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Butterflies. Fluttery creatures flit across the spectrum of superstition and folklore where every culture’s got its own take. From ancient Egypt to the Native Americans, they’ve got the butterfly pegged as the poster child for the soul. Even the Greeks roped them into their mythos, with Psyche (goddess of the soul) herself sporting a snazzy set of wings.

A caterpillar, cosy in its cocoon, decides one day it’s had enough of being a squishy worm.

So what does it do?

It melts itself down into a gooey soup and emerges as a glorious butterfly.


But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Some folks see butterflies as more than just pretty bugs. Nope, for them, spotting one can feel like a ghostly visitation. Think dead ancestors dropping by for a chat. Back in 17th-century Ireland, offing a white butterfly was practically a crime. It was believed that these ethereal creatures cradled the souls of departed children. So that pained, locked-away feeling stirred and was set free, as they let the messengers flutter on undisturbed.


Their dwindling numbers in Britain and Ireland signal a looming environmental crisis, reflecting the widespread habitat destruction and climate disruption we face. Their life cycles, spanning millions of years, play a crucial role in our ecosystems. Butterflies serve as indicators of ecosystem health, contribute to pollination and pest control.

And they bring joy, don’t they.


Take direct action in response to the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, Save a Sod with Green Sod Ireland. By prioritising conservation efforts, adopting sustainable practices, and minimising harmful activities, we can ensure a brighter future for these creatures—and for ourselves. Find out more here.


And all the colours. Red means big news is on the horizon, and yellow? Well, that’s your cue for a sunny summer ahead. But tread carefully, because where there’s light, there’s always a bit of darkness lurking. Black butterflies? Yeah, those babies can signal both renewal and death. So, next time you spot one flitting by, maybe take a moment to ponder the cosmic significance. Or, you know, just enjoy the show.

Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow brown.

A solace, wingbeats carrying the weight of the unknown, disquieting. And yet, there’s a beauty in the uncertainty, there’s still wonder to be found, maybe.


References :

Sedgwick, I. (2023). Butterflies in folklore: Love, Death and the Soul – Icy Sedgwick. Icy Sedgwick. https://www.icysedgwick.com/butterflies-folklore/ 

Why butterflies matter. (n.d.). Butterfly Conservation. https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/why-butterflies-matter 

Photos by Rory MacCanna: https://www.flickr.com/people/maccannarory/