Butterfly Symbolism: 11 Spiritual Meanings of Butterfly

When it comes to insects, most people feel squeamish, and their first urge is to kill the bug or run away. However, one insect has a special status, and instead of feeling disgusted, people are enchanted when they see it.

As you probably guessed, I am talking about butterflies. With their colorful and delicate wings, these insects are ethereal and gracious, capturing human attention since the dawn of civilization.

Apart from being just beautiful, a butterfly is a symbol of various ideas, feelings, and concepts. Almost every culture in the world has its own version of butterfly symbolism, and here, we will learn about it as much as possible.

Butterfly Meanings

Interesting Facts About Butterflies

Butterflies are day-flying insects closely related to flowering plants. It is estimated that there are approximately 17.500-18.500 butterfly species in the world.


Butterflies can be found on all continents except Antarctica. Some butterfly species migrate across long distances. These migrations cover such long distances that they last several generations and no single individual lives long enough to complete the whole trip.

To be able to navigate when traveling, butterflies use a time-compensated sun compass. They are able to see polarized sunlight, which enables them to navigate even during cloudy weather.


Butterflies have thin bodies and four large wings covered in colorful scales. They have six legs and clubbed antennae.

Males and females of the same species are usually different, with the male having more colorful wings than the female.


Butterflies reproduce sexually by passing spermatophores from males to females. The future offspring will pass through several developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa, and imago (adult).

Butterflies are widely famous for their metamorphosis from humble caterpillars to beautiful adult butterflies. Most butterflies have long larval stages, and their adult-stage lifespan depends on the species. Some live for a week, and some for up to one year-

Other Butterfly Facts

Butterfly wings are actually transparent, and the color you see comes from the tiny scales on the wing’s surface. Apart from enabling them to fly, wings serve as protection against predators.

Some wings have been specifically designed to blend in with the surroundings, while others come in bright colors and bold patterns as a way of scaring off the predators.

Butterflies use their feet to taste food. This enables them to find out whether the flower has any useful nutrients as soon as they land on it.

Notable Butterfly Species

Some of the most popular and widely spread butterfly species are the monarch butterfly, cabbage white, eastern tiger swallowtail, red admiral, small copper, common blue, viceroy, and many others.

Symbolic Meaning Of Butterflies

Symbolic Meaning Of Butterflies

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of butterflies is their delicate beauty. They can also symbolize purity, love, elegance, lightness of being, honor, good luck, hope, and unpredictability.

However, due to their metamorphosis, butterflies are often symbols of transformation, rebirth, and resurrection. They are often seen as symbols of human souls.

Native American Mythology

Native Americans saw butterflies as symbols of joy, love, color, and change. However, some Native American tribes believed the butterfly symbolism depended on its color.

For example, black butterflies were seen as a bad omen. Yellow butterflies represented hope, and the white butterflies symbolized good luck.

Mayans and Aztecs thought butterflies represented Xiutecutli, the god of fire. Goddess Iztpapalotl, a goddess of rejuvenation and purification through sacrifice, was often called “Obsidian Butterfly.”

Serpent god Quetzalcoatl emerged on Earth in the form of the chrysalis. He freed himself from his cocoon and transformed into a magnificent butterfly, a sign of divinity and perfection.

Aztecs also believed that the happy souls of dead people would visit their relatives in the form of beautiful butterflies to ensure them that all was well in the afterlife.

Colombian Goajiro tribe also believed that butterflies were actually the representation of their ancestor’s souls, and it was considered bad luck to mistreat a butterfly. Some nocturnal moths were believed to be omens of death.

North American Blackfeet tribe believed that butterflies were bringers of dreams, sleep, and rest.

Ancient Greece, Egypt, And Rome

Aristotle called butterflies “psyche,” which meant soul. Psyche was also the name of Eros’ human lover. This shows that Ancient Greeks saw butterflies as symbols of soul and love.

Butterflies were seen on many Roman coins. In Roman mythology, butterflies had similar meanings as in Greek mythology: soul and love.

Ancient Egyptians also connected butterflies to souls, resurrection, rebirth, and the afterlife.


Although the Bible never mentions butterflies explicitly, they are often seen as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. They also represent how human souls ascend to Heaven.

