The butterfly and the dragon fly have similar spiritual significance so I am including both in this article.
The butterfly, through it’s metamorphosis from the caterpillar, symbolizes rebirth and the soul. To the Chinese, it symbolizes immortality as well as joy and leisure. To the Japanese, a geisha or a vain woman while a white one is considered a spirit of someone dead. Butterflies are often used in art as symbols for female energy, homosexuality, sensuality, temptation, marriage, death and good luck as well as rebirth and immortality. It is also a symbol of creativity and freedom.
The dragonfly can symbolize swiftness, activity and whirlwinds, but, like the butterfly, it also symbolizes rebirth and immortality. They also symbolize transformation and adaptation. When mating, dragonflies form a heart shape so they are also a symbol of love. They symbolize our ability to transform ourselfs through a spiritual awakening. The dragonfly has a less than friendly reputation historically though. Some old European names for them are “devil’s needle”, “hobgoblin needle” and “water witch”. Some strange tales evolved about dragonflies. In some places, they were believed to be able to sew eyes shut. In others, to puncture your eardrum if they got into your ears. All of these strange tales are untrue. So if you see a dragonfly in an unusual place or setting, it is probably a good symbol meaning luck, transformation, or spiritual awakening.
A final word on butterflies. A lot of people speculate, or just wonder, where the name comes from. The answer is simple. In England, where the english name comes from, the most common butterfly is a small one with pale yellow wings. It also is oddly attracted to the scent of milk. So you can imagine back a hundred years ago, seeing a women out on the porch churning butter in an old wooden butter churn, and several of the yellow insects are fluttering around. So naturally, they got named “butterflies”.