spiritual meaning of butterfly spirit animal


Resurrection & Transformation

The spiritual meaning of butterfly spirit animal is widely understood as resurrection. Hindus take the butterfly’s time in the chrysalis as a reminder of the importance of meditation on the road to enlightenment. Christians see the emergence of the winged butterfly from the chrysalis as a metaphor for Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

The meaning of butterfly as resurrection could be seen literally in the example of Christ or symbolically as our own rebirth into a revolutionary way of being and viewing the world. Butterfly spirit animal, like dragonfly and ladybug spirit animal, is about transformation, but in a much larger, grander way. Butterflies undergo complete transformation changing from one body type (caterpillar) to an absolutely different type (butterfly) with an immovable stage in between (pupa in the chrysalis).

Sometimes in life we take things in stages and other times there is a giant leap in our evolution. This leap is a signature of butterfly spirit animal working in your life.

Moths build cocoons and butterflies construct chrysalises. During and just after the chrysalis stage is when the butterfly is most defenseless. This stage is short in the scheme of things, but many people I’ve met in the midst of the chrysalis stage are very impacted by how vulnerable they feel. It is both a tender and terrifying time. Everything is dismantling and it is hard to see what new form will emerge.

We must give ourselves fully over to the death of the chrysalis before resurrection can come.

Departing Souls and Visits from Departed Spirits

In many cultures, most notably Japanese, Greek and Aztec culture, butterfly is seen as a direct representation of the human soul. Butterfly is seen as the soul departing from a dying body and butterfly is told to be the soul of a loved one coming back to visit.

There is a wispy, ephemeral nature to the teetering flight of a delicate butterfly that tells us how much we intuitively know the nature of the human soul. The meaning of seeing a butterfly could literally be that a deceased loved one is dancing by for a visit or it could be a calling into a deeper relationship with your own immortality.


Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

The Butterfly Effect

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the smallest change, such as the flap of a butterfly’s wings, could result in enormous ripple effects. This was initially proposed in relation to weather patterns positing that a hurricane may ensue from the flap of a butterfly’s wings but has also been widely applied to science fiction novels and movies as a warning of the dangers of time travel.

Regardless of the truth or relativity of the butterfly effect, it has a firm root in our unconscious. We intuitively know that the smallest action can have the biggest effect. Butterfly symbolism helps us realize this deep seated mystical truth. Butterfly spirit animal is the guardian of our conscience reminding us to act with care.

Putting Up Your Defenses

In the natural world, butterflies and plants are in a great arms race. Plants create toxins to protect from hungry caterpillars and caterpillars find ways to overcome the toxins. Some caterpillars and butterflies internalize and assimilate the plant toxins turning them into their own self-defense from predators.

Both caterpillars and butterflies are also well known for developing signals to deter predators. The most notable signs are bright colors that say “I’m unpalatable.” What we interpret as beautiful reds, oranges and yellows are actually warning signs. When looking at spiritual meaning of butterfly, ask yourself, “Am I heading the warning signs that others are putting out? Am I comfortable with not having everyone like me? Can I be in my own inner beauty and not have to have it feed others?”

You Are What You Eat

In the mythology of resurrection, the caterpillar is the earth-bound soul tied to material wealth and concerns. This metaphor blends flawlessly with the fact that caterpillars eat solid, rooted plants. Caterpillars eat voraciously like we do when we get caught up and grounded by our need to posses things, property and people. Some of us never leave this obsession and stay grounded as caterpillars, wandering from leaf to leaf for life.

Others of us lose a taste for things of this world just like the caterpillar who stops eating a few days before going into the chrysalis. Dissatisfaction and restlessness are hallmark promptings from our soul that a transformation is coming. The caterpillar begins seeking a place to undergo the change. Within the chrysalis, the former form is shed and the new is shaped.

The butterfly eats primarily nectar of flowers. Nectar is known as the elixir of the Gods. (To learn more about the significance of eating nectar read this article about hummingbird).

Challenges of Psyche

The Greek Goddess Psyche is always pictured with a set of butterfly wings. Her name, “Psyche,” literally means “soul” in Greek. Today we take the word psyche to represent our mind. This shows how we’ve tried to supplant the wonder of the soul with the faculty of intellect. One reading of the tale of the stunningly gorgeous Psyche tells us how much we miss in knowing our own souls.

Born a mortal, Psyche’s beauty caused humanity to worship her to the point of extreme alienation. By a trick of his own, she was taken by Aphrodite’s son, Eros, and they left the world to find bliss in each other. But, Psyche couldn’t resist the temptation to please others and destroyed the fragile promise they were pledged upon. Exposed, she then suffered great torture and grief at the hands of Aphrodite. She endured the trials put before her with great stamina to eventually be made immortal, a goddess with butterfly wings, and marry Eros in front of the Gods. Zeus served nectar at their wedding. The whole beautiful story can be found here: http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Psykhe.html

Allowing Butterfly Symbolism

We so often think we’ve fledged the chrysalis and become a butterfly before we actually have. As long as a hunger for this world as well as the need for the acceptance and love of others contaminates our hearts we still have many challenges to overcome. Butterfly spirit animal does not symbolize the sweet triumph over small adversity. The impact of butterfly medicine cannot be forced.

