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Butterfly Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)


Butterflies are a universal symbol of transformation and spiritual growth. Understanding the wisdom of butterflies can be an excellent tool for spiritual progress and enlightenment. This is especially true if the spirit of the butterfly is a guiding force in your life.

The butterfly is a beacon of light and hope that comforts and inspires us as we navigate through the complex mix of trials and triumphs that unfold in all of our lives.

Table of contents

Butterfly Symbolism And Meaning

The symbolism of the butterfly is often connected to life force and the spirit. In some cultures, the butterfly even represents the human soul.

The spiritual meaning of butterflies also deeply resonates with the Christian belief in heaven and the ascension of the spirit. On the whole, butterflies are usually interpreted as representing creativity, rebirth, joy, transformation, nature, beauty, and growth.

Much of the symbolism connected with the butterfly comes from the incredible life cycle of this dazzling insect. The life cycle of the butterfly is an inspiring natural process from which many people draw insight and wisdom.

Butterflies begin their lives as eggs which hatch into the larval form of the caterpillar. As a caterpillar, the butterfly is little more than a worm or grub inching its way along the leaves that it eats. After a while, though, the caterpillar cocoons itself in a chrysalis where it begins to transform into something entirely new. When the insect reemerges from the chrysalis, it does so as a vibrant, colorful, and gorgeously winged butterfly. This butterfly transformation process is a powerful lesson in spiritual transformation and personal potential. (1)

When we undergo a spiritual transformation, we must retreat from the outer world and into our inner being. We must surround ourselves in a cocoon of positivity, self-reflection, and focused intentions while we undergo the process of discovering our next form.

Once we are sure of our transformation, we must emerge from within. Just as the butterfly awakens and is ready to fly after transforming, we too must emerge after being reborn and refined into a new being.

Butterfly Native American Symbolism

Like many other animals in Native American cultures, the butterfly is a creature of great significance.

So, what does a butterfly symbolize in Native American cultures? In many cases, a butterfly represents colors, joy, and change. In the traditions of several Native American tribes, the butterfly symbolizes resurrection. This insect is a positive guiding force.

While most Native American cultures treat the butterfly as a positive symbol, it has meanings that can differ based on context. Some cultures saw the butterfly as a symbol of dreams and prophecies.

In some cases, the color of the butterfly can also alter its symbolic meaning.

For example, yellow butterflies are associated with hope. The presence of a black butterfly has been interpreted as an omen of pestilence. A white butterfly is often seen as a good luck charm.

For many of the Native American groups from the Great Plains region, the butterfly is a figure which plays a starring role in several myths and stories. (2)

Because Native American cultures are so diverse, it is impossible to ascribe a monolithic meaning to the butterfly as a Native American symbol. Most cultural traditions have in common, however, the fact that the butterfly is a positive symbol associated with happiness and future blessings.

Butterfly Christianity Symbolism

Like many human cultures, the butterfly is full of meaning for Christianity. Although there is no explicit reference of a butterfly in the Holy Bible, Christian symbolism connects the butterfly to resurrection, faith, and forgiveness.

The remarkable transformation of a butterfly can be seen as an allegory for the magnificent works of Jesus Christ. Like the butterfly is transformed in its chrysalis, his life transformed and continues to transform the lives of Christian believers. 

Just as the butterfly emerges as a beautifully winged and glorious creature from a caterpillar, similarly, any Christian who comes to Jesus becomes a new creation. They leave their old life behind and begin a new one after turning to Christ.

From sinners to righteous people, the butterfly is a powerful symbol of resurrection for the Christian congregation. The Greek word for transform is metamorphic, and from this, we derive ‘metamorphoses the English term. The English term describes the butterfly transformation, and coincidentally the same word describes the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

Many Christian scholars use the butterfly as a metaphor inn order to explain the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In this sense, the stage in which the caterpillar is dormant in its cocoon is compared to Jesus’s apparent death. Although Jesus appeared dead in his tomb, when the time was right he emerged transformed. Like the butterfly, Jesus gained the ability to ascend to the heavens. (3)

Butterfly Celtic Symbolism

In Celtic symbolism, the meaning of butterfly is rebirth, an ephemeral thing, and a symbol for the soul. The butterfly is also symbolizes romance in the Celtic imagination. These meanings are evident in the Celtic tale of The Wooing of Etain. (4)

In this story, Etain is transformed into a butterfly and buffeted by a storm for many years before finally being transformed into a swan. (5)

Because of this story, the Celtic interpretation of the butterfly is that of second chances. The butterfly represents the ways that our struggles transform and renew us; that surviving challenges is how a person can truly grow.

