Saturday, October 16, 2010


 I seem to be on a "symbolism kick" so I might as well mention some interesting things about butterflies:

* Native American legend says that if you have a secret wish, capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it.  Release the butterfly and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit who alone knows the thoughts of butterflies.  By setting the butterfly free, you are helping to restore the balance of nature and your wish will surely be granted.

* Butterflies symbolize transformation making them an ideal image for anyone contemplating or in the midst of a major change.

* The Chinese believe that a jade butterfly suggests a wedding of souls.  Many grooms choose this as a gift for their bride.

* In the Greek language, Psyche is both the word for butterfly and soul.

* Many religions use the butterfly as a symbol of the soul including Christianity.

* Butterflies are thought by some to be human souls searching for a new reincarnation.

My family seems to have a special butterfly "bond".  By that I mean there have been some rather interesting encounters with butterflies that made me look up the symbolism.

It started when my uncle passed away suddenly several years ago.  While my cousin and aunt were walking in the yard after the funeral, a butterfly started flying around them.  It passed by my cousin so closely that she felt the wing brush her cheek.  Curious, they followed the butterfly around the yard.  At the time, my aunt had rented a large dumpster to use in order to clean out some things from the basement.  There had been some family members helping with the clean up, and someone inadvertently threw away a band my uncle had made to help my aunt use the grinding stone.  It was one of the last things he had done when he was home and losing it upset my aunt quite a bit.  Anyway, this butterfly flew over to the dumpster, landed on a box, walked around the lid of the box in a circle three times then flew away.  The next day, my cousin decided to root around in the dumpster to see what had been thrown away.  While in the dumpster, she remembered the box the butterfly had landed on and decided to see what was in it.  When she picked up the box, laying underneath was the band from the grinding stone.

 About a year after my uncle's death, my cousin, aunt and I went to Deltaville for a long weekend stay.  We took our little john boat out on the creek enjoying being able to speed along like we did as kids.  My uncle used to indulge us quite a bit with that old john boat between jumping waves to taking long treks into the river to watch menhaden boats and even a few trips out to the Bay.  While we were speeding along, quite a distance from any shoreline, a tiger swallowtail butterfly appeared out of nowhere and was keeping up with the boat.  My aunt held out her hand and surprisingly the butterfly landed on her palm and rested before flying off and disappearing.  Later I came across a fact sheet on Tiger Swallowtails that stated it was rare for them to be found so far from land. 

It was following this last encounter that I became curious and looked up some information on butterflies.  I learned they are the oldest symbol of the soul.  Nice thought.  Even nicer that I came across this weed growing next to the path at Aaron's Beach and saw all the butterflies feeding on the nectar.

I endured numerous bug bites standing as still as I could and leaning in to get the closest photo possible.  I couldn't help but think of my Grandmother and wonder if perhaps any of these Buckeye butterflies were friends of hers.  Today I went to my grandmother's house in order to go through her things and divide items amongst the family.  I came across some butterfly prints she had.  I was somewhat startled to see that the butterfly depicted in the prints were Buckeyes like the ones in these photos.  Buckeyes are typically not the subject of paintings.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

~Irish Blessing


  1. Wow.


    And I am not kidding when I tell you that last week at work I mentioned how butterflies were thought to be the souls of the dead by the Greek - I have a dear friend whose mother is Greek so I am well-versed in all things Greek up to and including baklava.

    These pictures are exquisite. But the story to match is simply astonishing.

  2. Yeah, he butterfly stories give me chills too. I think there are a few more creepy instances of odd buterfly encounters but I couldn't remember them. The photos were worth the 50 million no-see-um bites

  3. i love butterflies, dragonflies even more!
    No see um's not so much! where was your bug spray?
    See ya soon.

  4. Love the story. Yep, it gave me chills as well. And that last photo is just incredible. Think I'm going to use it as my desktop for a while. Just beautiful, Jamie!

  5. Thank you Annie! The last pic was a lucky one. I was only a few centimeters away from that butterfly- I was certain it was going to move but sat there pretty as can be like it was posing.