Butterfly – Spirit Animal, Symbolism, Totem and Meaning

What is the secret of these beautiful, enchanting winged insects that come in an incredible spectrum of colors and patterns?

Butterfly is synonym for many beautiful things; grace and elegance, tenderness and frailness, peace and love. These colorful flying spirits fill our hearts with joy and make us feel good.

Rare are ones who have a bad opinion of these tender beauties. However, there are many superstitions, beliefs and folklore tales about butterflies, all around the world. In most of human societies and cultures, butterflies are seen as magical beings, often carrying messages from heavens or some other realm beyond our imagining and comprehension.

Butterflies are inspiring, breathtaking and simply adorable creatures.

What do butterflies represent? Answer varies depending on different cultural concepts and specific characteristics of a butterfly. Different species or colors could embody various ideas and beliefs.

Seeing, dreaming or thinking of a butterfly of particular appearance could change the way we interpret the hidden meaning. Nevertheless, we must agree butterflies do possess spiritual and mystical powers or energy we do not completely understand and yet, it makes us feel special.

There is a very common saying about having ‘butterflies in your stomach’, when you feel thrilled, amazed by something and, above all, in love with someone.

Butterflies stand for affection and love, excitement and joy and all of those emotions and sensations people find magical and positive. Butterflies are rarely seen as bad omen or a negative sign or symbol.

Let us see what some of the greatest and most spiritual belief systems have to say about these amazing flying insects.

Cultural and spiritual depictions of butterflies

There are thousands of butterfly species; these beautiful winged creatures come in various sizes, shapes and colors, but they all share several main features.

They are colorful, silent, tender and they fly. Butterflies are often associated with fragility and dual concept of finality/rebirth. It is often believed butterflies live only for one day, but that is not true. However, they are short-lived and extremely fragile.

Butterflies are susceptible of environmental circumstances, but they also represent magical power of transformation, resurrection and rebirth.

Butterflies are featured in mythology and folklore of many different societies from all around the world. For some, butterfly symbolism is particularly strong, meaningful and important.

We will mention only few of the most interesting depictions of these flying insects and several cultural interpretations of butterfly symbolism.

Native American butterfly interpretation

Native Americans are known to be extremely spiritual people, all of their societies and tribes are.

These people believe we are all connected in a great circle of life; people, animals, plants and all other living beings and spirits of the Earth should seek perfect balance, both in ‘real life’ and spiritual realm, in order to live in peace and harmony with one another.


Native Americans have special interpretation of every living creature. They see animals as highly spiritual beings and respect them for their powers and energy.

Blackfeet Indians believe butterflies bring sweet dreams;

Butterflies are featured in Native American mythology and folklore. They are important in many tribal rituals. For example, Blackfeet Indians believe butterflies are dream bringers and they carry calm, sweet and positive dreams.

There is an adorable lullaby ritual amongst them: Blackfeet people would put their children to sleep showing them a motif of butterfly, singing a lullaby song along. They believe butterflies possess an incredible positive and calming energy that would help their loved young ones to sleep perfectly and have sweet dreams.

Hopi Indians practice a female rite of passage, called Butterfly Dance;

Hopi Indians believe butterflies are Kachina spirits, an order of supernatural beings associated with Earth and Nature. Butterflies are featured in their tradition and folklore.

When entering an adult women role in tribe, young Hopi women engage in a ritual dance, called Butterfly Dance. It is actually a rite of passage for Hopi women, their first step into a traditional Hopi women role.

Navaho Indians consider butterflies spirits of rebirth and prosperity;

For Navaho Indians, butterflies represent a powerful symbol of happiness, good life and renewal. They tell myths and stories about supernatural beings who change their form and appear in a shape of a butterfly.

Chinese butterfly interpretation

Magnificent Chinese culture associate these tender flying beauties with love, devotion and affection. Chinese people have always had a distinctive taste in art and aesthetics; perfect lines and colors on their paintings, enchanting calligraphy works, their pottery and decorative arts simply take breath away of every observer.

Chinese artwork is full of natural motifs, especially flowers, plants and tiny and elegant creatures, such as birds and butterflies, for instance.

Chinese love butterflies for their beauty and colors and for their ascribed spiritual powers. They believe butterflies are associated with love and they often use a butterfly motif to represent it. In Chinese tradition, butterflies stand for a passionate, unconstrained love, especially that kind of love developing between young ones.

Butterfly represents young, innocent and somewhat foolish love. It is also associated with the idea of long lasting or everlasting youth. One of the most beautiful and inspiring, but also the saddest Chinese love folk tales is about butterflies.

The story tells about a girl who desired to get educated in a big city (which is an unusual idea for a time of Jin dynasty, when women were not allowed to get education). She goes there and falls in love with a beautiful young man, who had the same feelings for her.

Unfortunately, a girl had to marry another man, according to already arranged marriage. A boy she was in love with went so sad that he died out of grief. Girl visited his grave and then a miracle had happened!

