite a bit from culture to culture. In most cases, though, it symbolizes good luck. The keywords associated with a praying mantis are good luck, stillness, creativity, and spiritual wisdom. We hope this guide helps you decipher your own praying mantis meaning.

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2 thoughts on “Praying Mantis Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. I seen a praying mantis today and took pictures and before this my right hand was itching and after I seen the praying mantis I started reading up on it and I was sitting outside and now the birds are chirping and it feels good outside.

  2. Fantastic read! Goodness, I felt as if, I were reading my autobiography! Outstanding… Thank you.

    Alicia Rivera

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