What’s the black butterfly’s meaning?
As one might guess with the color black, the significance of black butterflies can be a bit ominous.
It can be a bit spooky. But, on the other hand the symbolism can also be more positive.
The chief meaning of butterflies that are black includes change and rebirth.
We’ll now take a close look at the symbolism of the black butterfly in various superstitions and cultures.
Positive Symbolism of Black Butterflies
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning 1: Transformation
Even though a black butterfly is a stunning creature, one with a cinematic look, it’s still a butterfly.
Like any variety or color of butterfly, black-colored butterflies begin as caterpillars.
They then enter their chrysalis where their shape turns into that of a butterfly.
For that reason, just like a white butterfly or any other, the black butterfly has often symbolized transformation to varied groups of people.
For example, Buddhists have, for centuries, seen the black butterfly spiritual meaning as paralleling a person’s rise to enlightenment.
Each stage of the transformation from egg to adult butterfly is like a human perfecting her mind and becoming closer to enlightenment.
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #2: Living Forever
The black butterfly represents immortality to many cultures. This might seem strange, considering that the lifespan of butterflies is actually very short.
On average, black butterflies live only two short weeks! Why, then, would they symbolize immortality?
Well, ancient Aztecs and Greeks both noticed that adult butterflies spend much of their time trying to bring new butterflies into the world.
Because that takes up most of the lifespan of an adult butterfly, some people make the interpretation that these animals are all about passing on new life and recreating the life cycle on a constant basis.
It is almost as if the ancestry of one butterfly is one continuous, flickering life.
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #3: Romantic Love
Another result of the fast and furious mating of black butterflies is they also came to symbolize eroticism and romantic love.
For example, let’s look at the Greek goddess Psyche. Psyche came into the world as a mortal.
Such a comely girl was she that she inspired jealousy within Aphrodite, goddess of beauty of love.
As a response, Aphrodite had her son Eros cast a spell on the mortal to make her fall in love with an ugly person.
Instead, Psyche cast her own spell on Eros, and they became lovers. That is how Psyche became a goddess.
She is almost always depicted as a butterfly, sometimes a black butterfly sitting in nature, just chilling.
Negative or Foreboding Symbolism
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #4: Death and the Afterlife
Black butterflies symbolize various ideas relating to the passage from earthly life to the afterlife: an upcoming death, the death of a family or tribe member, a visit of a recently departed person, a message from one of them, etc.
This is a component of the spiritual meaning of a black butterfly, since what happens to one’s spirit or soul is about as meaningful an expression of the spiritual world as there is.
In the 13th century A. D. , the Aztec Empire rose up in modern-day Mexico, building the great city of Tenochtitlan.
There, they built a rich civilization with sophisticated myths and spiritual beliefs.
In terms of death, to these rulers of Central America, a completely black butterfly actually escorted a person into the afterlife.
What a dramatic and touching relationship with the natural world this belief system describes!
Additional components of the black butterfly’s meaning come from the amazing goddess Itzpapalotl, whose name translates as “clawed butterfly” or “obsidian butterfly.”
She is depicted with sharp, obsidian-tipped wings. She is also sometimes depicted as a frightening deity with a skeletal head above her butterfly’s wings.
Her distinctive mythology involves her eating the hearts of deer and even the souls of men.
It is interesting to consider how a culture came to find a necessity for this mythology, but it provides one facet of the black butterfly’s meaning as it applies to death.
Connected to this idea that a black butterfly can take a person’s soul is another association in the Aztec culture, which says that a black butterfly flying across your path is there to deliver a message from departed souls.
Irish and Celtic Culture
In Irish and Celtic legends, the black butterfly represents death in the sense that it is the transformation of a soul from residing in a person into crossing over into the “otherworld.”
Just as any butterfly goes from being a caterpillar to the winged creature we know as an adult butterfly, the black butterfly crosses from one realm into another.
This is how we see the ideas of transformation merging beautifully with a poignant topic such as death.
