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White Butterfly Meaning: The 8 Spiritual Signs To Know

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What’s the white butterfly’s meaning?

We all want to understand why things happen the way they do.

And if someone told you there were omens or symbols in the world that gave you an inside scoop on the things life throws at you, you’d probably be interested.

White butterfly on purple flowers
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Well, there are sequences of numbers that can predict things in our lives, and crystals can help us improve ourselves.

But there are also animals that may be carrying messages for us. Butterflies are a great example, including the white butterfly.

In this article, we’ll closely examine the meaning of a white butterfly in various cultures, what it symbolizes for your personal relationships, your career, and mostly for your spiritual well-being.

White butterfly's meaning
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The Lifespan Of a White Butterfly

As we get started talking about the white butterfly’s meaning, it’s important to look at the lifespan of this delicate animal.

That’s because the lifespan and the processes a butterfly goes through are very important to the symbolism of the white butterfly.

  • Egg– First, the mother butterfly lays an egg that is soft and squishy. The incipient butterfly lives inside for a week or two.
  • Caterpillar-The caterpillar stage–or larvae stage–is what it sounds like. The future caterpillar just looks like a furry worm. It lasts a few weeks.
White butterflies
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  • Chrysalis– A chrysalis is similar to a cocoon and is spun by the caterpillar around it. It goes into a state similar to hibernation while its body remarkably transforms into what we would call a butterfly.
  • Butterfly– The adult butterfly comes out of the chrysalis. While it now floats about as what we call a butterfly, it’s actually in the final stages of its life. Its job is now simply to have as much sex as possible to create as many eggs as possible. This lasts only 14-22 days, meaning that the life of what we know as a butterfly is spent almost entirely creating new life. Once the pupae are ready for the caterpillar stage, the parent butterflies have already passed on.

White butterflies live all over the world, literally on every continent. There are 1,100 species of white butterfly.

White butterfly's meaning: White butterflies on purple flowers
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Associations of the White Butterfly

In our journey through the deeper white butterfly spiritual meaning and its cultural significance, we’ll illuminate various meanings and significance of this splendid creature.

However, there are several traits and pieces of symbolism for the white butterfly to highlight first.

For example, white butterflies symbolize purity, innocence, serenity, and simplicity.

Some other symbolism, which we’ll elaborate on below, include freedom, links between our world and the afterworld. As well as one’s personal spiritual journey, communication with angels, and embarking on new stages of life.

White butterfly's meaning: Florida white butterfly
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White Butterfly’s Meaning for the Passage to the Afterlife

If you look at it a certain way, one could say that the major concern of religion is what happens to us after we die.

That is why there are notions of Valhalla, Hell, Heaven, and reincarnation.

What people want to know when a loved one dies, is if they are making, essentially, a safe trip to that afterlife.

Many cultures treat it as almost a physical journey. Because people care about their loved ones, many cultures have developed a sort of guardian or chaperone to the afterlife, in the form of a delicate white butterfly.

White butterfly's meaning
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Japanese culture, as one example, thought that a butterfly was the physical embodiment of a soul traveling from one realm to another.

This is supported by the short lifespan of a butterfly, as though it came into being, as the dead one’s soul. And then dies soon after making it across the great divide.

A white butterfly appearing to a person shortly after the death of a loved one should perk that person up and reassure them.

White butterfly's meaning
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If the person is properly informed, he or she will know the symbolic and spiritual meaning of this color of butterfly.

Because it is so associated with transformation and rebirth, no matter the person’s religious views, he or she may feel reassured about the safety of their loved one’s soul.

Further, many people intuitively associate white with purity or sinlessness, and may thus feel happy to see this symbol.

White butterfly Idea leuconoe
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White Butterfly’s Meaning for Your Spirituality

A person’s spirituality can be made up of many things: communing with one’s god, clearing one’s mind or trying to perfect one’s thoughts, trying to learn a true reality, or trying to find the right morality to live by.

According to the mythology and belief systems of many cultures that have been built up over the centuries, when you see a white butterfly, you are being told that you are a spiritual being.

Your calling is to embark on spiritual improvement; the butterfly, with its clarity and purity, shows you that now is an optimum time to start some efforts to perfect your spirituality.

