Speaking in Symbols

Learning the language of the subconcious

Archive for the category “insect”

Crickets and Cockroaches

Recently, my anxiety has been out of control. I’ve had a hard time even leaving the house. My parents, in their wisdom, had me come spend some time at their house, and got me a doctors appointment to talk about the medication I’m on. In short, the doctor became the third diagnostician to say “bipolar” about me, and prescribed lithium–which, so far, has the side effect of planting a Nirvana earworm in my head whenever I even look at my pill bottle.

So, with that rather long and personal introduction, the night before my doctors appointment, I saw a black insect scurrying about the bedroom. It looked to me like a cockroach. I saw it again the next night, this time, with less scurrying , and I realized that it was a cricket.

Both the cockroach and the cricket have potent symbolism attached to them. I found it interesting that they are visually similar, and have nearly identical diets, but they are regarded so differently–as a personal note, I had no problem scooping up a cricket and depositing her on a plant outside, where a cockroach is to be killed on site.

cockroachCockroaches are, well, unpleasant. They are indicative of death, decay and filth. The naturalist in me can admire them for their tenacity and adaptability, but there’s something about them that is just…gross. They symbolize a desire to pull back from the world, to focus on survival. While Kafka never uses the word “cockroach”, the symbolism of cockroaches speak very strongly to his “The Metamorphosis“. The character of Gregor Samsa is often depicted as a cockroach or a cockroach-like creature in the art surrounding the story (as an aside, I once had a literature teacher who was a native of Germany. She would be appalled to see me write “Samsa” and “cockroach” in the same sentence.)

cricketWhile I was able to find some positive symbolism of cockroaches, I couldn’t shake the feeling of disgust and loathing surrounding them. Crickets, on the other hand, seem much more positive.  The cricket’s song is a staple of summer nights, and is something I consider comforting to hear. A cricket in the house symbolizes luck or fortune to come in some cultures (a token I destroyed by ushering my guest out the door). The character of Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (at least the Disney version) and Chester Cricket from “The Cricket in Times Square” bring an air of cunning and wisdom to the cricket archetype.

The most striking thing to me about my visitor was that before my medication change, I thought it was a cockroach. After, I saw that it was really a cricket. The symbols around me lately have been urging a change, while being vague about what needed to change. I’ve been getting a lot of death symbols–a category where the cockroach fits nicely–and the non-death symbols all pointed towards movement, as does the cricket’s hopping form of locomotion.

I’m not faithful or conceited enough to think that God or the universe or whatever drops signs into my lap. I do, however, believe that my subconscious causes me to notice things in a timely manner. I can’t fathom the cockroach-turned-cricket as anything other than a coincidence, but I’m glad that it happened. And I hope that as my new medication starts to kick in, the world will be filled with more crickets, and fewer cockroaches.


While still reeling from the realization that my subconscious can lie to me, an image came to me with a great deal of force. The image was clearly that of a dragonfly, but it was a crude drawing, almost like a petroglyph.

crude dragonflyThe colors in the dragonfly I saw were reds and oranges. I haven’t payed much attention to color in the past; I haven’t seen much need to pay attention to color.  The black horse and the brown butterfly I wrote about recently have really been the only archetypes that have come to me where the color mattered. The fact that my dragonfly is red and orange, then, becomes an important part of decoding it’s meaning.

Red and orange are both warm colors, associated with energy and power. Red also symbolizes passion, love and desire, while orange represents balance, enthusiasm and warmth.

Female green darter at rest. Image courtesy Wikipedia commons.

Female green darter at rest. Image courtesy Wikipedia commons.

The dragonfly itself is full of symbolic meaning. It is a creature that lives in two worlds–the water and the air–and is indicative of change.  Like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly, a dragonfly naiad is unrecognizable when compared to the adult.

Dragonflies have a symbolic connection to the spiritual realm. Because they feed on mosquitoes, the are found around water, and many Native American traditions say that the dragonfly is indicative of pure water. They are also an invitation to look deeper, to peer into that water as it were, and to be wary of self-created illusions. This makes sense, then that the image of a dragonfly came to me while I was thinking about the man in my dreams who deceived me about what symbolizes me.

A dragonfly rests with it’s wings outstretched, which, to me, bears a resemblance to a double-barred cross.  I was mildly surprised to discover, then that in early and medieval Christian tradition, the dragonfly was considered a creature of the devil, one that would weigh souls down so they couldn’t go to heaven, or who would stitch the eyes and mouths of misbehaving children closed.  This, too, speaks to me. Dragonflies are beautiful, helpful insects, but they were maligned and unfairly castigated by humans for centuries.  The dragonfly then reaches back to the idea that maybe some of the things I’m feeling and experiencing aren’t so much bad, as misunderstood. This is comforting to me.

I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of the symbolism concerning color and dragonflies with this post. And, like all other posts on this blog, I’ve just talked about the symbolic meanings that are significant to me–someone else who saw or feels connected to a red dragonfly might have a completely different interpretation. I think that’s part of the reason why I love symbol work so much.


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