Earlier this summer, I noticed something struggling in the center of a Rabbit Brush bush. A grasshopper seemed tangled in twigs and leaves. Although I don’t need more grasshoppers, I reached in to help it. I discovered that it was being held in the grasp of praying mantis. As I was working on this book hoping to understand my dragonfly dream, this creature jolted my memory of the book, The Mantis Carol, by Laurens van der Post. I only recalled that after a mantis appeared in a dream, one appeared physically to the now-awake dreamer. I rushed out to the library hoping to find that book but couldn’t. Last month, I found a copy of The Mantis Carol on our son, Louis’ bookshelf in Virginia and re-read it. In short, Martha Jaeger, an American psychologist has many dreams in which a praying mantis appears. While searching for meaning from professional colleagues across the world, she was sent one of van der Post’s books on the Bushmen of the Kalahari. She read it feeling of she’d been there already and “noted with a sudden inrush of hope all that I’d written about the praying mantis, how….it still was, the god of the Bushmen of southern Africa.” For months, she and van der Post corresponded about her dreams, agreeing to meet on his next trip to America. After many unrelated stops, van der Post arrived in Houston, Texas where Jaeger met him at the train station. At her house, as she turned to unlock the front door, “……she drew back in alarm, gasping. ‘What on earth is that sitting there?’”
“I looked”, van der Post writes. “There in an attitude of profound contemplation, as if waiting for a temple door to open, sat a large Praying Mantis.” She had never seen one before.
Somehow, this book plays a key role in understanding my dream. What if this statement from the Mantis Carol applies to my dream?
“First, there was one great fact of the history of human imagination to be taken into consideration of all this. Everywhere at all times, in all cultures, in all races of which we have record, when the greatest meaning, the highest value of life men called their gods of god, needed renewal and increase through life on earth, it began the process through a dream.”