Butterfly Symbolism & Meaning
Have you stopped dancing? Do you need help transitioning from one stage of life to the next? Are you trying to connect with the wisdom of your ancestors? Do you want to be more sensitive to your surroundings? Butterfly, as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal, can help! The Butterfly teaches you how to ease your way through change creatively, all while celebrating your life! Delve deeply into Butterfly symbolism and meaning to discover how this Animal Spirit Guide can stir, enthuse, and inspire you.
Butterfly Table of Contents
- Butterfly Symbolism & Meaning
- Butterfly Spirit Animal
- Butterfly Totem Animal
- Butterfly Power Animal
- Spiritual Meaning of the Butterfly
- Behold the Monarch Butterfly
- Significance of Butterfly Color
- Butterfly in Christianity
- Symbolism and Meaning of Butterfly in Greece and Rome
- Native American Butterfly Symbolic Meanings
- Butterfly as a Celtic Animal Symbol
- Aztec Butterfly Significance
- What Butterfly Represents in Columbia
- Butterfly in Egyptian Iconography
- Far Eastern Butterfly Symbolic Meanings
- Butterfly Dreams
- Butterfly in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
- Butterfly Tattoo
- Butterfly Superstitions
- Seeing a Dead Butterfly
- The Social Butterfly
- The Butterfly Effect
- Butterfly Sayings and Quotes
- Protecting the Butterfly
- Back to all Insects
- Back to all Spirit Animal Meanings
Butterfly Symbolism & Meaning
When Butterfly Spirit begins visiting your life, something new and wonderful is about to unfold! It’s time for personal growth and greater awareness of your mental, physical, and spiritual rhythms. Change can sometimes be challenging and daunting because it moves us out of our comfort zone.
You cannot embrace a “new you” until you release the old. With Butterfly Medicine, you’ll find that you can fly gracefully above the barriers that would otherwise hold you back. Butterfly, as a teacher, puts great emphasis on movement: Be it blossom-to-blossom, home-to-home, or one state in our spiritual exploration to another.
Butterfly often turns our thoughts inward to review elements of our character, morals, and habits that weigh us down, keeping us stuck in a mire of negative energy. The goal of your winged ally is restoring lightness in your Being so you can dance life’s dance with unbridled joy!
In looking at the Butterfly spirit in history, this Animal Guide has many faces and attributes. For some, it represented the soul. For others, Butterfly was a messenger and omen of happiness. Then too, there’s just the simple joy of watching a Butterfly on a sunny day. It’s nearly impossible to frown!
Butterfly Medicine is one of simplification. Go back to the little things. Tend them like flowers in the field. Open your senses to the nectar and aroma of living in the moment. Do what you can now, but remember quality learning rarely happens quickly. Slow, mindful changes are the ones that last a lifetime, laying the foundations for enlightenment and self-actualization. Eventually, your inner Butterfly will emerge from its work when the time is perfect, with fresh ideas and inventiveness to guide your following spiritual stages.
Butterfly Spirit Animal
As a Spirit Animal Guide, Butterfly whispers of your hidden potential. There’s an old saying that there is nothing in a caterpillar that knows it will be a Butterfly. Nonetheless, the transformation from caterpillar to winged wonder happens quite naturally. Bear in mind that change is natural. Adaptation is necessary. Both lead to higher awareness.
Are you still the caterpillar? Then feed your soul until it’s full and ready for integrating new truths. Butterfly also speaks of happiness and vision. If you’ve felt blue, Butterfly as a Spirit Animal is here to help. If you’re working on divinatory arts, Butterfly gives you greater clarity.
In nature, this insect’s eyes are very keen, including seeing ultraviolet light. Don’t be surprised if you start catching Fairies and Angels out of the corner of your eyes when the Butterfly Spirit Animal enters your life. Among the many gifts of the Butterfly, this one has a tremendous impact on your daily life. You begin to learn first-hand that there is far more to the world than we know. In spirituality, such an awareness opens up the path to great knowledge and wisdom.
Fact: when the Butterfly loses an antenna, it cannot fly properly. As a Spirit Messenger, this means that Butterfly wants you to keep your spiritual antenna honed and tuned to the Divine and Higher Self so you don’t lose your way. Self-care matters!
