Praying Mantis – Patience and Wisdom Wednesday November 6, 2013
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Praying Mantis – Patience and Wisdom

California Praying Mantis

California Mantis (Stagmomantis californica)

The Praying Mantis

From whence arrived the praying mantis? From outer space, or lost Atlantis? glimpse the grin, green metal mug at masks the pseudo-saintly bug, Orthopterous* also carnivorous, And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.

~ Ogden Nash

Follow Mantis

To “Follow Mantis” means to honor your true nature, your highest self – and let it direct you. When a praying mantis comes to visit, its message may be one of a spiritual nature. Mantis asks that we take a moment to pause, reflect, and become aware of our surroundings. Has life gotten a little out of hand? Feeling overwhelmed? Gaze into the eyes of a praying mantis and let him/her teach you how to still the mind and go within.

Close-up of the eyes of a mantis

It is said that when gazing into the eyes of the Mantis – one can feel the presence of God.

Praying Mantis Symbolism

Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, praying mantises have long been attributed with supernatural powers. The word “mantis” in Greek means “prophet” or “seer.” In southern parts of Africa, the San people believe their god, Kaggen, most often manifests himself as a praying mantis. Ancient Egyptians believed certain insects such as the praying mantis acted as guides along one´s journey into eternal life. During excavations at Deir el Medina, a small clay coffin was found containing the remains of a praying mantis wrapped in linen.

Egyptian Praying Mantis

Egyptian Praying Mantis – Ab’yt (“Dancer”)

An ancient Chinese dictionary attributes the mantis with having courage and fearlessness –        Today, the praying mantis is a symbol of Chinese martial arts; the movements and fighting strategies simulating those of a praying mantis. The scientific name for a European mantis is Mantis religiosa, referring to the way a mantis holds its front legs up as if in prayer. In France, it is believed that if you become lost, a praying mantis can point the way home ……and in Islamic cultures, a mantis will help direct pilgrims along their journey to Mecca.

Praying Mantis in Prayer Posture

The Praying Mantis folds its front legs up high as if in prayer.

Carolina State Insect

In 1988, South Carolina designated a praying mantis as their official state insect as a symbol of entomology and its role in agriculture. Because of their predatory habits and voracious appetites, praying mantises are often used to control harmful agricultural pests. The Carolina Mantid tends to be brown in color and is easily identified by shorter wings which extend just three quarters in length down the abdomen. This species is also found outside of South Carolina in the southern states and within South and Central America.

Carolina Praying Mantis

Carolina Mantid (Stagmomantis carolina) feeding on a bee.

Mating Mantises……or is it Dinnertime?

Mantises will eat any insect if hungry, not just pesky garden or agricultural insects. They will even eat a small lizard or bird! Most praying mantises are “ambushers” remaining perfectly still until they are sure of their movement, then they strike out at the exact moment needed to capture their prey. Speaking of eating…… is true that a hungry female praying mantis will bite the head off a male during mating but usually only thirty percent of the time. If you´re male and courting a female mantis, lets´ just say you´re definitely gambling with your life when you flash your beautiful wings.

Female California Praying Mantis with Open Wings

Steven, of Hearts Pest Management, rescued this female praying mantis. After accidently getting pesticide on her, he washed her off and carried her to a different plant. Female abdomens are larger than males; both have beautiful wings.

Spiritual Concepts of the Praying Mantis

Oh Master Mantis, teach me thy ways that I may “follow mantis” all the days of my life…. …….from the praying mantis we can learn how to live life on life´s terms, to be present and act with certainty. Here are some of the characteristics of the Mantis that we can incorporate into our lives:

o Become invisible to ones´ enemies and observe others before taking action – The praying mantis remains motionless and blends with its environment. Mantis does not move until it is certain the motion is appropriate.

