Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Butterfly as a Dream Image

The Bronx Zoo has a wonderful butterfly garden.


The butterfly is a symbol of spiritual growth and transformation, moving from one phase to another. The life cycle of a butterfly is perfect as a metaphor and an archetypal symbol of transformation or rebirth.

A similar belief endures in Guatamala, where flying insects are linked with the stars.

In Greek mythology, Psyche--the soul--is often represented as a butterfly.

A butterfly's beauty and grace make a perfect emblem of a woman in Japan, and two butterflies dancing together symbolize marital happiness.

In China, butterflies are associated with the pleasures of life and high spirits.

On the negative side, a butterfly may symbolize superficial mentality and ambition, or flitting from one thing to another, never satisfied.

In Christian art a chrysalis is a symbol of death.

In the Celtic tradition, butterflies at night symbolized death.

Both Australian Aboriginals and Central American, think of butterflies as the souls of the dead revisiting earth.

The Samoans believed that if they captured a butterfly they would be struck down dead.

The Aztecs associated the butterfly with women who had died in childbirth.

For the Mexicans, butterflies are the symbol of the "black sun" passing through the underworld during its nightly journey.

In Latin America the butterfly is used to describe a prostitute, flitting from one man to the next. The Spanish word for butterfly is mariposa.

Resource: O'Connell, M. and Airey, R. (2006). The Complete Encyclopedia of Signs and Symbols. Hermes House.


Photographer In Training said...

Wow, the chrysalis looks like some sort of abstract pottery art, it's gorgeous! What a fun day! And I love the photos.

I just began to wonder why I never subscribed to your blog. I think I must have discovered it when I first joined blogger and before I knew about subscribing. I'm going to go remedy that right now! I love your blog, I just forget to check it. Here's hoping you have a subscription link.

Photographer In Training said...

Dang, you don't. That explains it. So I'm voting, please put a "subscribe by email" widget on your blog! I don't "do" RSS feeds and don't understand how they work anyway. But I love email updates from my favorite blogs.

DreamDoc said...

Hi Genie,

Okay... I have to figure out how to do "subscribe by email." I just realized that I don't have an RSS feed so I did that. I'll let you know when I get the email thing going! Thanks for your interest and friendship!


DreamDoc said...


Got a "subscribe by email" on my blog!


Nick's Blog said...

Interesting. I don't recall ever having a butterfly dream. Perhaps I completely made this up, but I always imagined butterflies as symbolic of change in a positive direction. I guess because they go from a homely caterpillar bound to crawling on its belly to something more beautiful and free to explore.

A symbol of death? I would never have thought so, but it's always interesting to see others' perspectives on things.

Do you use dream interpretation in your counseling methods? You might have mentioned that further back in your blog and I missed it.

DreamDoc said...

Hi Nick,

I also thought the butterfly was a positive symbol, so I was surprised during the research on the butterfly as a symbol to find so many cultures see it as a symbol of death.

I use dream interpretation whenever someone presents one and they have an interest in understanding it. Sometimes people don't remember their dreams. And sometimes they just aren't interested in dreams.

Nick's Blog said...

I can understand that. My husband teases me because he never remembers his dreams and it seems I dream all night every night and always remember. I would rather have butterfly dreams...I have a lot of tornado dreams instead. Now, I'm SURE most people would say there is some really good emotionally-related reason for this (ie, my life feels tornadic in some fashion)...but honestly, I think it's more because I'm from Florida where we don't have tornadoes and moved to Atlanta where we have an actual tornado season from March to July! Eeek! And realizing it's only the beginning of MAY, I am watching the weather a lot more (aside from the fact that I have no basement).

So perhaps dreams can all be related to what you actually feel about the object you're dreaming about. What if someone is an avid tornado chaser and then they have tornado dreams? Maybe they'll have that euphoric feeling they get when they see an actual one (whereas, I'd be in complete terror running for my life -- LOL).

So if someone feels, based on religious beliefs or whatever, that butterflies symbolize death and then dream about them, then they'll fear them in actual life. That could apply to almost anything. That would make the important thing finding out how the person feels about the object or issues they're dreaming about before the dream.

I don't know...just a thought.

DreamDoc said...

Tornado dreams... you're right, some people would say these are emotionally related. Then again, I can relate to moving to an area where tornados are a reality. I lived in West Texas for a while and couldn't sleep whenever it rained and thundered.

You're absolutely right, dream images are related to what you actually feel or think about the object you're dreaming about. That's why dream dictionaries don't really work. Brilliant thought!

Kathy said...

Wow! That looks like a lot of fun. I wish they had something like that around here...though I wonder if my girls would get a little freaked out by the "bugs". They do love butterflies though!

DreamDoc said...

Hi Kathy!

I've been following your blog. You're very funny!

Yes, the garden was nice and the zoo was fun! My kids hate bugs, too. That's why my one daughter wouldn't stay still enough for one to land on her. She was afraid!