Tag Archives: grasshopper symbolism

Demonic Animals

 

black catYour neighbor’s cat is NOT a demon…well, maybe it is.

From waaaay back to Sumerian times, man has imbued animals with diabolical traits. Mesopotamian demons (animal-man hybrids on 2 feet)  and monsters ( animal-man hybrids on 4 feet) plagued folks with disease, disaster and sin. The Bull of Heaven, centaur, griffin, Asakku, lion-fish, and Imdugod are just a few.

Those demonic creatures morphed over time to become the allegorical representations of the devil in Christianity.

In art, Evil—or the Devil—is often portrayed with animal appendages like claws or hooves, or depicted as a craven beast-like creature. Below is a short list of those animals associated with Evil.

Warning: This is a post about symbolism! Before leaving a nasty response about your cat NOT being a demon you might want to read the post about symbolism.

Cat/Black cat: Associated with witchcraft and demons. The black cat was believed a gift from the devil. (They have those creepy demonic-looking eyes, too.)

Fly: A symbol of corruption and evil. Bringer of plague and disease. The Lord of the Flies ( Beezlebub is the Hebrew word ) is another name for Satan. Remember reading the novel Lord of the Flies…remember all the religious symbolism?

Frog: Associated with magic and the familiar of witches, the frog and its toxic skin is symbolic of evil doings.

Grasshopper: Perhaps derived from Aesop and his ancient tales, the fun-loving grasshopper plays around instead of preparing for the winter ( like the ant). When winter arrives, the grasshopper begs for food and shelter from the industrious ant. The ant says “no way” and the grasshopper dies. The grasshopper is a symbol of human foolishness.

he-goats: A symbol of lust and fertility. With its early links to the Greek gods like Pan ( a licentious goat-man), Dionysus (let’s get drunk & fornicate god), and Zeus ( serial cheater ), no wonder the horns ( horny?) and hooves were bestial indicators of the Devil.

Monkey: They made an evil comeback as flying goons for the Wicked Witch, but themonkey  creature is actually linked to deception and vanity. It’s considered one of the three senseless creatures—the other two are tigers ( for anger issues) and the deer ( for pining love).

Snake: It’s a no-brainer. The serpent beguiled Eve into taking a bite of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Toad: A familiar of witches, the skin  secretions are poisonous if eaten. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is a toad that pours poison into  Eve’s ear.

Wolf: Associated with cruelty, avarice, carnality, and dishonesty.

Note: I teach literary analysis ( must pay the bills) and remind my students to look closely at the symbolism in a novel. Why did the author include that fruit? Or name the character Neil? Why is the protagonist sitting under a pear tree? Why is her dress blue? Before jumping to any symbolic conclusions however, we look at the symbol in context of setting, history, and culture.

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Bugs, Insects, & Crawlies

fly

I don’t want them in my house, on the dog, or anywhere near me. Flying, crawling or hopping, I was never much of an amateur Entomologist. However, as one who teaches literary analysis to pay the rent, I do have my students look into the symbolism of any creepy crawly found in any literary or expository text.

Bugs are symbolic!  Yup, that’s right! But you already knew that, right? I mean you don’t call someone a worm without reason! You refer to a person as a worm because a worm symbolizes a low creature who slithers through the dirt and feasts on decaying flesh.

Here are a few of my favorite bugs and just a wee bit of what they symbolize. For blog’s sake, I did not include a deeper understanding of the symbolism and myths surrounding these insects. I’m just providing a small symbolic glimpse!

Ant:
  •  Like ant behavior, the ant symbolises hard work, diligence, and orderly ( almost military behavior, ie; ants “march.”)
Bee:
  • Order, diligence, immortality, cooperation, teamwork–yup a no brainer.
  • The little stinger, its honey, and beeswax are prevalent symbols found in Christianity.
  • Also associated with royalty (especially the queen bee) and gods
  • The hive represents a church or immortality.
  • Kama, a Hindu god of love is portrayed with honey bees–aka the sweetness of love
  • Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644) had 3 gold bees on his coat of arms.
Beetle:
  • Ancient Egyptians believed the scarab beetle was sacred because it represents scarabregeneration, immortality, and divine wisdom. The bug is also associated with the God of the Rising Sun.
Butterfly:
  • Yep–the insect of spectacular metamorphosis is connected to the soul–specifically to its transformation and resurrection.
  • It also is symbolic of happiness and beauty.
  • The winged creature is the symbol of the geisha in Japan, but 2 butterflies signify a joyful marriage.
  • Mmmm..ties in nicely to the symbolism of releasing butterflies at a wedding.
  • butterfly
Dragonfly:
  • The flitting darting critter is connected to illusion and magic.
  • Western cultures believe it evil.
  • In China, its erratic flight pattern represents unpredictability.
  • In Japan, it is symbolic of joy, strength, and courage.
Fly: 
  • A symbol of corruption and evil ( remember that when you swat it –“Take that Evil!”)
  • Bringer of plague and disease.
  • Lord of the Flies ( Beezlebub is the Hebrew word ) is another name for Satan.
  • Remember reading the novel Lord of the Flies…remember all the religious symbolism?
  • For Native Americans, Dontso, the Big Fly, is a messenger spirit who is associated with healing.
Grasshopper:
  • Ancient Greeks decided the grasshopper’s fecundity ( abundance) made it the perfect critter to symbolize fertility.
  • Greek nobles wore golden grasshopper hair ornaments.
  • In China, the green hopper is symbolic of good luck.
  • In Asia, the song of the grasshopper represents chanting Buddhist monks.
Ladybug: 
  • Once linked to the Virgin Mary ( fertility and motherhood ), the black-spotted bug is a sign of good luck.
Locust:
  •  Destruction, devastation, punishment– Old Testament wrath of God symbolism.
  • In  medieval times, they symbolize the torment and ruin of the soul.
Praying Mantis: 
  • Divine & magical OR diabolic & devouring…take your symbolic pick!praying mantis
  • Mantis originates from the Greek “prophet.”
  • In Japan, Samurai use it to denote bravery and cunning.
Moth:
  • A creature of the night ( scary), the winged ugly’s being drawn to the light symbolizes the soul’s search for God.
  • Throw in some insanity symbolism and the belief that witches morphed into moths and you can understand how the Mothman myth got started.
Scorpion:
  • The astrological sign of Pluto ( Lord of the Underworld ), the lil’ stinger is associated with death and treachery.
snail
  • Snail:                                                        **Slow but reliable,the slimy trailer represents the lunar cycle and the feminine.                     **Its shell is equated with infinity and the labyrinth.
Spider:
  • The eensy, teensy spider is the weaver of destiny.
  • But it also symbolizes a predator.
  • Symbolism varies from culture to culture.
  • For example, to see a spider hanging from a thread is a sign of good luck in China.
Termite:
  •  Diligent and collaborative, the critter is symbolic of fertility and persistence.
  • Their mounds represent a door to the underworld in India.
Wasp:
  • Unlike the highly regarded bee, the wasp is considered evil.
Worm:
  • Earth, death, decay, mortality–fun stuff!

Hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the Symbolism of Bugs! Now, I have to shower…my skin is beginning to itch!

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