Have you been noticing more butterflies than usual lately?
Maybe you hadn’t seen a butterfly in years, but over the last few days or weeks, you just can’t go a day without seeing (or dreaming) of one.
So what’s going on? What do butterflies represent, and what does it mean when they keep reappearing in your life?
All around the world, across religions and cultures, butterflies have been associated with spiritual signs and messages for as long as we’ve known them.
In this article, we discuss exactly what makes butterflies so symbolic, and the 15 spiritual signs you can interpret when you repeatedly see butterflies in your life.
Butterfly Symbolism — Why Are Butterflies Important?
Butterflies have an inherently magical quality to them: the way they move, the way they look, their transformation from caterpillar to something incredibly majestic.
The butterfly’s cycle from caterpillar to cocoon to pupa is one of the most amazing natural metaphors for the soul’s spiritual journey to strength and inner peace.
Butterfly symbols are particularly interesting because they span across all cultures and religions.
In early depictions of the Goddess of Death during the Mycenaean period, dated paintings depicted the goddess being accompanied by butterflies.
Meanwhile, early Christian symbolism suggested that butterflies represented purified souls as they were hatched from a pupa, where that soul’s release symbolized freedom from material bonds and finding happiness in eternal life.
Butterflies and their symbolic nature aren’t exclusive to Western religions and cultures. In Chinese culture, butterflies stand as the symbol of longevity.
In early traditions, a jade butterfly was seen as a precious gift, representing eternal love from one lover to another.
In Japanese art, butterflies are often depicted to represent marital harmony and everlasting love.
Despite the diversity of the butterfly’s symbolism across many cultures, there are appears to be three common ways this insect is being used as a metaphorical object:
- Butterfly as Spirit Animal: Butterflies are lithe and transformative. They represent great strength and flexibility. As a spirit animal, butterflies mainly embody brightness and liveliness. It teaches you that changes are a necessary part of life, and that rests and pauses in between are necessary for growth and self-improvement.
- Butterfly as Totem: More than anything else, butterflies embody the idea of transitions and life’s ephemerality. They are the perfect inspiration to initiate change, whether you’re dealing with personal changes or professional problems. As a totem, the butterfly empowers believers to express themselves and reflect their true colors for the world.
- Butterfly as Power Animals: As power animals, butterflies can be symbols of strength we turn to to bring light into your heart and lend you spiritual strength. Butterflies can be called on to help you achieve your own personal metamorphosis.
10 Butterflies and Spiritual Signs
1) You May Be Going Through a Powerful Transformation
Butterflies are beautiful, transformative creatures. They begin and end their lives in very different states — from a slow, unsightly caterpillar to a beautiful winged insect.
And their change is a natural one; they don’t go to class to learn how to build their cocoon, and no one ever teaches them how long they should stay in it or when they should start.
Their change is instinctive; it’s stored information in their genes, and something they just know how to do because of who they are.
But if you asked a butterfly to explain it, could they tell you the step-by-step process of their transformation? Of course not.
And as people, we go through our own kinds of changes in life.
We listen to our hearts and venture out into the unknown, doing what “feels right” even if it doesn’t always make sense.
Seeing butterflies in your life may be a sign that you need to trust that you’re going through a powerful transformation right now, one that may not always be completely comfortable or rewarding, but a change that will lead to the next chapter in your life.
2) You Must Remember To Be Light
Butterflies are light, weightless, and free. They fly and float into the air almost effortlessly, landing gently on surfaces and lifting off without disturbing the world around them.
This is why butterflies often represent lightness, freedom, and relaxation.
Butterflies as spiritual totems in your life could mean that it’s time for you to work towards letting go of the major stressors in your life.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed and overburdened by certain responsibilities and choices, and you just don’t know how to shake yourself out of the frozen anxiety anymore.
A butterfly can be your reminder that your stress is most often a choice — you just need to step back, take a breather, and reevaluate your situation.
Become bright and lively like the butterfly. Add meaning and liveliness to your life by giving yourself the little joys you might have forgotten about. Remember to love the world and your life for what it is.
3) Look Deeper Into Your Soul
Cultures all around the world see the butterfly as a symbol of the soul.
Chinese mysticism sees the butterfly as a representation of eternal life; Japanese beliefs view the white butterfly as the soul of a passed loved one.
