Butterfly in Slavic tradition – part 1

The ancient Slavs believed that butterflies and moths are associated with the “other world” and are the embodiment of the soul. In Poland and southern Russia, they were seen as people’s ancestors in a different form. So when butterflies circled around the flame of a candle, it was customary to remember the dead, pray and call their names. It was also forbidden to harm butterflies. The Kurpeys (Kurpie) in Mazovia were saying: “Nie bij ćmy: śkody ci nie zrobi, a moze to twój dziadek, a moze nieboscyk ociec” (Don’t kill the butterfly – it won’t hurt you, and maybe it’s your grandfather or deceased father). The southern Slavs would ask a butterfly for rain during a drought, believing that it “flies near God and can ask for rain.”

There are many signs associated with butterflies. Among the Eastern and Southern Slavs, if the first butterflies of the year were white, this promised milk and rain, red – honey and drought. Among the Western Slavs, a white butterfly usually signified death, a red one – life. The Belarusians of Vitebsk region predicted the height of flax crops by the flight altitude of the first butterflies.

What omens associated with butterflies do you know?

To be continued…