Butterfly – Spirit Animal, Symbolism and Meaning

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Wings of joy, of spring breeze and pure light, wings of hope and grace, of peace and harmony…There are numerous words to describe the beauty of butterfly flight and colors and none of them is enough to draw picture of their graceful nature.

What us the secret behind butterflies’ wings, what magic do they hide?

Since far past, people have been amazed by butterflies. These gentle and fragile insects never cease to impress us with richness of their color and magic of their dance in the air.

Most of people think of butterflies as fortunate and lucky insects and we usually feel calmness and joy seeing them flying around.

Butterflies remind us of the awakening of nature, of sunrays of early spring and give us hope of the new tomorrow. There are rare people who would say butterflies are unfortunate sign.

However, that applies only to colorful butterflies active during daytime. There are black night butterflies, as well, and they could have negative meanings. Overall, there are various superstitions related to all butterflies.

They vary depending on a part of the world, traditions, religions, local folklore etc. Such a tiny creature possesses an immense spiritual energy. Butterflies are particularly interesting to spiritualists.

All species of butterflies (and there are thousands of different ones) have certain things in common. All butterflies are silent and soft and all of them have the ability to fly.

Colors of butterflies’ wings vary incredibly; from inconspicuous brownish ones to those of vibrant, literally ‘yelling’ colors.

They also vary in size and a bit in behavior. Butterflies are generally harmless little ones and they play an important role in human culture and spiritualism, in addition to their natural role in the circle of all life.

Butterflies are featured in art, literature, mythology and religion. They are commonly used as a metaphorical expression for deepest human emotions. For example, when someone falls in love or is incredibly excited over something, and in a positive way, we say that he or she has butterflies in their stomach.

It means you feel positively moved, inspired and excited. Butterflies are commonly associated with passion and love, with the idea of falling in love, with tenderness, care and positive thoughts about people and the world in general.

Butterfly symbolism and cultural significance

There are numerous cultural depictions of butterflies and these little ones are generally loved by people.

Butterfly symbolism is to be found in almost every single culture and society around our planet, but in some traditions, butterfly spiritual interpretation play an especially important role.

Butterfly symbolism is strong in Native American folklore, Chinese and Far East traditions in general, as well as in Celtic old lore. These are three very good examples, but there are beliefs about butterflies all around the world.

Later on, we will present these three interpretations.

Butterflies are featured in traditions around the world, but we could summarize their symbolism and simplify it. Since interpretations are many, we could extract some of the basics.

Overall, butterfly symbolism is positive. These insects are associated with concepts and ideas we people value a lot. In general, butterflies represent happiness, prosperity, joy, growth, rebirth, life, tenderness, purity, grace, beauty, creativity, human soul, love and freedom.

These are some of the main concepts associated with butterflies.

Freedom and harmony

Butterfly motifs are sometimes used as metaphors for freedom and peace. Butterflies live according to laws of nature and the never harm other living beings.

They embody the idea of ultimate peace and harmony. In many societies, butterfly motifs are used exactly to express these concepts. Butterflies are tender and soft and capable of transformation.

They represent harmony, peace and serenity. Butterfly spirit teaches us to embrace wonders of the world and search for balance in life. Butterfly is universal symbol freedom and harmony.


One of the first things that come to our minds speaking about butterflies is the concept of metamorphosis. Butterflies are not born as wonderful colorful insects that bring joy into our lives, but as inconspicuous larvae that turn into cocoons.

They do not even look pleasant. However, once they are went to all natural stages of their development, they fly out of these cocoons as beautiful and colorful winged insects we know.

Therefore butterflies symbolize rebirth, even reincarnation, new life and new beginnings. Seeing a butterfly is always a good sign; it means miracles can happen, even in darkest times.

Butterflies’ metamorphosis from larvae to a butterfly symbolizes life itself, its stages, life path, awakening, spiritual journey, new opportunities. Butterflies are much appreciated for this incredible natural ability they have.

Symbolically, a birth of a butterfly represents something positive, good, something that has finally got its true form. In addition, there is another interpretation that links butterflies directly to the idea of life and appreciation of life.

Joys of life

It is commonly believed that butterflies live for only one day, although that is wrong.

However, they are still associated with the idea of fragility of life. This symbolic meaning remind us that life is to be fully enjoyed and that it is made of many beautiful things we fail to notice.

Butterflies symbolize the importance of respecting, appreciating and enjoying little things in life, thus making the life itself beautiful and pleasant. All over the planet people ascribe the idea of joy to butterflies.

Butterflies’ flight is calming and always inspiring to watch. It is commonly believed that these beautiful and colorful creatures bring joy and happiness.

At least, they will certainly put a smile on your face. It is never good to kill or harm a butterfly, for it could actually bring you bad luck. To dream butterflies or simply see them in reality is always considered good.

