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  • Writer's pictureMandira Antar

Butterfly tattoo symbol

Updated: May 24, 2020

Butterflies, symbol of the Spring and Summer, amazingly coloured by the hand of God himself, are a constant reminder that whatever is really beautiful is bound to be hard and never eternal.

Isn't it true that we feel a bit of joy and admiration every time we meet with a butterfly that happily flutters among the flowers?

Symbolically speaking, the archetypal analogy of metamorphosis / transformation is very common in many cultures around the globe when it comes to the butterfly.

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One of the most meaningful koans of the great Master of Tao, Chuang Tzu is about the butterfly:

"Once Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased.  He didn't know he was Chuang Tzu.  Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Tzu.  But he didn't know if he was Chuang Tzu who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu. Between Chuang Tzu and a butterfly there must be some distinction!"

This story is about the awareness that everything we perceive is nothing but a dream.

The butterfly is connected to the inner transformation that can happen to our spirit. In order to evolve we have to pass through all the stages of the butterfly transformation. We have to meet, accept and endure our inner caterpillar and wait patiently through the dark stage of the chrysalis so that we can be born again into the free and beautiful butterfly.

Native American cultures believe that butterflies can take wishes up to the Great Spirit.

In Greek mythology, in the myth of Cupid & Psyche, we see the Psyche usually depicted with butterfly feathers (left image). Anyhow, the Greek ancient word for the butterfly is "psyche".

In Ancient Greece and Rome the soul left the body in the form of a butterfly.