What does it mean when you see a red butterfly, and what do red butterflies symbolize? Let’s find out.
Throughout history, symbols have unified individuals who lead different lives with singular representations of specific causes or beliefs. Symbols work to add visual recognition to the issues that are important to these people. They convey united opinions on political and religious beliefs and countless cultural topics.
While symbols often have universal meanings, such as the symbols found on public restroom doors that differentiate men from women or the symbols for recycling or danger, butterflies signify many different things to different cultures. This article will address red butterfly symbolism specifically after looking at some interesting points about butterflies in general.
Butterflies as Symbols
Images of butterflies have been used through the ages as symbols in art, religion, superstitions, and cultural concerns. For instance, they are used in contemporary times by many countries to represent the fragility of the earth as it relates to climate change, as well as many other issues found both in contemporary life and in art history. They are used not only as symbols of beauty and contemplation but also to convey beliefs about life’s fleeting presence and the importance of nature over physical luxuries.
Beginning even before the widely acclaimed 17th century Dutch Vanitas paintings, butterflies have been spreading their messages abundantly. For instance, the ancient Minoans and Pyrenees depicted butterflies on their pottery and in crude cave paintings more than 4000 years ago.
Butterflies in Religion
While not mentioned specifically in the Bible, suggestions of butterflies were used there to convey the transient state of humanity and the ways in which they can be transformed through Christian beliefs. They have been used by various Christian religions to convey ideas about transfiguration, resurrection, and transformation.
The Catholic Church uses butterflies to compare three aspects of the Church:
- The caterpillar
- The chrysalis
- The butterfly
The caterpillar represents people who are going about their daily lives doing what needs to be done to survive. The chrysalis or cocoon is used to symbolize the tomb where Jesus’ body rested after his crucifixion, or a stagnant state in people’s lives where they often experience seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and finally, the butterfly represents the resurrection of Christ or the ways in which Christians can begin anew if they adhere to their religious beliefs.
Butterflies are also found in lessons from the Quran that express the belief that all things originate with Allah, and that, in their view, he is perfect. People of the early Greek Orthodox faith and Romans believed that butterflies represented the soul. Aztec religions saw them as representatives of the fire and the sun.
Butterflies in Different Cultures
The color of a butterfly’s wings can hold different meanings for the many cultures and religions that consider them to be significant.
Native American Cultural Beliefs About Butterflies
At one time, many different beliefs about butterflies were held by Native American tribes in North America. One such belief was that they were symbols of good luck that were capable of making one’s wishes come true. By whispering their beliefs to butterflies that were caught alive, these tribal peoples would then release the insects so they could fly to the Great Spirit who could understand their communications, then cause the dreams to come true. The belief that butterflies represented good luck was also prominent, as was the belief that they represented romance and passion.
Native Indian Tribes From the Pacific Northwest
Native Americans who hailed from the Pacific Northwest of the United States viewed butterflies as symbols for transformation, beauty, grace, metamorphosis and balance. They were often depicted as companions to ravens who helped the birds find food by leading them to creatures that were hiding from the ravens.
The Native American Blackfoot tribe attributed magical abilities to butterflies that enabled the insects to deliver their dreams. When nap time arrived, the women of the tribe would encourage sleep by singing a song that was believed to draw butterflies near. It was thought that the butterflies would lure the infants to sleep. Additionally, tribal women were known to embroider images of butterflies on small pieces of buckskin that were then woven or tied into their babies’ hair.
The Hopi Native American tribe used cultural icons called Kachina Dolls to capture the spiritual essence of everything on earth. They represented the wild animals that provided meat, various plants, insects, birds, and death itself. These dolls often featured images of butterflies on headdresses, necklaces, or as patterns on their hand-sewn garments.
Shoshone and Cherokee Tribes
People of the Shoshone and Cherokee Native American tribes still dance a ceremonial dance at powwow gatherings that center around a butterfly theme while using capes to indicate butterfly wings. The dance retells the story of the aftermath of a lost romance and how a woman regains her happiness by traveling around the world until her sadness is finally resolved and she is transformed.
Other Cultural Views of Butterflies
Multiple cultures, from the Pacific Northwest of the United States to India and beyond, hold the belief that their loved ones have died and returned as butterflies. All over the world, folklore tells stories of rebirth as butterflies. The Irish culture’s view is that the souls of dead people exist in butterflies until they pass into Purgatory. Ancient Greeks used the same word for ‘psyche’ as they used for butterflies.
Additional Facts About Butterflies
Here are some additional facts about butterflies in general that can lend perspective:
- Butterfly wings are made up of tiny transparent scales that reflect the colors around them.
- Butterflies taste their food through receptors on their feet.
- Butterflies do not live more than a few weeks.
- The wingspan of a Giant Swallowtail butterfly ranges from 5-7” across.
- Butterflies have four wings.