But seeing butterflies doesn’t always mean you’re being visited by someone else’s soul. The truth might be simpler than you think — the butterfly is reminding you to reconnect with your own soul.
It can be so easy to become disconnected from the self in this modern age.
The hustle and bustle of the 21st century and the constant emails and notifications of the online world — there’s always something keeping us distracted from ourselves; from our own wants and needs, and from what we truly desire in life.
Your butterfly visitor is simply telling you — remember yourself.
Look deep inside your soul and reprioritize your goals in life, because you might not be working for the things that truly matter to you.
4) Focus On Your Self-Expression
There are few living creatures more beautiful and unique than the butterfly. In a way they’re almost like snowflakes — butterflies so often have their own unique patterns, colors, and shades, but their weightlessness represents a kind of internal humility within them.
This is why butterflies have often been seen as signs of creativity and self-expression.
When was the last time you truly let your heart shine?
Have you been stuck at a job you don’t like or studying classes you don’t care about, or do you spend all your free time just staring at a screen?
Butterflies remind us to shake things up and express ourselves; empower our lives by adding color to our every day through self-expression and creativity.
Use the natural energy inside of you to figure out what will truly make you happy in life. Sing, dance, write, create — do what feels right for you.
5) Call For Support From Those Around You
Change is rarely ever easy. Going from one chapter in your life to the next is a period of uncertainty, and through this uncertainty, many people lose themselves for a while.
You forget what you really want in life, the goals that truly matter to your heart, and you may end up losing your way.
If butterflies appear again and again to you, then it may be a sign that you’re not only going through a period of significant change, but you’re also in need of help.
The butterfly tells us that our current state is a transition, but we don’t have to go through this transition alone.
So reach out to your loved ones; your friends and family, and all the people who care about you.
Recognize the difficulties you’re currently facing and open yourself to the people who are willing to support and love you no matter what.
6) It’s Time To Remember Your Important Questions
Sometimes we may not see butterflies reappearing in our lives, but caterpillars. But what do caterpillars mean, and do they carry the same significance as butterflies?
Caterpillars are a wonderfully appropriate metaphor for the early part of the journey of the soul.
The caterpillar crawls along slowly, only able to reach nearby places, limited by its size and capability.
It exists barely aware of the greater world around it, waiting for the time when it’s grown enough to fly away and achieve its potential.
And the caterpillar must be willing to turn inward — creating its cocoon and looking within itself — before it can progress to its next stage of life.
So too must we meditate and look within, figuring out what we truly want and what we truly believe, or else we’ll forever be stuck as caterpillars ourselves.
To break away from the caterpillar state, we need to be willing to transform, and transformation only occurs when one finally decides to turn within.
Ask yourself the questions that are important to you and no one else, and begin your path towards answering those questions.
7) Make the Most of Your Time
As beautiful and majestic as butterflies can be, they’re also incredibly short-lived.
Most butterfly species only live for up to two weeks, giving them a lifespan that is barely longer than your last family vacation.
Think about what you’ve done in the last two weeks.
Maybe you went to work or class, you watched a few movies, hung out with a friend or significant other; what else?
Think about all the time you spend not really being “alive” — just staring at a screen, spacing out, waiting for the end of the day so you can go to sleep, wake up, and do it all again.
Butterflies are reminders of the endlessly fleeting nature of time.
The clock never stops, and your days, months, and years will fly by whether or not you truly experience them.
Imagine if you had only two weeks left to live — how much would you try to “live” in those two weeks, and wouldn’t you regret that you didn’t decide to live until just then?
8) A Passed Loved One Is Saying Hello
Butterflies have long been associated with the souls of the departed.
They almost always make an appearance at funerals, and when you’ve had a loved one who recently passed away, it’s not uncommon to see a butterfly flutter by.
It is believed that when loved ones pass away, they have the ability to send quick, wordless messages to those they left behind through animals.
Their energies are no longer constrained by their body, meaning they have the ability to tap into the energy of small, weightless creatures like dragonflies and butterflies.
But how can you tell the difference between a normal butterfly and one that has been sent to you by a loved one from beyond the veil?
The answer is often the same — you just feel it in your heart.
