Grasshoppers are insects found all around the world that can jump, fly, and work together to do wondrous things. They have provided spiritual meanings from ancient times including in the Bible and Aesop’s fables. Grasshoppers have sacred meanings as totems, both representing good and bad tidings showing the two-sided nature of the animal.
The Spiritual Grasshopper
Spiritual matters give meaning to our lives.
Symbolism is an important part of spirituality, especially symbols involving nature. All things involving nature, including insects like the grasshopper, can have a spiritual side.
Grasshoppers have provided meaning even before the Greek storyteller Aesop told his famous story of the grasshopper and the ant. Let us delve into the spiritual side of grasshoppers.
Basic Facts About Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers are insects found in forests and grassland areas worldwide.
They are often portrayed as being green (see, for example, a virtual phone brand named after them) but also can be brown or gray. Grasshoppers can camouflage themselves in the grass, and eat plants, including farmers’ crops. They can consume up to 16 times their weight.
Grasshoppers have antennae and compound eyes that help them to see, touch, and smell. Male grasshoppers can chirp or sing by rubbing their legs together. It is a type of mating call.
These guys can be a pest but also serve as a major source of food for many animals, including humans, who often find them a tasty form of protein.
Grasshoppers in the Bible
Grasshoppers are referenced in various ways in the Bible. They symbolized abundance but also something insignificant. Hebrew spies reported back that one group of people was rather scary, looking at the Hebrews as if they were “like grasshoppers.”
But, in the end, it was the grasshoppers (Hebrews) who won. This was not the first time that the enemy of the Hebrews was plagued by grasshoppers.
Locusts are among the plagues inflicted by Yahweh (God) on Egyptians to punish them for enslaving the Hebrews. Locusts were a horror show, blacking out the sun and devouring the Egyptian crops. The Hebrews now became the “locusts” and conquered Canaan.
We see here the complex nature of the grasshopper. It is by itself a small and insignificant creature but one that can do great damage when working together. They show the power of nature, including its ability to cause great harm. Harm that we often cannot prevent.
The Grasshopper and the Ant
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
Aesop was an Ancient Greek storyteller who used fables, stories often about animals, to teach a moral lesson. One well-known story tells of the hard-working ant who looked on while the happy-go-lucky grasshopper wiled away the time playing.
When wintertime came, the ant had food stored away, but the grasshopper had nothing and came begging. The ant harshly told the grasshopper to go away and play some more.
The lesson is that we should prepare for the future. This is an interesting lesson in some ways because other people respect the grasshopper, believing we should enjoy the moment.
Some even question the ant in the story, arguing the ant is being greedy by shunting away the grasshopper who is in need. A starving person should not just be denied because we think they are not worthy of our help. We might have misjudged how much the person wasted life away.
Kung Fu and “Young Grasshopper”
It is also the name of a popular 1970s television program starring David Carradine, who had a special master (teacher) that fans of old Charlie Chan movies might recognize as “Number One Son.” The old master was like a grandfather to him, and nicknamed him “grasshopper.”
The name arose when the young student asked the old man how he could function so well even though he was blind. The old master explained his other senses compensated, and not seeing allowed him to focus on things he would otherwise ignore. This included the sound of a grasshopper, which was nearby, but only the blind master was able to “see” it.
The old master provided an important lesson. We often are “blind” to many things because we focus on things that do not matter or crowd out everything else.
“Two Grasshoppers Tied On The Same String”
There is a Chinese idiom about two grasshoppers tied on the same string. It means that two people now depend on each other, whether they like it or not.
This can be used to apply to great endeavors, such as President Nixon and Mao working together to “open China” or small, like a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law working together.
A totem is a spirit being, sacred item, or symbol that represents a group of people.
Native Americans often have certain animal totems, and groups of people (clans and tribes) have a close relationship with them. There are often many myths and stories about such animals.
Grasshoppers have many different meanings for Native Americans, often depending on the type of life they live. For instance, those who grow crops often share the belief of Aesop, and see the grasshopper as a lazy, unreliable creature that is associated with bad luck.
Others have a more positive view of grasshoppers, including their abilities to jump, fly, and sing. Grasshoppers have special sensual abilities to understand their surroundings. They are able to accomplish what they set out to do. They are able to work together to attack a problem and conquer enemies that seem much greater than themselves.
Grasshoppers can be good luck charms and can signify that the weather will be right, either the end of a drought or the end of a downpour.
Ying and Yang
The Chinese also believe that grasshoppers symbolize cheerful things, including good luck and abundance. Grasshoppers continue to be two-sided beings, spiritual ying and yang.
Grasshoppers, for instance, symbolize the ability to experience new things and be spiritually enlightened. But, their constant motion also can symbolize the inability to be morally grounded.
Are they spiritually free or too fickle to be relied upon?
Perhaps, it is a good thing that grasshoppers join and work together, allowing more assurance that the correct path will be obtained.