Butterflies have long been a source of inspiration and wonder. Beautiful, graceful, delicate, but what do butterfly meanings represent and symbolize?
This article on butterfly meaning & symbolism helps you understand what messages you need to know in your life and how you can incorporate them into your spiritual practice.
While butterflies can be powerful symbols, there are a few different meanings when you spot a particular colored butterfly that will vary the context. Let’s jump in and get started with the most common meanings!
Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and referencing sources throughout AND at the bottom of this article.
Posts on this site may contain affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission from the purchases you make (at no extra cost to you!)
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.”
― Dean Jackson
Table of Contents
What are Butterflies?
There are over 17,000 types of butterflies found throughout the world, and there is so much spiritual meaning behind their unique beauty and grace!
Butterflies are essential to many plants and flowers that cross-pollinate. In turn, flowers are a vital source of nectar and pollen for many butterfly species, giving them food, a place to lay their eggs, and protection from predators.
Many butterfly species, like the Monarch, can migrate up to 1800 miles (3,000 km)!
According to The Smithsonian Institution, there are six types of butterflies –
Hesperiidae. Known as “Skippers,” containing relatively small, fast-flying species. About 3,000 worldwide species.
Lycaenidae. Blues, Hairstreaks and Coppers. Colors and patterns of sexes often differ. Over 5,000 world species.
Nymphalidae. Known as “Brush-footed” butterflies, contains many subfamilies. There are some 5,000 worldwide species.
Papilionidae. Known as “Swallowtail, butterflies, most species have prominent “tails.” Some 600 species in the world.
Pieridae. Known as “Yellows and Whites, they have those colors predominantly. More than 1,000 worldwide species.
Riodinidae. Known as metalmarks, are sometimes placed in the Family Lycaenidae. About 1,000 species in the world.The Smithsonian Institution – BugInfo – Butterflies
However, butterflies are most known for their ability to metamorphose from a caterpillar into a butterfly.
This personal transformation journey is inspiring and deeply rooted at the heart of the butterfly’s spiritual meaning.
Butterfly Spiritual Meaning Symbolism
Butterfly symbolism and meanings are incredibly complex and can have a few variations depending on who you speak to! Here are the most common spiritual butterfly representations –
- Spiritual transformation
- Change and metamorphosis
- The soul of a deceased loved one
- Spiritual elevation
- Freedom of spirit
- Angels sending you messages from the other side
- You may be changing your mind too much or too easily
- Represents a fresh start after a period of difficulty or grieving; change is not always easy, but it helps us grow and develop as individuals
Overall, the butterfly is synonymous with renewal and reincarnation, a celebration of the soul and our spiritual well-being, and a metaphor for transformation, change, and happiness.
Butterfly Meaning, Symbolism, Mythology, and Folklore
Butterfly symbolism throughout history has symbolized lightness and freedom, while their ability to flutter about has been symbolic of life’s unpredictability. The butterfly is also a symbol of transformation, renewal, and resurrection.
As you can see below, the connection between the butterfly and the human soul is powerful.
Note – While researching butterfly mythology and folklore examples throughout history, I could not verify these as 100% accurate. Every website or article I read used an article from Baylor University and its resources as a source of information. (The article has now been deleted)
Upon further inspection of these sources, I did not find them to be a credible place of information. However, I found the mythology quite fascinating and decided to include them for your reference and knowledge.
Take folklore information with a grain of salt (unless they have a reliable source) and keep this in mind when reading other articles.
- In Mayan and Aztec legends, a butterfly symbolizes the god of fire, Xiuhtecuhtli. The Aztecs believed butterflies were delivered to them from the spirit realm by their ancestors and family members who had passed away.
- In Greek mythology, Psyche was originally a beautiful human woman. Venus was very jealous of Psyche, so she asked her son, Cupid, to persuade Psyche to fall in love with a vile man. However, the plan backfired when Cupid fell in love with Psyche. Jupiter eventually made Psyche immortal, and she married Cupid. Psyche imagery is frequently shown with butterfly wings, and the soul was depicted as a butterfly in Greek mythology, which is another definition of the word psychē. (Source – Britannica)
- Serbian legend states witches would transform into butterflies in order to cause chaos and eavesdrop on people. While engaging in these nefarious activities as a butterfly, witches would detach from their souls. Hence the saying, ‘Kill the butterfly, and you kill a witch.’
- According to Irish legend, the butterfly is associated with the soul and has the capacity to travel to the Otherworld. It’s also a sign of rebirth and metamorphosis.
- Egyptians believed butterflies were proof of human immortality in the afterlife and also represented the human soul.
Yellow Butterfly Meaning
Let’s explore the two most common interpretations of the beautiful yellow butterfly. This way, you can decide which one resonates with you most!
New beginnings and changes
Yellow butterfly meaning is associated with changes, new beginnings, growth, and transformation. It symbolizes lasting change because butterflies are in constant flux by nature.
A yellow butterfly appearing to you means that your efforts will be rewarded, and good things are coming your way!
