My Inner Cicada: Illustration Deep Dive

My Inner Cicada: Illustration Deep Dive

The Southern Louisiana cicadas’ summer lullaby that sang me to sleep as a child now keeps me up at night, a constant reminder that I can not escape the endless cycles of transformation lying dormant within myself. 

In my 27th year of life, I feel so intertwined with the cicada – its underground retreat and its sky-high winged transformation. My mind and body are swollen with awakenings and new information and my back hurts from flying, soaring so far past my limitations, past my old patterns and beliefs. All the while, I am a functioning human on the earthly plane.

I’m breaking through something so cemented in me, and it hurts, but I can feel the relief in it all. Like a cicada tearing through its own thick, safe skin, I am finally able to stretch my wings. And just like cicada, I’ll address this evolution in new ways time and time again.

The Inner Cicada illustration serves as a visual reminder of the lessons I’ve been learning from cicada in the past few years of my life. Here are a few I want to share: 

  • Sometimes, we must go inward to evolve 
  • It’s ok to retreat into your subconscious, but you must remember to crawl outside yourself 
  • You have to shed in order to invite in the new
  • Getting sick of your own skin is a signal that you’ve outgrown yourself
  • When it gets dark, the light is coming
  • Life is a constant cycle. Each stage offers something valuable, no matter how painful

In sharing the Inner Cicada illustration with you, I hope to inspire you to embrace the cycle you’re currently in. I want this post to be a reminder for all of us that our evolution is inevitable, no matter how dark it seems right now. This deep dive into the cicada’s life cycle, symbolism, and lore has guided me through my own connection with the cicada – hopefully, it fosters a greater appreciation within you, too. 

What is a Cicada? 

Cicadas are singing insects with wide-set eyes, short antennae, and two front wings. They don’t always look this way, though. Cicadas hatch in the treetops and fall to the ground to feast until they’re ready for their transformation into adult life. Instead of conducting a complete metamorphosis like butterflies and moths, cicadas alchemize one fully-functioning form into another. Cicadas exist fully as they molt from their odd nymph form into the big-eyed winged beauties we admire. Some, the annual cicadas, undergo this process once a year, while others, the periodical cicadas, only rise from underground every 13 to 17 years. This year, 2024, will see Brood XIX  of the 13-year cicadas and Brood XIII of the 17-year cicadas. 

Cicada Symbolism and Meaning

In my own upbringing, cicadas always symbolized summertime, humidity, and late nights of playing outside. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the cicada’s symbolism and meaning go much deeper. 

Cicadas stand out among other transforming insects, like butterflies or moths. They don’t retreat into dormancy, waiting for their transformation; they continue on with their lives until it’s time to crawl outside themselves. For humans in the 21st century, this approach is much more realistic, symbolizing lust for life even in the throws of transformation.

Other themes associated with the cicada include: 

  • Resurrection
  • Renewal
  • Rebirth
  • Immortality
  • Spiritual realization
  • Transformation
  • Spiritual ecstasy

Cicada Lore and Mythology

For centuries, civilizations like China’s Han dynasty and the ancient Greeks and Romans have glorified the cicada. One of the first documented cases of cicada folklore comes from 1500 BCE in China, where many associated the cicada with transformation due to it shedding it’s skin and entering adulthood. During the Han dynasty, people would place cicada-shaped jade pendants on the tongues of those who had passed – a symbol of the immortality of the spirit. The cicada was also considered sacred by Aristotle, Apollo, Plato, Socrates, and Eunomos in different myths for varying reasons that I won’t go into here as the internet is so fast and open to you. 

There are over 2,500 species of cicada, many of which are still largely mysterious to us. Although I’ve done a bit of research myself, in true cicada fashion, I still believe there is more here to unearth spiritually and educationally about the cicada. Only time will reveal what other lessons this creature has in store for you and me. 

Thank you for spending time here with my thoughts and creative inspiration it’s been a pleasure. 

About Swamp Sprouts

Envision strolling into the world of Swamp Sprouts—an art project ignited by the allure of Louisiana's mystical swamp inhabitants and fueled by an unwavering commitment to sustainability. At its spirit is Tristen Rolling, an artist and daydreamer who set out to amplify nature's voice while championing environmental causes through her odd creations. With a masterful blend of acrylic painting, woodworking, and digital artistry, Tristen pays homage to the essence of the habitat that inspires her.

Swamp Sprouts isn't just a creative venture; it's a haven for those who share an innate passion for our planet. Born out of quarantine, the vibrant online community that supports the project thrives in partnership with like-minded small businesses, creating a symphony of mutual growth. As Tristen's art finds its home in local stores, it comes to life. It introduces patrons to the captivating ethos of Swamp Sprouts – to work toward a shared mission of positive transformation on earth and within the spirit of all who inhabit it.

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