Butterfly Totem Animal
People born with a Butterfly as their Totem Animal have a natural lightness of spirit! They love the beauty of nature and are guided by the greatest good when it comes to maintaining balance with the environment. When people are around the Butterfly-born, they find heaviness lifting. It’s like a breath of fresh air. As a result, you are likely very popular.
The caution with having so much attention is taking time for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in invitations and outings, but you also need time on your own “flower” – your home. There, you can be wholly yourself and clarify your thoughts.
As you work with your Butterfly Totem Animal, you’ll find that you’re better equipped to look at difficult situations from another angle. As you fly on its wings, your perspective becomes more global and hopeful. If you’ve ever been on an airplane, the wonder of seeing things up high potentially inspires new ways of interacting with the world daily. No one day is the same as the last, and your Butterfly Birth Totem wants to celebrate every moment, no matter what comes.
Butterfly people are naturally social, colorful, and vibrant. This often comes out in your wardrobe choices or decorating scheme. Neither will have much in terms of muted hues. Gray? Heaven, forbid! There is nothing conventional about your sense of style. It’s playful. You may stand at your wardrobe grabbing this and that until you FEEL like the Butterfly-wholly unique.
Dance like a Butterfly on the winds and celebrate your journey!
Butterfly Power Animal
Are intense changes on your horizon? Then Butterfly is the Power Animal on which to call. It doesn’t matter what part of your life is going through transitions, Butterfly eases the process with gentle, renewing breezes and a kiss of beauty.
Other times when Butterfly magic is very helpful is when you hit a creative wall or have lost your joy to stress, anxiety, or depression. Your inner Butterfly is all about color and vibrant expressiveness. Seek that vibrant energy signature.
During migration, Monarch Butterflies will land in the very tree as did their ancestors. After traveling thousands of miles, even being blown off course, the Monarch’ grandchild’ or even ‘great-great-grandchild’ Butterfly will find the exact same spot their grandparents ‘roosted’ in after the migration. Just as Monarchs have a cellular memory of their ancestor’s wisdom, you can into this ancient knowledge. The Butterfly Power Animal in your soul reminds you – you are a star child born of the universe. Your past lives and this one provide you with all the tools you need for nearly any situation. Your Ancestors remain in your life to help guide the way.
Invoke Butterfly energy when you want to change the hues of your life, spread your wings, live your dream, and let your spirit soar again!
Spiritual Meaning of the Butterfly
All Spirit Animals and Allies are special in their own way. There’s something about Butterfly, however, that is simple, enchanting, and enthralling. It need not make a sound to have a profound impact on your outlook and sense of self. In your interactions with the Butterfly Spirit, it may use the movement of its wings as a means of communication, so pay attention.
When exploring Butterfly as a spiritual emblem, it’s good to know that renditions of Butterfly span time. Egyptians used Butterflies in the frescos at Thebes some 3,500 years ago. So, if you are attracted to Butterfly energy, you are in good company!
Butterflies have the ability to see colors humans cannot. They perceive ultraviolet light, which eludes our eyes. Some Butterflies use these hidden colors in the quest to find a mate. From a metaphysical perspective, the ability to see the unseen touches on clairvoyance. Additionally, using the information you gather from your psychic gifts proves valuable when looking for friends or soul mates. Your perception reaches beyond any masks or illusions.
We think of Butterflies as only going from flower to flower for nectar. However, that food group lacks sodium, a necessary element to this creature’s health. So, they seek out sodium in other places, including dirt. In the Amazon, Butterfly may land on a turtle’s tears for its supply, which is a glorious image. Here, Butterfly Spirit asks you if you are filling your inner well with all you need. You may have to step out of your circle to gather that one lacking element. Be creative.
Want to learn more about Flower meanings? Click to learn more about Flower Symbolism!
If you’re looking for a symbol of durability, persistence, and tireless pursuit of a goal, the Monarch Butterfly is the perfect go-to Spirit Animal. This creature migrates upwards of 3,000 miles from the Northern US and Canada to Mexico. They seek warmer weather. When you realize Butterflies flap their wings about five times a second, moving about twelve miles an hour, that trip is quite the endeavor.
