Animal Totem #75
Symbolic Cicada Meaning
Symbolism and Cicada Meaning
May I share a fond memory with you? I remember, years ago, finishing a long day of back-breaking work in my friend, Carolinda’s garden in Texas. It was mid-July, and Carolinda and I were mending fences, moving stones, pulling weeds. Our toiling in the Texas heat was accompanied by the music of cicadas the entire time – a soft droning – a supernatural humming, that waxed and waned throughout the afternoon. Their song served as a backbeat to our work – a driving reverberation through the landscape that seemed to sustain our energy and buoy our endurance.
At dusk, our garden chores complete, Carolinda and I settled our bones in her wicker chairs, surveying the results of our hard work. As we sat drinking rose hip iced tea, we also settled into the music of the cicada. That’s when Carolinda shared some interesting insights about the cicada with me. This page on symbolic cicada meaning is a result of Carolinda’s observations with a few of my own tossed in the mix.
“How can they keep humming like that? I mean, don’t they run out of breath?” I asked Carolinda, after savoring a long sip of tea, and sinking deeper into the wicker chair from exhaustion.
“Silly VeeVee.” Carolinda replied (she called me VeeVee, I’m not sure why). “Cicadas don’t sing like we do, they produce sound in their abdomen’s with their tymbals – it’s like they make a drum roll in their bellies. They purr in large groups, as a whole. Cicada’s are very big into teamwork, and they sing in unison for the benefit of the group rather than exultation of the individual. That’s a lesson…one we learned today. By working together in the garden we got twice as much accomplished. Teamwork reaps higher rewards.”
I thought about this for awhile in silence. Then, “What’s the cicada’s reward for singing as they do?” I asked.
“Love.” Carolinda said matter-of-factly.
“Huh?” I inquired, hoping for more detail.
“We’re hearing male cicada’s crooning to woo their females! It’s better than Frank Sinatra! Ooooh Fraaaaankieeeee!” As she said this, Carolina made swooning motions as if gone limp from Sinatra’s honey-dripped vocals.
Sometimes it takes a village to encourage love to come our way. I’m reminded of close-knit families in which matchmakers and kitchen-table meetings among matriarch’s of the family gather together for long conversations about what young man would best pair with their lovely daughters. Indeed, the cicada is a symbol of love, matchmaking, and calling out to our proper mate. Moreover, cicada’s remind us to seek advice from trusted allies (friends, family) when it comes to matters of love. In short, when our awareness is drawn to the sound of cicada’s it’s a good time to tune into our love-lives, and perhaps get some trusted advice from an outside resource about love and relationships.
“VeeVee, did you know cicada’s can lay dormant for over a decade?” Carolinda asked, rustling me out of my reverie about love-bug-song.
“No, why is that?” I asked.
“They chose their own time to be born. That’s powerful, don’t you think?” She lifted her eyebrow at me as she said this, then tipped her rose tea to her lips for a sip.
Cicada’s nestle themselves in the cool earth, almost as if in hibernation, feeding on the roots of trees until their internal body-clocks sound an alarm, resurrecting them from the earth. The symbolic implications of this were staggering to me. It spoke to me about things like: Timing, Inner Knowing, Patience, Resurrection, and also a symbiotic partnership with the Mother [Earth] as well as a special union with trees (an aspect that’s always intriguing, as trees are phenomenal wisdom-keepers).
They choose their own time to be born. What a cool concept. Years later I did research into why cicada’s lay dormant, sometimes only a year, other times up to 17 years. It has to do with predators. Although still a mystery to biologists, the cicada has a keen ability to sense the right time to emerge from their earthy cocoons in order to produce the most off-spring. They do this during a time in which their predators are low in numbers – insuring the chance of their brood’s survival (reducing the likelihood of predators gobbling up their babies for lunch).
This phenomenon is symbolic of timing in my mind. To this day, when I hear cicada’s in the summer, they make me contemplate my own timing, as well as the timing of the Universe. It also makes me pay attention to my internal body clock, and the rhythms of the Mother [Nature]. In respect to timing and the cicada, we can ask ourselves questions like: “Is this a good time to start? Or, perhaps I should wait to protect my assets from becoming devoured by poor conditions/circumstances? (just as the cicada does to protect their offspring from predators).”
Some keywords to consider in conjunction with symbolic cicada meaning:
- Past to Present
Some other symbolic corollaries with cicada meaning…
Cicadas and Numerology:
Recently a Facebook pal (thanks Richard) asked me about the significance of the “7 Year Cicada” – it’s a reference to the timing of a cicada’s emergence from the earth mentioned earlier in this article. Cicada’s pick and choose their own time to creep from the soil based on environmental conditions. We can take a look at their annual brood cycles for more symbolic meaning. For example, if a clan of cicada’s have been dormant for two years, their arrival after that time of incubation could signify: New partnerships, a time of making a choice between two opportunities, a time to become more balanced (justifying polarities and balancing duality). This comes from the energetic meaning of the number two. We can look at the number of years for insight. In the case of the 7 Year Cicada, we could attribute the symbolism of the number seven to this: The number seven is a representative of scholarly activities, mystery, and the focused search for esoteric meanings. Seven deals with the activation of imagination and manifesting results in our lives through the use of conscious thought and awareness. This combined with the symbolic cicada meaning (see keyword list above) can offer profound insight. (See more on symbolic meaning of numbers here.)
Cicadas and Themes of Resurrection:
Can you imagine being entombed in silent stasis for up to 17 years? That’s what some North American cicada’s do. Kept alive by the nutrients of the soil, fed by the root-sap of trees, the cicada sleeps underground, waiting for the right time to break the earth and burst forth in a bustle of activity. Asian symbolism took note of this as a theme of resurrection. So much so, ancient Asian burial ceremonies include the making of intricate jade figures of cicadas; these were placed in the mouths of deceased ancestors. This allowed ancestors a pleasant, tranquil after-life sleep, and gave them the ability to re-emerge in spirit to help families or accomplish goals when the timing called for their aid. A burrowed cicada could also be interpreted as a sign of the past, and it’s emergence is a sign of the present. Therefore, when cicada’s choose to come out from Mother [Nature's] womb, it may be time to look into our past and see what, if anything, might need to be resurrected and re-examined. (See more on Chinese symbol meanings here.)
Cicadas and Solar Connections:
No doubt about it, cicadas are heat-lovers. Some years it seems the hotter it gets, the louder cicada humming fills the air. This is a solar connection worthy of our attention. The sun is symbolic of: Outward expression, illumination, radiating light/joy, exposing shadow, and also nourishment (as few things can grow without light). When cicada’s come into your awareness, it’s time to contemplate your own sun-features. Meaning, how are you expressing yourself to others? Are you singing in harmony with your community, as the cicada does? Cicada song is an outward expression – our words are too. Cicada’s and their solar-affinity also remind us to contemplate the things that warm our hearts – what kindles our passion? What gets us all fired up, and motivates our energy? (See more on Solar Animal symbolism here.)