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What do butterflies represent?

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Quick Answer

Butterflies usually represent metamorphosis and good luck. In Christian art, they are often a symbol of resurrection. Large swarms of butterflies are a bad omen in Japanese culture, and individual butterflies are a good omen.

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Butterflies often represent change and transformation due to their metamorphosis from a caterpillar. In Eastern religions, they are a symbol of enlightenment. The imagery of the apparent death of the caterpillar and emergence of the butterfly is the reason they represent resurrection in Christian art.

Butterflies are regarded as a symbol of good luck and happiness by cultures around the world. They are also often associated with femininity. In Japan, they are particularly associated with young women, and in China, they also represent a happy marriage. A Japanese legend states that before a major revolt, the city of Kyoto was swarmed with butterflies that represented the souls of those fated to die in battle.

Their bright colors and fluttering movement is reminiscent of firelight, and the ancient peoples of Mexico saw the butterfly as a symbol of several gods and goddesses. Many cultures also associate butterflies with the soul. In Irish folklore, butterflies have the ability to move between worlds. In dream interpretation, the appearance of a butterfly may mean the dreamer's true self is beginning to emerge or that changes and transformation are happening.

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