The Spiritual Meaning of Butterflies

Ever have a butterfly flit across your path as you take a walk in the late morning?  What did it make you think of, with its little wings buoying it up into the air time and time again?  Was it flying with purpose, racing down the road to the next patch of flowers?  Butterflies can teach us a lot on a spiritual level, and given that I’ve been a nearly-professional butterfly watcher, I’m going to share some of my insights.

A black swallowtail larvae munches on some parsley in a garden

A black swallowtail larvae munches on some parsley in a garden, mimicking bird poop with its black body and white stripes.

First, butterflies can teach us that life isn’t always about being an adult.  In most cases for butterflies and moths, the adult stage is the shortest lived life stage they have.  Butterflies tend to spend longer as egg, caterpillar and/or pupa than they do as adults.  We can apply this idea to our own lives and make the life stage that we’re in now, the most important one.

Second, and along these lines, butterflies have two main strategies for dealing with the world around them: They either make themselves obnoxiously visible, in often gorgeous colors, or, in stark contrast, ridiculously hard to find.  Though some of these more obnoxious color schemes mimic more poisonous organisms, or indicate that they are, themselves, poisonous, the fact remains that more visible creatures have a higher chance of being picked off by some unsuspecting predator.

The ones that blend in, they play it smart, but at what cost?  It certainly may make mates harder to find.  But drab-colored moths and butterflies with bright eye spots may frighten away potential predators.  We can apply this duality within ourselves – which part of yourself do you want to camouflage?  Which part do you want to show to the world?  Putting on a brave face, like those butterflies with bright colors, may be a good strategy… but sometimes, you should probably just go ahead and fade into the background.  Have you dreamed of butterflies?  What colors are they?

Butterflies are also, for us, symbols of getting a fresh start.  Although adult butterflies may retain some memories of their caterpillar experiences, emerging as an adult butterfly is an iconic way to get a fresh start.  If you want to wipe clean your slate, you may want to visualize pupating, shedding all that is wrong with you, and then emerging as an adult butterfly, fresh faced and ready to return to the world.

One response to “The Spiritual Meaning of Butterflies

  1. That’s really awesome, but i like blending in with bright colors, how many people really see the butterfly when it passes by, how many pay attention to a small colorful yet beautiful butterfly, usually the good people take time to stop and stare, the rest don’t even look because they’re living In a world of money, and butterfly’s might land on some money, that’s when they get some attention

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