She liked being reminded of butterflies. She remembered being six or seven and crying over the fates of the butterflies in her yard after learning that they lived for only a few days. Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn't mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, see, they have a beautiful life. Alice liked remembering that.
— Lisa Genova, Still Alice
How to Write a Poem
Catch the air
around the butterfly.
- Katerina Stoykova Klemer, The air around the butterfly
Butterflies are self propelled flowers.
-R. H. Heinlein
Butterfly Hunt (La chasse aux papillons). Berthe Morisot. 1874. Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
And to me also, who appreciate life, the butterflies, and soap-bubbles, and whatever is like them amongst us, seem most to enjoy happiness.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The ancients Greeks originally depicted the soul or spirit as a stick figure with wings. The butterfly/moth as a symbol of spirit and its potential for transformation originated from that source. The myth of Psyche and Eros (Cupid) is a mythological metaphor for the feminine journey toward consciousness. Psyche is the Greek word for both soul and butterfly.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
In Aztec and Mayan mythology, the god of fire Xiutecutli is represented as a butterfly. Fire, like the butterfly, is a symbol of transformation. In Mexico, the Nahauatl people believe that Monarch butterflies are the souls of dead children returning to their ancestral home. This interpretation is based on the migration habits of this species. Around November 2 every year (the Day of the Dead celebration) the Monarchs appear en masse in the Oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico. They remain for the entire winter season before returning north to the lay their eggs and die. The massing of these butterflies is so dense that on still days the sound of their wings flapping is quite audible.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.