5 Intriguing Butterfly Spiritual Meanings

Photo: christina conti / shutterstock
woman with butterfly on hand

There’s no doubt that butterflies are very special insects that are meaningful to see or dream about. While there are a wide variety of species across the globe with varying colors, the most memorable trait of any butterfly is their remarkable wings.

These insects have long been seen as omens of luck, or even as symbols for spiritual growth for many and spiritual practices around the globe.

When it comes to the butterfly meaning behind these beautiful creatures, they have many different aspects, and it's important to pay attention when they appear.

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What is the spiritual meaning of the butterfly?

Butterfly symbolism has many different meanings depending on the context, and this is, of course, because of the incredible journey a caterpillar goes through in order to grow wings.

A caterpillar (or larva) grows larger by molting (shedding its skin), eventually hanging upside down and spinning a silk cocoon or molting into a chrysalis (pupa). In its cocoon, it essentially "digests" itself and dissolves, re-forming itself into a butterfly or moth.

The significance of this transformation is the idea of starting out from a place of humility and turning into something completely different — powerful, new, and free.

Butterflies teach us the importance of change and that, in order to become something great, you must be patient and have faith. This is similar to the concept of resurrection, which is why, in many cultures, these beautiful butterflies represent the soul and spiritual transformation.

This is depicted in many different religions and philosophies; that's why, when you're dreaming of butterflies, seeing them in your life, or even if a butterfly lands on you, it's considered a sign — usually of good luck!

The meaning can vary, of course, but, generally, the representation of butterflies in your life is suggestive that it's a time for you to change something.

There are different beliefs behind seeing different colorful butterflies, too.

For example, a white butterfly or yellow butterfly may mean something different than a brown butterfly, blue butterfly, green butterfly, or even orange butterfly. A black butterfly may represent something more of an omen of death — even if it's the death of bad behaviors and habits.

Even the type — like a monarch butterfly, for example — may hold different meanings to those who see them.

5 Spiritual Butterfly Meanings

So, what should you look for if you're seeing these beautiful creatures? Here are 5 butterfly spiritual meanings and what they represent in your life.

1. Seeing a butterfly means you're on a spiritual journey.

Are butterflies a sign of good luck? If you're seeing butterflies, it's a sign of positive change!

You may want to ask yourself what changes you need to make to live more in alignment with your true, authentic self. Or, if you're already experiencing huge changes and transformations in your life, the butterfly may simply be appearing to remind you it's going to be OK.

Butterflies represent someone going through a spiritual journey, and an important aspect of life is learning how to let things go and develop into your higher self, no matter what's happening around you. In some Asian myths, the butterfly is indicative of happiness and joy, so seeing one is a good sign that you're in for something positive if you know how to embrace it.

This is a key factor in your personal growth. The butterfly helps symbolize this idea by showing us that, in order to become a butterfly, you must first stop being a caterpillar.

Does it mean something more if you see two butterflies together? In some ways, yes. So, what do two butterflies symbolize?

In Chinese culture, for example, two butterflies together may indicate you'll have a long life. If they're flying with one another, it's considered an emblem of love, which might mean that you'll find love soon, or that the one you love is coming to see you.

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2. Dreaming of a butterfly is a sign of change.

This meaning is synonymous with the idea of the butterfly’s transformation, and it's easy to see how this symbolism could lend itself to various religious beliefs.

Butterfly symbolism in Christianity is tied largely to the cocoon state and the butterfly's emergence, since it's like the Biblical story of Jesus's death and resurrection.

Celtic butterfly symbolism is synonymous with rebirth; they're believed to represent the soul and are indicative of being a significant change you need to embrace in life. These tiny creatures represent big change and huge interpretations throughout mythology and history.

The caterpillar and butterfly transformation is very drastic, but works out in the end, because it was always a part of the caterpillar's life cycle. They represent transformation because of the startling metamorphosis they go through.

Like the caterpillar building its cocoon and waiting to spread its wings, you're seeing these symbols because you've got some growing to do.

The special thing about change is that it has to happen, whether we like it or not. Embrace the changes in your life because there's so much greatness ahead.

3. Butterflies could be angels trying to deliver a message to you. 

These beautiful insects are already tiny heavenly messengers, so it's no stretch to ask: are butterflies angels?

Many cultures and people believe that butterflies carry messages from heaven. Some Native American tribes even believed that butterflies would carry their wishes to the Great Spirit, ensuring their fervent prayers and needs were heard and came true.

So, the next time you see a butterfly, consider that it could be a tiny angelic messenger, either appearing as a protective spirit with a message for you or to take your message to the spiritual realm.

Butterflies have such a magical presence and quality that it's easy to see why so much symbolism surrounds them. Many people believe that seeing a butterfly is indicative of there being a message that needs to be transmitted.

For these reasons, in certain religions and cultures, butterflies are sometimes seen as angels carrying messages between the spiritual and physical planes.

So, what does it mean when a butterfly crosses your path? It could mean a spiritual guide has a message for you. The beauty of this is that when you see this symbol, you're getting a message from a spiritual entity — and you'll immediately know what it’s about.

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While these butterflies may never carry an explicit message, if you see a butterfly, take note of what needs to be addressed in your life. It could be one of your spiritual protectors reaching out to you.

They may even be a reminder to do something you’ve been putting off or to mend a broken relationship.

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4. A butterfly might be a sign from a lost loved one.

This interpretation is more spiritual than it is philosophical because, in certain cultures, butterflies are seen as signs that your deceased loved ones are reaching out to you. Perhaps they have a message, or perhaps they just want you to know they're watching you and they love you.

Butterflies represent a sense of innocence, love, and gentleness. It's also, at times, rare that you come across them due to their avoidance of humans, so if you see one, pay attention to how it behaves. If a butterfly is coming across your path or drawing attention to itself, like by landing on you, then you may be getting a long-distance touch from someone you're missing.

This is seen by many as a message from someone looking down on you from above. Because of the transient nature of butterflies, they may be gone before you realize someone you love just reached out to you.

5. Butterflies are a spiritual representation of power.

Many different cultures and philosophies believe that all animals have a special power that was given to them from a greater source, like the divine, or Mother Earth.

Native Americans had totem animals or spirit animals to help protect and guide them on their journey through this life. These sacred beings were representative of certain aspects of the human experience, and butterflies were frequently considered powerful symbols for change and transformation.

This concept is consistent with the butterfly. They are not just synonymous with change, but many other qualities as well.

Butterflies are considered a symbol of good luck for this reason — because they signify creativity, freedom, love, and the concept of turning inward and growing as a person, just like you've built your own cocoon and are about to emerge with your wings.

This is likely why many people, specifically women, tend to choose the butterfly as a "power animal" in their lives, and even to get butterfly tattoos. Since butterflies are synonymous with renewal and rebirth, they can signify shifting from one phase of life into another, as you let go of the past and the things that don't serve you.

Butterfly tattoos exist across many different cultures, but they tend to be used in the same context: a symbol of freedom for those who get them inked into their skin.

Next time you see a butterfly, let it be a reminder to use these great qualities to embark on your journey of growth. Implement these powers in your everyday life to start your brand-new transformation.

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Maatie Kalokoh is a writer who covers astrology, spirituality, love, and relationship topics.