The Diverse Symbolism of Butterflies

Reference & Education

  • Author Drew Briney
  • Published June 30, 2012
  • Word count 486

Butterflies symbolize various diverse things depending on where you happen to be in the world. While numerous cultures reference butterflies being a meaning of change, love, or wisdom, additional cultures approach them amidst distrust and anxiety - butterflies to them are omens of a less admirable nature.


inside of the Chinese culture, the butterfly symbolizes love. According to an ancient Chinese legend, butterflies are a symbol of the everlasting bond between lovers. It is a normal practice for newlyweds to receive a present with a butterfly symbol on it on their wedding day; it is supposed to remind the couple of the energy of love. The Chinese as well feel that the fluttering from flower to flower symbolizes a desirable social life for the young.

Knowledge & Wisdom

In certain cultures, butterflies are a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Butterflies carry pollen from flower to flower so certain cultures compare this action to wise men spreading their wisdom and knowledge from person to person and helping them grow.


Dream interpreters accept several meaning for the appearance of butterflies in dreams. certain teach that if you simply witness a butterfly in your dream, it means that you should to settle down in life. If you catch or kill a butterfly in your dream, it symbolizes that you are superficial, and if you witness two butterflies in your dream, it represents a extended and blessed marriage.

Bad Omens

meanwhile different cultures associate the charms of the butterfly with different positive symbols, other cultures feel that the butterfly symbolizes bad omens. In medieval times, a flock of butterflies was a bad omen that foreseen an coming epidemic or war. In ancient times, Celts believed that if you saw a butterfly flying at night, it meant approaching death. certain early Americans followed this Celtic culture by believing that if a white butterfly circled a person, it meant death was absolute - bad news for sure!


In comparison, the Christian religion has long held that the butterfly symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While in the cocoon, the caterpillar seems dead; but later, the butterfly emerges more powerful and beautiful than before. And just as Jesus ascended into heaven, the butterfly now too can fly into the heavens with its new set of wings. In the Christian religion, the metamorphosis of the butterfly also symbolizes the spiritual evolution that Christians go through when become Christian.

Transformation & Change

That leads us to the most common and obvious symbol of butterflies for modern society: transformation. The butterfly's life is one of transformation through the awesome process of metamorphosis. Many people feel that the butterfly's transformation symbolizes change in a person's life. The cocoon phase can be translated as introspection or reflection with the person emerging from the cocoon metamorphosed into a different person. Butterflies can teach us a lesson to accept change in our lives as easily as a butterfly does.

Drew Briney is the owner of Wings & Things: The Drew Briney is owner of Wings and Things: The Butterfly store. For more interesting facts about butterflies and to check out our great selection go to Butterfly Store

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