What’s interesting, though, is that there are variations on this mythology that say that black butterflies actually got lost on their way to the afterlife (or didn’t want to go) and are now flying around the earthly realm as a result.
Miscellaneous Symbolism of Black Butterflies
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #5: New Beginnings
A modern, Western way of looking at the significance of butterflies tends to look at omens or messages that we can turn into some action in our lives.
Because of the transformational nature of butterflies (from the caterpillar stage to the adult butterfly, which we just call a “butterfly”) they are seen by experts as omens of a change in your life.
These changes can take various forms:
- New relationships- You may meet a new person or experience a different set of energy or vibes with a new person and take a relationship into a new area or realm. This relationship may in turn update your whole outlook on life.
- A new financial beginning- Changes that may transform you can be of a financial nature. They can involve a new position in your career that pays a bit more. These changes could also be a business opportunity.
- Burying the hatchet- The phrase “bury the hatchet” means to let go of old grievances and to stop having animosity toward a person for something that happened long ago. It often means both people mutually doing so. When one does that, it creates a new beginning for the two of you. Thus, if you heed the positive omen from the black butterfly, you can repair relationships and have a better future.
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #6: Better Family Relations
Sometimes omens of all kinds come to us when we are worried. There are energies in the universe that respond to other energies.
They try to soothe us. That can help explain why the omen would be a butterfly and not a rhinoceros or other frightening animal.
If you are wise enough to heed the positive omen and the encouragement of the black butterfly you can pay more attention to family members; perhaps you may learn more about their needs in a nuanced fashion.
You will find your family members returning your enthusiasm–you will enjoy a snowball effect.
Having better family relations lays down a nice foundation for the rest of your life.
With that part of your life taken care of, you are free to work on other things.
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #7: Renewal
A butterfly starts off as a caterpillar. It then goes into a chrysalis where it lies motionless and doesn’t seem to be conscious.
What is to become of such a creature? Is it sliding into death? No, it is actually heading toward a beautiful rebirth.
That is why when you see a black butterfly, you are receiving a message that you should try to enact a renewal in your life.
Renewal can be tricky because it can be so general. It can be hard to see a need for a general renewal, and of course, it can be very hard to achieve such a thing.
That’s where omens like butterflies come in.
After a black butterfly sighting, take a minute to take in its beauty. Then realize how quickly the creature has grown to that state. black butterfly sighting
How can that not inspire you to have the confidence that you can experience a wonderful renewal!
Biblical Meaning of Black Butterflies
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #8: A Little Angel
One major component of the Bible is angels. Now, some people have changed the significance of angels to mean perfect, pristine beings.
Angels are synonymous with good behavior. That makes sense up to a point, since according to Biblical scripture, they sit in Heaven with God.
However, the Bible is a literary text, and angels have a significance that is very clear.
Angels can, in some cases, be guardians, almost like sentries, protecting cities or people.
They can be servants to God. But in most cases they are messengers. This is how angels are similar to butterflies of all colors.
Butterflies are messengers too, for reasons already outlined. The messages of both angels and butterflies usually alert us to something that’s going to happen in the near future.
And, as we’ve mentioned, with both butterflies and angels, we are being motivated to make positive changes.
The message we’re being given is that we have the power to act, but that it’s a good idea to act now and make positive changes.
Some people have suggested that a black butterfly symbolizes the resurrection of Christ, since it is consistently tied to rebirth.
The only problem with this is that a black butterfly doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible.
Certainly, one can observe that there is a resurrection in the Bible and that black butterflies symbolize resurrection or rebirth.
Perhaps an artist could use a black butterfly to symbolize such a thing in a work with religious overtones.
Black Butterflies in Hinduism
The Black Butterfly’s Meaning #9: Perfection Through Rebirth
In the Hindu tradition, rebirth is one of the major ideas. Hindus believe that life is infinite, that all of us have been reborn millions–maybe even billions–of times.
Well, one of the biggest gods in the Hindu tradition is Brahma. The origin myth of Brahma is quite striking.