The butterfly in this myth signifies that renewal and rebirth are always available for us. One can make better choices because second chances are always an option.

Transformation and renewal are opportunities that cannot be passed over. A positive attitude is an incredible tool for reaching one’s potential.

In the Celtic symbolism, the butterfly represents the soul as well. Several myths describe how butterflies swoop down to the dead, consume their souls, and fly into the skies with them. 

We can look upon this transference as an offering of immortality. When you uplift your dying spirits, renew and revitalize yourself, you breathe new life into what was close to extinguishing. 

Butterfly In Dreams

A visit from a butterfly in your dreams can have a number of important meanings. Butterfly dreams can indicate that a change is looming on the horizon.

Butterflies are so humble because they never experience a mother’s nurturing. They have to survive independently since birth. The Dalai Lama gives his interpretation and compares this independence with a child growing up in a detached and cold environment, just as the butterfly. The lack of care and kindness in a butterfly’s life could represent a lack of nurturing elements in the dreamer’s life, too.

Others believe that seeing a butterfly in your dream could indicate an extraverted personality and a passion for socialization. Perhaps the dreamer has been feeling a bit isolated. This interpretation may highlight the dreamer’s need to emerge from their chrysalis and venture into the open world.

However, the most popular interpretation of seeing a butterfly in your dream is that a major transition is incoming. The dreamer may be seeing the butterfly as a forewarning of a major transition. Struggle and challenges are inevitable, but when we embrace them, changes can be a seriously positive force. 

Often we can be resistant to change, as is human nature, but the butterfly reminds us to reject fear and embrace a brighter future.

Butterfly Encounters And Omens

Encounters with animals are often signs that deliver messages or guidance to us. An encounter with a butterfly can impart wisdom or bring about great inspiration.

A butterfly encounter can be a signal from the universe to direct your focus on personal growth. The butterfly can appear as a message to comfort and assure you that your life is on the correct path.

We have already established that butterflies symbolize transformation. Therefore, encountering this creature frequently might call you to look within areas that you need to improve upon. An encounter with a butterfly may be a sign that a period of growth and self discovery is upon you.

As surely as butterflies signal self improvement and growth, they also remind us to look towards the future with optimism and anticipation. The butterfly reminds us that true change cannot occur without courage and humility.

Butterflies are almost universally positive symbols. A butterfly encounter rarely signifies negativity. The one exception lies in the black butterfly. Pure black butterflies are thought to mean bad luck and curses. Such an encounter may be a warning to examine your life for possible sources of negative energy.

Butterfly Mythology And Folklore

Throughout history, cultures have repeatedly used the butterfly as a decorative object, perhaps more than any other living creature. This is an obvious result of the striking delicate beauty of the butterfly. In this section, we will explore this insect’s cultural meaning, and presence in myths and traditions, across various cultures.

 In both Chinese and Japanese cultures, the ornately beautiful butterfly represents the essence of happiness and joy. In both Chinese and Japanese traditions, the butterfly is a common artistic motif. You can find butterflies present in several manuscripts, drawings, and paintings in both cultures.

Butterflies are also gravely important in Meso-American cultures. There, they are present in a number of myths and folklore traditions.

In Mayan and Aztec mythology, a butterfly represents Xiutecutli, the god of fire. (6) Goddess Iztpapalotl is also referred to as the “Obsidian Butterfly.” This figure represents rejuvenation and purification by sacrifice. (7)

The powerful god Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent, has also been connected with butterflies. In one story, it is said that he descended to earth in a chrysalis form. He then emerged painfully and was transformed into a magnificent butterfly and a sign of perfection.

Irish folklore, too, relates the butterfly with a human soul. The white butterfly, according to some Irish folklore, contains the souls of the deceased children. The folklore also suggests that butterflies are also connected with fire belonging to dealan-dhe, the fire of the gods.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the butterfly also has a great deal of spiritual significance. Aristotle called the butterfly by the name ‘Psyche,’ a Greek word meaning ‘soul.’

Some Native American cultures also feature the butterfly in several of their legends. The Tohono O’odham tribe believes that butterflies deliver their prayers and wishes to the Great Spirit. Their folklore stresses the belief that any wish they given to a butterfly would always come true, in return for setting it free.

