Long before Humans walked on this planet and even before Dinosaurs existed there were winged hunters gliding across primordial ponds and through wind blown grassy fields looking for their prey. They come in a variety of shapes and colors from glowing blue to looking like red dragons to even having the appearance of a stained glass mosaic. For about 300 million years Dragonflies have been an apex predator of the insect world and it is not a surprise that during ancient human civilization to present time the Dragonfly has melded into folklore, mythology and deep spirituality.
I personally have always enjoyed watching them fly around and even hearing other’s stories regarding them and even more spiritual experiences regarding Dragonflies. So this inspired me to put together this blog post for my readers to enjoy.
The Dragonfly in Folklore: Good Luck Symbol and Weigher of Souls
by Icy Sedgwick
Seeing swarms of dragonflies mean rain is on the way.
In some cultures, dragonflies represent good luck or prosperity. So make a wish when you see a dragonfly and it’ll come true.
Fishermen used them as an indicator of good fishing grounds. Plenty of dragonflies meant there were plenty of fish around. If a dragonfly hovered near the fisherman, he took it as a good luck sign. In various spiritual pathways, the dragonfly acts as a messenger between the worlds. They teach those who see them to ‘go with the flow’. But seeing one in your dreams is a warning.
If a dragonfly lands on you, you’ll hear good news from someone you care about. Seeing a dead dragonfly means you’ll hear sad news. And catching a dragonfly meant you’d marry within a year.
In Japan, dragonflies bring good fortune. The dragonfly often appears in haiku poetry, representing strength and happiness. The red dragonfly is thought of as sacred. One name for Japan is ‘the Island of the Dragonfly’. That’s partly because its curved shape is believed to resemble a dragonfly at rest.
One of the reasons dragonflies are so beloved in Japan is due to a legend about the 21st emperor, Yuryaka Tenvo. While out hunting, an insect bit his arm. Some legends say it was a horsefly, others say it was a mosquito. Either way, a dragonfly appeared and ate the insect, rescuing the emperor from further harm. Continue reading HERE.
Dragonfly with wings of Blue, what makes me wonder just like you
You hover over a yellow flower, mesmerized by her power
I see myself attracted to, the colours of life, just like you
Something bright will pull me in, to take my light deep deep within
Oh dragonfly Oh dragonfly lets savour life, just you and I
© johnnydod 2010
Folklore & Nature: Dragonflies
Devil’s Darning Needle, Snake Doctor, Devil’s Horse, Horse Stinger, Mosquito Hawk, Adderbolt, Ear Cutter, Water Witch, Hobgoblin Fly — dragonflies have had many names owing to the folklore and superstitions surrounding these colorful insects.
The ‘snake doctor’ name for dragonflies comes from Pennsylvania and the belief that they acted as guards of the serpents found there, warning them of any danger. Some believed that the dragonflies could even revive a dead snake, bringing it back to life. Killing the servants of the snake was inadvisable lest the serpent retaliate.
On the Isle of Wight, residents believed the dragonflies possessed a painful sting and legend had it that the dragonflies could tell if a child was good or bad. When good children went fishing, dragonflies would hover over the water’s edge where the fish were, but when bad children went near the water, the dragonflies would instead sting them.
Dragonflies possess no stingers, the appendages on their tails are only for mating and they have no venom. The shape of the dragonfly’s body has led to another of their names, ‘devil’s darning needle’.
In several areas of the United States the dragonfly was thought to sew shut the mouths, eyes or even ears of misbehaving children or profane men. Others believed that dragonflies would sew fingers or toes together if they were exposed while sleeping. In parts of Europe, including Sweden, dragonflies could tell if children were lying, and would stitch their their eyes or mouths closed as punishment. Today, the Aeshnidae family of dragonflies is still called darners in North America. Continue reading HERE.
In most cultures dragonflies have been objects of superstition. European folklore is no exception. Many old myths have been lost during the history, but fragments of these old myths are still living in old local names for dragonflies. Only in Germany dragonflies have had over 150 different names. Some of these are Teufelsnadel (“Devil’s needle”), Wasserhexe (“Water witch”), Hollenross (“Goddess’ horse”), Teufelspferd (“Devil’s horse”) and Schlangentöter (“Snake killer”). Also the name Snake Doctor has been used in Germany. In England the name Devil’s darning needle and Horse stinger have been used. In Denmark the dragonfly have got such different names as Fandens ridehest (“Devil’s riding horse”) and Guldsmed (“Goldsmith”). Different names of dragonflies referring to them as the devils tools have also occurred in many other European cultures, some examples are the Spanish Caballito del Diablo (“Devil’s horse”) and the French l’aiguille du diable (“Devil’s needle”).
The Swedish name for dragonfly is trollslända, which means “hobgoblin fly” in English. Long time ago people in Sweden believed that hobgoblins, elves, brownies and such creatures lived in our great woods. In that folklore the dragonflies was considered to be the hobgoblins twisting tools. During the history the dragonflies even have been connected with love and female, the names damselfly (England), Demoiselle (France) and Jungfer (Germany) are some examples of those nice associations. An old Swedish name for dragonfly is Blindsticka (“Blind stinger”), this name comes from the opinion that a dragonfly could pick out your eyes. Other people thought that the dragonfly could sew together your eyelids. The same name appears as well in Norway (“Öyenstikker”) as in Germany (“Augenstecher”).
In certain parts of Norway, the dragonfly is also known as “ørsnildra”. The exact meaning of this word is unknown to me but the part “ør”, does obviously refer to the Norwegian word for “ear”, as people (and especially children) often thought that the dragonfly would poke holes in their ear-drums if it got inside their ears!
An other old Swedish name is Skams besman (“Devil’s steelyard”), this name probably depends on the dragonfly’s body shape that, with some imagination looks like the weighting tool. In the folklore this was interpreted as that the Devil used the dragonfly to weight the people’s souls. When a dragonfly flew around your head, your soul was weighted and you should expect seriously injury as punishment. It is very interesting that, despite of those ideas that the dragonfly should be the Devil’s tool, the dragonfly have been a holy animal in Scandinavia. In the Æsir cult the dragonfly was thought to be the love goddess Freya’s symbol.
Some of the Latin names of dragonfly families have interesting meanings: The name Libellula might have been derived from the word libella (“booklet”) referring to the resting dragonfly, which wings, with some imagination, looks quite like the pages of an open book. The name Odonata was created by Fabricius in 1793 as name for the whole dragonfly order, means “toothed”. In some countries, e.g. Indonesia, many African and South American countries both the adult and larva dragonflies are caught to be eaten fried or in soup. In China and Japan the dragonflies has been treated as holy animals, and believed to have medical qualities. Even today the dragonfly Sympetrum frequens is used as fever reducing drug. SOURCE