It symbolizes a new beginning which could be in the form of a fresh start in your life or financial rewards. Yellow butterflies are associated with new insights, awakening, and changes within yourself.
We’re constantly surrounded by transformation and change throughout life, and yellow butterflies symbolize a need to make dramatic shifts in your life for the better.
Try not to resist change and, instead, stay alert as life presents new opportunities you might not have seen before! Be on the lookout for these golden opportunities (pun intended)!
Happiness and positivity
The meaning of the yellow butterfly is often interpreted as happiness and positivity, and it can also represent a spiritual awakening.
Yellow symbolizes the sun, light, and warmth; it symbolizes hope, joy, and positive energy. Yellow is a bright color and suggests new opportunities on the horizon. For example, if you have been looking for that perfect job but haven’t found one yet, wait patiently because a better option will likely come along soon!
They represent optimism, freshness, and being renewed from the inside out. In other words, yellow butterflies symbolize rebirth from within as you let go of bad habits and thoughts.
Yellow butterflies symbolize our need to learn the importance of looking within ourselves to uncover our most authentic self waiting to break free!
Ruminate on your unique personality, gifts, and talents. Contemplate how you can put these traits to good use so that you can leave a positive mark on the world!
Green Butterfly Meaning
The meaning of the green butterfly is often associated with fertility, growth, and Nature. It represents the harmony between the universe and earth.
The green butterfly can also symbolize the emergence of a new period in life, one where you can fully bloom. It can indicate flourishing growth and advancement in many situations, including work, relationships, and personal interests.
The green butterfly has been widely used as one of the symbols for environmental conservation. It’s loved for its symbolism of regeneration, rebirth, and hope for a better world.
An alternative meaning to the green butterfly is enhanced success, money, luck, and prosperity.
White Butterfly Meaning
The white butterfly’s meaning often represents healing, peace, spirit guides, immortality, and unity.
A white butterfly’s presence is a sign of good luck from the universe. White butterflies also represent souls that have risen above their mortal selves. They could be your guardian angels watching over you, or perhaps even a deceased loved one’s soul returning for one last brief visit.
White butterflies have long been thought to be omens of luck, happiness, and prosperity.
They are also associated with springtime and rebirth due to their months of winter hibernation and emergence early in Spring to mate.
White butterflies have deep spiritual vibrations and allow you to become more spiritually conscious of your true self. People frequently feel calm and relaxed after encountering a white butterfly because they let you know everything will be okay. They can tell when you are becoming more connected to your spiritual self.
One of the most common whites [butterflies] in North America is the European cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae), whose larva is an important economic pest of cabbage and related plants. It was introduced into North America [around] 1860.Britannica.com – White butterfly – insect
Black Butterfly Meaning
The black butterfly’s meaning is one full of beauty and grace, but its significance doesn’t stop there. It is also known for its portrayal of hope for overcoming horrific obstacles, pain, and freedom from emotional distress.
People often get black butterfly tattoos to represent strength, a celebration of life, and courage against the odds.
Black butterflies are seen as an omen of good luck and are often interpreted as a symbol of freedom or the removal of barriers.
Black butterflies represent the death of spirit referencing a caterpillar’s metamorphosis. Once it transforms into a beautiful black butterfly, illustrating the soul being free from the body.
Similar to candle color meanings, black is a color that symbolizes mystery and magic. It’s also known as “the color of mourning,” depicting sorrowful or depressing times, and has long been believed to signify rebirth, new beginnings, and freedom from oppression.
Some believe that if you see a black butterfly, it means your deceased ancestor or loved one is letting you know they are with you.
Blue Butterfly Meaning
A blue butterfly’s meaning has many layers, making it a potent symbol. It’s often interpreted as a sign of understanding, spirituality, communication, wisdom, serenity, and faithfulness in love.
The blue coloration is symbolic of the beautiful celestial bodies of the universe and our spiritual connections to the energies all around us.
The blue color represents spirituality, communication, and honesty in relationships because love cannot be sustained without these qualities.
Blue butterflies represent the need to be true to oneself in all aspects of life. This includes the freedom to express yourself, mainly through creative elements like art and music. Showing us that we should each find our own way unafraid to march off on our path because we’re not all destined to take the same route.
The use of blue during meditation has been proven to improve its practitioners’ overall sense of well-being.
Blue butterflies will often turn up when it’s time to make a significant life change, such as moving cities or taking up a new career. They are letting you know the timing is right and reminding you to remember the beauty of life.
Orange Butterfly Meaning
The meaning of the orange butterfly is often interpreted as a symbol of flexibility, fast action, and spiritual connections to one’s authentic self. Orange butterflies are often associated with the sun, beauty, and fire.
Orange butterflies appear during spiritual awakenings or peak states of connection with the universe and Nature.
It represents an inner awakening, a deep healing process, and reveals that now is a time for you to be true to yourself and your beliefs.
Represents new beginnings in areas of life where one may be experiencing any stagnation and an indication from the universe to get up and take action!