According to some interpretations, it is a fortunate sign that might suggest something really good will soon happen.

Butterflies in Celtic folklore

Butterflies are considered lucky insects in Celtic tradition. Ancient Celts associated butterflies with good fortune and life. In their folklore, butterflies have represented joys of life, peace and harmony, so it was considered a lucky omen if you see a butterfly.

The same opinion and belief still lives on in Ireland. An old Irish law says it is forbidden to kill a butterfly of white color. Killing or hurting a white butterfly is believed to bring misery and misfortune, because, according to old superstitions, white butterflies are incarnation of deceased children souls.

This Irish superstition is a good example of symbolical connection between butterflies and human souls. This association is common in other parts of the world, as well.

Butterflies in Chinese tradition

Chinese people love and praise everything that is beautiful, calm and soft, just like butterflies are. Chinese tradition has a special place for these gentle insects. Chinese associate butterflies with some of the most tender and yet strong emotions.

Butterflies represent passion, love, devotion and sacrifice. Chinese have special sense for beauty of natural phenomena, flora and fauna.

Their woodcarvings, calligraphy works, painted fabrics and drawings often feature some of the most beautiful examples from nature.

Flowers and butterflies are common motifs in Chinese art. They are used as metaphors for grace, softness, elegance, purity and innocence. In addition, butterflies in Chinese folklore also represent vitality and youthfulness, including everything it brings along.

In Chinese folklore, a butterfly is an ultimate symbol of blooming love between young people. This kind of love is passionate, exciting, often thoughtless and unrestrained.

There is a beautiful Chinese story that features a butterfly as a true metaphor for passionate love.

According to the story, there was a young lady who fell in love with a man whom she could not marry, because she was already promised to another. The guy whom she fell in love with loved her too, so he died out of pure sadness.

The grieving girl went to visit his grave and then something miraculous happened. Soul of the dead boy has turned into a butterfly and flew away from the grave. Miraculously, as it could happen only in a legend, girl also changed into a butterfly so she could finally be with her true love.

The story is naïve, but it represents the Chinese symbolism of butterflies very well.

Butterflies in Native American folklore

Native Americans have many superstitions and beliefs about butterflies. They believe butterflies are associated with peoples’ souls, with our dreams and prosperity.

Various tribes have their own beliefs about these insects. Mythology of Native American tribes is abundant in animal symbolism; butterflies are not an exception. Butterfly symbolism plays an important role in various rites and spiritual practices of Native American tribes.

For example, Hopi tribe practices so-called Butterfly Dance. It is a sacred ritual of passage, related to women.

Hopi associate butterflies with supernatural powers of special order of spirits. They believe butterflies embody these spirits of nature. Their Butterfly Dance is a symbolic way of marking special event in life of every female member of the tribe. When girls come of age, they play Butterfly Dance, a symbolic event of entering their womanhood.

Since butterflies are associated with Mother Nature and the Earth itself, this ritual puts an emphasis of traditional role of females as mothers and those who give life.

Blackfeet Indians associate butterflies with dreams. They believe butterflies actually bring people rest, comfort and sweet dreams. Blackfeet Indians would use a motif of a butterfly (a picture or an artifact featuring butterfly motif) while singing lullabies to their children.

They believe that way their dear young ones would fall asleep easily and have positive, calming dreams and good rest. Blackfeet people believe butterflies always carry positive energy and inspire calmness, peace and tranquility all people need.

Butterflies represent happiness and joy for Navaho tribe. These people also believe butterflies are fortunate and lucky creatures.

They believe these insects would make people feel happy and content. They associate butterflies with prosperity, hope and renewal. Navaho Indians especially praise butterflies’ ability of transformation.

Their folklore is full of stories about spirits that incarnate as butterflies. Those are usually good spirits.

Specific interpretations

Since there are so many species of butterflies, there are even more interpretations of their spiritual powers. Butterflies vary in colors and sizes and so does their symbolic meaning vary.

Colors play an important role in symbolic interpretations in general. Certain species of butterflies have their specific symbolical meanings as well.

Now we will go through some of the most common specific interpretations of butterflies’ spiritual power.

White butterfly symbolism

White butterflies represent purity, innocence, softness and generosity, concepts that are generally ascribed to all white animals.

White butterflies are symbols of everything that is pure and fragile.

Their symbolism varies depending on a part of the world, but these are most common associations.

In addition to these, white butterflies represent youthfulness, something that is uncorrupted, unstained. They are considered fragile, beautiful beings that inspire care and love.

Thus, white ones also represent pure love, consciousness and understanding.

Black butterfly symbolism

Black butterflies represent everything exactly the opposite. They symbolize death and misfortune, which is also common interpretation of other black animals.

Black butterflies are believed to be heralds of darkness, bringers of dark news or even incarnations of evil spirits.

