Butterfly Meanings in Different Cultures

by Alice Schwendimann
(Shreveport, LA)

In Chinese culture two butterflies flying together are a symbol of love and also long life.


The ancient Greek word for butterfly means "soul" or "mind". In other cultures too, the butterfly means "soul" -Mexico, Russia, Central Asia, New Zealand, Zaire.

In Japan, butterflies are thought to represent young maidens and marital bliss.

Germany has a unique belief about butterflies. As they are often found hovering about milk pails or butter churns, butterflies have become associated with witches trying to steal the cream. The German word for butterfly is "Schmetterling", derived from Czech word for " Smetana", meaning cream.

Even Christianity considers the butterfly a soulful symbol. It is depicted on ancient Christian tombs. Christ has been illustrated in Christian art holding a butterfly.

It's connection with the soul is rather fitting. We are all on a long journey of the soul. On this journey we encounter endless turns, shifts and conditions that cause us to morph into ever-finer beings. at our soul-journey's end we are inevitably changed-not at all the same as when we started on the path.

We can look again to the grace and eloquence of the butterfly and realize that our journey is our only guarantee. Our responsibility is to make our way in faith, accept the change that comes, and emerge from our transitions as brilliantly as the butterfly.

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