Butterflies fall under the broad category for me of “bugs”, or those creatures that are icky and bug-ish that I dislike. Now, they aren’t as bad as spiders (I’m severely arachnophobia, as in, I have a full-blown panic attack if anyone even mentions the damned things around me, or even jokes about them being in a room), but I don’t like bugs or insects at all. Insects bother me. Flying ones, crawling ones, walking ones, squirming ones…they all bother me. I don’t even like butterflies. Even though people say I should, since they’re, and I quote “pretty”.
But, even if they are “pretty” bugs/insects/whatever the technical term is, I don’t like them. I never have. Butterflies remind me of moths, and moths remind me of mothballs, and mothballs remind me of dust, and dust collects in webs, and webs are spider webs. And word-associations of any kind with insects lead me inevitably to spiders. Ugh.
Sorry, that got me off-track. Now back on topic again. 🙂
I remember reading somewhere, when I began researching mythology and folklore creatures, that in eastern Europe they thought something different about souls than in western Europe. I was reading about vampires in folklore, and the forms they could take. Of course, I had been reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Dracula, the great vampire of the night, took the form of a bat, a wolf, a mist in the night. And Stoker did do research into superstition and folklore of different regions of Europe when writing his book. I mean, the garlic, the iron stakes, the cutting off the heads of the dead…that isn’t all hokum that he made up off the top of his head. Nor are the times of day of power, or the strengths of the vampire, Dracula. The mythology and powers, the legends of the vampire that he attributes to Dracula, his brides, and the vampire lore within Dracula are all rather correct, so Stoker did do at least some research into traditional stereotypes of the time before he put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.
But I remember reading somewhere that in eastern Europe they believed that it was a different form that “vampires” took in eastern Europe. I believe that it was an article or a book I was reading, said that vampires could take the form of a butterfly in Slavic regions/cultures & folklore, because of something to do with wandering human souls after death. And legends in different regions of Europe differed quite vastly, depending on where one came from. The problem is, I was 7 when I read Dracula, and at 7 I took no real interest in writing down the books or articles names or authors that I was reading all this stuff from. Because, it was all just curiosity. I wasn’t really interested in all the background information about the superstitions, just that there had been research, or even interesting superstitions and cultural traditions that had given Stoker his ideas was interesting enough for me.
So now, 10+ years later, I’m not sure if I’m making up this whole butterflies as an imagining of the dead soul thing or not. Because I can’t find anything academic to confirm my remembering of the reading or not.
But, it always has stuck for me. And so now, years later, I can’t help but imagine that butterflies are souls. Not that every physical butterfly is a soul, that would be beyond insane in my worldview. But…it’s kind of a symbolic thing for me. I can see butterflies as human souls symbolically, more so than I can really see a wolf or a bat as being one after death. I can’t really explain why, there’s no genuine reason, or explainable edge as to why, it just seems to make more sense to me, and it has ever since I read Dracula. Which also sounds awful. Because then it sounds like I say that I think butterflies can represent the human soul because I remember reading it while researching the fictional novel written by Stoker, and it came up that way. And of course, it has some potential ties to vampire folklore. So all the mystical woo-woo factor comes out for that too.
None of that really matters to me.
See, I don’t believe in vampires as such. Never have. Sure, when I was little, I wanted Dracula to be real, because I really wanted my favorite novel to be true (what kid doesn’t? I wanted Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to be true too). I wanted Harker, van Helsing, Seward, Mina, Quincey and the lot of them to have “rid” the world of his evil. Though that’s an issue in and of itself depending on how you read the Victorian-era novel, but that’s really another blog post. In any case, I never really believed that vampires truly existed.
So I don’t really connect vampires with butterfly-transformation. I connect perhaps butterflies as a potential symbol of the human soul, and perhaps that connects due to an initial reading of Dracula and critiques of Stoker’s research or whatever. Something just kind of stuck in my head back then, telling me that it was correct, that I was right to have the association. It’s stuck with me, and it’s always been right and correct for me to view things this way. I suppose that’s my UPG on butterflies and souls. Because it’s totally unverifiable and I know that it isn’t really a normal thing to have as a connection, but it’s always been stuck in my head, that little voice that tells me I’m right to see it this way.
Always fun when something I dislike (bugs/butterflies) gets attached to something I happen to like (souls).∗