White butterfly's meaning
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Coping with Problems

Because there’s such a big difference between the appearance of a butterfly and the caterpillar it previously had been, the butterfly is a symbol of great change and achievements.

Therefore, say you’re suffering some rough times in your life, a white butterfly landing near you serves as an indicator that you’ll be able to make the transformation and overcome these times.

White butterflies
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Changes in Life

Just because a certain element of nature can symbolize the spiritual world and the passage into the afterlife doesn’t mean it has nothing to say of a person’s life here on Earth.

The idea is that butterflies are messengers of sorts, and there are all sorts of messages that are relevant to our human lives.

A white butterfly sighting may be an alert to big life changes on the way.

Now, this doesn’t have to mean a curveball that life throws at you or something that comes as a big shock.

In fact, it can definitely be something that you initiate, such as an improvement in your career life or an improvement in your health or your intellectual life.

But you may not be on the alert for an opportunity for these things, and that is how the white butterfly may be used as a symbol.

White butterfly
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A White Butterfly’s Meaning: Healing

As we’ve learned, one major symbolism of butterflies is serenity. This is a state of calm or clarity, including a lack of anxiety.

If a person is going through grief after the loss of a loved one or if you’re struggling with any other emotional pain, it is difficult to heal without first achieving a peace of mind.

Now, it’s true that the healing itself will be the experience that leads to true and real serenity.

However, it’s probably best to use a two-step process in which one does the best possible to clear one’s mind and achieve as much serenity as possible to then think things through in a way that will cleanse the heart.

White butterfly's meaning
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Here are some situations in which the butterfly’s presence may be a herald of much-needed healing:

The death of a loved one

While a black butterfly contains a lot of symbolism pertaining to death, the white butterfly’s meaning specifically is that the spirit of a dearly-departed one is nearby.

This can alleviate the pain of the loss and stop a person from feeling abandoned or alone.

Also, when a white butterfly lands near a grieving person, it can remind the person of their loved one being in the “better place” that accords with their beliefs.

It can be only too easy to think of the departed one only as an emptiness or a loss for us, rather than remembering that they are, as per the the meaning of white butterflies, experiencing eternal peace.

White butterfly
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Physical healing

No one likes an illness, and sometimes it seems we’ll never get back to normal again.

The white butterfly symbolizes our return to better health. After all, the caterpillar liquefies before making its final, glorious transformation into the butterfly.

White Butterfly’s Meaning: Forgiveness

Another of the white butterfly’s meaning is that we may heal a relationship with someone else through forgiving them.

This is where an omen spurs us to action. A rift with a person won’t heal itself, and it may take forgiveness on your part, so thank a white butterfly.

White butterflies on blue flowers
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The Presence of an Angel

Sometimes a white butterfly flies in from the spiritual world to give us a message of comfort or hope.

In this way a white butterfly’s meaning can be that our guardian angels are trying to communicate with us.

Angels cannot communicate with humans via traditional means, so they use various media like numbers or even animals.

At this point in time, you may look for other signs that they may be sending you, and you also may figure out what parts of your life may need some changes, particularly your spiritual life, as mentioned above.

White butterfly meaning

White Butterfly’s Meaning in Cultures Around the World

The significance of the white butterfly has been developed all over the world for hundreds of years.

In earlier times, the natural world gave answers to many of life’s mysteries.

Looking at these traditions helps us realize that in the 21st century, it’s still important to honor the natural world.

Here are various mythologies from traditions worldwide that show the white butterfly’s meaning.

White butterfly

White Butterfly’s Meaning in Japan

There is rich mythology and symbolism for the white butterfly in Japanese culture.

One famous tale features Takahama, a recluse whose only acquaintances were his sister and her little son.

Finally, Takahama, a lonely man, met a woman who fell in love with him. Her name was Akiko.

They got engaged, but just days before the wedding she died.

Not long after, Takahama became sick. As things got worse, his sister and her son came to visit him.

They looked after him and tried to comfort him, knowing death was near. But one thing surprised them, a white butterfly sitting on the nightstand by his bed.