Butterfly Spirit Animal

As a spirit animal, the butterfly is connected with the mind and spirit. Butterflies as spirit animals guide us towards self reflection and open-mindedness.

The spiritual meaning of the butterfly relates to the need for meditation and depicts the essence of resurrection. If you wish to tread upon the road to enlightenment, perhaps you must shed your old form. Like the butterfly, you must let go of the familiar things which hold you back.

The most obvious element of butterfly symbolism is transformation, metamorphosis, and rebirth. If the butterfly is your spirit animal, then these concepts can be a potent source of inspiration and wisdom.

Just as the butterfly has to undergo different development stages to come out stronger and more beautiful than ever, you too must accept change and lose the parts of yourself that hold you back.

The butterfly encourages change because it sees your true potential. If the butterfly is your spirit animal, then your self-realization journey will bring you to a place where you can shine from the inside out.

Butterfly Totem Animal

We all know that change is never easy. To transform you must be ready to face the struggles and challenges that will inevitably arise during the process. However, the butterfly totem can inspire you to improve your outlook and perspective to enjoy the process of obtaining personal wellbeing.

Transformation is the essence of the butterfly totem. If this is your totem animal, you must not dwell too much on the difficulties that will come as part of the transformation process. 

It is important to look for silver linings and sources of positive energy during the transformation process. The butterfly totem reminds you to look forward to the positivity that will come into your life once your personal development completes.

The meaning of butterfly colors is joy and light, so you must make this your driving force. Change is never easy, but by concentrating on the colorful part of the process, you will find the strength to complete it.

Butterfly Power Animal

If you accept the butterfly as your totem animal or spirit animal, then it is important to allow this powerful insect to infuse your spirit with strength, lightness, and a broader perspective. 

This power animal gives you the courage to look upon trials and difficulties with optimism and a joyful outlook.

This power animal embraces all those who connect with it, and grants them immeasurable blessings.

The butterfly power animal is colorful and vibrant. This, by extension, encourages you to seek out the colorful things in life, and to find beauty wherever you look.

The monarch butterfly power animal signals a time for our personal growth, internal change, finding one’s place in the world, and the search for contentment.

Butterfly Tattoo Meaning

Butterflies are a symbol of change, beauty, and freedom. Women are often particularly drawn towards butterfly tattoos. People who choose the butterfly as a tattoo, frequently do so as a representation of the period of renewal and transformation happening in their lives. 

Several feminine butterfly tattoos also often feature elegant patterns, flowers, and birds to represent femininity, change, freedom, the joy of being alive.

The flying insects with their colorful and decorative wings sometimes symbolize the desire of humans to fly free and live a lighthearted life free of sorrow or worry. 

Patterned and attractive butterfly tattoos function as a symbol of confidence and liberty. They often represent the courage to change what is necessary to improve the quality of life. The butterfly tattoo may represent forgiveness, gratitude, and letting go of unnecessary burdens.

Butterfly medicine is connected to mental powers, the element of air, and transformations. A butterfly tattoo may be chosen to reflect the powers of butterfly medicine.


Butterfly symbolism is potent and meaningful. It has the power to guide and inspire us through life’s challenges. Many cultures look to this ornately beautiful flying insect with deep reverence and use it as a symbol for many life concepts. 

To summarize, the symbolism of the butterfly often works as a representation of resurrection, change, renewal, hope, endurance, and the courage to embrace change. With the power and wisdom of the butterfly behind you, a positive transition is always around the corner!


5 thoughts on “Butterfly Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. Avatar

    Iv been trying to raise my vibration and get in touch with my higher self and spirit guides I want to be able to move into 5D consciousness. The last week I keep seeing a monarch butterfly in my front yard when I’m out there always like ten feet from me. So this is a good sign.

  2. Avatar

    Last night I had a dream which seemed to go on for a very long time. It was about a green butterfly that kept hovering around me. It kept darting all around me until it actually woke me up. Upon awakening, I felt I must look up the meaning of that green butterfly and find your site to be very informative. I thank you for your information.

    1. Avatar

      My mom,best friend,my rock as well as my world…… Passed away back in July 2021 totally unexpected situation and I’ve yet to be able to understand why,or how. if we did the right thing probably so since she wasn’t willing to go to any doctors appointments. If she’d lived through what was to come she would have never been able to get through everything. Butterflies were all around at her celebration of life as well as given out to everyone that was there. So I’d like to think it’s her with us.

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