Butterfly Symbolism & Meaning

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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? Butterfly energy can help!

Butterfly Table of Contents

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 our winged ally is restoring lightness in your Be-ing 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.

Christians saw it as representing the soul and its journey. Native American tribes respect Butterfly as the messenger of transformation, happiness and the glorious colors of nature, and in China newlyweds were often given gifts bearing two Butterfly images to insure their marital happiness and harmony.

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 inner work when the time is perfect, with fresh ideas and inventiveness to guide our next spiritual stages.

Butterfly Spirit Animal

As a Spirit Animal Guide, Butterfly whispers of your hidden potentials. There’s an old saying that there is nothing in a caterpillar that knows it’s going to be a Butterfly. Nonetheless the transformation from caterpillar to winged wonder happens, quite naturally.

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 been feeling 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 being able to see ultraviolet light. Don’t be surprised if you start catching Fairies and Angles out of the corner of your eyes.

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.

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.

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 Her wings your perspective becomes more global and hopeful.

Butterfly people are naturally social, colorful and vibrant. They endeavor to live each moment to the fullest. 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. Butterfly is all about color and vibrant expressiveness.

During migration, Monarch Butterflies will land in the very tree as did their ancestors. After traveling thousands of miles, even being blow off course, the Monarch ‘grandchild’ or even ‘great-great grandchild’ Butterfly will find the exact same spot that their grandparents ‘roosted’ in after the migration.

Just as Monarchs have cellular memory of their ancestor’s wisdom, so can you tap into this ancient knowledge.

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!


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, babies are often presented 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 and acts somewhat like 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. She 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.

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.”

Throughout Celtic regions Butterfly represents prosperity, joy, good fortune and honor. Butterfly also symbolizes the soul. So much was the case that harming a white Butterfly was against the law in Ireland because of the belief it bore a dead child’s spirit.

Butterfly Dreams

When Butterfly appears in your dreams it brings with it greater inventiveness, particularly in relationships. Butterfly dreams also foretell a time of change to which you need to pay attention. Accept the growth opportunity before you with open arms.

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 dreamer and restless soul, who constantly explores new ideas and places with optimism on his or her wings.

Far Eastern Butterfly Symbolic Meanings

Chinese art has numerous symbols and associated meanings for Butterfly. A single butterfly represents longevity, grace and beauty. Two are the symbol of young, harmonious love. Butterflies appearing with a cat acts as a wish to live a long, happy life as is a butterfly appearing on a hand or on 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, as a means to help a single person find the right partner, or an 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.

Butterfly Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Transformation
  • Cycles
  • Growth
  • Grace
  • The Soul
  • Perspectives
  • Joy
  • Happy Relationships
  • Renewal
  • Movement
  • Clairvoyance
  • Manifestation
  • Air Element

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32 Responses

  1. cil

    what does it mean when you find a dead butterfly in your path? I have looked all over to find this meaning, could not find anything. I would appreciate any help on this, as I am dealing with a lot of things at this time. I need guidance on what to do. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi, Cil;

      Sorry you have so much on your plate at this time. I’m sending love to you right now!

      OK, so, I’m going to shoot straight with you. Finding a dead Butterfly could mean that it’s time for you to figure out how to more rapidly and gracefully transform so as to get through this tough period. Butterflies are all about metamorphosis so, as Winston Churchill says, “If you’re going through hell, keep going”!

      No matter how tough things are you can get through it and to a better place faster than you are thinking. I believe in you and know you can do it! So, get going! <3

      Hope that helps.

      Stay wild,

      • Karla

        I had the same question and couldn’t find anything either, until this. Thank you, Bernadette!

        • Hi, Karla!

          You are most welcome! Thank you for visiting WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com!

          Stay wild,

  2. Fifah

    I’ve always been attracted to butterflies, but have always felt the turtle is my spirit animal. Lately, butterflies have been constantly in my path. Yesterday one landed on my hand and stayed with me way longer than one usually would. Could this be a messenger for me? Has it been my totem animal all along? I’m definitely in a time of (agonizingly slow) transition and change.

    • Hello, Fifah!

      We can have more than one Totem Animal as well as more than one Spirit Animal. It sounds like Butterflies come to you as a Spirit Animal and, maybe, Turtle is your Totem animal – who you “are”. I’m sending you tons of good energy to help you through this transition but remember, Turtle teaches us that slow and steady wins the race so hang in there! You’re doing great!

      Stay wild,

  3. Tina

    I’m a truck driver, my husband and I did a driver change and I saw a orange, white, yellow n black on top side and blue, purple, white and black butterfly on the grill. It was still alive n let me hold it for a long while. I placed him on a bush to hopefully live. Then 2 days ago, the same week, I saw an orange, black and white one walking on the ground, so I put my hand down n he walked on my hand, so I could save him from getting walked on and I put him in the planter. We came back outside and he let me hold him again, then I put him back in the planter. My question is… what are the 2 butterflies trying to say? I’m so happy, in love and at peace with my life, why did they let me save them and hold them?

