We’ve all heard the story of Jesus walking on water; it’s one of his well-known miracles. But in the animal world, there is an animal that walks around on water as a matter of course, and you are probably very familiar with it. Let’s explore Water Strider spirit animal meaning.
Meet Water Strider
You can find water striders across most of the world. You’ll usually find them in quiet, protected water, but they can handle some turbulence. There are even species that live in the open ocean. Because they skate around on the surface tension of water, they are often called Jesus bugs.
So what is the physics behind the water strider’s ability to walk on water? It’s not because they are so small and light; other small insects who fall into water get trapped in it. The water strider’s secret is in its legs.
A water strider’s legs have hairs that trap air bubbles. This creates a sort of super water resistance that allows the insect to not only float on its feet, but to skim about at high speed on the water’s surface. In fact, the effect is so strong that a water strider could carry 15 times its body weight without sinking. And water striders are lightening fast. Because there is so little friction between their feet and the water’s surface, they can move at 100 times their body length per second. That would be like a human going 400 miles per hour.
What is the spiritual meaning of Water Strider?
One of the things I get from Water Strider is the importance of being “in your element,” finding your place in the world, choosing to live in an environment that supports you. This can refer to your physical location, your home environment, your career, or even the people you choose to hang out with.
When we are in our element, we can do things others can’t do. We can even do things others believe are impossible. The Water Strider animal guide points out that you may be able to do things that go beyond what people think or even what you think is possible. When you’re in an environment that’s supportive of who you are—the real you, not the “you” others want you to be or the “you” that you think you “have to” be—you can really, really shine. (This also has a lot to do with Faith, which is a major Water Strider power animal meaning – more on that in a bit.)
Another Jesus Bug meaning is that you don’t have to be big in order to create miracles. You can work miracles of magic in daily life or on a small scale. We don’t have to be featured in Oprah to create a lot of magic around us. We don’t have to come out with a best seller. We don’t have to save the world all by ourselves, or embark on some exotic undertaking. Water Strider teaches us that just by being our little old selves, we can create a lot of magic wherever we feel at home.
Let’s take an even closer look at Water Strider. It is an insect, so it has 6 legs. But if you have ever seen water striders floating about on the surface of a pond or stream, what you usually see first is their shadows. And typically these look like little clusters of four dots, which are the dimples the insects’ legs make on the surface of the water. If you look at one a little closer you may identify 4 legs easily. That’s because the two front legs are smaller, and those are the ones they use to capture and handle prey.
(And by the way, water striders LOVE to eat mosquito larvae, which in my book is reason enough to love them. And if you really want to delve deeply into water strider totem animal meaning, explore Mosquito symbolism as well.)
So it’s just the four back legs that support the Jesus Bug when it walks on water. And the number 4 is very significant.
Spiritually, the number 4 stands for completeness. It is a very square, solid, stable number. There is a lot of fundamental power connected with the number 4: the four seasons, the four directions, the 4 phases of the moon, the cycle of the day (sunrise/noon/sunset/midnight), the four arms of the cross, etc. These are all stable, predictable things. The four-sided square is an earth symbol, and this number is connected with practicality, groundedness, stability, and security. It’s also associated with the archangels.
Water Strider tells us to have faith that we are supported, even when it looks like we are not. Even if we are experiencing turbulence in our lives.
The thing that creates the surface tension on the water is the attraction between water molecules. It’s basically positive attraction, it’s energy, it’s an intangible force very akin to love energy, or perhaps a physical form of it. It’s this Love energy in the universe that supports you. Christ consciousness, angelic presence, all of that—Water Strider’s spirit animal message is that yes, this is real, it’s here for you, the universe will provide what you need, when you need it. And when you trust that it will, and start moving around in that state of Faith, you really will start to see miraculous things happening in your life.