There is a distinct lightness to the Butterfly. This Animal Ally tries to encourage you to be likewise light of heart. An upbeat perspective overcomes a lot of stress and anxiety. Butterfly meets each day with beauty and grace.
As a creature of the Air, Butterfly’s movement represents the upward movement of our soul. No one becomes an “ascended master” in a day, year, or even a lifetime. But there is always progress even when you can’t see it.
Behold the Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterflies are the most well-known and recognizable of their species in North America. The scientific name Danaus plexippus, means (aptly) “sleepy transformation.”
The orange-red wings, black veins, and white spots make the Monarch stand out from the crowd. Males are somewhat larger than females. They have black dots along their wing veins. Such beauty only lasts for 4-5 weeks before death. The Monarch, of necessity, lives colorfully and vibrantly, reminding us of how time is precious.
Monarchs are picky eaters. Milkweed is it. That’s the only thing they consume and the only place they lay their eggs. Growing common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), and butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) will attract them to your garden. But for the common milkweed, these are ornamental flowers, too (beauty internalizing beauty).
The most powerful symbolism for the Monarch comes from its ability to fly long distances. They can go to 2,700 miles, seeking a warmer haven. If you consider the weight of a Butterfly, this equates to a Robin flying to the moon and nearly back again (WHEW!). Mother Nature equipped them with scales on their wings to create efficiency in fight. And thanks to their coloration, some predators steer clear. The bright orange warns of bad-tasting poison thanks to the milkweed they eat! It’s rather amazing that their only food group is also a source of protection.
Monarchs have a motto: Stick together. They create colonies of millions of butterflies-as many as 10 million in a space the size of a football field. They remain this way until they migrate.
Interesting factoid. In Mexico, the Monarch bears the souls of the dead. The Butterfly happens to arrive on the 2nd of November, the celebration of the Day of the Dead.
Significance of Butterfly Colors
Colors have a profound impact on our lives. You pick out a red “power tie” for a presentation. Or, perhaps you paint your kitchen a happy yellow. The symbolism and meanings behind wing colors give a greater definition to Butterfly Spirit as it wings through your life.
Learn more about Color Symbolism and Meanings here!
The Black Butterfly acts as a warning of hard times ahead. They may be emotionally taxing. But, Black Butterfly isn’t all gloom and doom. Remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
Blue Butterflies are very scarce. Seeing one ensures joy and good fortune. Other meanings for blue Butterfly are nobility and honor.
Brown Butterfly puts you on notice. An important message is arriving and you will need to take speedy action. The brown Butterfly may also be the soul of someone who loves you, dropping by with guidance.
Having a green Butterfly enter your home or business is a sign of prosperity. Money is soon to follow, along with success in a business endeavor. In China, the green Butterfly represents love.
What is your passion? Seeing an orange Butterfly is a harbinger of positive results. Stay focused and keep moving forward.
Encountering a purple butterfly is a rare experience. This Animal Ally portends a change for the better. Specifically, something you’ve given great attention and energy to starts blossoming into fruition (finally). The result is even better than you wished.
In England and Scotland, red butterflies are actually witches or a witch’s soul. It comes with a message of danger. Keep on the lookout for oddities. If you feel something’s off, veer clear.
The White Butterfly may be a guardian angel taking watch over you. Your Animal Helper also brings luck.
The Yellow Butterfly is an indication that summer is very near. It is a creature of happiness. If you’ve suffered from a creative block, it will pass soon.
Butterfly in Christianity
While Butterflies are not mentioned in the Bible, Christians use them as a symbol of God’s ability to transform the heart of a person. They perfectly allude to new beginnings and the soul’s journey (from Caterpillar to Butterfly), giving a face to the concept. The Caterpillar reaches what it thinks is the end, only to come out better than before (emerging new in Christ).
Symbolism and Meaning of Butterfly in Greece and Rome
The word for Butterfly in ancient Greek is psyche. They believed this creature bore the souls of the dead. In fact, they had a Goddess, Psyche, who presided over the souls of the dead. Art depicted Her with Butterfly wings.
