The Pagan Blog Project: B is for Bugs
Those who have followed me on Tumblr for awhile know that I have a slight obsession with bugs. In fact, I have a tag for anything bug-related because I post them often and I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm. But really, what’s not to like? They are beautiful, necessary, freaking cool, and endlessly fascinating. They’re so different that in some ways they seem like little aliens, or rather they make everything else feel alien because their functionality is so plugged in to the rest of the ecosystem that our world would be vastly different without them. Take the crisis over the honeybee population decline as an example.
The significance of arthropods is not a new thing. Ancient peoples also saw the goings-on of our tiny planet cohabiters which led to insects and spiders taking significant roles in mythology. Native American mythology has more examples than I can put down, spiders and bees figure prominently in Greek mythology, crickets and mantids among many others appear in Chinese stories, scarabs and scorpions are everywhere you look in Egyptian mythology, and let’s not leave out all the bugs responsible in the seven plagues of Egypt (whichever version you’re reading).
I had intended to list specifics, but time being an issue today, instead I’m going to recommend a book if you are interested in reading more about it: Insect Mythology by Gene Kritsky and Ron Cherry. The charts in the Kindle version get a little messy, but the information is good regardless.
In folk traditions, the habits of insects have provided insight on the ways of nature, but have also brought about divinatory meanings and even superstitions. Here’s a few you may or may not be familiar with:
- Ladybugs are a sign of good luck. If one lands on you while you are sick, it is said to take the illness away from you.
- A cricket singing nearby is a sign of good luck and protection.
- Many insects are known to be able to signal an oncoming storm. If bees and butterflies are not in their usual place in your garden, best be prepared for some weather.
- Finding a spider on you means money is coming your way. Spiders are mostly considered signs of good luck.
- In Chinese folklore during the Chou Dynasty, placing a cicada-shaped piece of jade on the tongue of a deceased person was believed to bring about resurrection via reincarnation.
- If you are lost and meet a praying mantis, it will show you north by pointing with its front legs.
- A while moth is said to be the soul of a loved one. Moths overall tend to be associated with souls and spirits as well as communication.
There are so many more, a simple Google search will keep you busy for hours learning how insects are viewed throughout the world and centuries.
But what about magic?
I tend to fancy myself a bug witch. I find a lot of power in insects and spiders, and it has more to do with their functions and behaviors than with beliefs in any particular mythology. So if I’m going to work a spell, I consider what it is I’m wanting to accomplish and then match it to an appropriate insect. In other words, I use bugs as magical correspondences, like others would use colors, herbs, stones, etc.
A picture will work fine, an actual specimen is not necessary. If you do happen to find an insect molt, exoskeleton, wing, or other piece, consider keeping it for future use.
Here are some common spell themes and insects that would be appropriate in combination:
- Protection: Beetles, or anything with a tough exoskeleton. I mention beetles specifically because of the elytra, or hard shell, that protects the wings underneath. Many species also tend to be fairly territorial of their space and/or mate, another aspect beneficial for protective work.
- Beauty, either physical or in the sense of positive change: Butterflies are great for this. While most people see them as pretty, these beauties of the order Lepidoptera undergo a complete metamorphosis, meaning that they have four distinct stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, adult. Most other insect orders don’t do this. So if you’re wanting to make a change for the better, a butterfly might perfect for you.
- Motivation, hard work, success: Ants or bees. You can’t go wrong with either of these diligent workers. If you want to turn this into a money/finance spell, bees may be your better choice, as their hard work results in honey for us to harvest and also enables our crops to grow.
- Love, attraction: Many insects are known for their mating calls. My personal favorite is the cicada. I adore the sound of their choir in the summer. The males are the only ones who sing, and in locations inhabited by multiple cicada species, these insects develop a different range so that the females are attracted to the correct males. What’s better, cicada husks are easy to collect in the summer if you have some in your area. Just look for the little brown shells clinging to the sides of trees.
- Setting action into place or changing your fate: Look to the weavers. Spiders have had long associations with luck and fate and for good reason. Imagine you are a spider on your web. You feel everything that touches it, even the subtlest of wind currents. You can change your web how you please.
Again, there are dozens of other examples, but these are just a few to get you thinking.
If you find yourself drawn to a particular insect, read a lot about it. You’ll probably find a lot of things you can use it for. Since I am so fond of cicadas, I use them for many kinds of change spells. Their life cycle is very suitable to this.
I hope this has given you some idea of why bugs are just so awesome. As little creatures that are so in-tune to the workings of the natural world, it makes sense that we work with them in a way to make the changes we seek through magic. Even science has turned to insects to solve problems, like naturally combatting agricultural issues. We certainly can learn a lot from them as well.