What It Really Means If You Keep Seeing Praying Mantises Everywhere
Praying mantises have a long history of spiritual significance, and if you've ever seen one in person, you likely know their poise and grace is something to behold. Here's what to know the next time a praying mantis appears, plus what to do about it.
What a praying mantis symbolizes.
Spiritual teacher Alyson Charles trusts that animals have a way of coming to us when we need to hear their messages the most. "It's a guide trying to come into our lives, trying to get our attention," she explains.
In the case of praying mantises, they can represent everything from precision to prophecy, contemplation to deliberation, as well as vision, prayer, perception, and synchronicity, Charles explains.
If they show up around you, it could be a sign you need to make wise choices and act with precision, deepen your mindfulness practice, or be more patient. This is a creature that encourages us to slow down and connect with inner wisdom and even sharpen our clairvoyant abilities, Charles tells mbg.
Historically, she adds, the praying mantis actually inspired a form of kung fu martial arts. During the Northern Song period (A.D. 960–1126), a Chinese kung fu master named Wang Lang was inspired by the movements of the praying mantis after he lost a martial arts competition.
"He watched a praying mantis trying to catch a cicada and was inspired by the agile moves of the mantis. It is said he then collected praying mantises and took them back to the Shaolin Temple to observe closely, going on to create his own form of kung fu inspired by the mantises' moves," Charles writes in her book Animal Power: 100 Animals To Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul.
5 spiritual meanings behind the praying mantis:
Tap into stillness.
The praying mantis' slow, calculated movements can serve as a reminder to tap into your own inner stillness and mindfulness, Charles notes. If you're being too hasty with your actions or words, she explains, the praying mantis "teaches you how to use the immense power of stillness to achieve clarity, which can then lead to action."
Connect to spiritual realms.
Praying mantises have a deep connection to the unseen realms, Charles tells mbg. When they appear to you, they can be encouraging you to work with their energy in prayer, meditation, or ancient healing arts to take your practices deeper.
Answer the call of your soul.
"If you want to sync up with and live by the rhythms and desires of your soul and body—rather than external constructs like alarm clocks and forced work schedules—call upon [the] praying mantis...to help guide you into the state of being," Charles says.
Relating to No. 1, praying mantises ask us to tap into stillness, as well as slow down. "Do not rush your next actions or speak of your visions too soon," Charles explains. The praying mantis is related to patience and further, waiting for the exact time to step forward or speak.
"The praying mantis shows up when it's time to take your spiritual or mindfulness practices deeper, especially if you've been feeling impatient with something in your life," she adds.
Lastly, Charles tells mbg that if you're seeking clarity, next steps, or answers, the praying mantis allows you to surrender the issue or question to it, spirit, and Mother Earth, "releasing it and asking for the solution that serves the highest good to be revealed."
She adds that the message praying mantis gives is engaged in prayer, surrender, and divine timing. "Perhaps you wish you had an answer for something right now, or you wish a goal or intention you've set had already come to fruition. The easiest way to encourage patience, especially when you're eager for something to happen or physically manifest, is to surrender the goal in prayer," Charles explains.
What to do if you keep seeing praying mantises.
So, if praying mantises are popping up everywhere for you, what can you actually do? According to Charles, get clear on what you believe the message is (based on the different aforementioned meanings above—or your own personal interpretation).
"You can connect with the animal more deeply through a meditation or a shamanic journey and call that animal forward and have a conversation with it. Ask it personally why it's showing up," she says.
From there, Charles recommends a practice to call upon the praying mantis to help in decision making. "This practice should only be worked with when you're trying to make an important decision—when that decision is looming, call upon praying mantis to divinely guide you and clarity and timing," she says.
- Close your eyes and watch a praying mantis in your mind's eye. See how it observes from all angles and sometimes leans in ever so slightly to get an even clearer read on when the precise moment is to strike.
- Write down all of the possible options in this decision-making process.
- Say inwardly or aloud before each of those options, "Sacred praying mantis in my soul is making the decision to ____." In the blank, insert the possible decisions you're trying to make. Ask if that option is serving your highest good, and directly after you ask, you will either hear or sense a yes or no.
- If all current possibilities receive a no answer, it is not the right time for you to make your move.
- Repeat this process when you have more possible answers or solutions until a yes is revealed, and that is divine guidance being provided. It is then up to you to heed it and trust it, and let it take you to the next highest possible place in your life.
Charles also recommends an invocation to activate praying mantis medicine, which goes as follows: Dear praying mantis, I am ready to surrender to the rhythms and instructions of the universe in my soul. I ask that you reveal to me how to be in a strong and trusting co-creative relationship with source and power my prayers and reveal any clarity that will illuminate my pathway forward.
The praying mantis color.
Spiritually, the color green is connected to the heart (and the heart chakra). As Charles tells mbg, green also relates to healing energies.
"When those two things are combined, it's an extra urging of you to tune into the wisdoms, the guidance, and the intelligence and intuition of your heart space," she explains, adding, "It could also be symbolic of the praying mantis bringing extra healing energies into your life or the situation that you're pondering or seeking deeper guidance on."
If you see a dead praying mantis.
If you've seen a dead praying mantis—or any dead animal for that matter—Charles says it's an even stronger message to get your attention. "Anytime there's a dead animal, I teach that that is the animal trying to get your attention—and in an even more potent and powerful way," she explains.
After all, we rarely think twice if we see a bird fly by, but a dead bird in front of you almost always makes you pause for a moment. So a dead praying mantis, then, still relates to all the aforementioned themes but really asks us to consider the message more deeply.
If they're appearing in your dreams.
According to Charles, it's not uncommon for animals to show up in our dreams, simply as another way to get our attention and relay a message. "They will enter our lives in avenues and ways they feel will serve your highest, greatest earthly good," she explains.
From ladybugs to butterflies—and of course, praying mantises—the world is full of creatures that have important messages for us. And when we're aware of those messages, we're better able to live in tune with, and heed the wisdom of, the Earth.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.