True butterfly spiritual meaning brings the involuntary experience of a life shattering hurricane that tests us at our core. Butterfly spirit animal guides us through this torturous and wondrous experience only a few precious times each life. If you are in the midst of a resurrection yourself, cherish it and remember to thank the Gods no matter how painful it is.


Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.



Stacey Couch

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch is a Spiritual Advisor who supports creative seekers learning as they go on the spiritual path. She serves beginner and life-long students of the soul. Her compassionate and collaborative approach honors the humanity and value of each person. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. Through meeting with Stacey, lost souls find refuge. Connection to the Divine is realized. Belonging comes. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. Learn About working with Stacey
15 replies
  1. Surbhi
    Surbhi says:

    Today I sat in my office and one brown colored butterfly came there I dnt know from where and took circle around me in whole of the cabin..it came from my back and circled my cabin me positioned in centre…what does that mean…

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Hello Surbhi, Thank you for your question. The color brown symbolizes being organic as well as the foundation of who we are. This color can also represent humbleness, and a willingness to blend into the background. There may be an organic, natural transformation going on in you that is quiet and unassuming, hard to witness yet foundational. Hopefully this helps. Many Blessings, Stacey

  2. sherry williams
    sherry williams says:

    Hi Stacey, I’m working on a logo for something. I want to have the butterfly in it for the transformation I just went through. I am a virgo and birthday is 8/31/1966 just turning 50. Ya! Is there a certain butterfly for this? There will be a cherry tree and pterodactyl in it.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Hello Sherry, How fun for you! I love working with logos. It’s such a deep and rewarding process. That is a good question about a certain butterfly for your logo. I have to admit that I really only know two different species of butterflies by name among the tens of thousands of species out there, so I’m probably not the best person to ask! The good news is that there’s a likely a butterfly with every pattern and color you could imagine. I think this is a question worth putting out to the cosmos and seeing what comes back. Do you notice certain colors of butterflies more often than others where you live? Maybe you just want to browse butterfly photos online and see which tickle your fancy and then research more about them? The possibilities are limitless. Have fun and I’d love to hear how it goes! Many Blessings, Stacey

    • Breena
      Breena says:

      This description of a butterfly symbol is incredible. The best way I can describe this article is organic. Your words reminded me of exactly what I need to work on, and how to move forward while connecting with the beautiful butterfly. You do such a lovely job synthesizing the different aspects of this message. These words are very much appreciated. ❤️????

      • Stacey Couch
        Stacey Couch says:

        And you are very much appreciated. I’m delighted to connect with you through the spirit of the butterfly and look forward to staying in touch. Much love to you, Stacey

  3. Luta Shaba
    Luta Shaba says:

    Hello Stacy. Thank you so much for the post, It clarified things for me. I have been going through a lot and in meditation I was visited by butterflies and on the ground crawling caterpillers, which my rational mind didn’t like…but the message was ‘acceptance of life cycles without resistance’. In your article you helped me clarify my meditation vision, understand truly what I am going through, and why suddenly my body now just craves fruits…and mostly uncooked vegetables! I am indeed very vulnerable now but I have more trust that I shall ’emerge’. Love and Light

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Hello Luta, What a gift that this understanding has come for you. Kudos to you for sticking with your practice even when you weren’t initially happy with what you saw. This shows great integrity and a strong ability to come out of polarization and into symbolic sight. Congratulations! That’s fun too that you now have the unexpected side effect of these curious cravings! Love and light to you as well, Stacey

  4. Jay Nair
    Jay Nair says:

    Hello Stacey,

    Hope you are doing fine.

    Today I had a unusual visitor a brown butterfly in my house and it was my younger brother who noticed it. I was browsing to check what happens if you see a brown butterfly which lead me to your post and gave me an insight of what it actually means. To be very honest after reading this post i jumped on to the lady bug post and guess what I had more visitors on the wall a lady bug with the spots attached to one another (not separated as seen in the images available in the internet) ,another brown butterfly and a spider. It literally gave me goosebumps after seeing them all in front of me.

    Looking forward to hear from you what does it mean?


    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Hello Jay, Thank you for writing. Often when we start to notice animal messengers and to see meaning in their presence, we can literally start to see them everywhere. This is a type of spiritual awakening and can be a bit overwhelming at first! It can help to remember that there are many meanings/messages and also that it might take some time to get through them all. Regardless of how much you’re able to sort out, the most important piece is to enjoy this new awareness you have! Many Blessings, Stacey

  5. Dove…
    Dove… says:

    […] the same way that butterflies are seen by human souls in Japanese mythology, doves are seen as symbols of the spirit in Christian theology. Even further, […]


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