A beautiful butterfly flied out of the grave; the girl recognized it was her lover so she instantly turned into a butterfly, as well. They flied away forever and spent their new life in love, never separated again.

Chinese tradition has a positive attitude towards butterflies and often features butterfly motifs in order to inspire new relationships and love emotions.

The emphasis is on young, freshly born love, so this symbol is good to inspire affection and amorousness. Some would say this kind of love is unserious and transient; however, it is very positive and, perhaps, it could lead to something greater.

Butterfly motifs are highly valued in Feng Shui, as well. According to Feng Shui ‘system’, it is good to put a butterfly symbol somewhere near your bed.

Celtic butterfly interpretation

Celtic tradition says butterflies are creatures associated with all the positive things in life, such as happiness, joy, free spirit and soul. They think of butterflies as bringers of good fortune and positive energy.

There are many old Irish sayings of a Celtic origin about butterflies and all of them tell about their calm and beneficial spiritual energy. Butterflies are symbols of good luck and it is always good to see them.

According to an Irish law, it is forbidden to harm or kill a white butterfly, because of superstition that white butterflies embody souls of dead children;

What do butterflies symbolize in general?

We have seen some of the examples of butterfly symbolism in traditions from around the world. There are many more; we would need thousands of pages to describe them all.

However, there are some general characteristics and symbolical interpretations associated with these beautiful insects. Butterflies are associated with spiritual powers in general, life and transformation, as well as with positive traits and emotions.

These are the main concepts and ideas linked with butterflies in the world of symbols and hidden meanings:

  • Happiness and joy
  • Prosperity and development
  • Transformation and renewal
  • Tenderness and grace
  • Beauty and innocence
  • Creativity and soul
  • Love and freedom

These are just several terms connected with butterfly symbolism. In general, they are all positive. Apart from these, butterflies also represent freedom and free spirit, unrestricted creative thoughts and ideas, an element of Air, clairvoyance and dreams. These insects bring joy to anyone who sees them, that is for sure.

Let us try to interpret hidden meanings beyond butterfly symbolism.

Metamorphosis – This is a logical and most common interpretation of butterfly symbolism in general. Those beautiful, benevolent winged insects are born from caterpillar larvae in a form of chrysalis or a cocoon. These forms do not look impressive or beautiful, on the contrary.

However, when the right time comes, a beautiful colorful insect appears from a cocoon. The birth of a butterfly is an amazing natural phenomenon and carries strong symbolism for humans.

We see butterflies as powerful symbols of transformation, new life, and rebirth. They represent changes, life stages or phases, an everlasting path of growth and development.

Butterflies are an impressive and a plastic example of natural metamorphosis, transformation and changes. We would always associate them with these concepts. Butterfly symbolizes a life path, stages in an individual life or phases on a bigger plan.

Having these characteristics in mind, we could easily assume why these insects are admired and considered good totems and powerful spiritual beings.

Freedom – Butterflies fly and they are free. They are creatures that accept natural processes of life easily; they go through changes and live in harmony with the world. Butterflies do not harm other living beings, they usually only drink juices from flowers and plants.

Their nature is gentle and calm, just as movement of their beautifully colored wings is silent.

Joy – Butterflies are a synonym for joy and all of similar pleasant feelings. People around the world are used to say they ‘have butterflies in their stomach’ when they feel excited, thrilled and inspired.

It is the same feeling as those chills we sense all over our body when we think of good times in life, daydream about someone or something, or listen to some special music. Butterflies’ flight is so joyful and gracious, so we identify them with such feelings.

Seeing a butterfly would always make you feel good. These colorful insects are associated with good fortune and positive outcomes. It is believed they bring luck to a person who see them or dream about them, for example. Butterflies are always a good sign and positive symbols in most of civilizations and cultures.

Belief – Butterflies are also associated with the power of belief. They represent something truly miraculous and they remind us to have faith in ourselves. These insects are symbols of good and fortunate things and they remind us that miracles happen in reality.

Their colorful appearance and silent, twinkling movement of their wings are an enchanting sight, a real-world wonder. Butterflies possess great spiritual energy and we should embrace it with all our hearts.

Specific interpretations of butterfly symbolism

Those were some of the most important general beliefs and thoughts on butterfly symbolism. When we think about those magical insects, we usually talk about colorful species that are active during the day.

However, there are thousands of those and they come in various sizes and patterns. In following paragraphs, we will talk about specific butterfly colors meanings and probably the most popular specie, Monarch butterfly.

Monarch butterfly meaning – Monarch butterflies are probably some of the most beautiful butterfly species. They have impressive, stained glass-like wings, painted in orange, white-yellowish and black. These insects are of a medium size and represent a magnificent sight for every observer.

Just watching them flying would fill your soul with joy and admiration. Monarch butterflies have strong symbolism.

