The butterfly is a symbolic animal par excellence; it has always been since ancient times. In the Encyclopedia of the symbols, about the butterfly and its natural metamorphosis there are written: “The wonder for this phenomenon that originates and develops without external interventions, leading the animal from the caterpillar to the larva and finally of butterfly, it deeply affects men, who are so driven to reflect on their own spiritual transformation.
In this way they are convinced that they are able to abandon their bodily nature and ascend to the heavens of eternal light “.
The symbol therefore contains a metaphysical background that presupposes secret affinity, almost a mystical mutual interpenetration, between the visible and the invisible world, the meeting point between time and eternity.
The butterfly has to face different stages of growth: from the chrysalis it accesses a higher level of maturation up to the last stage that allows it to soar in flight.
The metamorphosis of the butterfly is fundamental to understand its symbolism: it is basically a sign of transformation and rebirth, like the Phoenix. It represents the soul which, having come out of the body, reaches a higher degree of perfection.
In this case the chrysalis represents the human body that contains the potentiality of being and the butterfly that comes out is, as mentioned, a symbol of rebirth.
The butterfly begins its life crawling and then, through a process of transformation, learns to fly carrying the colors of the rainbow on its wings. It teaches us that every metamorphosis, even the worst, has its own order. Meanings attributed to the butterfly:
- symbol of the hope of ascending from the earthly condition to the light of the eternal altitudes;
- symbol of death;
- in the representations of dreamlike and fantastic figures these have butterfly wings;
- the god of the dream Hypnos has butterfly wings;
- in Japan he represents the young woman and two dancing butterflies represent conjugal happiness;
- in China he represents the young man in love with the female (represented by the flower, just as the butterfly goes in search of the flower);
- in China still the dead loved one rises from the grave to the sky in the form of a butterfly;
- in Mexico it is one of the symbols of the god of vegetation Xochipili;
- in Mexico it is still a symbol of the sparkling fire connected with the sun;
- still in Mexico a red butterfly is drawn in the back of the dead people, as a symbol of viaticum;
- in the Azteca language it is referred to as “papalotl”, very similar to the Latin “papilio”, from which “papillon”;
- still in the Azteca language it is a representation of the goddess Itzpapalot, the nocturnal spirit of shining stars;
- still among the Aztecs is the representation of the souls of women who died in childbirth;
- the Ioruba of West Africa represent in the upper part of the ceremonial club a head surmounted by the butterfly;
- When the banner of Joan of Arc, decorated with iris flowers, wreathed in the wind, they were seen to twirl myriads of white butterflies around it (this was one of the many reasons for which it was called witch and sent to the stake).
Symbolism Black Color
Black is the most absolute and integral color; refers to the inexpressibility of the absolute metaphysical, to the mystery, to the unknown root of every power, to the darkness of the places of germination and (re) generation (think of the darkness of creation myths). It is the color of the shadow of the primordial indistinct, of nothingness. Black swallows, mixes and indifferences, digests, transforms. In natural contrast with white, for the psychology of the deep represents the
To the chthonic deities were usually offered very black animals and, similarly, in the modern age, to the devil and the demons was offered in sacrifice a black rooster or a goat of the same color. The ” wild army ” consists of black horses, and the devil himself is more often black than red, the satanic rituals that mock God are notoriously called ‘black masses’.
The chimney sweep (one of the many declinations of the popular myth of the black man) at first sight recalls a diabolical figure, but in its most complete reversal of meaning, it also ends up acquiring the symbolic value of good luck.
Black was also understood as a denial of vanity and pomp (monastic and priestly garments, mourning clothes); the black of mourning and penance is at the same time the promise of the future resurrection, in the course of which it turns first into gray, then into white (light, albedo); black is also the color of many terrifying deities, one in all Mahkala literally “the great black”. Nera is the goddess Kali who incarnates at the same time the radical change, the dissolution and the destruction of creation, as well as the powerful vitality of the female principle.
Mysterious and widespread in Europe was – and is – the pilgrimage to the ‘Black Madonnas’, their cult, probably linked to fertility, seems to have come from the East and was linked to the shadow aspects of Hecate (black moon).