Celtic Mythology

Celtics connected butterflies to souls, resurrection, and love. One Celtic story tells us about a person named Etain, who was transformed into a butterfly and had to endure strong winds for several years. As a reward, Etain was transformed into a  beautiful swan.

This legend highlights the importance of enduring bad times to be able to transform into a stronger and better version of ourselves.

Irish Culture and Butterflies

In the 17th century in Ireland, killing a white butterfly was strictly prohibited because it was believed to be the soul of a dead child.

Apart from being a symbol of the soul, butterflies were often connected to fire of the gods, brightness, lightning of Gods, transformation, and creation.

Asian Cultures

Japanese people see butterflies as a symbol of transformation, specifically when a young girl becomes a woman. They also see a butterfly as a sign of a long life.

In China, butterflies are a symbol of long life, good fortune, and swiftness. Two butterflies flying together are seen as an emblem of love.

Butterfly Symbolism In the Modern Age

Butterfly Symbolism In the Modern Age

From ancient times until today, the spirituality and symbolism behind butterflies evolved a bit, but they stayed similar through all these years. Butterflies still represent joy, purity, love, and beauty, but they are also symbols of fun, joyous times, freedom, creativity, and bravery.

Butterfly Spirits And Their Significance

Butterflies are a popular choice for a spirit, power, and totem animal.

Butterfly Power Animal: If your power animal is a butterfly, you are strong, optimistic, creative, courageous, and full of joy. You look at things from several different perspectives.

Just like a butterfly, your mind is colorful and vibrant. You constantly look for beautiful things in life. The meaning of life for you is to enjoy nice things and live in harmony with other nature’s creatures.

Butterfly Spirit Animal: Butterfly spirit animal will guide you towards self-reflection. It will teach you to be open-minded and enlightened.

This spirit animal will motivate and push you towards constant change in order to help you reach your true potential. With every stage of your life, you will grow to be more strong, wise, and more beautiful from the inside.

Butterfly Totem Animal: Having a butterfly as a totem animal will teach you to enjoy the process of change and improvement. You will learn to look for silver linings in every situation.

Every challenging situation will be an opportunity to grow further and advance towards enlightenment. You will stop worrying about difficult moments that are either in the past or are yet ahead of you.

The Symbolism Behind Butterfly Tattoos

The Symbolism Behind Butterfly Tattoos

For decades, butterflies have been one of the most popular tattoo motifs. Many people choose butterfly tattoos because they look good, but there is also a deeper meaning behind having a butterfly inked on your skin.

Butterfly tattoos are most popular with women, and as such, they often represent femininity, elegance, beauty, confidence, sensuality, joy, and freedom.

Of course, even the tattooed butterflies represent change, growth, transformation, and overcoming difficult times.

Some other butterfly tattoo meanings include gratitude, forgiveness, and letting go of things that have hurt us in the past.

What Does It Mean To Dream Butterflies?

There are several possible meanings for when you dream of a butterfly. These dreams may symbolize the upcoming changes, but they can also symbolize a lack of love and nurturing elements in the dreamer’s life.

Dreaming about butterflies might mean that you are an outgoing person that wishes to socialize more with other people. However, the exact meaning of a  butterfly dream may depend on the color of the butterfly.

White butterfly meaning

Dreaming about a white butterfly might be a bad omen, and it could be a symbol of sickness and bad health. It can also be a sign of incoming troubles and challenges. However, a white butterfly dream can also represent positive changes and good news.

Yellow butterfly meaning

Dreams with yellow butterflies represent change, renewal, and a new start. They can also symbolize death, forgiveness, and sadness.

Red butterfly meaning

If you dream about red butterflies, you are probably in love, or a new love awaits you. It can also be an alert that you need to deal with some intense emotions within yourself.

Final Words

Butterflies may look gently and almost otherworldly, but they have a strong symbolism that represents change, transformation, renewal, and new beginnings.

Butterflies also represent beauty, hope, grace, and good luck, and some cultures believed butterflies were somehow connected to human souls.

Do you have a butterfly tattoo, and if yes, what does it symbolize for you? If the answer is no, would you consider getting one? Write in the comments!

Butterfly Meanings

1 thought on “Butterfly Symbolism: 11 Spiritual Meanings of Butterfly”

  1. I once read a definition of a butterfly as a symbol of community
    and of joy

    Do you know that aspect
    Thank you for helping me


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