Trust your instincts, because your soul can understand things that your mind can’t.
9) Messages From Your Angels
As much as butterflies can be interpreted as messages from our passed loved ones, they can also be seen as messages from the angels who watch over us.
“Angels” could mean a number of things, depending on your beliefs — they could be angels from heaven, or just angels connected to the natural world.
Whatever they are, they’re spiritual guides, keeping us protected and making sure we follow the right paths.
If you witness a butterfly or even a group of butterflies following you, this could be a clear sign of angels around you, keeping watch.
You can also use this link to try to attract the attention of your angels.
Collect butterfly memorabilia, butterfly decorations, and truly venerate butterflies in your home and personal sacred space.
Show your angels that you’re welcoming them into your home, and maybe they might come in.
10) Cocoons Mean you Need To Get Out
Have you seen or dreamt of cocoons lately?
Then that could only mean one thing: whatever you’re going through right now is trapping you, and it’s time for you to get out.
This is your period of change, but if you never recognize that change when you’re supposed to experience it, you might waste years of your life in a state of limbo, never really growing or moving forward.
So the cocoon is your sign to get a move on with your life.
Do what needs to be done to move onto the next chapter of your life, no matter how uncomfortable or uncertain that may be.
You need to embrace the next part of your journey rather than just clinging onto a part that has nothing more to offer you, or else you’ll forever be out of reach of your true potential.
Butterfly Colors and What They Mean
Like blue butterflies, fiery red butterflies seem to suggest omens from the divine, but this time from agents of evil.
In some cultures, seeing three red butterflies often signaled bad luck and most are avoided, if not killed because they were considered evil.
However, modern interpretations of the behaviors of red butterflies suggest that they may not always symbolize negative things.
A study concerning the Red Admiral species specifically highlighted the insect’s readiness. Modern interpretations of red butterflies could pertain to readiness or the strength to live and move on.
Experts dissecting the meaning of butterflies often see brown butterflies as a direct metaphor for muddiness.
Seeing one could be a reminder of your emotional state, of feeling cloudy, depressed, or confused.
Brown butterflies could be your reminder that you need to lighten up and adopt a more bright, vivid approach to life.
Blue butterflies are among one of the rarest colors on butterflies, ranging from the light pastel blue found on species like Boisduval’s blue and Adonis blue butterflies, to more vivid and vibrant species such as the Pipevine swallowtail and Blue Monarchs.
People typically believe that seeing one, as rare as it is, means something special, like a higher power trying to communicate with you or a departed, loved one trying to communicate.
If you happen to spot a blue butterfly, consider it a direct message from a person you love or a form of divine intervention from a higher being. Messages delivered by blue butterflies are not to be ignored.
Green pigments on butterflies are pretty rare. You see this pigment on species like the Tailed jay, Papilio palinurus, and Malachite.
Before heeding advice from a butterfly sighting, make sure that the insect you saw is actually a butterfly and not a month.
The Luna Moth, with its pale green color, has the same structure as butterflies and can easily be mistaken as one.
The greenness of butterflies is representative of wealth and financial gain. Seeing one must mean that something good is coming your way.
Similar to the four-leaf clover, green butterflies can be a sign of incoming attainments: money, opportunities, and abundance. Green butterflies can mean something relating to your professional life.
15) Black and Orange
Black and orange are some of the most common color combinations to be found on a butterfly. Two popular species, the Monarch butterfly and the Viceroy butterfly.
One artist in particular, Alma Lopez, sees black and orange to represent the duality of light and darkness.
The black in the butterflies suggest all the negative feelings in your life: fear, apprehension, and other unhealthy emotions.
The orange, on the other hand, is a bright contrast to the black, denoting stimulation and enthusiasm.
The black and orange together are a great juxtaposition showing how negative emotions can coexist with bright and expressive colors.
Listening To The Universe
As compelling as these signs may be, keep in mind that they’re not the end-all and be-all of your destiny.
The universe sends signs as a warning. Treat butterflies, and other signs you may receive from the universe, as guidelines rather than hard rules to live by.
If you tune in to the signals of the universe, it’ll be easier for you to realize what these signs are actually all about. At the end of the day, only you know what to do best with your life.
Recommended reading: 15 subtle ways the universe sends you messages (signs to look out for)