Romans created a statue of a dead man with a Butterfly leaving his mouth, symbolizing his soul moving onward. Romans had coins with the Visage of Juno on them, complete with Butterflies overhead. Juno was the Queen of the Gods, presiding over fertility, birth, and marriage. The coins reflect the Roman symbolism for Butterfly, namely marriage and weddings.
Native American Butterfly Symbolic Meanings
Butterflies figure heavily in Native American mythology and ritual. Among the Blackfeet, it’s thought that it is Butterfly Spirit who brings us our dreams. Because of this, people often present young children with a small depiction of a butterfly at bedtime, along with a lullaby invoking Butterfly for sweet dreams.
In Hopi tradition, Butterfly is one of the Nature Spirits called a Kachina. Butterfly appears in the Butterfly Dance, a ceremony that takes place over two days. It is a rite of passage for young women who will learn traditional songs and the role of women in Hopi culture.
The Navaho regard the Butterfly as an emblem of happiness and rebirth. It is tied to the story of the God Quetzalcoatl, who first manifests as a chrysalis. Eventually, He bursts forth from His chamber with a rainbow of colors appearing as a Butterfly.
There is a Pueblo legend about Butterflies. Upon looking at humankind, the Creator felt bad for the children whose fate was becoming old and wrinkled. So He gathered Nature’s colors from leaves, flowers, trees, sunlight, and even the sky. All the colors went into a magical bag given to the children. Upon opening the bag, Butterflies in all colors flew out. They were incredibly beautiful, delightful, and mesmerizing. As they flew, the Butterflies sang to make the children happy.
As would be the way of the world, the Birds became jealous. They went to the Creator, saying it wasn’t fair for the Butterfly to be both beautiful and have a lovely singing voice. So, Creator removed the Butterfly’s ability to sing. Nonetheless, their colors remain.
Mythology in the Pacific Northwest Coast depicts Butterfly Spirit as a companion for the Raven. It could act as Raven’s spokesperson and scout as well. Butterfly leads Raven to food sources and shows Raven creatures who try to hide from it. The presence of Butterfly is a sign of hope.
Butterfly as a Celtic Animal Symbol
An old Irish blessing says,
“May the wings of the Butterfly kiss the sun,
and find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness, and riches today,
tomorrow and beyond.”
Among the Irish, Butterflies are the spirits of the departed. So much so that up until the 1600s, it was against the law to kill a white Butterfly, which is the soul of a child. They can return to their favorite places in this form. The spirits may also visit loved ones, letting them know all is well.
In General, the Celts saw the Butterfly as an emblem of life’s cycle between the spiritual and physical realms. Because legend claims (again) the Butterfly is a symbol for the soul, having one nearby is a sign or message from a deceased loved one. The creatures also represent hope, endurance, and dramatic transformation.
Aztec Butterfly Significance
Artists in Mesoamerica loved Butterfly images. In classical murals, they have ties to Warriors. They additionally portray the Fire Element, death and rebirth, and fertility. It was not uncommon to discover sculptures of Gods and Goddesses with Butterflies included. They appear especially as companions for Xochiquetzal and Xochipilli, both of whom have “flower” as part of their name’s translation. These two Beings embody pleasure and bounty.
There is also Itzpapalotl, a warrior Goddess often referred to as the “Obsidian Butterfly.” She presides over a paradise created for those who died as infants.
What Butterfly Represents in Columbia
Columbia has the most Butterflies in the world, so it’s not surprising to find them respected. There is a list growing close to 4,000 Butterfly species here and over 2,00 subspecies. A large black or brown Butterfly indicates someone will soon pass away, so it’s generally feared.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa has unique species of Butterfly that evolved together. The ecosystem is intricate. One species, the Yellow Butterfly, is the object of study in the hopes of understanding how the local shifts in farming, logging, and fires affected the Butterfly. Many of the species here are threatened, leading to UNESCO listing the mountains as a Biosphere Reserve.
If you see two Butterflies with what appears as flags on their wings, it represents the relationship between Mexico and Columbia.
Butterfly in Egyptian Iconography
The Egyptians had no word for Butterfly, leading to conjectures about its meaning here. Butterflies were often part of funerary goods and art, so there is a chance they have a magical connection to the afterlife. It may well be, however, depictions simply used them as a point of beauty.
