This tiny little insect is full of contradictions and has been viewed with some suspicion throughout the ages, thought often to be a harbinger of illness, misfortune and death. To have one appear in the house was considered to be the worst of all omens, and the white cricket the most feared. John Dryden notes this fact in ‘Fables, Ancient and Modern’ from 1699 : ‘Owls, Ravens, Crickets, seem the wave of death’.
A differing view of this creature, that also inspires positive success in many endeavours, being an omen of good fortune, can be read in the ‘Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne’. Gilbert White wrote in 1789 that crickets ‘are the housewife’s barometer, foretelling her when it will rain; and are prognostic sometimes, she thinks, of ill or good luck, of the death of a near relation or the approach of an absent lover. By being the constant companions of her solitary hours they naturally become the objects of her superstition’.
A North American First Nation belief views the cricket in a different light appreciating the sound that this tiny insect makes. By boiling a number of crushed crickets and drinking the liquid it was thought possible to achieve a more beautiful singing voice.