Masters of metamorphosis, butterflies are important symbols of transformation, freedom and rebirth. These winged creatures have long been considered messengers from the other world and heralds of good fortune and joy. The Greek word for butterfly, psyche, is the same as that used for soul, and this association is found in many cultures.

Continue reading to learn more about Butterfly symbolism, mythology and much more !

The symbolism of the butterfly across cultures

symbolism of the butterfly across cultures

Let's travel around the world to learn more about the symbolism of the butterfly in these cultures:

The symbolism of the butterfly in China

Butterflies are a common motif used in classical Chinese textiles as a symbol of summer, joy, beauty and elegance. Pairs of butterflies embroidered on textiles are a symbol of young love. The "Butterfly Lovers" (Liang Zhu) is a Chinese legend that tells the tragic romance of two lovers who turn into butterflies when Zhu throws himself into Liang's grave.

symbolique du butterfly en China

The Zhuangzi is an ancient Chinese philosophical text. The most famous passage is a question about the nature of reality:

Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream

"Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamed that I was a butterfly, fluttering here and there, just a butterfly. I was only conscious of my butterfly happiness, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I woke up, and I was myself again. Today, I don't know if I was then a man dreaming that I was a butterfly, or if I am now one. butterfly dreaming that I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly, there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

The symbolism of the butterfly in Japan

In Japan, butterflies are associated with departed spirits and can be considered a positive or negative omen depending on the person. The soul of a deceased person takes the form of a butterfly or is guided by butterflies to the afterlife. A swarm of butterflies warned of a revolt by the first samurai Masakado, a demigod whose ghost is said to still haunt Tokyo today. A swallow-tailed butterfly was featured on the crest of his clan (Taira).

symbolique du butterfly au japon

Butterflies are also associated with love and femininity, and are often featured in women's clothing. Butterflies were the first form of origami, inspired by a poem about paper butterflies. This is how the tradition of placing two origami butterflies on a bottle of sake at Japanese weddings was born.

Symbolism of the Native American butterfly

symbolic of the Native American butterfly< /p>

Native Americans Siksika(Blackfoot) believe that butterflies bring dreams and inspiration.1 The Hopi tribes of Arizona practice a ceremonial butterfly dance, which is a two-day social dance performed by young women. Butterflies are also among the main kachina, or wildlife spirits, and appear in Hopi figurines and pottery. They symbolize transformation and balance.

Butterfly symbolism in Mexico

Monarch butterflies arrive in Mexico during their annual migration in the run-up to Dia de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead - and have therefore become a natural symbol for the souls of deceased loved ones.

symbolique du butterfly mexico

The Aztecs believe that the last breath of a dying person takes the form of a butterfly.1 Ītzpāpālōtl is an Aztec warrior goddess who takes the form of an obsidian butterfly. Associated with bats, moths and eagles, she rules the place where the souls of infants reside and humans are created.

Symbolism of the butterfly in Europe

Across Europe, butterflies are primarily associated with the soul, death and rebirth. The Celts believe that butterflies are human souls in search of a mother.1 In Ireland and Germany, butterflies are considered the souls of children.

symbolique du butterfly europe< /p>

In the 1600s, it was illegal to kill a white butterfly for this reason in Ireland. In Andalusian Spain, an ancient funeral ritual states that "the heir must throw unmixed wine on the ashes of the deceased to toast the butterfly which will escape with the soul."

Symbolism of the butterfly in Greece

In Greek, the word for butterfly is psyche. "The ancient Greeks also called the butterfly scolex ("worm"), while the chrysalis - which is the next stage of the caterpillar's metamorphosis - was called nekydallon, meaning "the shell of the dead."

symbolique du butterfly greece< /p>

The Greek myth of Eros and Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul, has been immortalized throughout Western art. Psyche was born a mortal princess. Tales of her beauty became so widespread that the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, became jealous and sent her son, Eros, to shoot her with an arrow so that she would fall in love with a monster. Instead, he pricks his finger with his arrow, falls in love with her, and marries her on the condition that she can never see him. Aphrodite discovers the marriage and sends her to perform impossible tasks which she completes with help. In art, she is usually depicted as a beautiful young woman with butterfly wings.

