The following are a few versions of the legend
According to an American Indian Legend:
If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.
Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all.
In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.
So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.
Another Version of the American Indian Butterfly Legend
As a gift to His human children, the Great Spirit created butterflies. He took black from the maiden's hair, yellow from the warm summer sun, and blues from the lake and sky. Once he gathered the most beautiful of colors, He made them into butterflies.
If you want a special wish to come true, capture a butterfly and whisper your heart's desire to it. Since butterflies make no sound, they cannot tell the wish to anyone but Him. Being so colorful, the butterflies will easily be seen and the heart's prayers quickly answered.
By making a wish and releasing the butterfly, it will be taken on the wings of love to the heavens and granted. Softly whisper your wish for their eternal love and bliss, then carefully release and free the beautiful creature.
The Shoshone "Ladies Fancy Shawl Dance" Butterfly Legend
Many, many years ago when the Earth was still quite new, there was a beautiful butterfly who lost her mate in battle. To show her grief, she took off her beautiful wings and wrapped herself in a drab cocoon. In her sadness, she could not eat and she could not sleep and her relatives kept coming to her lodge to see if she was okay.
Of course she wasn't, but she didn't want to be a burden on her people so she packed up her wings and her medicine bundle and took off on a long journey. She wandered about for many days and months, until finally she had gone all around the world.
On her journey she kept her eyes downcast and stepped on each stone she came to as she crossed fields and creeks and streams. Finally, one day as she was looking down, she happened to notice the stone beneath her feet, and it was so beautiful that it healed her sorrow.
She then cast aside her cocoon, shook the dust from her wings, and donned them once more. She was so happy she began to dance to give thanks for another chance to begin her life anew. Then she went home and told The People about her long journey and how it had healed her.
To this day,The People dance this dance as an expression of renewal, and to give thanks for new seasons, new life, and new beginnings.
The shawl in the Fancy Shawl Dance represents the butterfly's wings, the fancy steps and twirls represent the butterfly's style of flight. This is another reason you will sometimes hear the Fancy Shawl Competition Dance referred to as " the butterfly dance."
The Papago American Indian Butterfly Legend
One day the Creator was resting, sitting, watching some children playing in a village. The children laughed and sang, yet as he watched them, the Creator's heart was sad. He was thinking: "These children will grow old. Their skin will become wrinkled. Their hair will turn gray. Their teeth will fall out. The young hunters arm will fail. The lovely young girls will grow ugly and fat. The playful puppies will become blind, mangy dogs. And those wonderful flowers - yellow, red, blue, and purple - will fade. The leaves from the trees will fall and dry up. Already they are turning yellow." Thus the Creator grew sadder and sadder. It was in the Fall, and the thought of the coming winter, with its cold and lack of game and green things, made his heart heavy.
Yet it was still warm and the sun was shining. The Creator watched the play of sunlight and shadow on the ground, the yellow leaves being carried here and there by the wind. He saw the blueness of the sky, the whiteness of some cornmeal ground by the women. Suddenly he smiled. "All those colors, they ought to be preserved. I'll make something to gladden my heart, something for these children to look at and enjoy."
The Creator took out his bag and started gathering things: a spot of sunlight, a handful of blue from the sky, the whiteness of the cornmeal, the shadow of playing children, the blackness of a beautiful girls hair, the yellow of the falling leaves, the green of the pine needles, the red , purple, and orange of the flowers around him. All these he put into his bag. As an afterthought, he put the songs of the birds in too.
Then he walked over to the grassy spot where the children were playing. "Children, little children, this is for you," and he gave them his bag. "Open it; there is something nice inside," he told them. The children opened the bag, and at once hundreds and hundreds of colored butterflies flew out, dancing around the children's heads, settling on their hair, fluttering up again to sip from this or that flower. And the children, enchanted, said that they had never seen anything so beautiful. The butterflies began to sing and the children listened smiling.
But then a songbird came flying, settling on the creators shoulder, scolding him, saying: "It's not right to give our song to these new, pretty things. You told us when you made us that every bird would have his own song. And now you've passed them all around. Isn't it enough that you gave them all the colors of the rainbow?"
"You're right," said the Creator. "I made one song for each bird, and I shouldn't have taken what belongs to you." So the Creator took the songs away from the butterflies, and that's why they are silent. "They are beautiful even so!" he said.
May the morning sun carress you,
The rains of change refresh you,
And the gentle breeze of His Spirit
Lift the wings of your transformation.
by Richard D. Breen, copyright 2003
Dedicated to my mother, Frances F. Breen, 81
A selection of butterfly quotations
researched by Jacqui Knight
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
Butterflies are self propelled flowers. ~R.H. Heinlein
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown
The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the
publicity. ~Attributed to George Carlin
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a
butterfly. ~Richard Bach
But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
~Robert Frost, "Blue-Butterfly Day"
I saw a poet chase a butterfly in a meadow. He put his net on a bench
where a boy sat reading a book. It's a misfortune that it is usually
the other way round. ~Karl Kraus
The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable,
butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a
little sunshine. ~Jeffrey Glassberg
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your
grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a
butterfly. ~Richard Buckminster Fuller
They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a
butterfly in the winter woods. ~Edith Wharton
With the rose the butterfly's deep in love,
A thousand times hovering round;
But round himself, all tender like gold,
The sun's sweet ray is hovering found.
~Heinrich Heine, "New Spring"
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have
sunshine, freedom and a little flower." ~Hans Christian Anderson
Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and it pleases
wherever it goes. ~Author Unknown
I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"
I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. ~Charles Dickens
And what's a butterfly? At best,
He's but a caterpillar, at rest.
Flowers and butterflies drift in color, illuminating spring. ~Author
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
This great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.
~William Butler Yeats, "Another Song of a Fool"
Poem for a Memorial or Funeral release:
As you release this butterfly in honour of me,
know that I'm with you and will always be.
Hold a hand, say a prayer,
close your eyes and see me there.
Although you may feel a bit torn apart,
please know that I'll be forever in your heart.
Now fly away butterfly as high as you can go,
I'm right there with you more than you know.
By Jill Haley