In this region, Butterflies emerge after the Nile floods. The annual flooding brings all manner of nutrients to the soil. In turn, the emerging plants are good hosts for the Butterfly. With this in mind, the Egyptians may have seen the Butterfly as an omen of fertility.
Far Eastern Butterfly Symbolic Meanings
Chinese art has numerous symbols relating to the meanings of Butterfly. A single Butterfly represents longevity, grace, and beauty. Two are the symbol of young, harmonious love and marital bliss. Butterflies appearing with a cat acts as a wish to live a long, happy life, as is a butterfly appearing on a hand or plum blossoms. Finally, a Butterfly enjoying nectar speaks of the rich flavor of joy.
Feng Shui practitioners use the emblem of a Butterfly to help improve romance and love in the home. Alternatively, they may use it as a means to help a single person find the right partner or inspiration for children to release their imaginations.
In Japanese tradition, Butterfly bears a message to help you sort out a problem. Symbolically it represents the transition from being a young girl into womanhood, joyful marriage, and a time-honored harbinger of spring’s arrival.
Japan shares the common idea that Butterflies are souls. In this case, the soul becomes a Butterfly for traveling to the metaphysical plane where they will have eternal life.
When Butterfly appears in your dreams, it brings with it more remarkable inventiveness, particularly in relationships. Butterfly dreams also foretell a time of change to which you must pay attention. Accept the growth opportunity before you with open arms.
In some dreams, Butterfly may reflect the condition of your soul. For example, if the Butterfly seems to falter, your spiritual aspect needs attention. If the Butterfly goes from flower to flower without issue, your life force is on the right path to lasting happiness.
Sometimes a Butterfly in your dream comes to alert you to a new cycle in your life. Change is afoot. If you embrace it gracefully, this transition bodes very well for you, especially regarding your expectations.
Should the Butterfly in your dream sit quietly on a window ledge, it represents coming to peace with yourself. It’s time to open the “window” to your soul and search it honestly.
When the Butterfly in your dream lands on you, it’s very fortunate. You may have the opportunity to re-establish healthy connections with your family or create new relationships with relatives you will soon meet for the first time.
The colors of the Butterfly can be symbolic, too. Each color represents a personal trait or talent. Take this moment to really put energy into your gifts. For example, if the Butterfly is white, hone your skills as a peacemaker. Black Butterfly suggests your ability as a problem solver. The Blue Butterfly reveals your aptitude for helping others manifest dreams. A yellow Butterfly says you’re good with finances, the red Butterfly denotes applying personal power wisely, and the Orange reflects your inner voice and listening to it carefully.
Dreaming of a Monarch Butterfly calls you to return home. This Butterfly travels thousands of miles for migration, following the pattern and places of their ancestors.
Learn more about Butterfly Spirit by reading Butterfly Dream Meaning on WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com!
Butterfly in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
In Celtic Animal Astrology, those born between 9/30-10/27 are the Sign of the Butterfly. Butterfly people are social, outgoing “flitters” landing here and there and bringing delight as they go. Butterfly is a bit of a dreamer and restless soul who constantly explores new ideas and places with optimism on his or her wings.
Butterfly-born individuals are fantastic planners and negotiators. From the boardroom to the bedroom, they know how to make things flow more smoothly. Better still, they find great joy in so doing.
If your birth sign is a Butterfly, you probably have wanderlust in your soul. You need friends and a life partner who understand this and want to go on adventures together. Your thirst for discovery is unquenchable. Those who try to keep you on the ground will quickly discover it won’t work.
You probably already know people gravitate to your brilliant aura, shining with beauty. You are true and real, two things everyone appreciates. As a result, you won’t tolerate people who lie or cheat. You will leave them behind, flying off to an uplifting option.
While you can sometimes be flighty, you prefer refinement in your life. Your wings will always be ‘polished’ and ready to greet each day. In your home, you are the ultimate entertainer, partly because you just want folks to be at ease and happy. Having a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. As long as the effort is appreciated, you are at the top of the world.
