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Superstitions: Butterflies


Butterflies are very revered creatures, but what you may not realise is their connection to ‘the soul’, as superstitions go, some people believed that souls go on to reside in flowers – plants like thyme and foxglove, but more commonly the thought is that souls rest in insects and animals, particularly the butterfly and that perhaps that is why they are so beautiful and graceful.


Children were asked not to harm a butterfly whilst playing in the garden, as it could be carrying the soul of a loved one who has passed on.

In the case of some Christians they believed that the soul was a butterfly, and that while it waited to enter purgatory it hovered above Earth.

In Ancient Egypt they think of the soul leaving the body in much the same way that a caterpillar leaves the chrysalis to become a butterfly.

Win-laik-pya is the Burmese name for a ‘soul butterfly’, they believe that the soul butterfly leaves the body when it sleeps and meets up with other soul butterflies of animals or people. Because of this belief a superstitious Burmese person would not wake another person suddenly, as they would think there is a risk of the soul butterfly not having time to return to the sleeping body and death is caused.

In the Gaelic community those that have recently passed away are thought to be visible as butterflies that hover above the now dead body. Whilst it might sound a bit morbid in Ireland this is actually considered to demonstrate a sign of happiness for the soul and offers great peace to mourners.

Butterflies in general pertain to good luck, this is even more the case if the first butterfly you see of the year is white in colour. Seeing a black butterfly first can mean the opposite.

Some Native Americans believe that the colour of the first butterfly you see of the year will predict the weather, white – summer is starting, yellow – lots of sunshine will follow and black will mean stormy weather.

A butterfly coming into your home, is supposed to mean that the person you love the most will be with you soon.

Ref: The Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Deborah Murrell