- There are just under 20,000 butterfly species on earth.
The Significance and Meaning of Red Butterflies
Red butterflies are not as abundant as other butterflies, in part because they are known to be territorial, and the females will only mate with those that hold territory. They drink from overripe fruit or a variety of flowering plants and tend to have markings in black or black and white that appear on the edges of or across the center of their red wings.
The meanings and symbolism inherent in the red butterfly can seem complex and even contradictory in some cases. While they can symbolize energy and hope for one culture, they can also symbolize dark meanings for others. Despite the differences in meaning, one thing is common among all cultures. Red butterflies are powerful and demand respect.
Among the varieties of red butterflies, the following species are most commonly found:
- Red Lacewing
- Scarlet Peacock
- Red Admiral
- Peacock Butterfly
- Postman Butterfly
All of these species were regarded by early Native American tribes as powerful creatures.
In contemporary times, sightings of red butterflies are believed in some cultures to mean that important news is forthcoming. It is also believed that when a red butterfly is the first to be sighted in spring, the person witnessing it will remain in good health. Red butterflies are also indicative of boundless passion and romance. It also symbolizes longstanding happiness to anyone who sees one.
Conversely, in some cultures, a red butterfly signifies danger or evil. For instance, an ancient Scottish belief was that red butterflies were transformed from their colorful, graceful states into wicked witches that set out to do harm to those who saw them. Another example is the Korean belief that if a person sees a red butterfly and then touches his or her eyes, it will cause that person to suffer from serious eye problems and, in some cases, to go completely blind.
All over the world, the red butterfly is viewed as a symbol of the beauty of nature and as a type of guardian that warns people to be extra careful to avoid danger.
Whether it is because of their gorgeous red color, their impressive sizes, their magnificent and graceful shapes, or for other reasons, red butterflies are regaled for their divine beauty. Their short lifespans are a reminder to focus, not on beautiful luxuries, but on the true meaning of life.
The Spiritual Symbols Inherent in Red Butterflies
The New Age Spiritual movement has long regarded red butterflies as amazing natural beings with the ability to inspire millions of people around the world with their power and beauty. Their spiritual symbols have a number of different meanings.
As in most cultures, a red butterfly generally represents a change in whatever form it takes. This includes development into something positive from the negative. Spiritualists seem fascinated by the metamorphosis of the butterfly as it symbolizes the ability to change one’s life completely, and for the better. The belief is that if a person is not satisfied with the conditions surrounding his or her life, like a butterfly, he or she should spread its wings and fly toward freedom.
Many people view the color of the red butterfly as synonymous with joy and peace. It is also symbolic of spiritual unity across the world and of those who would take the opportunity to explore knowledge and spirituality. Red butterflies are thought to impart positive energy to those who see them, and to bring joy.
Some cultures derive negative connotations from seeing red butterflies, which they attribute to bringing them anger or bad luck. Therefore, it is urged that one pay close attention to what is going on in one’s life and to be extra cautious of life’s dangers. Red butterflies can also symbolize the necessity of preparing for unforeseen events that might lurk just around the corner.
Significance of Red Butterflies in Dreams
Generally speaking, dreams in which red butterflies appear are usually good omens that can predict positive changes in life, good luck and prosperity. For many, they foretell of new employment opportunities, new love relationships or a fresh beginning that leads to a better life.
The appearance of two red butterflies in a dream can symbolize true and sincere love for the dreamer. The significance urges people to concentrate on the good things in their lives and to emphasize their true meaning.
The appearance of a dead red butterfly in a dream can symbolize disaster in business. If one is thinking of opening a new business or of changing jobs, that person might reconsider and form alternate plans. Dreams of a dying red butterfly or one that is trapped in some way can signify a bad omen. If the dream entails a red butterfly landing on the person who is dreaming, and if that person believes in the power of the butterfly and the things that it symbolizes, it is believed that the solutions to the dreamers’ problems will soon appear.
Seeing a red butterfly land on someone in a dream also symbolizes gaining the ability to accept life’s changes with grace. It means that every decision should be long considered under free will with no force implied. Its significance encourages people to take the time to consider the areas in their lives that need to change, and that seeing the dream butterfly will help that person decide on the best ways to change.
Red Butterfly Meaning
When a red butterfly flutters about one’s head, it symbolizes attention to one’s fears. This is a sign that the person should take a deep breath, close his or her eyes and to consider the fear. Red butterflies symbolize the ability to view life from a more mindful perspective, which can lead to one’s fears being eliminated as the fear gives way to peace and calm. The red butterfly invites people to look at their unfortunate situations in easier ways and provides the means to solve problems successfully.
The most significant of the red butterfly’s abilities is to help people gain insight into a more positive way to live, a quality that can change lives forever.
Learn More: Discover what all the other colorful butterflies mean – 11 Butterfly Colors Meanings and Symbolism.