When one pictures a vampire, a fearsome being of death, they do not imagine a butterfly beautifully fluttering through the wind. That’s just absurd, right? Well, amazingly enough, many years ago when superstition ruled, people did pictures horrific vampires when seeing a butterfly.
Since even ancient times, the butterfly has been a creature associated with death and the undead. This is perhaps due to the transformation of a butterfly. The process from caterpillar to butterfly surely must have enthralled many ancient cultures, who regarded it as a symbol of a soul’s journey from an earthly body to a heavenly body. In ancient artwork, the Greeks often painted the wings of a butterfly to symbolize the human soul. And in Japanese history, the butterfly is a representation of good, a symbol of the souls of the dead. It was also a messenger of the underworld, carrying into the next life the spirits of the dead.
Among the Slavs, and in the Balkans, it was believed that the soul took the form of a butterfly right at the point of death. Not only that, but it was also thought that a vampire could transform into a butterfly. It was said that if a butterfly appeared once a corpse was staked it was actually the vampire attempting to escape destruction. Every effort was then made to capture the butterfly and burn it in a fire. If it was not caught it was believed that the vampire would return to the village to prey upon the innocent once more.
In parts of Asia there are also myths of vampires transforming into butterflies, the belief probably originated from tales about a blood-sucking moth from Malaysia. There are also legends of vampires turning into butterflies in Serbia as well.
As you can see, even something as lovely and nonthreatening as a butterfly is part of the vast world of the undead.