Woodlouse, Woodlice – Spiritual Meaning & Omens

Woodlice (singular: woodlouse) are interesting creepy crawlies. There are few invertebrates we come across in the home or garden that resemble them. In fact, lots of their relatives actually live in the water rather than on land. Therefore, we can look at the woodlouse presenting itself to us and wonder: is this encounter spiritually significant?

Do Woodlice Really Eat Wood? Symbol of Rebirth

Yes, woodlice eat wood. But, it is important to note—particularly when attempting to discern the meaning behind this behavior—that woodlice only eat rotten and decaying wood. Additionally, a woodlouse will also consume other types of rotting material. Therefore, this positions woodlice as important symbols of life’s cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Woodlice play an important role in taking what has died and is rotting away and making it useful again, incorporating it into their own existence.

do woodlice really eat rotten wood and what is the spiritual meaning of that
By Danny Newman – Mushroom Observer,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56883001

As such, when a woodlouse crosses your path, consider taking it as a message or omen regarding death and rebirth. However, do not necessarily take it literally. This is because cycles of beginning and end can be found in our lives, i.e. the woodlouse could be presenting you with a comforting message that the rotten, troublesome, difficult times you are experiencing are going to be recycled and in the place of turmoil will be joy and abundance. So, you should reflect on the challenges in your life, and consider the woodlouse—can we be like the woodlouse and take something dead and give it new, positive life?

Woodlice Are Symbols of Defense

Woodlice aren’t only famous for their ability to recycle rotting wood and plant matter. They’re also known for rolling into tight little balls. Therefore, they can come to us as significant symbols of defense. So, when under attack in our lives, we can welcome the lesson of the woodlouse and form a tight defensive shell around ourselves and our loved ones. That means: be careful who you let in and do everything you can to keep malicious elements out of your protective bubble.

Rolling Into a Ball – What Does It Symbolize?

Is there symbolism beyond simply defense? Yes, absolutely.

woodlouse woodlice rolled into a ball
By Alvesgaspar – Own work,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2888009

This is because the circle they make with their bodies is symbolic of the cycles of life and the universe. This round shape is a reminder of the woodlouse’s role as a recycler. Furthermore, it a symbol of the round earth, the round sun and the round moon.

Woodlice Are Excellent Parents

We don’t often think of invertebrates as good parents, but the woodlouse really is. The female woodlouse carries and cares for fertilized eggs. In fact, some species even continue to care for their young after they hatch!

So, that is something that can be received as a message—care for your loved ones, especially close family. Keep them under your protective wing and, even when you feel as though they might be ready to go out on their own, continue to care for them as best you can.

Woodlice – An Omen of Decay?

While, yes, woodlice are recyclers of decaying wood, they are also associated with that decay itself. So, if the message that new life is coming after the decay does not resonate with you, then it could be because you haven’t addressed, processed and resolved elements of decay in your life.

What constitutes an element of decay in your life can be difficult to determine. Of course, the rotten scenarios in our lives are very personal to us. As such, the only way to really zero in on those unpleasant things is through considered reflection. So, upon reflection, decide what rotten wood you want to remove from your life and set upon it like the woodlouse sets upon decaying wood—devour it, remove it, and recycle it.

Woodlice – An Omen of Abundance!

Woodlice are also a strong symbol of abundance. This is because a woodlouse refuses to discard what others would see as unpalatable, i.e. rotten wood. Instead, a woodlouse utterly embraces the total abundance of rotten wood and plant matter and uses that waste to fuel its very existence.

forest undergrowth
Forest undergrowth benefits from recyclers like woodlice.
By Silverkey (Mickaël Delcey) – Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80900806

Therefore, the message we can take from woodlice is obvious: welcome the earth’s abundance and turn anything and everything it offers you freely into the energy to power your life.

Time to Get Grounded?

Being grounded is good. It just is. And that is something the woodlouse wants to tell us. So, when woodlice show themselves to us in a way that feels significant, it could be time to question just how grounded we might be. For example, are you feeling a bit woozy and a bit stressed out by modern life? Well, ask yourself: how much time do you spend outdoors? And, when you are outdoors, what are you doing?

If it’s time to get grounded, there are fewer better ways than gardening. Getting your hands dirty in the soil, mulch, and compost can feel fantastic. The smell of earth when fresh rain falls—there are few things as comforting as that.

Gardeners are averse to all kinds of creepy crawlies that want to gobble up their vegetables and snack on their fruit. But, the woodlouse is not such pest. It will only eat very damp and very rotten wood. Therefore, it poses no threat to the gardener’s crop. So, don’t recoil when you find a woodlouse among the mulch, it is likely helping by breaking down large chunks of wood so that the flowers and fruits beneath can access the the finer material.

But, if gardening isn’t your thing, there are other outdoor activities that can bring you closer to Mother Earth—consider hiking, camping, etc.

Further Reading

Header image credit
By Ryan Hodnett – Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75370667