Just as an aside, we are here for a purpose. Generally the universe thinks fulfilling your purpose is far more important than your comfort. So when I say you’ll be given what you need when you need it, it’s a reminder to embrace everything that comes to you. Everything. The good, the bad, the ugly – it’s all here to support us. Understanding that at the core of every challenge that comes our way is a gem of wisdom for us to mine can help us to float over churning waters with grace.
…but wait, there’s more when it comes to Faith
Finally, let’s look at another interesting fact about water striders, and this has to do with the survival of the species: as a species, they are extraordinarily adaptable.
Specifically, water striders display an unusual intergenerational ability to adapt to their environment. The young may be born with wings or without, depending on how friendly the environment is that year. If the pond is in danger of drying up, they’ll be born with wings. In wet years, they are born without. It’s thought that this lets them conserve energy for what’s needed. So when Water Strider shows up, one of the things it could be asking you to do is to look for—and let go of—“dead weight” things in your life. And to be discerning, because these could be things that might be genuinely useful in other circumstances, or in the past or even potentially in the future, but could be compromising your ability to excel right now.
Again, it comes down to faith: trust that the Universe will provide what you need, when you need it, and there is no need to hang on to things unnecessarily for a rainy day.
Shadow meaning of Water Strider
Every power animal has a shadow side. These are traits the animal has that can point out things that might be happening in our lives that may not feel very positive. The thing to remember is that all of an animal’s traits have evolved to help it survive. A lot of times when challenges present themselves, they result from energetic or behavioral patterns we have developed as a response to challenging or threatening situations, whether in this lifetime or past lifetimes (or sometimes we take on these energies from others around us.)
The shadow side of Water Strider has a lot to do with sexual politics. There’s a very interesting and actually antagonistic relationship between the sexes in water striders, and it’s really all about coercion. The males tend to simply jump the females without any real courtship. In response, females have developed a genital shield they can put up or down at will to protect themselves.
So the spiritual lesson here is about shielding oneself, and especially protecting the more intuitive, vulnerable aspects of the feminine side of oneself. It’s a reminder to really protect that. So, setting boundaries, drawing the line, standing up for your right to dream, your right to have some time to do your creative work, your right to your body, all these things are part of Water Strider meaning.
But the saga continues. As mentioned, the female water strider has this little built-in chastity belt she can put up to prevent unwanted mating. But the males have figured out a way to get around it.
What they do is they hop on board and when they can’t access her, they start to tap the surface of the water. They do this to attract underwater predators, because with the female on the bottom, she is a lot more vulnerable to attack and has a lot more to lose. So a little bit of this blackmail activity is usually enough to get her to put out.
Is this politically correct? Absolutely not.
That’s Nature. It’s not always pretty, and it’s certainly not always politically correct from a human point of view. These behaviors came about in the interests of the survival of the species, and somehow that’s how it worked out with water striders. But this sort of thing is exactly what makes spirit animals such powerful allies and guides. They work to bring our awareness to some of the nasty things that can happen in the world (as well as many of the beautiful things). And awareness is power – it’s only once we are aware of what’s going on that we can take steps to put an end to it. And a lot of times the power animals can teach us ways to do that.
So some of the things Water Strider can indicate are the importance of spiritual protection and to be on the lookout for blackmail or manipulation. Pay special attention also to what your body is telling you, especially when it comes to sexual or romantic relationships. Even if you are married or have kids with the person, if you find your body tenses or recoils when your intimate partner touches you, that is a sign something is not OK. If you feel trapped in a relationship or feel like you “have to” stay when you—or a part of you—really doesn’t want to, you have the RIGHT to get out of that situation, whether it be by setting boundaries, getting counseling, or outright leaving the relationship. Don’t let anyone shame you or guilt trip you into thinking otherwise.
Summing up the spirit animal meaning of Water Strider
Positive meaning: Faith, miracles, security, support, spiritual protection, adaptability, discernment, preparedness, efficiency, letting go of what is not needed, being in one’s element
Shadow side: Challenges with harmonizing masculine/feminine; gullible and/or prone to depression or limiting beliefs; blackmail, manipulation, coercion
Elements: water, air