Praying Mantis as Garden Helper
Praying mantises are elusive insects and quite carnivorous. They are a boon in a garden that is overrun with insect pests. But they are indiscriminate and will eat anything that crosses their paths, including other beneficial insects and their mates. I’ve been in Denver nine years and have never seen a praying mantis in my yard or garden. I occasionally found them in my Pennsylvania garden, but they blend in with their surroundings and are often hard to fine.
Praying mantis as Gung Fu animal
The praying mantis is also one of the five symbolic animals of Gung Fu, the martial art form in which Samuel Copeland was a Grandmaster. In planning for a memorial gathering for Sam at my house on Sunday, I wanted to include toy images of the five animals: tiger, crane, praying mantis, snake, and monkey (1) to place in the gardens.
I quickly found toys of the other four animals, but I could not find a praying mantis anywhere. Apparently toy praying mantises are as elusive as the live ones. A week before the gathering I decided I would just substitute a dragon, because (a) I love dragons, (b)dragon is included as one of the five animals in other martial art systems and (c) it is really easy to find toy dragons.
Dragons are not Praying Mantises
I immediately found a beautiful toy dragon, but as the week moved on, I kept having this vaguely discordant feeling that the dragon wasn’t right. I almost felt that Sam was telling me I needed a praying mantis. In the last few months, I have discounted any situations in which it seemed Sam was communicating with me, thinking they were coincidences or just my imagination. It has been suggested to me that perhaps I am not paying enough attention.
On Friday before the gathering, I went out to my porch to hang new prayer flags. When I got up on a chair, there at the edge of the roof of the porch, next to the nail for the prayer flags, was a praying mantis. I would not have noticed it even if I had looked up from the porch. It was only when I got up to the exact place the prayer flags were going that I saw it. Think what you will, but I’m pretty sure that was orchestrated by Sam in some way to let me know his energy is still here. I brought the praying mantis into the back yard gardens so it would be present for the Sunday gathering.
Praying Mantises Everywhere
Fast forward to the gathering on Sunday. My friend Polly showed up and said she had a picture of an insect on her phone she wanted me to identify. She had no idea of what had already transpired. I knew before she pulled up the picture that it would be a praying mantis! And yes it was!
I shared the praying mantis stories with everyone at the gathering, and fifteen minutes after everyone left, I got a text from Kara who had returned home to her cat delivering a live praying mantis to her as a gift.
All of this makes my heart happy. I miss Sam terribly, but suddenly I am seeing his energy everywhere.
What is Praying Mantis Energy?
I knew this week’s mindfulness focus had to be about praying mantis energy. It has taken me a few days to process what that might be. There is a lot to pick from. Different traditions zero in on different attributes. The praying mantis is patient and quiet. When it strikes it is fast and efficient. It is also elusive and almost invisible. When I think about it, many of those characteristics could be applied to Grandmaster Samuel Copeland.
But for me, the main lesson of the week is about being mindful and attentive to the quieter energies and connections that I sometimes ignore, discount, or screen out. Am I open to receiving those messages so the universe doesn’t have to work so hard to get my attention? Can I cultivate a willingness to discover praying mantis energy all around me?
If you’d like more information on my mindfulness focus words experiment, click here.
- The five animals vary depending on the tradition, but in Sam’s tradition it was praying mantis, crane, monkey, snake, and tiger. just like in the movie Kung Fu Panda. The spelling of Gung Fu also varies, but his tradition spelled it with a “G”.
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