    • Hi, Tina!

      Wow! Butterflies are skittish so 2 allowing you to “hold” them is definitely special! Something tells me you’ve been through a great deal to get to where you are – “happy, in love and at peace”. Maybe Butterflies are asking you to find ways to inspired others during their times of transformation. Or, maybe the Butterflies were simply attracted to all the loving kindness you radiate!

      Stay wild,

  4. Lisa

    I have a lot of milkweed in my yard, planted with intention. A Monarch butterfly eclosed on Saturday that I have watched its chrysalis since it formed. She is disabled and I held her until her wings were fully formed. She cannot fly, so I brought her inside. She is now 4 days old, residing in my studio on my desk in front of a sunny window. I feed her fresh flowers and nectar daily. I’m video recording her life with me. Oddly enough, this time of year I am typically frantically preparing for art shows. I opted not to do the shows this year, so as to pursue my art differently. Now that I am reading how much butterflies represent transformation. I am transfixed. I am starting an ecourse on October 3rd to pursue a lifelong dream of writing and illustrating children’s books. I hope this means I am on my right course. thanks! Lisa

    • Hello, Lisa;

      Apologies for the delayed reply.

      Oh my goodness your post gave me goose bumps! A children’s book writer and artist who saves Butterflies! I sure hope your books are autobiographical! 🙂

      Now, your post is incredibly emotionally uplifting to be sure but what really got to my heart was the part about the Butterfly being ‘disabled’. Why that really moves me is because later you share that you are finally starting to pursue your lifelong dream. And, that’s when it hit me. When we don’t pursue our real dreams we are, in a sense, “crippling” our soul. We are ‘disabling’ our “self”. So, because you’re moving ahead with your soul’s purpose, honoring your sacred contract, you’re saving your own life on many levels. And, the “Butterfly effect” of your work (internal and external) will be absolutely beautiful!

      Kudos to you Lisa! I hope all who have postponed living their dreams read this and realize they can beat the odds like your delicate rescue Butterfly – that there will always be gentle souls out there such as yourself who will help them along their own path of transformation.

      Stay wild,
      PS You know, I’ve rescued my fair share of animals but to learn about a Butterfly rescue is completely astounding to me. Can’t wait to see the video!

  5. Ruben

    A caterpillar decided to plant itself on the side of my house (close to my backdoor). This slowly converted to a cacoon. About 2-3 weeks later a butterfly was born and it landed upside down on my door path. The butterfly could not fly and one of its wings were not full. I placed my finger on its legs. The butterfly walk on my hands and arms. Now I have the flyless butterfly inside my house. I am afraid if I leave it outside being it will be eaten or die because it cannot fly. What does this symbolize?

  6. Julie

    Love your site…I’ve gotten amazing insight and information…so thank you!! I have been seeing ALOT of butterflies in my daily life lately…like I will be driving and it’s butterfly after butterfly…or I’m outside and they seem to follow and surround me wherever I am at…there are just too many to be coincidental…not to mention I have lately seen alot synchronicity in my life. I’ve been working on a spiritual connection for the past few months and occassionally see a psychic so I know there is something I need to realize or be cognitive of….I’m just not sure what all these butterflies mean or are trying to tell me. I was hoping you may be able to provide some insight.

    Thank you for your site…its amazing. 🙂

    • Hello, Julie;

      Thank you for the sweet words of praise and thank you for visiting WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com!

      Based solely on the information you’ve provided, it seems to me that Butterfly is trying to nudge you to develop your psychic abilities. That said, I’m a professional psychic medium and your energy feels to me as if you’re interested in psychic phenomena far beyond what occasionally getting a reading ‘means’ – if that makes sense. Go for it!

      Also, I’m feeling like you’re a bit introverted. So Butterfly might be letting you know it’s time to emerge! Spread your wings and let your glorious colors sparkle and shine for all the world to see!

      Hope that helps!

      Stay wild,

      • Julie

        Thank you very much for your response. Yes – I have been having ALOT of what feels like a push to develop my psychic abilities…so your comments make perfect sense. I actually have signed up for a class on developing psychic abilities that a friend sent to me completely out of the blue….seemed divinely sent 🙂

        Most people don’t know that I’m introverted because I try and push through that as much as possible and I pretty much socialize with the same people so they would never see that in me 🙂

        Thank you again for responding – hopefully developing these skills will better give me some clarity in my own messy life. 🙂

        Have a blessed day!!

        • Hi, Julie;

          You are most welcome! How awesome that you are taking a psychic development class! I have complete faith that you are going to do great – especially in ‘cleaning up’ your own ‘messy life’!

