We see a frog in gran’s bedroom in S2E11. What is the symbolism surrounding this animal?
The symbolism of Frogs
In fairy tales, all it takes for an ugly frog to transform into a handsome prince is a single kiss from a beautiful princess. In this story, the frog is a symbol of transformation. The frog is a transformational creature in real life, too, and because the life cycle of this amphibious creature is carried out in so visible a manner it is a reminder of resurrection and the cycle of life, of birth, death, and rebirth. Egyptian mummies were wrapped with amulets depicting the image of the frog as a charm to help the person’s soul to be reborn. The frog’s links with water are obvious, and it often appears on rain charms. In Ancient China, the frog’s image appeared on the drums that were played to summon thunder, the herald of much-needed rain. In Egypt, the frog symbolized fertility (because of its enthusiastic mating habits and abundant spawn) and so they were sacred to Hekit, the Midwife of the Gods. “Frog” has become the English-speakers’ nickname for the French, who notoriously eat frogs’ legs as a delicacy. Indeed, before the French ruling classes adopted the Fleur de Lys as their emblem, the frog was France’s national symbol.
So naturalistic is the small blue faience frog from ancient Egypt leaning forward in a balanced squat, its skin moist-looking, its head tilted upward, the protruding eyes focused, that it seems its tongue will suddenly dart out of its wide mouth and pull an insect in, or the long hind legs, in a nimble leap, carry it to another part of the pond. The glass figurine may have been a new year’s gift from one friend to another given with wishes for long life and good fortune, or it may have been an amulet. Frogs were sacred to Heqet, goddess of embryonic waters. She was the wife of Khnum, who molded material human life on his potter’s wheel. Heqet helped to fashion their forms inside the womb as midwife and protector of the pregnant and newborn. The squatting birth position of a woman, where her legs are widely parted hears a striking resemblance to that of a frog. Figures with a frog’s body and a woman’s face and genitalia have been found dating to as long ago as 6000 B.C.E., suggesting that the notion of a frog goddess is extremely ancient. The richness of the frog’s symbolism is in this linking to womb, waters, fertility and developing life. Highly dependent on water, frogs absorb it from the environment through their permeable skins. “Singing in the rain,” they croak and copulate throughout the mating season; “a brilliant, night-shattering mad opera of the universe”. After the inundation of the Nile, millions exuberantly singing frogs would appear as if spontaneously generating in the silty mire emblematic of the unformed matter before creation and the interval between death and rebirth. One species of frog that lives in a temperate climate freezes itself “dead” in winter and thaws back to life in the spring “I am the resurrection” proclaims en inscription on early Christian Coptic oil lamps bearing the image of a frog with a cross on its back.
Later Christians and others not so beguiled considered the frog’s insistent croaking and nocturnal habits evidence of an unclean, unchaste and devilish spirit associated with the witch and aphrodisiac sorcery. Frogs have to lay their thousands of eggs in water, and the eggs lack shells to prevent water loss. They hatch into tadpoles, which live in the water, undergoing metamorphosis: Larval gills are replaced by air breathing lungs, the tail is reabsorbed, and limbs develop. Because of the much longer back legs than the front, the adult frog is often perceived as bearing an endearing resemblance to a miniature human being or something between the human and the uncanny. In dreams and fairy tales the frog arrives, quite suddenly, out of water somewhere, just as an aspect (often princely) of self-substance emerges from the waters of the unconscious, but is not vet in fully conscious, recognizable form. In many such fairy tales, this fertile little being from the watery regions must be accepted and attended to in its frog form, however unattractive or odd it may seem, and inevitably it transforms into the soulful prince or princess. In many different cultures, frogs have been seen as bringing the cleansing rains. Native American Haida shamans of the Pacific Northwest were said to acquire their healing powers from frogs. On account of their extremely sensitive skins, permeable to the toxins in en environment, frogs are also the first to let us know when nature is drastically out of balance (one of the reasons why, perhaps, in fairy tales they bring in what’s missing). Currently one of the most threatened group of animals on earth, they are an accurate indicator of a traumatized biosphere and of a future that might be woefully absent of their mosquito-and fly-catching, their brilliant colors, their fervent forms of every size and knobby embellishment, and their raucous song of espousal.