The most common meaning for a Butterfly Tattoo is transformation. The Butterfly’s life goes by quickly, so it may represent treasuring each moment. Some use a Butterfly tattoo as a memorial for a loved one.
The color of your Butterfly tattoo has a specific meaning. Consider a blue Butterfly for good luck and lasting happiness. Turquoise wings are those belonging to a free, untamable spirit. Purple Butterflies speak of resilience and inner struggles people cannot see outwardly. Alternatively, the Purple Butterfly symbolizes the seeker who strives for ongoing spiritual connectedness.
Pink Butterflies reflect the desire for healthy, loving relationships. Rainbow wings are celebratory, often implying a person has embarked on a new path. Getting a Monarch tattoo is well suited to represent your guardian angel.
And this is just scratching the surface. Where you put your Butterfly, what style you choose, and anything you portray with the Butterfly embellishes its meaning.
When the Woolybear caterpillar has wide black bands, it foretells a cold winter.
A Butterfly perching in your guest room portends a guest’s arrival, specifically someone you care about deeply.
If the first Butterfly you see in the spring is white, you can expect good luck all year.
Should the first Butterfly you see in the day is yellow, expect sunshine.
Seeing Butterflies moving together speaks of unity.
Seeing a Dead Butterfly
Coming across a dead Butterfly indicates you feel stuck and distinctly lacking in humor. The sense of entrapment suffocates you. Part of the problem has been brushing off your gut feelings. Also, self-doubts limit you. Getting out of your rut will require getting out of your proverbial box, introspection, and finding coping mechanisms.
It’s time to start reaching for what makes you happy and content. Toss the unhealthy or negative habits. Replace them with those creative outlets and hobbies that fill your spirit. Don’t limit yourself so much. Work will be there tomorrow.
The Social Butterfly
The phrase “social Butterfly” alludes to the person who flits from party to party, person to person, seeking enjoyment. Social Butterflies are people who love people, and folks often love them back. The dynamic of a social Butterfly is charismatic, expressive, and outgoing.
The first appearance of the phrase occurred in the American Quarterly Review (1837). The quote goes, “He has too much goodness of heart to engage in the breaking of social butterflies upon the wheel of ridicule.”
The Butterfly Effect
The main idea behind the Butterfly Effect is that the world is very complex. We have no idea how one decision or action may impact everything going forward. In fact, minutia may become the catalyst for dramatic change.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you get stuck in traffic and arrive at your favorite diner a little later than usual. To your surprise, you meet someone who has influence in an area of art you adore. Your network and eventually get more exposure. But what if the traffic wasn’t there? You may have never met that individual.
If you’ve ever heard of the Chaos Theory, the basic ideas remain the same. A small Butterfly flapping its wings somehow results in a natural disaster in another part of the world. Or, if you were to time travel and step on a Butterfly, it would alter the future.
Butterfly Sayings and Quotes
“Butterflies are nature’s angels. They remind us what a gift it is to be alive.” -Robyn Nola
“Nature’s message was always there and for us to see. It was written on the wings of butterflies.” -Kjell B. Sandved
“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” -J. Richard Lessor
“The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.” -Rabindranath Tagore
“Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.” -R.H. Heinlein
“Love is like Butterfly, beautiful and delicate… If you truly care for it, you’ll do whatever you can to make it happy, even if that means letting it go” -Scott Pemberton
Protecting the Butterfly
The importance of Butterflies to our ecosystem can’t be over-stressed. Pollinators like Butterflies pollinate 75% of all flowering plants. Many are losing their habitat due to human incursion, pollution, and climate shifts. If you’d like to learn more about how to help the Butterflies, here are some organizations to check out.
A program based in the UK for people who want to learn more about insects and their impact on the environment. They have numerous publications and events. One key goal is involving young people in the efforts for understanding and preservation.
Not only involved in conservation, but reserve creation, data recording, and education.
Information on Butterfly gardening, Butterfly monitoring, a gardening and habitat program, and scientific research, with chapters throughout the US.
An invertebrate protection group networking pollination resources, supporting certification, offering education, and striving to reduce pesticide use.
Butterfly Symbolic Meanings Key
- Air Element
- Cycles & Growth
- Joy & Happy Relationships
- Movement & Manifestation
- The Soul