The symbology of the cocoon and the butterfly

Have you ever noticed a particular sign or symbol stalking you – just waiting for you to understand its message?

These two symbols – the cocoon and the butterfly – have been everywhere recently. They pop up when I meditate, come up in random image searches, even in other people’s branding! And while I think I know what they are telling me, I also know that they are a powerful symbol for the collective, because they tie in so well with the theme of October’s Tarot reading.

The cocoon is such a potent symbol that speaks to so many different layers. At one level, the cocoon is about wanting to feel comforted and safe…it’s about withdrawing from harshness, putting up walls around your tender heart hoping that it will keep you safe.

It’s also about transformation – the caterpillar, when it weaves those silken threads around itself, literally breaks apart, becoming a pulpy, mushy soup. And slowly, from that soup that was once a caterpillar, emerges a beautiful butterfly.

There’s so much richness in this symbology of breaking apart to be transformed.

And there’s even more richness in the symbology of these two images together – the cocoon and the butterfly.

If you happen to see a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, it looks a little bit scary. You may be tempted to help it, to cut open the cocoon so it can fly free. But if you do that, the butterfly will never be able to fly because its wings wouldn’t have formed fully! It needs to emerge from that cocoon in its own time so that it can then spread its wings and gently fly away.

This speaks so eloquently to the importance of working through things in our own time. We can most certainly reach out for support, guidance, help, and healing, but if we try to rush the process, if we keep brushing our emotions under the carpet, they will eventually come up, often in ugly ways, demanding our attention and resolution.

The symbology of the cocoon and the butterfly, at its core, is one of death and rebirth. Click To Tweet

It’s of potent transformation…of finding our wings…of knowing that when we put in the work, we will fly again…and of being open to allowing it to take as much time as it needs to take {while being mindful that we don’t fall into apathy, numbness, and passivity}.

So I invite you – if it feels right for you at this time – to sit with these symbols, with this message, and see what comes up. And if you feel the need for some support, I invite you to book an online Tarot reading with me.

Before you go, tell me this: Did these two symbols stir something up for you? Or maybe you have some other symbols that keep coming up for you? Do share with me in the comments!

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.

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I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. Such an interesting read, Shinjini. We are noticing a particular sign and we want to know the meaning of it. We always see a family shifting their house in a vehicle whether big or small while we travel. This we see almost in all our travels. Could you predict the symbology behind this?

  2. In my previous job, I once found a dead butterfly on my desk on the first day of my joining the job. The poor guy fluttered around a bit, then fell on my desk, and died there slowly. I wondered why it happened on my first day at the job and googled about the significance of seeing a butterfly. I learned that butterflies are symbols of a new change or transformation in our lives. That information reassured me. I actually preserved the butterfly and had it framed. I still have it with me as a memory of all the new positive changes I can hope in life.
    It was interesting to note your perspective on the cocoon and butterfly relationship. One needs to be patient to let the process happen at its own pace.

  3. It’s intersting you write this post Shinjini. The other day my 19 year old chanced upon this stunning blue butterfly that lay dead on a cafe terrace, in a crowded market place like Khan market. It was such an incredible beauty to behold. She has preserved it in her diary. And yes I did tell her, this gentle creature portends a sign from the angels. A sign of good things to come. Your post reiterated that. Thank you.
    I’m a big fan of butterflies and have seen them transit from hungry caterpillars, to the uglu pupae and butterfly, as a kid.


  4. This was thought provoking. Loved the analogy you drew about the cocoon and the butterfly taking its time to emerge and fly away. So true about the right time for things which seem delayed but you realise in hindsight there was a reason to it

  5. This was quite interesting. I loved how the cocoon and butterfly as symbols can depict so much. At times, we can find solace in the most mundane things. We just have to look around.

  6. You know Sinjini i always looked for meaning to certain things that happen on life all of a sudden and to be honest it gets difficult if I am not able to figure out what the symbol meant. Lovely post.
    Also o couldn’t reply to your mail earlier because I was travelling, will do it right now. Thank you for guiding me…

  7. Butterfly is one of my Guides… I love your correlation between the cocoon, the butterfly, death, and rebirth. Butterfly is a strong symbol for me of my own personal transformation. Started many years ago and is still happening. I guess I’m in the ugly pupae stage LOL.

  8. Coincidentally I was checking a video today on how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly and now this post. Some kind of an indication. But I get positive vibes from this. Transformation and living both the lives wonderfully is something which I see.

  9. It’s not so much symbols as numbers that seem appropriate to me, and stubbornly reappearing! Saying that, the butterfly and cocoon are very apt for me at the moment so I was obviously supposed to read your blog! I recently read about the Age of Aquarius and transformation. Fascinating! #mg

  10. Hi! I know this comment comes far past the publish date of this blog, but I went looking for cocoon symbolism today after unknowingly parking next to a bunch of evergreen bushes **absolutely covered** in bag worm moth cocoons! Like, hundreds. I’ve parked next to these bushes several times before—they’re at the gas station I frequent for morning coffee and breakfast, and I park out of the way of the gas station traffic flow to eat and drink in peace. And this is the first time I’ve seen (or noticed) any cocoons on them. So anyway, I’m a little freaked out. If anyone would care to give me some interpretation for this experience, I’d be most grateful.

    • That’s so amazing! Is there any area of your life where you’re feeling stuck or fearful? This could signal its time for you to surrender to the process and allow for / make changes. Hope this helps!

  11. I asked my guides to send me a sign in my dreams, and while I had quite a few dreams last night the only thing I can remember is watching a butterfly go from a chrysalis to a beautiful butterfly. I woke up this morning and all I could think of was the chrysalis, which led me to you. Your explanation fits perfectly in my current stage of spiritual development. I’m always in a rush to learn and I want to know everything right now. I feel like this is just another way of them telling me to be patient but keep doing what I’m doing.
    Thank you 💜✨🦋

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