There is a Native American legend that says, If you have a secret wish, capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it. Since butterflies cannot speak, your secret is ever safe in their keeping. Release the butterfly, and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit, who alone knows the thoughts of butterflies.
By setting the butterfly free, you are helping to restore the balance of nature, and your wish will surely be granted.
They are a symbol of change, joy, and color. (There is also an association of Faerie folklore with butterflies.) Their flight appears as dancing, and a reminder not to take things so seriously.
They have a sense of lightness and joy. They are reminders to get up and move, for if you can move you can dance, and dance brings joy.
The butterfly is a powerful symbol for transformation. It leaves the safety of the cocoon in it's new form. This is an excellent image for anyone contemplating, or in the midst of a major change. A butterfly is a strong symbol of metamorphosis, with distinct stages.
The butterfly is a reminder to make changes when the opportunity arises. Change and transformation are inevitable for us all, but it does not have to be traumatic. Butterfly symbolism is also closely tied to the idea of spirits and souls. It has been used in many religions and cultures.
Psyche is the Greek word for both soul and butterfly. The belief was that butterflies were human souls searching for a new reincarnation, which gave the creature uncanny and sometimes ominous connotations. This symbolism was also used in early Christianity as a symbol of the soul. Celts thought that women became pregnant by swallowing butterfly souls. These butterfly-souls flew about seeking a new mother.
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Soul of Witches
Butterflies symbolize witches and fairies, but they also symbolize the soul of witches. Both butterflies and witches have the ability to change their form; butterflies change in the course of their development, witches allegedly can change at will.
The Serbians look on the butterfly as the soul of a witch and believe if they can find her body and turn it around while she is asleep, the soul will not be able to find her mouth and reenter, and the witch will probably die. Probably, this concept of the soul explains why many medieval angels have butterfly wings rather than those of a bird.