Dreams Carried by Butterflies
from the book, "Our Fascinating Earth"

Book: 
Our Fascinating Earth

Dreams Carried by Butterflies

The most popular insect, because of its natural beauty and lifestyle, is the butterfly. Insect collectors seldom bypass one of the typically beautiful specimens. But where superstitions are concerned, butterflies indicate many things to many people, and the interpretations in different localities are often contradictory. To the superstitious of Louisiana the sudden appearance of a white butterfly, especially if it flies around a particular person in that house, means that good luck will follow. In Maryland the same occurrence forebodes death.

The belief that butterflies play a role in weather prediction is quite ancient and widespread. Some people maintain that any butterfly flying in their face is an indication of immediate cold weather. The Zuni Indians of the American Southwest believe that the sudden appearance of butterflies usually foretells of good weather. They would say, "When the white butterfly comes, comes also the summer," and "When the white butterfly flies from the southwest, expect rain."

Probably the most pleasant butterfly superstition was one common among the Blackfoot Indians. They believed that when persons were asleep, dreams were carried to them by white butterflies. Therefore it was customary for mothers of the tribe to embroider the image of a butterfly on a small piece of buckskin and tie it to their babies' hair to encourage the infants to go to sleep. Simultaneously the mother would sing a lullaby to the child, asking the butterfly to come fly about, put the baby to sleep, and give it pleasant dreams.

This belief probably has its foundation in fact. When a person watches a white butterfly for a length of time, its silent, graceful, rhythmic fluttering motion actually does induce sleep. And not surprisingly, the dreams occurring during this somewhat hypnotic sleep are usually pleasant.