Butterfly symbolism in Christianity

Butterflies are associated with resurrection and spiritual transformation. Just as Jesus rose from the tomb after three days, a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis after a sort of metaphorical death. Butterflies are often engraved on tombstones as a symbol of rebirth.

Symbolism of the butterfly in Egypt

Butterflies were frequently used as a decorative element in ancient Egyptian tombs. "Butterflies were probably one of the pleasures that awaited the deceased in the afterlife, reflecting the Egyptian belief in the immortality of the human soul "3.

Color symbolism of butterflies

Each color and species of butterfly take on additional specific meanings, opening up a world of symbolism as varied as they are.



Red Red butterflies are associated with courage, passion, the life-death-life cycle, fire and survival.
Orange Orange butterflies are associated with youth, curiosity, pleasure, happiness, creativity and sexuality.
Yellow Yellow butterflies are associated with clarity, confidence, power, enlightenment, energy and humility.
Green Green butterflies are associated with balance, fertility, love, healing and life.
Blue Blue butterflies are associated with truth, creativity, communication, trust, air and faith.
Indigo Indigo butterflies are associated with wisdom, intuition, inspiration, authority and honesty.
Purple Purple butterflies are associated with spirituality, calm, dreams, awakening, royalty and creativity.
Black Black butterflies are associated with mystery, night, potential, death, elegance, shade and protection.
White White butterflies are associated with purity, unity, innocence, peace, daytime and simplicity.

The symbolism of the butterfly in art

Butterflies have captured the imagination of artists and writers throughout time and are often associated with love and transformation. Their delicate wings and otherworldly colors have also associated them with fairies and other air elements.

Butterflies were a popular subject among artists ukiyo-e from the Edo period in Japan. One of the most famous butterfly paintings of this period was by Katsushika Hokusai "Peonies and Butterflies".

Vincent Van Gogh Butterfly Painting

Vincent Van Gogh painted a series of paintings of butterflies and moths in 1889 and 1890 to explore the hope of transformation. In a letter to a friend he writes about the possibility of transformation: "However, since nothing contradicts the hypothesis that lines, shapes and colors also exist on countless other planets and suns, we are free to feel quite serene about the possibilities of painting in a better and different existence, an existence modified by a phenomenon which is perhaps no more ingenious and no more surprising than the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or of an ephemeral worm The existence of a painter-butterfly would be played out on the innumerable celestial bodies which, after death, should not be more inaccessible to us than are, in our earthly life, the black dots on the maps. symbolize towns and villages."

A Persian watercolor by Bahram-e Sofrekesh in the 1600s depicts a butterfly above a young couple kissing, symbolizing the transformative spirit of love.

Meaning of the butterfly tattoo

Meaning of the butterfly tattoo

Butterflies are a popular subject for tattoos because of their symbolism and beautiful designs. Many get a butterfly tattoo to symbolize transformation, beauty, rebirth, hope, freedom, endurance and love. Butterfly tattoos can be powerful personal reminders of change or of loved ones.

Symbolism of the butterfly in science

Life cycle of the butterfly

The physiological life cycle of a butterfly is one of the most beautiful natural examples of transformation on earth. From egg to caterpillar, chrysalis to butterfly, the spectacular metamorphosis these creatures undergo is impressive and explains the butterfly's association with change and rebirth.

Life cycle of the butterfly

Butterflies have been a favorite subject for many amateur and professional researchers because of their spectacular life stages, short lifespans, and bright colors. Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and illustrator, contributed to our understanding of butterfly metamorphosis in the 1700s with her book Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, paving the way for many lepidopterists today.

The butterfly effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect refers to the possibility that small changes can cause large differences. Meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz gave the example that a beat of A butterfly's wings could cause a tornado on the other side of the world. This concept is illustrated in the film The Butterfly Effect, released in 2004. Various personal catastrophes are caused by seemingly insignificant changes in past situations when the main character travels back in time to try to make things right. Butterflies are therefore a powerful symbol of the interconnectedness of everything that exists in the universe.