In the popular imagination we can find frequent images referring to black and its intrinsic signifiers just described: black hole, black man, black mood, and black gold, see black, black day, black work…
Black Butterfly – Symbolism and Meaning
An insect that has become overbearing in the collective imagination is the black butterfly (or even the black moth). Often the search strings of the fans that come to my blog are asking questions such as these: what does it mean if a black moth enters the house? What does it mean if I see a black butterfly?
Chiarito (belonging to the category of people that believes that superstition is a simple way to complicate life, already in itself, sometimes complicated), the popular tradition has woven on this moth (regardless of species, mind well) stories and legends born when the human approach to naturalistic events was less critical and scientific than today.
But it was enough for certain mental attitudes and beliefs to take root and survive until today (one of the ‘recent’ examples that I can do and which is particularly impressed is the news published in February 2013 on the Sunday Mirror according to which the singer Dionne Bromfield said that at Amy Winehouse’s funeral there was a black butterfly that had settled on Kelly Osborne’s shoulder and she was there for the whole ceremony and then flew away as soon as it was all over. She specified that, in memory of the singer who died at the age of 27, he wanted to record the song Black Butterfly).
Much of the non-positive evaluation surrounding the black butterfly is undoubtedly the black color (cats of this same color know something about it) that has always been associated with darkness, with the absence of light and therefore with all that is not a source of life (but that, indeed, it is beyond life itself); in obscurity, for one reason or another, there are our never-overcome phobias, our insecurities, what escapes our control; it is the absence of points of reference and can be a source of strong discomfort (even of terror) for all those unknown dangers and for what we consider to be the ancestral evil that can find refuge in it.
Black (as well as being an expression of elegance but also of authority, think of the togas of priests and judges) also evokes mystery, sadness, death, mourning, inaccessible depths of the earth and space, places of exploration, adventure, knowledge, progress.
Black is more than just a color: it is the absence of it, it is the absorption of every luminosity, and it is itself a representation of the infinite nothingness of the universe, of superstition, of evil, of the unknown and therefore also of ignorance and distrust. For all that, for our innate spirit of conservation, we do not know and it is new and different.
The second non-positive aspect is the fact that the moth (nocturnal moth, cousin of the butterfly with which it is often confused, see -> the moths in general), to follow the light, penetrates into our homes giving the impression of coming to find us to tell us or do something, when it is simply following a light left on or food (light and moths).
According to the ancient Celts black butterflies were the souls of the dead while for the Irish tradition when a dead person cannot pass through the world of the most turns into a white butterfly, especially if it is the soul in question is that of a child.
According to the ancient Aztec mythology, the black butterfly is instead Itzpapalotl, the goddess fire and child mortality. It is the demon that devours the stars during the solar eclipse. The black butterfly was also a symbol, for the ancient Mexicans, of the souls of the ancestors who protected those who remained on earth, helping them to see and orient themselves in the darkness of existence. This is why, according to legend, some butterflies have a sort of ‘eyes’ drawn on the wings.
In the Middle Ages black butterflies were the witches who assumed those features not to be recognized by men and thus enter with impunity in their homes and feed on how much they found there. In the Caribbean there is often talk of a dark wizard, a false bat, as a symbol of occult curse and a soul possessed by Evil that does not find peace by not finding the place to spend eternity.
In some countries like Central America, the Philippines and China, the black butterflies are considered a symbol of death in the sense that a black butterfly that enters the house represents the soul of a deceased person in that same house (and therefore did not necessarily mean that a component still alive would soon be dead). It is said in this case that it is a lost soul that does not find the path of the beyond.
Death in Peru symbolizes the transition from darkness to light, and vice versa, and is a symbol of rebellion and subversion to life.
In the Dominican Republic announces the visit of a person (appreciated or not). In the Hawaiian culture (but also in Japanese) the black moth is the soul of a recently deceased loved one who came to say goodbye before disappearing for always.
In the Bahamas (as well as in some States of North America) butterflies are able to attract material wealth and if they are placed on a person they also indicate that it is the recipient of money.