Brahma is the creator of the universe. However, he also created himself. He created water and then dropped a tiny seed in the water.
The seed became a golden egg. Brahma then came out of that egg and was born to the universe!
What was left of the egg expanded to become the universe!
Clearly this echoes the life cycle of a butterfly, since a butterfly starts off as a pupa or egg and then emerges as a caterpillar and then goes into a chrysalis and becomes a butterfly!
Another connection between Brahma and the black butterfly is that Brahma is generally depicted sitting regally on a lotus leaf.
This is similar to the way a black swallowtail butterfly sits on leaves and basks in the sun.
However, there is another way in which the black butterfly is big in Hindu religious belief.
There is a story that one day Brahman noticed butterflies flitting around and thought about them.
He was overtaken by a powerful feeling and he was touched with the idea that human beings needed to be like butterflies and that they could be perfected only through a rebirth process.
Today, most Hindu traditions teach that enlightenment takes multiple lifetimes to achieve.
A Dead Black Butterfly
If you see a black butterfly that has already died, particularly if it is in your house, take it as an important warning from above.
It likely means that a loved one of yours is in very real danger. You are receiving a message to help save this person’s life.
Remember, the significance of black butterflies has so much to do with death and mortality.
Black Butterfly in Movies, TV, and Music
We all know that the color black has had a prominent place in the pop culture of many countries.
We know that Japanese culture has ninjas and that Asian cultures in general highlight the sleek, elegant qualities of the color black.
In America, it can be associated with cool street culture, and was the dominant color of street gangs until the Bloods and Crips made use of red and blue butterfly in the 1980’s.
There’s no doubt that black carries with it a lot of currency in the visual arts.
Now, the black butterfly’s meaning makes it particularly seductive for the makers of television shows, videos, movies, and even music.
Because so much of the symbolism has to do with the life of the soul, spirits, and passing into the underworld or afterlife, artists of all kinds will naturally be drawn to it.
The “Black Butterfly”, the Movie
In 2017, Ambi Entertainment released a feature film called “Black Butterfly,” filmed in Italy and starring Antonio Banderas and Piper Perabo.
The movie is about a reclusive writer who befriends a drifter, only to find he is getting much more than bargained for.
The artwork for the movie shows the face of Banderas and co-star Jonathan Rhys Meyers inside of a drawing of a black butterfly.
In 2021, Setlife Studios released a different movie named “Black Butterfly.”
This one stars a little-known actress named Shauna Harley, and didn’t see a very wide release.
It centers around two sisters, one of whom is attacked and presumed dead. The official poster features a headless woman.
Now, a third “Black Butterfly” came out in 2010, starring Mahogany Monae as a competitive swimmer.
On her way to greater success, she becomes the victim of a brutal crime. It is hard to see the tie-in with black butterflies.
Carice van Houten and Rutger Hauer star in a 2011 film called “Black Butterflies,” set in Apartheid-era South Africa.
The film won several awards in various countries.
Not only does famous singer Deniece Williams have a song called “Black Butterfly,” but so does the group Sounds of Blackness.
Further, the band The Maine has a popular song called “Black Butterflies and Deja Vu.”
Other Cultural References to Black Butterflies
Lawrence T. Brown, who bills himself as an “equity scientist,” founded the Black Butterfly Academy, a “virtual racial equity education and consulting firm.”
Brown is the author of the book The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America. The black butterfly is used to describe the population of Baltimore, the city explored in the book.
Its black population spreads across the center of the city like a butterfly’s wings.
Black Butterfly is an online bath and beauty supplies shop with many products geared to an African-American audience.
Black Butterfly FAQ
What color butterfly symbolizes death?
The black butterfly symbolizes death due to the fact that it is often associated with the passage of the soul from this life to the afterlife.
Do butterflies represent spirits?
Black butterflies represent the spirits of people who have recently passed away.
They sometimes are thought of as spirits that haven’t yet made it to the afterlife.