Animals are commonly used as symbols. Some birds, for example, are symbols of freedom and/or motherhood. Butterflies are another common symbol. Did you know that there are more than 25,000 species of butterflies flittering around? And while different societies and cultures peg their own meaning to the butterfly, it is universally known that butterflies represent transformation and change. It is obvious to see why – as the butterfly starts as one creature and through the process of metamorphosis changes into something else!
In the caterpillar stage, the symbolism is linked to insatiable materialism. Just as caterpillars have a huge appetite, in this stage, a person has a need for something and a lot of it. In the chrysalis stage, this is where the change first starts to occur. A person may start changing their point of view or mentality. At the butterfly stage, a person fully lets go and is seen as being able to freely express themselves. That is why the butterfly is a symbol of freedom and naturalness.
Native Americans believe if you capture a butterfly, tell it a wish, and then release it, it will fly up to the Great Spirit and grant your wish. There is a beautiful Native American story that to get babies to go from crawling to walking, pebbles were thrown into the air and as they scattered, turned into butterflies. The children were so excited they stood up to chase them.