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A Witch’s Familiar: The Magic of Witches and Butterflies

In the Dark Ages, the wise women became “witches” and the animal guardian spirit was replaced with the witch’s familiar. Today, modern witches love animals and call pets their familiar. But what about the wildlife all around us? How about the butterfly? Butterflies and witches are connected on a deep level. One that’s been almost forgotten…until now.

Folklore of Witches and Butterflies: A Forgotten Connection

Do you know how the butterfly got its name? In the Middle Ages, people thought butterflies were insects who stole butter. This matches to the belief that witches stole their neighbors’ butter. Witches’ souls would appear in the form of the butterfly, which is probably why they were thought to steal butter! Clever witches shapeshifted into butterflies and flew around to do their bidding in disguise. Because of the superstitions surrounding butterflies and witches, butterflies were linked to the Devil. How anyone could think such a lovely creature was the Devil’s helper is beyond me!

According to Jacob Grimm in Teutonic Mythology, when a witch travels at night (astral travel), her spirit comes out of her mouth in the shape of a butterfly. The people of Slovenia believed souls looked like butterflies. The alp, a shapeshifting nightmare bringer of Germanic folklore, was also said to appear as a butterfly or moth. So did the holden of the Furious Host (Wild Hunt) and elves – both creatures connected with witches in the Dark Ages.

Butterfly myths and legends say witches souls were butterflies.

In the Dark Ages, witches souls were butterflies.

Butterfly Myths and Legends

  • In the Ozark mountains in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there were dozens of butterfly myths and legends. If a little girl wanted a new dress, she should catch and chew up the butterfly the color of her desired dress.
  • Never kill a white butterfly or moth as this is the soul’s vehicle after death.
  • When you see a butterfly, this means you have a time of transformation ahead that will lead to happiness.
  • Some Native American tribes believed butterflies were messengers who carried your wishes and prayers to the Heavens. You had to catch the butterfly gently in your hands, whisper your wishes and let it fly away.

Butterflies have had negative connotations. Some butterfly myths and legends said they were the souls of stillborn children. Or they were unbaptized children’s souls. These superstitions no doubt relate to the fear of butterflies being the witch’s familiar in the Dark Ages.

A Witch’s Familiar: Butterfly Magic

Butterflies are pure magic. Have you ever just sat and watched a butterfly flit from flower to flower? Their bodies are as light as the air, and their freedom is inspiring. They are connected to the elements air and earth. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation: they begin as an egg, turn into a caterpillar, cocoon and undergo a huge metamorphosis, then emerge anew as a the butterfly. Butterflies mean rebirth and renewal. If you feel like you’ve come to a dead end, use butterfly magic to transform your life. The butterfly is the perfect witch’s familiar.

Butterflies are beneficial to the environment. They are pollinators – they aid in the pollination of plants, mostly flowers. Those include: lavender, nettles, a few milkweed species, daisy species, and more. Because of the butterfly’s connection with flowers, flower magic can be used in conjunction with butterfly magic.

Daily Butterfly Magic

How do you use butterflies in daily magic? Here are a few suggestions:

  • create a butterfly garden: by planting just a few host plants in your garden, you attract and support the life cycle of butterflies. Even if you only have a balcony or front steps, grow butterfly plants in pots!
  • wear butterflies: wear clothing, jewelry, and hair accessories adorned with butterfly designs. Add these to your wardrobe and wear butterflies on days when your spirit needs lifted.
  • decorate with butterflies: decorate your altar, sacred space, and home with butterflies. Find artwork, candles, and other decor with butterflies to bring butterfly’s magic into daily life.
  • butterfly meditations: meditate on the image of the butterfly as a spiritual guide.

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Butterfly myths and legends, and how the butterfly is a witch's familiar.


  1. Barry

    March 19, 2022 at 4:39 am

    I was in a public telephone box on the street about 7:30am in the morning and all of a sudden about 8 or 9 butterflies magically appeared out of thin air in the phone box and started flying around me and some even landing on me. Can anyone give me some sort of advice on what was going on.

  2. Heidee Barker

    July 28, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    My grandma on my mom’s side was obsessed with butterflies and I got all of her butterfly stuff when she died. Now me and my mom see butterflies everywhere and know it’s grandma checking in.
    Now though it makes me wonder if she too was a witch

  3. Sandra Goforth

    May 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

    It never ceases to amaze me at how magick speaks to our souls. Soon after I answered the call I felt pulled into noticing how absolutely mesmerizing butterflies can be. They’re beautiful as well as graceful and enchanting not yet understanding where my fascination with them was even coming from I started collecting them, almost hoarding them for myself. Now I know this was to be a familiar of mine. When I have turmoil I turn to their peace and beauty, which has yet to let me down.

    1. Laura

      July 28, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      I love this article, thank you!
      I’ve always loved butterflies been drawn to them since a little girl.
      When my father passed in 2014 there was a monarch butterfly that landed on his ball cap at his graveside, and even stayed there as I had to leave, not wanting to.
      Then amazingly I started getting white little butterflies in my yard (never had them before my father passed) I do believe that’s my father coming back to me… I see them all the time still and children know that that’s Papa.
      Love that I just read about the white butterflies WOW, amazing!
      My first tattoo was a butterfly!
      I love butterflies… through my journey as I’m growing spiritually I feel as I’ve became a butterfly through the process of growing.
      You know βœŒπŸΌπŸ’œπŸ¦‹

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