Monarch Butterfly Meaning and Symbolism

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The monarch butterfly features heavily in the symbolism of Mystical Spiritual Pathfinder, initially chosen almost at random, to reflect the strength of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly and symbolising the growth that a person goes through during a spiritual awakening. That post was written nearly two years ago and until recently we hadn’t actually investigated what is the spiritual meaning of a monarch butterfly. Today, we’re going to look into it, and as we do so we are once again reminded that there are no such things as coincidence in the universe.

spiritual meaning of monarch butterfly featured image

The Spiritual Meaning of Monarch Butterfly

Spiritual Meaning Of A Dead Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies, as we’ll see later on, are highly symbolic of the dead and the spirits of the dead. This is because they themselves go through a life and death cycle on their migration pattern. As we’ll see later, the Monarch butterfly is a creature whose lifetime journey encompasses death. And not just death for deaths sake, but death which comes without fully completing the journey in one lifetime.

So seeing a dead Monarch butterfly can be spiritually significant and can show you that you are soon to embark on a new leg of your own spiritual journey and that you may have to put old lifestyle choices behind you to do it.

Spiritual Meaning of Monarch Butterfly Landing On You

This is a strong blessing to have a Monarch butterfly land on you because it happens so rarely. If it does, you ought to pay attention. This can be a sign that you are on the right path, heading in the right direction. The Monarch’s association with death shouldn’t be feared when it lands on you, because they don’t fear death but recognise it’s part of the journey. But you should pay attention to any other synchronicities in your life and remind yourself to be grateful for everything you have.

Meaning Of Monarch Butterfly Following You Spiritually

This can mean that the Monarch butterfly is using you as a guiding light. Your spiritual light is shining brightly and you may be a good leader for others to follow too. A Monarch butterfly following you can indicate that if you’re considering a new path involving starting a business or leading others in the world that now might be the time.

Monarch Butterflies Symbolise Spiritual Struggle

Painting of Monarch Butterfly emerging from chrysalis
Painting of Monarch Butterfly emerging from chrysalis

As we’ve outlined in the six stages of spiritual awakening, the human spiritual awakening process is somewhat similar to the lifecycle of a butterfly. Of particular relevance in that symbolism is the transformation from a caterpillar to the butterfly, as this is the time when the caterpillar undergoes extensive transformation. Transformation that is difficult to bear. And the exit from the cocoon takes significant struggle, energy and patience to achieve.

But if the butterfly doesn’t go through that struggle, its wings never develop properly and it can’t fly. This leaves it unable to live the life it was intended and so it dies. The symbolism and parallel between the human spiritual evolution and the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis is hard to ignore.

The Spiritual Evolution Mimic By The Monarch

For the Monarch butterfly struggle and endurance doesn’t end there though. Once they are transformed, they spend some time in the area from which they emerged, but then in the fall, as the weather begins to cool, they embark on a journey. They migrate from the colder winter of the northern US and Canadian areas to warmer climes in the mountains of Mexico. This in itself is not so remarkable perhaps, since birds and other animals do this regularly too.

But unlike other animals, the Monarch butterflies make this journey only in one direction. They will not return to their US and Canadian homes after the winter – only making it as far back as Texas. Once in Texas they will mate and lay eggs. You might think that these eggs hatch into caterpillars, which then turn into Monarch butterflies who fly back to the Northern US and Canada, but no. The eggs do hatch and the caterpillars turn into Monarch’s but those butterflies themselves only fly a few more hundred miles further North, before they mate, lay eggs and so on.

It can take up to five generations of Monarch butterfly to complete the round trip from Northern Canada, down to Mexico and then back up to Northern Canada. But it gets even better from a monarch butterfly spiritual meaning point of view because each generation on the way North only lives for approx. 5-7 weeks. But the generation who breed in Canada and the Northern USA are a ‘super generation’ who can make the entire journey back to Mexico in one go. Nobody knows why this generation live so much longer than the previous generations but they do.

From a spiritual point of view therefore, the generations who are migrating North from Mexico do so knowing they will never make it. But they do it anyway for the good of the species. They drive forward, not knowing how far they will go, or indeed perhaps even where they are going. But they know they have to go.

This mimics our spiritual journey as we move forward, not knowing where we’re going but trusting the process will ultimately evolve us to where we need to be. We build on our previous incarnation lifetimes wisdom and knowledge in each new re-incarnation. And we build on previous generations successes and wisdom in this time.

Monarch Butterflies Can Indicate The Presence Of Spirits

Not much is known about the navigation process of the Monarch butterfly as it migrates to and from Mexico. At the moment it is believed they are tuned to follow the light and magnetic fields of the earth, so as it becomes darker in the North, they travel South. As it becomes darker in the South they return to the North.

Monarch butterflies also have significant cultural symbolism with the dead, since many Monarchs will die during their migration pattern, without ever reaching the end goal.

Thus, it is believed in many cultures that Monarchs, being attracted by light sources, can see or detect spirit presence and will fly to investigate. Many people also believe that Monarch butterflies appear at times of passing of loved ones or when deceased loved one’s are trying to attract attention through ringing of doorbells or knocking sounds that appear to come from nowhere.

If you have heard unexplained noises, or have a feeling that someone may be trying to attract your attention from the other side, and you see Monarch butterflies in the same area, this is a strong correlation and you may want to consider speaking with a medium or some other method for discovering who is trying to contact you and what they would like to say.

Multicultural Symbolism Of Monarch Butterfly

Many cultures revere the monarch butterfly from a spiritual point of view and give the monarch butterfly spiritual meaning. The native American culture features butterflies in various different ways. The Hopi Kachina dolls that are given as presents to each other and symbolise the hope of good health and future abundance and they have a Monarch butterfly painted on them.

The Hopi people also engage in a Butterfly dance which they believe helps them to attain good health, long life and even rain.

Christianity uses butterfly symbolism to represent rebirth – fitting as the caterpillar is reborn into a butterfly.

Because of the migration pattern of the Monarchs, Mexico has a special relationship with them. The Monarchs arrive at the same time as the Mexican “Dia de Muertos” or Day Of The Dead. During this time, from October 31st to November 2nd, many people will also dress as Monarch butterflies and the Mexicans believe the Monarchs are the returning spirits of their ancestors and people whom they’ve lost during the year.

The ancient Aztec culture believed that souls do not die but lived on in the underworld awaiting a time to be able to re-visit loved ones. They regarded the Monarch butterfly as souls that left the earth previously and will once again return at a later date.


Monarch butterflies are a strong spiritual indicator that you are about to undergo change in your life – usually for the better. Their close association and strong symbolism with death should not alarm you. Death comes in many forms, from, physically dying of course, through to new ways of life and letting go of old ways.

The Monarch butterfly is revered by many many cultures around the world. It’s symbolic of struggle, growth, rebirth and overcoming suffering to be what you were born to be.

Of course, as with everything symbolic and mystical, the monarch butterfly spiritual meaning has to be taken in context of whatever it is you’re asking the universe for right now and the situation you’re presently in with your spiritual journey.

But hopefully from this you can see that the Monarch butterfly is a majestic creature and it’s presence, either physically or in your dreams, is a good sign.

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