They are associated with heavenly peace, joy and fortune. It is believed they bring messages from above and carry good news. Monarch butterflies look beautiful and luxurious.

Therefore, they symbolically represent prosperity and good life. These amazing creatures are often identified with celestial forces and an everlasting and constantly moving and transforming energy that runs through the space.

All butterflies are associated with the concept of transformation and Monarch beauties are not an exception, on the contrary. Because of their attractive and gracious appearance they are even stronger symbols of these ideas.

Monarch butterflies represent:

  • Enlightenment
  • Good fortune
  • Spiritual guidance

White butterfly meaning – White butterflies are probably some of the most welcome types of these amazing insects, speaking about the realm of symbols. White color always has a specific meaning, depending of particular cultural concept.

White butterflies are considered symbols of youth, innocence, purity. Having in mind white color is commonly associated with these ideas and butterflies are so fragile and gentle, the symbolical conclusion is simple. White butterflies embody these ideas in even stronger form than some other spirit animal or being.

White butterflies represent:

  • Innocence
  • Purity
  • Tenderness

Yellow butterfly meaning – Yellow butterflies are a symbol of positive guidance and hope. Native Americans believed they are in a connection with the sun and they have always had special admiration for them. Yellow winged butterflies remind people of beautiful, sunny days, of summer and warm breeze.

They give hope of a new, pleasant season, rebirth and transformation. Yellow butterflies guide us with their sparkling flight to a new stage of life and promising future.

Yellow butterflies represent:

  • Guidance
  • Hope
  • Future

Brown butterfly meaning – Although brown butterflies are not as attractive as their beautifully dressed friends are, these humble looking creatures possess amazing spiritual energy. They symbolize life, new beginnings and fortune. There are rare superstitions telling it is a misfortunate sign if the first butterfly you see at the beginning of season is brown; however, other beliefs tell brown butterfly is always a good and fortunate sign.

According to some traditions, brown butterflies carry souls of the deceased loved ones and bring messages or warnings from the Other side. The same stands for white butterflies, in some belief systems.

Browns represent:

  • New life
  • Messages from dead

Blue butterfly meaning – Blue butterflies are so adorable and their flight is calming if you just stand and watch it. Blue butterflies carry different meanings depending on culture, but they are mostly considered symbols of honor, purpose and life.

They are sometimes associated with calmness and acceptance, as well. In some parts of the world, where these blue insects are rare, they are considered an extremely good sign.

Generally speaking, blue butterflies represent:

  • Inner peace
  • Calmness

Purple butterfly meaning – Purple butterflies are special ones. These beauties are rare in comparison to their relatives of other colors. They are considered magical, mystical and royal. Purple color is identified with wealth, luxury, nobility and royalty by many of the world’s greatest historical societies and this idea still lives on.

Butterflies are amazing spiritual beings whatever color they may be, but purple one bring an extraordinary meaning. They are connected with deep hidden knowledge and messages known only to person who sees them.

Purple butterflies may present themselves in thoughts or dreams of individual engaged with spiritual practices or persons who seek enlightenment, if not seen in reality. These creatures are in strong connection with spiritual energy itself.

They carry messages only an individual could be able to understand and these are often spiritual guidelines to deep insight about a person’s own life.

Purple butterflies symbolize:

  • Insight
  • Spiritual guidelines
  • Mysticism

Black butterfly meaning – Black butterflies are also rare and these are the only ones that carry bad luck, according to different symbolical interpretations. Black butterflies could announce coming of a great, devastating storm, death and misfortune.

Of course, interpretation varies depending on what you personally believe. If you love dark and mystical things and black color, a black butterfly could be a sign of your spiritual rebirth.

In some cultures, these ones represent transition and longevity, but black butterflies are mostly seen as bad luck.

What does it mean when a butterfly lands on you?

This is a commonly asked question, so it deserves special interpretation. Generally, seeing a butterfly is considered good and fortunate event.

If a butterfly lands on you, you are in even better connection with this amazing, fragile and benevolent being, so it is a lucky sign! It could also mean you are about to enter a new stage in your life and you are ready to do that.

owever, sometimes butterflies appear and land on you to wake up your deeply suppressed needs and desires for a change and new beginning.

Butterfly totem and spiritual meaning

Butterflies are fantastic totem creatures and amazing spiritual guides. If a butterfly comes in your life, if you dream a lot about this being or you often see it in your waking life, it means this amazing winged creature has a special message for you.

This amazing totem animal would teach you how to go through all transformation on your life path in a safe and best possible way. It will help you discover and hear your inner voice, to nurture your desires and enjoy success.

Butterfly totem is a good teacher of calmness and patience. You will learn to enjoy life and not to get all things that come by too seriously. Butterfly people are not lightheaded, however.

They are careful and of a pleasant nature. They love to help others, to share their love and make new friends. Those people are affectionate and loving. They are not afraid of things to come, their spirit is free and mind open to new ideas and discoveries.

For Butterfly people, life as an incredible journey!