Sadly, Takahama died. The butterfly took wing and began to fly, and while the sister stayed by her brother’s bed, the little boy ran to follow the butterfly.

White butterfly embossed
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It led him to a cemetery and to a gravestone with the name Akiko.

After Akiko had died, Takahama brought flowers to her grave every single day.

When he didn’t one day, Akiko needed to find out why, so her soul took the form of a butterfly and flew to his home, where she found him in bed, ill.

So, she sat on his nightstand until the end of his life.

From this, we get the modern-day meaning of the white butterfly as the physical form of a soul; there is much innocence and purity in the story, too, with lovers sacrificing for each other and remaining true.

Native American Cultures

Although there are legions of Native American tribes, a standard meaning of the white butterfly spreads its wings over Native American cultures generally.

They have long believed that white butterflies carry dreams on their wings.

White butterfly's meaning

Further, if you see a white butterfly in your dreams, it means good luck and positive developments on the horizon.

It can also mean to watch for forthcoming signs and opportunities.


The religion of Islam, whose adherents are called Muslims, is prominent in multiple continents and many countries.

In this religion the white butterfly has a lot to say to you about your own spiritual journey.

One of the things it most powerfully symbolizes is a journey, and this can be a spiritual journey.

As a variation, in the Islamic tradition, if a white butterfly crosses before you, it can mean a journey to a new phase of life, one that is not necessarily spiritual.

It can be a journey like one of the several we’ve described above, such as one in a career, romantic relationship, etc.

yellow butterfly


Traditional Chinese folkways have taught people that the white butterfly is a spirit animal in the traditional sense, that it delivers souls to the afterlife.

In this way, a white butterfly flying near you is a message of great comfort, telling you that your loved one is in a good place for eternity, and that your life will be fine in spite of your loss.


Irish traditions look at butterflies a bit differently from how some others do, but there is some overlap.

People actually feared butterflies five and six hundred years ago, since they thought they carried the souls of dead children.

For that very reason, killing a butterfly was illegal in Ireland until 1600.

The Dead White Butterfly’s Meaning

Dead white butterflies have had quite a few associations attached to them, from chastity and purity to transformation.

But the more developed symbolism–the white butterfly’s spiritual symbolism–is that it is delivering a message from the spiritual realm.

A dead white butterfly is reassuring you after the death of a loved one, carrying a message as to the safety of your loved ones in the afterlife.

Further, they may be trying to reassure you as you grieve. Your loved ones would want you to be happy.

White butterfly tattoo
White butterfly tattoo

The White Butterfly Tattoo

Perhaps you want to carry the white butterfly around with you–on your body!

If you do, that symbolism will be hope, new beginnings, a positive future, and purpose.

It is also thought of as a symbol of new love on the way. And even if it’s worn on someone’s arm or back, the white butterfly always remains a symbol of the soul.

Be sure to understand that you may be delivering a person’s loved one to them in this way, and realize that they may feel strong emotions as a result.

However, you may be doing something very special and transcendent for them too.

To Sum

Our ancestors discovered the special nature of the exquisite white butterfly a thousand years ago. And have been building mythologies ever since.

Regardless of culture, people all over the world saw spirits and souls in these pale winged insects.

That is why they’ve long been known as either our loved ones’ souls in physical form or as messengers from beyond.

But white butterflies also mean transformation and a new beginning, as well as communications from angels.

The next time you see a white butterfly flying around, take a long look at it, and consider the mysteries you’re seeing, and those revealed to you.

White Butterfly’s Meaning FAQs

What does it mean when you see a white butterfly?

White butterfly symbolism is various, but most of the white butterfly’s meaning has to do with the souls of your loved ones that have passed on. They are sending you messages of comfort.

Is a white butterfly an angel?

A white butterfly isn’t exactly an angel, but it comes to you with a message from one. This angel’s message is almost always one of hope for the future and a reminder to remain optimistic.

What does it mean when butterflies fly around you?

These creatures give energies of hope and optimism, and generally make a person feel joy. They are also associated with good luck, so hope one flies around you soon.

Are butterflies good luck?

Well, there are many varieties of butterfly, but white butterflies are definitely considered good luck. This is true today and was true in ancient Islamic cultures and in China.