What Does a White Butterfly Mean?
All-white walls may seem blank and sterile, but seeing a white butterfly in your garden doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact, a white butterfly, like a cabbage white or a checkered white, is likely to stand out from its surroundings and be pleasing to your eye. When you see such a striking sight, it makes sense to wonder what that white butterfly might symbolize for you.
Religious Meanings of White
The color white has long been a deeply meaningful color for many religions. In ancient Rome, priestesses dressed in white linen to show their purity and loyalty, and over time Christianity borrowed both this color and its meanings.
In Catholicism today, white is worn by the Pope and used explicitly to refer to purity and innocence, as well as virginity and birth or rebirth. Not surprisingly, it is therefore the liturgical color used for Christmas and Easter, while the lamb of God is nearly always a white lamb. In Islam, white is also known as a pure color and is often worn for Friday prayers. It is worn by Shinto priests as well, with similar associations.
White’s Associations with the Afterlife
What butterfly symbolizes death? It may very well be a white one. White brings up the idea of angels wearing white in a heaven of white clouds. In a number of Hollywood movies, a completely white room is used to suggest the idea of the afterlife.
On a more serious note, in Eastern cultures, white is traditionally linked to mourning and funerals. It was also a mourning color in Western cultures in medieval times and well into the 1800s. Many paintings of royalty from across the centuries show figureheads wearing white in mourning.
White’s Sense of Innocence and Cleanliness
In the Victorian era, white became the popular bridal color that it remains today. It was used to suggest the bride’s innocence, goodness, and perfection.
Similarly, white is a childlike color — it is used for christenings, was historically popular for children’s clothes (because it was easily bleached), and continues to have appealing simplicity as a fashion choice.
Perhaps because of these connotations, white has been considered the color of cleanliness, both literally and figuratively — hence the idea of meticulously clean and careful “white glove” service.
Interpreting Your White Butterfly
If you see a white butterfly, you might consider a number of potential meanings. Consider spiritual or religious possibilities, particularly if you are looking out for a visit from an angel. The idea of spiritual rebirth may also be meaningful to you.
Similarly, your white butterfly could symbolize a new start. It may be time to look at the world with a bit more childlike innocence, or perhaps with the hopefulness of a new bride. You’re being given a clean slate, and it’s up to you what to do with it.
Think, too, about the “white flag of surrender.” Seeing the butterfly may suggest that it’s time to surrender a fight you’ve been having, whether internal or external, and find a way to achieve peace.