Thursday, October 18, 2012
- Yesterday, before I left for school in the afternoon, my husband brought my attention to a praying mantis sitting on our Volkswagon beetle... beneath the basketball net.... sitting very still... and reflecting.

She's a beauty, isn't she?

Looking up the symbolic meaning in the Animal-Speak Pocket Guide, I found this...


When we become still, this allows us to reflect... or rather... to think.

Think about our experiences.

Think about ideas we have in mind.

Think about how to solve a problem.

Stillness allows us to listen to our intuition.

After sitting still for awhile, I thought of something... and I went to dig into our old toy chest to look... to look for another teacher... and I took her outside into the garden for a photo session.


A Praying Mantis is the perfect animal to serve as a teacher of word play.  The Greek word mantis means prophet. The term prophet refers to a spiritual teacher.  The praying mantis is named for the way it holds up its front legs as if in prayer to God.
And yet, one might also call this creature a preying mantis, where preying is spelled with an 'e' instead of an 'a'.  The word prey, spelled with an 'e' means to hunt other animals for food
The praying mantis is an ambush hunter.  It waits quietly for an insect to pass by and then... in a split second... it grabs its prey.   Farmers and gardeners like the praying mantis, because it feeds on aphids, beetles, and caterpillars that eat garden plants and vegetables. 

The words pray and prey are homonyms of one another.  They sound exactly alike, yet have different meanings.  Homonyms are a form of word play.

I will give our new teacher of word play the formal title Professor of Etymology.  Etymology is the study of the origin and history of words

So what exactly is the etymology of etymology?  The word etymology comes from the Greek root words etymos, meaning true or the true literal sense of a word, and logos from legein, which means "to speak."

There is a similar sounding word entomology, which means the study of insects. 

The praying mantis on our car sat and studied herself for a long time.  Perhaps she has never seen her own reflection before and she is studying it, trying to figure out who or what is looking back at her.


Where can you find more information about about the praying mantis?
Try these cool websites...
National Geographic
Environmental Graffiti

Douglas Florian's book Insectlopedia is a wonderful book of paintings and poems that teach about insects, including the Praying Mantis.  See if you can borrow it through your local library.

If this Praying Mantis were to describe what she sees, how would she describe herself?

After looking attentively at you
r reflection in a mirror, how would you describe yourself?


While you are out walking, collect leaves, twigs, pine needles, and berries to create some Nature Art.  If you want, post a photo of your artwork on our facebook page.

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