          Stay wild,

  7. owldust

    I have been seeing dead and/or dying butterflies for the past few days – all over the place. On my way home today one flew out from under a truck in front of me, towards my windshield and straight into the path of another vehicle. Sadly, he crashed down onto the road. I normally wouldn’t see it as a sign/symbol except that there have been many, on the ground near my feet, hitting my windshield and the one today really stood out and grabbed my attention. I feel there is a message that I need to get, just not sure what it is.
    Kind Regards.

    • Hello, Owldust;

      Butterfly as a Spirit Animal may be appearing in your path in this manner to ask you slow down – watch who you trust, who is ‘coming at you’, and where you are going. Are you making changes without considering the consequences? Are you zigging when you should be zagging? Butterflies are symbols of transformation. When they die so dramatically, sometimes it can be omen that the transformation you’re seeking or are engaged in might not go so well. Look before you leap, OK?

      Hope that helps.

      Stay wild,

  8. yanling

    i just read the meanings of the butterfly ,and its so trur and so correct ,i do have a big transtion on my life at the time ,and i do have a big transtion on my mind , i also get lost in my depression a lot , always feeling sad and blue because whats going on on my life ,but as it said ,its just a transtion ,i hope butterful can get me power help me though this transtion peacfully

    • Bernadette King

      Hello, Yanling;

      First, with your permission, I’ll send tons of loving and healing energy your way. Butterfly medicine and energy can certainly help you! Spend some time each day learning about Butterflies of all kinds and find the type that resonates most with you. For instance, you may find that during this time yellow Butterflies speak most to your soul. Next month, it might specifically be Monarch Butterflies. Each has something to offer from its color messages, migratory patterns, mating rituals, and more.

      Sure hope that helps.

      Stay wild,

  9. Ellie


    When I woke up this morning a peackock butterfly was fittering at the window. I helped it to get outside because I truely believe it schould not be trapped in my bedroom. A few minutes later another peacock butterfly was fluttering at the same place as the first one. I saw the first one fly away. The second one was a little larger. So I captured it in a big box, opened the window and let it fly away. I have no clue where they came from. They didn’t fly araund. My Windows have been closed for weeks. And I have had no indication that they were there. When I set the first one Free I never saw the second one. I am truely amazed and I wonder if it means something special.

    Kind regards

  10. Luz

    Hi, I dreamed with small black butterfly, they form like a bundle n one flew right in front of me and it felt like it was looking at be directly n this woman in my dream told me it ment blessings, I’ve been looking for it but no found it yet in pictures, I’ve found some that looks like it, well thanks.

    • Bernadette King

      Hi, Luz;

      Thank you for sharing about your dream! It would be awesome if all of us had a lady that showed up in our dreams to tell us what the dream means! 🙂 I wonder who she is. That could be part of what your dream was about…

      Stay wild,

  11. Anu

    Hi Bernadette,

    Found a lot of insightful info in this article. Thank you. Just curious as to what does finding a Butterfly Wing mean. Yup, just a wing … It’s Black, Yellow and Purple and I just happened to find it. Does it symbolise anything?

    • Bernadette King

      Hello, Anu;

      So happy you gained insights by visiting WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com! Hmmm, finding just one wing is a rather unusual Spirit Animal encounter. Some questions you might ask yourself are;

      • Am I feeling unsupported by others?
      • Do I need to ask for help to get through a transition of some kind?
      • Is it time for me to journey back to wholeness?

      Also, you can visit my sister-site – BuildingBeautifulSouls.com – to read all about color meanings and symbolism.

      Hope that helps.

      Stay wild,

  12. DELIAH

    I have always wondered what the butterfly symbolizes but I have finally seen the answers to my question. Many thanks for helping me understand more about the beautiful butterflies.

    • Bernadette King

      Hi, Deliah;

      Apologies for delay in response – was on vaca! You are most welcome! So happy to know you found the answers you were seeking! I always marvel at how much Butterflies speak to us. For such tiny, delicate creatures they are some of the most powerful Spirit, Totem, and Power Animals. Thank you for visiting and commenting on WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com!