They are a message that rewarding opportunities await you and will provide emotional stability, peace of mind, and happiness if you follow your intuition and gut instincts! Pay attention and slow down so you can listen and understand your next steps.
Orange butterflies symbolize creativity and change brought about by inspiration from outside individuals (similar to a muse) and influence you to reach great success through self-development.
The life force energy behind an orange butterfly is change, compassion, justice, and knowledge gained over time through experience and age.
Purple Butterfly Meaning
The meaning of the purple butterfly depicts spiritual transformation; a rebirth from a darker place, the end of one cycle, and the beginning of another. Purple butterfly energy creates a strong sense of vision, purpose, and higher destiny.
Its symbolism is powerful and transformational but not always easy or pleasant. It often comes with a price tag for personal growth that is difficult to accept or painful in some way. Then, it becomes purifying fire that burns away what no longer serves you.
Purple butterflies are rarely seen; their impressive appearance occurs when change or progress in your life is needed. They are seen in brief moments, usually when the need for transformation is tremendous, but often out of your control.
They are the precursors of joy, peace, intuition, and a spiritual awakening that transcends any limitation of the mind.
Purple butterfly meaning reminds us that sometimes it’s necessary to surrender all that you know so that you can allow yourself to rest and recharge with fresh ideas and perspectives.
Purple butterflies are here to remind you there’s more to the universe than you understand. If you tune into its frequency, you’ll experience a level of consciousness that brings healing and transformation.
What Does a Dead Butterfly Symbolize?
The butterfly’s metaphorical message includes renewal, new beginnings, joy, fun, the human soul, and spiritual awakenings. Finding a dead butterfly suggests that you’ve lost touch with these aspects of life. Find ways to reconnect with your spiritual side, and remember to relax and have fun!
Butterflies have their own cycle of life as well, so a dead butterfly teaches you to realize that if something does not work out in your life, don’t be too distraught about it because where there is a tragedy, there can also be a triumph.
An alternative dead butterfly meaning could be that you are about to go through a significant change or transformation in your life.
It’s a reminder to follow your heart and gut instincts while you are moving through this chaotic time.
Dreaming About Butterflies
Dreams are messages from our subconscious minds. Dreaming about butterflies can represent many different meanings based on the dream and what is directly going on in your life. However, here are a few common explanations that can help guide you as you work to interpret your dreams.
- Butterflies are often symbolic of positive change. From death to rebirth, it’s the transformation from pupa to butterfly we see as joyful, and butterflies inspire us to look at our own lives for opportunities for growth; not just in terms of spiritual evolution but also in personal development.
- If there are two butterflies in your dream it indicates you and the butterfly are two different entities. It means you want to bring your ideas and goals into reality, but you have doubts. Dreaming of two butterflies reminds you of the importance of finding an outlet to express yourself creatively and work towards your goals without fear of judgment.
- Evaluate the butterfly’s stage of life in your dream. If it started as a caterpillar or in a cocoon, it could symbolize patience (as in waiting for a dream to come true) and that transformation will soon take place in your life.
- If the butterfly seems threatening to you or they are attacking you, consider what specific fears this may represent to you. What colors, emotions, and feelings did you experience during the dream?
- Butterfly dreams can symbolize grief, sadness, and pain in your life. It represents the ability and process of healing and working through your emotions. Butterflies represent the desire to let go of pain but not forget it, so that you may learn, grow, and flourish in life.
- Since they often represent the soul, immortality, or a transformation from one life phase to another, butterflies frequently appear to those who have recently lost a loved one. They may be appearing to you as a spirit guide, guardian angel, or simply letting you know they are alright.
- Butterflies may also appear to you, as a symbol of love and attraction. If the butterfly lands on or touches you, it’s thought to be a sign that someone has taken an interest in you romantically.
- If the butterfly is flying against a fence or barrier of some kind, it can represent your desire for freedom or escape. This can also depict the transformation and renewal opportunities you yearn for.
- Recall if the butterfly was around any specific type of flower and consider its symbolism. For example, the magical properties of lavender represent love, happiness, protection, and luck.
- Dreaming of a dying butterfly can indicate your fear of change and a need for personal growth and progress. Butterflies may appear as a symbol of spiritual development when we face challenges that require us to grow or evolve.
- Butterflies flying into your dreams may represent the positive impact you have had on others; like spreading joy, lightness, and kindness.
- If a person who is dying has a dream about butterflies it can indicate that they will live on through their family and loved ones. It represents their spiritual closeness to the other side and their death will result in a new beginning for them. If butterflies are swarming over their body, they may be receiving a message that their death is very near, because butterflies lead the souls of the deceased to the other side.
- Orange butterflies often appear in dreams when one is about to embark on a new journey.
- If butterflies appear in relation to a hobby or passion of yours it might represent an old interest that you still hold dear, but have forgotten as you’ve moved into another phase of your life.
- If butterflies appeared with damaged wing or gashes this might indicate you’re on a healing journey from a physical injury or mental illness.
I hope you found this article about butterfly meaning and symbolism helpful!! Lots of love to you and remember as always…