Preying or Praying?

Found this little visitor on our front porch: Mantis religiosa

Mantises seem calm and peaceful, curious and almost contemplative … but they’re powerful predators with lightning-fast moves.

With their long necks, upright posture, distinct faces, and direct gaze, they’re decidedly charismatic (or terrifying). But more than that, they are fascinating creatures that have mastered their place in the natural world. About 2,000 known mantis species exist around the world, exhibiting a wide and awe-inspiring array of adaptations to their environments.


I can’t help but think about the way some people use prayer.  “Charismatic or terrifying.” Could it be said that people who have lost a sense of fascination with the world, and their place in the natural world, turn to prayer?  Others, of course, can use prayer as a kind of “spiritual weapon” with an image of god as a kind of Divine Predator vanquishing the “enemies of faith.”

Praying or preying, perhaps we all have something to learn from these amazing creatures.  

The Almanac gives us a taste of Mantid Folklore:

  • The French once thought that a praying mantid would point a lost child home.
  • In some parts of Africa, it is considered good luck if one of these curious creatures lands on you.
  • The Greek word mantis means “prophet” or “seer.” Because of the way the insects hold up the fronts of their bodies and position their huge forelegs when at rest, it appears as though they are praying for insight.
  • As with many of nature’s predators, hunters often become the hunted. The mantid’s natural enemies include birds, bats, spiders, snakes, and lizards. With so many enemies to worry about, perhaps praying mantids actually are saying their prayers!

Categories: natureTags: , , , , ,

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