      Stay wild,

  13. Nikky

    Dear Bernadette,
    Firstly thank you for this enlightening site on these awesome creatures – butterflies.
    For the past months butterflies have just been a constant interest to me. It feels as though I am obsessed with them and I feel they have chosen me ( I think) to teach me a life lesson or help me transcend through my current situation. Most of the time my thoughts are on them. Where I happen to be or look I see images of them, hear a song about them or see the word butterfly written down.
    I am myself going through a lot of changes especially with work/career where everything is up in the air at the moment. I’m not sure which direction this is taking me or what I want to do career-wise but I am coming to an end of a three year part time study at university – I work full time. Most of the time I do feel sad, down and helpless not knowing what is around the corner in my current state. I am quite pyschic and some of the time my intuition and dreams serves me well. I am 47 years old, not married (but have a partner), no children and feel perhaps life is passing me by???
    Would appreciate your response on making sense of the above. Thank you, in love and light. Nikky x

    • Bernadette King

      Hello, Nikky;

      When we become uber focused on a particular Spirit, Totem or Power Animal and its teachings, it’s a sign that our higher self is really trying to get a message to us but we aren’t hearing/seeing it – yet. Butterflies teach us that no matter how fragile we appear to be (even to our self), we are strong enough to break out of self created prisons (cocoon) and fly free! Butterfly as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal also teaches us that when we do break out, we will be a thing of unimaginable beauty.

      My beautiful Butterfly friend, life is not passing you by and you are anything but helpless. You’ve been in your cocoon, contemplating the perfect moment to emerge! Stop focusing on the fear. Focus on the flight! What magical job do you want to migrate to? What vibrant colors do you want to paint your life with? It sounds like ‘up in the air’ is the most wonderful place for you to be right now becasuse we can see the big picture when all choices are laid out beneath us. So, blink your eyes and change your flight pattern! You got this! And the Universe and all her Butterflies are there to help you!

      Hope that helps!

      Stay wild,

  14. Marin

    Hi Bernadette.
    Yesterday morning I released the last of the peacock butterflies that had chosen my living room to hibernate in, unfortunately. Last summer butterflies kept seeking me out, sitting on my shoulder, my chair in the garden, and some months ago I first discovered butterflies on the wall behind my bookcases and side table.
    In the past week they have been prematurely waking up because my living room is not a cold barn! It was heartbreaking having to let them go, because it’s so cold outside. One of them I kept inside, hoping to coax it back to sleep by keeping the heating and lights low but it died after three days. So the next butterflies I let go. I can hardly type this without crying.
    The last one (nr 6 or 7) basked in the sun while tasting my hand with it’s tongue, it was so beautiful. It sat on the back of my hand like the most precious ring I have ever worn. And then it flew away. It’s probably dead now and that brings me to tears every time I think about it. It thought spring had come.
    ‘breathe in, breathe out’
    Okay. Anyway, this waking up of the butterflies coincides with my realization I am ready to let go of the past, of old pain and bitterness. The white peacock (the actual bird) is important to me, and I thought it was a nice ‘coincidence’ that it had to be the peacock butterflies that came to stay with me. I’m so sad it didn’t end well, but feel I myself am going through a deep transformation.
    Did they come to help me?
    Did they come because I saved a peacock butterfly caterpillar earlier this year?
    They all died, most of them outside, in freedom, but I don’t know what I could have done differently and feel way too responsible.. It was a humbling experience but I don’t quite know what to make of it.
    Maybe it’s a silly question, but could you please say something that makes me feel less sad about it?

    • Bernadette King

      Hello, Marin;

      Oh, honey, you are such a beautiful, sensitive soul. And, so, will always feel responsible to save the world and heal all living things. Death is hard for someone like yourself. Try to always remember that you can only do what you can, when you can. In reality most Butterflies live only 7 – 10 days. But, in that time they live life to the fullest! And, to a Butterfly, 7 – 10 days could feel like eternity. It is no coincidence that Peacock Butterflies came to cocoon in your sacred space. Trust that. And, trust that a wild animal would rather live free and die ‘early’ than to be trapped.

      Remember, Marin – you, too, are wild and free. Don’t let anyone or anything confine you – even your ‘self’. Sounds like it’s time to emerge from your cocoon. Shake off the shadows and put on some bright colors! You’ve got this!

      Hope that helps.

      Stay wild,

  15. Marin

    Thank you, Bernadette.
    (And a Happy New Year!)
    You actually made me laugh out loud, imagining myself as wild and free. (Because I’ve been so stressed for so long.) The cocoon has been helpful in turning the focus inward, but also very confining.
    I know this will be the year. Breaking out can be messy and confusing, but clarity is sure to come.
    And the butterflies have my colorful back!
    Again, thank you, for taking the time to respond.

  16. Alenka

    Hello Bernadette, I would appreciate if you would help me to understand….

    Something strange happened around 20th Of December 2016. Let me explain, that I live in Slovenia and it is winter time with around 0 degrees celsius…and in the middle of winter there was a beautiful colourfull butterfly in front of my doors. Tried to move it because I was afraid someone might step on it, but the next time I opened my doors the butterfly was there again…after a week or even more it died…but it stayed in front of my doors all the time…
    Let me also explain that it was not easy for me for the last years. I live alone with my two sons trying to raise them the best I can and some people used my trust….
    Is there a message for me I should see?

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