In the life cycle of a butterfly, it starts out as an egg that turns into a caterpillar. It then becomes a cocoon before it turns into a beautiful creature capable of fluttering free through the skies. The beauty of the butterfly and its unique Metamorphosis are the most noticeable characteristics of this insect. This insect begins its life in one form and ends it in another. For some people, and in many cultures and traditions around the world, butterflies are a symbol for the 'soul' and often represent change and spiritual transformation.
Here are some of the most common beliefs and symbolisms associated with butterflies:
In Chinese culture, butterflies often symbolize having a long and healthy life. Men who are in love would often use the image of the butterfly to show this in letters or on other items. The Japanese also have such great reverence for butterflies that the image is often incorporated into the family's crest. The butterfly for them can represent marital bliss and the vibrancy of youth.
In Greek mythology, butterflies are meant to show the souls of loved ones. In Russia and in Ireland, butterflies are sometimes seen as the souls of departed loved ones waiting to pass through purgatory. In Mexico there is a even town where Monarch butterflies migrate, and when swarms of butterflies appear, they celebrate this as the Day of the Dead.
In various Native American mythology, butterflies symbolize the human spirit. Some tribes believe that the butterfly is able to take one's wishes up to the "Great Spirit" to be fulfilled, while for others, spotting a butterfly under certain circumstances is considered an omen that something of significance will soon occur in one's life.
Butterflies also have symbolic meaning associated with various Religious traditions. In Christianity, the life of the butterfly and its transformative cycle is often seen as a metaphor of the process of birth and dying, and theresurrection of Jesus Christ. In some Jewish beliefs, the butterfly is a reminder that relates to the tragic event of the Holocaust. It is used as a cultural representation of hope and survival, also symbolizing the concept of dying and re-birth.
In a majority of butterfly symbolisms, three things are common in the belief about what butterflies mean – transformation, change, and a new form of life. Butterflies go through many different stages in their lives before truly blossoming into a beautiful butterfly. The Transformation, change and renewal of their lives can be synonymous to the life of a person. Just as when a person undergoes changes and faces difficulty and not so beautiful phases in their life, what happens next is that all these things are then transformed into a learning experience where the person grows and changes for the better. Just as the butterfly leaves behind its cocoon and transforms from a low crawling creature, the person now reaches his full potential is able to reach new heights.
The mystery and unique perception that is held about butterflies will never seem to change. It's not just the apparent external beauty of these shape-shifting insects that capture the Imagination, but also the beliefs about what they personally and collectively symbolize. What was once considered to be a fragile, crawling-creature suddenly transforms into a winged-icon representing strength and the survival of the spirit. So next time you see a butterfly, you can start to wonder whether a loved one who passed away is just nearby, or a special message and blessing is being sent to you. Whichever you think it might be, the butterfly is truly one of Mother Nature's most beautiful, most amusing, and most mystifying creature of all. It is a living creature that deserved to be protected and revered by all.