The Significance of Butterflies Regarding Death

by Renee Greene

A butterfly is a symbol of life after death because of its stages of transformation from egg to adult. The stages or cycles mimic human birth, personal growth and spiritual rebirth. The average life cycle of a full-grown butterfly is only about two weeks long.

Birth as Survival

Many tiny butterfly eggs are laid at one time. Most of these eggs do not survive. They end up as food for other larvae-eating predators or are subject to other natural elements, such as harsh weather conditions. Life for all living creatures is a fight for survival from the beginning of conception to the very end.

Caterpillar Growth as Change

Caterpillars are like human teens -- always out on a limb

Butterfly eggs grow into caterpillars. This fast life cycle change symbolizes that of a human in that the time of life from birth to adulthood appears to happen very quickly.

Cocoon as Transition

A cocoon is a form of death and rebirth or regeneration.

Caterpillars transition into cocoons, or pupae, before becoming full-grown adult butterflies. This can be said to symbolize the transition to the next stage of life that ultimately leads to death. As people become older, it is as if they are "wrapped" up in a cocoon and more limited than they were in the previous stage. In a sense, the older people get, the more they tend to shelter and protect themselves. Humans do a lot less exploring and do more self-nurturing as they make the transition from living to dying.

Death as Rebirth

We are like the butterfly -- here today, gone tomorrow.

Some believe that people never die; they just change from one source of energy to another. If you've ever heard that philosophy, the butterfly as a symbol of death magnifies that belief. It dies only to be fed back into the stream of nature and reborn. As an adult, it has laid more eggs that go through the same hatching, feeding and wrapping stage as others before it. Such is the nature of humankind. The metamorphosis, or transformation and rebirth, of the human, whether in body or spirit, is represented in the symbology of the butterfly.

About the Author

Renee Greene has been writing professionally since 1984 when she began as a news clerk for "The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer." She has written nonfiction books and a book of Haikus. She holds an associate degree from Phillips Junior College and is an English major at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.

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