Praying Mantis in defense position

The praying mantis never makes a move unless it is sure it is the right one.

o Instill Patience, Calmness, Balance, and Peace – Mantis doesn´t hurry through life, it sits and contemplates with its legs held up like two hands in prayer. Mantis is mindful of the choices it makes and moves with calm, deliberate intent. Each day is balanced with work (hunting), fine food, rest, daily ablutions, travel (flying here and there), physical exercise and exploring the environment. At the end of the day, Mantis can say, “A day well done!”

Orchid Mantis

Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) from the rain forests of Southeast Asia mimicking an orchid for camouflage.

o Good Grooming and Eating Habits – Mantis takes its time when eating, enjoying every morsel then calmly grooms itself like a cat. It cleans its forelegs, then uses them to clean its head and pulls each leg through its mouth as a final ablution.

o Self-awareness – Mantis can swivel its head 180° allowing it to take in and focus on its surroundings. From Mantis, one can learn to be centered; to be physically relaxed, emotionally calm and mentally focused. Swivel your head and see the beauty around you. Allow your body to recharge itself through nature. This energy enables one to meet the challenges and opportunities of life. When Mantis appears, he/she is asking you to direct your thoughts and energy in a healthier way.

Praying mantis perching

The Praying Mantis has excellent, binocular-type vision.

o Be Present Now – Mantis does not worry about things that have not yet come. In watching Mantis, you can learn to keep your energy focused in the present moment, making decisions within the exact moment they need to be made. See how Mantis performs one task at a time, all the way to completion. Mantis focuses its attention on what it is doing in the present moment, it doesn´t think about what it “should” or “could” be doing.

Praying Mantis, Daintree Rainforest

Baby Praying Mantis, Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Practicing Mantis

In channeling the energy of a praying mantis the world opens up to a new awareness, purposeful direction, patience in waiting for the right moment in order to take action, living a life balanced between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. At the end of the day, reflect – how was your day spent? Did you accomplish your goals? Make time for yourself, a nap, read a few pages in a book, take a warm bath? Did you hurry through the day or slow down for a moment and notice the honey bee? Maybe thank her for her role in pollination so that we can have food, like fruits and vegetables to eat………may you go now………be wise and – “Follow Mantis”

~ Namaste

Praying Mantis yoga pose

Praying Mantis doing yoga – the “Eagle” pose


The California praying mantis in the images above came to visit me on two occasions. He flew through the lattice and into the upstairs patio but much to his surprise; he was met by three cats. It was late afternoon on a Saturday, when I heard Blitzen (my kitten) playing with something in the dining room. At first I didn´t realize it was a praying mantis, I just knew I needed to save it. I grabbed the mantis out of Blitzen´s mouth, carried it down the stairs, wondering what I should do with it, and then I remembered how mantises are beneficial in gardens, so I placed it on a geranium.

We looked at each other, we talked, we had a great photo session, and I even gave him a drink of water by pouring some on a leaf. Here´s the kicker, early Sunday evening, I hear Atreus (one of the other cats), munching on something in the dining room. I look down and it´s the same praying mantis! Atreus is a larger, fat cat that easily could eat a mantis in a nanosecond but I grabbed it out of his mouth and saved it again, placing it on the same geranium. Do I understand the message this particular mantis almost gave up his life (twice) to bring to me? The answer is yes – I plan on taking more naps!

Article by Donna Walker

Article by Donna Walker

*Definition: Orthopterous – belonging to the order of insects, Orthoptera, which includes mantids,  walkingsticks, crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and katydids. Spellings: Preying or Praying; Mantid or Mantis – Praying mantis is sometimes spelled as “preying “mantis. Mantid refers to members of the family Mantidae but the common name “praying mantis” is generally applied to any species in the order because of the “prayer” posture.


Mallis, Arnold, Handbook of Pest Control, Tenth Edition, The Mallis Handbook Company, 2011 Imes, Rick, The Practical Entomologist, Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, N.Y. 1992. Kruger National Park, South Africa – San/Bushman Cow of Gold – online Encyclopedia of Egyptian Mythology


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