However, they look impressive, since they are extremely rare. For those who mysteries and generally consider dark things beautiful and magical, black butterflies do not have to be a bad sign.

They could also represent deep insight, secrets of the soul and spiritual awakening. However, generally they are seen bad.

Yellow butterfly symbolism

Bright yellow butterflies are a good sign. Yellow color is traditionally associated with sun and sunrays.

In Native American folklore, yellow butterflies are believed to be directly connected to energy of the Sun. It is believed they bring good weather, joy and prosperity.

Yellow butterflies are symbols of life pleasures, hope, future and life.

They are particularly a good sign for those engaged with agricultural work. They symbolize good season, positive outcome of any work, abundance, good health and good times.

Blue butterfly symbolism

Blue butterflies represent inner peace, wisdom, serenity and calmness. They symbolize peace and harmony and would always make you feel good about seeing them.

Blue butterflies are also associated with honor and acceptance.

There are various blue species of butterflies, but in some parts of our planet, insects of blue color are rare and thus considered especially positive, miraculous sign. It is believed they carry good news and offer guidance.

As spirit animals, blue butterflies help you awake your inner voice and intuition.

Purple butterfly symbolism

Purple ones are rare, so they are usually associated with something magical, royal or divine.

Purple color is ultimate color that represents luxurious lifestyle, wealth, fortune, high social status, nobility and royalty.

Purple butterflies are also associated with insight, prophetic abilities, intuition, inner wisdom and clairvoyance, all of that because of their unusual color and rarity.

Purple butterflies are thought to be especially good spirit animals, because they help you know yourself better, by developing your intuition and gaining deep knowledge others are incapable of comprehending.

Purple butterflies also represent mysteries, secrets and magic in general.

Monarch butterfly symbolism

This is one of the most beautiful butterflies on the world. It has beautiful, large wings of black, white and orange colors that look like painted glass. Monarch butterflies are not the largest, but they are big enough to clearly see their beautiful pattern.

These wonderful insects have strong symbolic meanings. Just as their popular name suggests, these butterflies are associated with luxury, royalty, abundance, success and glory.

They represent ideals, perfection, beauty and elegance. Monarch butterflies are also believed to be fortune bringers.

Not only these beautiful insects are identified with concepts of material well-being, but they are also associated with the peace of mind, spiritual energy, heavenly forces, divine powers and enlightenment.

Monarch butterflies offer spiritual guidance, in symbolical sense.

They are also associated with inspiration, motivation and creativity. Their symbolism is incredibly strong and incredibly positive.

If you see a monarch butterfly, it means you are lucky! You could experience something positive in near future, especially regarding your material well-being.

Butterfly totem and its spiritual powers

If you are protected by Butterfly totem, you are truly a lucky person.

Butterfly totem is an excellent spiritual guide, the one who will teach you great lessons about life. Butterfly totem teaches us acceptance and kindness, in the first place. It helps you see deep into your own soul and discover your true desires.

Although not considered a strong one in more physical sense, Butterfly totem offers you a different kind of strength to endure all the difficulties in life and grow even stronger from them.

Butterfly totem teaches you to first embrace yourself, with all the flaws and qualities you have. This spirit animal teaches patience, modesty, calmness and compassion.

If the times are hard, remember that there is always hope that things could get better. Just as a butterfly is born from a cocoon, you could achieve great things, even if sometimes you feel like all hope is gone.

Butterfly totem would help you to always see even just a spot of light in the distance. Butterfly people are known for their laughter and easiness with which they approach to situations in life.

You could rarely see a butterfly person in despair. That is because these individuals know how important it is to value everything they have.

Butterfly people are joyful, peaceful and friendly. Their nature is playful and creative and they enjoy simple things in life. They are modest; Butterfly people are truly happy with what they have and that helps them to develop their dreams and invest their energy in realizing them.

They do not waste energy on being envious or hating. Although it seems they are childish and too wandering, these people know when it is time to get serious. They care a lot about their closest ones and would never neglect them.

Butterfly people are passionate ones. They truly believe love moves the world around. They simply love life and share it with other living beings. Butterfly individuals are often artistic and eccentric, but not arrogant or too proud of themselves.

They will always kindly approach to others and listen what they have to say. Their hearts are full of understanding and compassion.

On the other hand, they value their freedom above all. That makes them resistant to manipulation or ill talks.

Overall, Butterfly totem offers calm, wise and positive guidance. Spirit of this beautiful creature inspires and gives winds to your sails. It will teach you always to look at life with positivity and optimism.

That does not mean you will not see bad things that happen, but you will be capable of accepting those you cannot change and work on those you can manage, without worrying too much or losing your energy on feeling desperate.

Butterfly totem offers inner peace, incredible motivation and optimism.