Butterflies and souls, a bond that has lasted for millennia
The reasons why a man looks for signs of the existence of another life, in another form or dimension, have always been the same for millennia.
The pain of mourning, whether it is one of our relatives, a friend or a pet, the fear of death, curiosity.
For this reason many cultures have developed a series of legends about the link between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the signals that allow us to grasp their presence among us, thanks to small daily events, anomalous phenomena and those that the most skeptical define as simple “coincidences”.
The link between butterflies and souls
One sign seems to be universal and is related to butterflies. Already some breeds of moths (ie nocturnal butterflies), for example, were indicated as announcers of death in the medieval tradition. Even today, some popular traditions link them and damned souls, suggesting they be driven away from home without killing them.
The white diurnal butterflies, which in Southern Italy are also known as “palummelle” (doves), on the other hand, souls of the dead are considered by the popular tradition to have ended up in Purgatory and therefore must purify themselves in that form. The origin of this legend seems to date back to ancient Greece (which colonized southern Italy over two thousand years ago).
A tradition that dates back to ancient Greece
The Greeks had a word, “psychè”, which expressed three significant meanings in this regard: “spirit”, “human soul” and “butterfly”. A triple meaning that is derived from the metamorphosis of the caterpillar. The caterpillar is in fact considered the living being, a primordial form that has yet to grow has a limited life and must learn, strengthen and prepare itself for evolution in a higher stage.
The chrysalis is the death of the caterpillar in its earthly form, but at the same time, it is the beginning of an evolution in another form, able not only to survive on earth but also in the air, or in the material world as in the ethereal one. Finally, the butterfly is the being that frees itself after the death of the caterpillar, able to soar and reach the sky. The metamorphosis of the butterfly was thus easily approached to the passage of the human soul at a higher evolutionary level.
The meanings vary in different cultures
But the meanings attributed to the butterflies are not always the same: if Greeks and Romans believed that they were the souls of the dead who came out with the last breath, for the Aztecs they represented the souls of women who died of childbirth. The Mayans believed that the butterflies were spirits of the dead returned to earth for a final farewell to their loved ones. In Mexico, some legends suggested drawing a red butterfly on the back of a dead person, to allow his soul to find the right path for the afterlife.
Even in Japan, legends describe butterflies to spirits as the souls of the dead returned to visit places already frequented in life. In Okinawa, in particular, the butterfly that flies at night is believed to be the soul of a murdered man nearby. In China, legend has it that the soul of a beloved woman, if not married, rises to the sky in the form of a butterfly. Returning to Europe, Scotland and Ireland traditionally see a golden butterfly in the vicinity of a deceased or a grave indicates that his soul has risen to heaven.
Butterflies as a metaphor for spirituality
In short: for millennia butterflies have been considered a living metaphor for all that is ephemeral and represent the symbol of the spirituality of the soul, capable of rising from the constraints of matter as the chrysalis frees itself from its cocoon. You, if you want, avoid driving them away: whether they are the souls of your loved ones come back to give you the last goodbye, whether they are not, they are animals of great beauty and delicacy. Two values of which the modern world is increasingly showing a lack.