Butterfly Symbolism


butterfly symbolism


Butterfly symbolism holds a high place in the world of animal symbolism.

You may have come across our pages of motivational posters and inspirational wall art, but have you wondered what exactly inspires people about butterflies? What does the butterfly represent in the spiritual realm?

Depending on your culture or religious affiliation, your butterfly symbolism beliefs may differ. However, people from all walks of life seem to have more similarities regarding what they believe about the true meaning of butterflies.


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Butterflies represent change and transformation to many people. This is no surprise when you consider the vast changes some butterflies make in just weeks! (Would you embrace the chance to transform your life in 30 days if it the opportunity presented itself?)

Here are some popular and interesting butterfly meaning beliefs across the globe:

  • Native Americans- legend has it that if you have a "secret wish" all you have to do is capture a butterfly and whisper your desire into its antenna. If you release the butterfly it will flutter to a great spirit that can read the thoughts of butterflies. By releasing the butterfly and allowing it to find this spirit, your wish will be granted.
  • Japan- butterflies represent young women who find bliss as married women. This makes butterflies a popular design addition to the japanese family crest.
  • Mexico- the long migration of the monarch butterflies from north america has significant meaning here. The butterflies are believed to be the spirits of their deceased love ones returning. There is even a holiday to recognize it called The days of the dead. This is not a sad occassion, but rather a happy celebration of the people you once held dear. At the place where millions of monarchs gather a sea of dead monarchs covers the forest floor. You are considered to be disrupting the souls of the deceased if you should ever take one of the butterflies from its final resting place.
  • Germany- here the butterflies are considered nothing more than common thieves. Since they are commonly found hovering over butter churns or milk pails they are said to be witches in disguise. Who knew witches preferred cream? (Maybe it's not santa you should be leaving out the milk for!)
  • Ireland- many believe a butterfly is a soul waiting to pass through purgatory so if if you come across a wee butterfly give him a pint and send him on his merry way. (said with a magically delicious Irish accent)
  • Ancient Culture- one common belief held in many old cultures is that butterflies represent rebirth after letting go of a long held belief or behavior. This belief still holds true for mnay today.
  • Devonshire England - not a good place to call home for butterflies as people believed they would face a year of bad luck if they didn't kill the first butterfly they came across each year.

As you have now read, there are differing beliefs about butterfly symbolism across the world. The overwhelming majority of these beliefs have the butterfly representing something positive in the life of the person it comes across.