Thursday, September 8, 2011


May our walking on earth be gentle as the union of the butterfly and the flower.

Traditional Buddhist Blessing

Wow, it's September already, and it has dawned on me that I have not seen a butterfly this summer, not a one.  How sad that is!  In previous years, even here in the city,  we have always been blessed sightings of this remarkable little creature, but this year they have chosen to stay away.  I wonder why. 

The butterfly symbolizes freedom, new beginnings, rebirth, and resurrection transition as well as peace. It is a symbol of change, joy, and color, and people around the world have different stories and beliefs about butterflies. Some cultures believe that they can predict the weather by watching how butterflies behave, and during the middle ages, it was believed that seeing a large group of butterflies was an indication that war was about to begin.  Among some tribes, there is a common belief that if a butterfly enters the wigwam, good luck is sure to follow.    Butterflies were thought by some American Indian tribes to carry our prayers to the Great Spirit. 

According to an old American Indian legend ...If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since the butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly cannot reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish. So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly it's freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

The butterfly as a symbol of immortality or the deathlessness of the human soul emerged in the neolithic or late Stone Age.   The image of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon is a powerful symbol of death and rebirth. For example, according to the ancient Greeks, the transformation of butterfly from larvae pupae to butterfly was a metaphor of the soul's resurrection and immortality. In addition, the ancient Greek word for butterfly is a word which means soul.  In certain areas of Ireland, people believe a white butterfly is a soul on its way to paradise. If the wings are spotted, the soul must pay for its sins in purgatory but a pure soul will be all white. 

Another old legend says butterflies are the souls of little children who die on the day of their birth.

Souls of new-born babies, so they call you,
Soft-winged spirits poised above our earth,
In your transit, may no ill befall you,
Wending Heavenwards straightway from your birth.
Fair butterflies, sweet butterflies,
Who fly we know not where, when day is done,
Who pass, we know not how, at set of sun.
Souls of little children, well they named you,

Hov'ring o'er a world you have not known, 
One brief instant, ere the seraphs claimed you, 
Ere you sought a kingdom all your own.
Fair butterflies, sweet butterflies, 
Who fly, we know not where, when day is done, 
Who pass, we know not how, at set of sun.

Souls of mortal infants, let us hold you,
Lighting on our sphere for one short span; 
Breathe one prayer for us when His arms fold you, 
Angel heralds sent by God to man. 
Fair butterflies, sweet butterflies, 
Who fly, we know not where, when day is done,
Who pass, we know not how, at set of sun.



  1. Come to think of it...I've only seen a few myself this year. :0(

  2. The butterfly is my lifetime totem. She is always with me.

    Lovely post, as always, Mary.