The butterfly in dreams

As a product of the unconscious, dreams can show us our most instinctive and intuitive feelings, fears and desires. Pay attention to your existing associations with a particular butterfly and the accompanying emotions in your dream to interpret what the dream butterfly means to you.

butterfly in my dream

Dreaming of a butterfly can mean beauty, whim or transformation. 2 Perhaps you are experiencing a major change in your conscious life and the butterfly is here to show you that change is beautiful, even if it is difficult. Or maybe you're too concerned about your physical appearance, and the butterfly is there to remind you that the rewards of vanity are slim and fleeting.

Dreams about nature can reveal unconscious beliefs we formed in childhood, so examine the conditions surrounding the butterfly in your dream. If you dream of a dead butterfly or a butterfly in captivity, it may be because you have an unconscious belief about your ability to feel joy or love.

In some cultures, butterflies and other animals appearing in dreams are considered spiritual messengers. Write down the feelings and messages surrounding the situation with the butterfly for clues about what your butterfly dream might mean. Butterflies can also represent people in your life, whether living or dead.

What does a visit from a butterfly mean?

visit of a butterfly

Just like in dreams, butterflies that visit us in the waking world are considered messengers. They can mean anything from love and joy to impermanence and change.The spiritual meaning of the butterfly is linked to transformation, joy and rebirth. Animal communicator Kristin Houser of Fauna Speak spoke of butterflies as heralds of joy that teach us to shine brightly and ecstatically. Time is limited and spending time evolving and spreading beauty is time well spent in this finite world. The butterfly phase of the life cycle is a phase of joyful celebration after a long process of transformation.

Butterflies remind us to trust our transformation process, especially when it is dark and narrow. It can be painful and difficult to let go of a belief, a relationship, a job, or a habit because we are moving from something we understand into the dark, underground world of the unknown. Growth can feel like intense upheaval and things falling apart.


It can give the impression of endless waiting in a tiny chrysalis. When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, it is extremely violent and dramatic for the caterpillar to digest itself to undergo its metamorphosis. This process may seem horrible and confusing, but on the other side, there are things that she doesn't even understand are possible in her current form. On the other side, there is theft. On the other side, there is unimaginable understanding, expansion and connection. This is a worthwhile and meaningful discomfort. Growing pains, like childbirth pains, pave the way to a beautiful new life.

If you pay attention to the emotions you feel and the associations you think of when you encounter a butterfly, you will better understand the message it has for you. In many cultures, butterflies are associated with loved ones. A butterfly can therefore remind you of the love you shared with a deceased family member or friend.

What emotions do butterflies symbolize?

We've all experienced the feeling of nervousness and excitement of butterflies in our stomach before a date. Butterflies can feel like a beautiful possibility inside of us. Other emotions associated with butterflies are vanity, love and impulsiveness.

What emotions do butterflies symbolize?

Like most symbols, butterflies can embody the positive aspects of lightness, joy and change or the negative aspects of erratic instability. They can contribute to a mindset oriented towards growth and continuous evolution or to a fatalistic mindset about the randomness of life.

The symbolism of the butterfly in poetry and literature

Here are some of my favorite poems and passages that I have read and written, inspired by butterflies

Two Butterflies Came Out at Noon - Emily Dickenson

Two butterflies came out at noon...
And waltzed above a farm
Then they crossed the firmament
And rested on a beam
Then, together , they flew away
On a sparkling sea.
Although never yet, in any port.
Their coming was never mentioned.
If the distant bird spoke of them
If they were encountered in the Ether Sea
By a frigate or a merchant ship-
No notice was given to me...

Change - Aimee Schreiber

Change seems strange
but reveals a range
of unknown heights,
colors and views
that sparkle and shine
if only we grow.

A final word on the symbolism of butterflies

Thank you for joining me on this fascinating journey through the symbolism of butterflies in cultures, colors, art, science and spirituality. I'd love to hear about your experiences with these evocative creatures, so write a comment to share your butterfly encounters!

If you would like to contribute your knowledge and expertise to this guide, do not hesitate to contact me! I would love to add information about other cultures in particular.

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