4 Cultural Meanings Of The Dragonfly + Why To Pay Attention To This Critter
Do you see dragonflies all the time? They could be offering you messages about change, transformation, and new beginnings. Here's what to know about dragonfly spiritual meanings and what it may signify if the critter keeps showing up for you—either in real life or in your dreams.
What a dragonfly symbolizes.
"The common metaphysical meaning of a dragonfly is transformation, change, new beginnings, or fresh starts," says Tammy Mastroberte, author of The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs & Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day.
Although this is a common spiritual dragonfly meaning, many cultures have their own interpretations of what this flying insect symbolizes.
The dragonfly is an important symbol in many countries with its significance ranging from representing change, rebirth, happiness, good luck, and financial gain as well as insight.
In some Native American cultures
According to Maggie Wilson, an animal psychic medium and metaphysical expert who was trained by Indigenous leaders, "To some Native Americans, they represent the souls of those who have passed into the realm of the nonphysical."
In Japanese culture
Charlotte Kirsten, M.A., a cultural symbolism expert and founder of Typically Topical, explains, "In Japanese culture, the dragonfly is considered a positive symbol of courage, happiness, and rebirth."
In Chinese culture
In China, this critter has a different meaning. "Dragonflies are directly tied to monetary gain and indicate financial prosperity, good luck, and an improvement in investments," Kirsten says.
There's a tie to feng shui too. "It's believed placing a dragonfly painting or statue in your home or workplace brings about happiness and prosperous new beginnings," Kristen explains.
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In Indian culture
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Transformation is coming.
Born in the water as eggs, dragonflies transform into larvae (commonly referred to as a nymph) before turning into flying insects. How's that for symbolism? According to Amanda Shuman, the owner of Spiral Embrace, transformation is represented as "shedding an old version of yourself to make room for the new."
It's time to move out of your comfort zone.
According to Alyson Charles, author of the Animal Power book and deck, dragonflies encourage us to move in the direction of our soul's calling. If you see one, "You may feel a temporary stretch as you expand outside your comfort zone, but dragonfly will help you release rigidity so that you can be more flexible, open, and adaptable," she writes in her deck.
Take a leap of faith.
The dragonfly may also be encouraging you to say yes to opportunities. "Spiritually, the dragonfly encourages you to jump on any promising opportunity that comes your way, as it might not come around again," explains Kirsten. "The spiritual message here is to seize the day, be grateful for what you have, and take that all-important leap of faith when you feel the calling to do so."
Connect with your emotions.
If you've been holding in a lot of emotions or haven't given yourself time or space to process what you're feeling, seeing a dragonfly could be telling you to honor your emotional state.
"Dragonfly symbolizes a change in your scene—like you need some fresh air in regards to something that is emotionally triggering you," says Wilson. "They can also tell you whether you're neglecting your emotions."
A loved one wants to communicate with you.
Some spiritual seekers believe that loved ones who have passed away send us signs through animals, including the dragonfly.
"Seeing dragonflies alive or as decorations is symbolic of a loved one who has passed on from this earth," says Shuman. "They are sending messages to you to help you feel loved and find an answer you may be searching for."
She suggests jotting down notes when you see dragonflies to help you better understand what they may mean.
Don't believe all that you see.
Another dragonfly spiritual meaning is about illusion and what we perceive to be true. "Life is never as it appears, and dragonfly symbolism can help us remember to see through the illusions/colors and let our own light shine forward," says Wilson.
If they're appearing in your dreams.
Sometimes dragonflies may make an appearance in your dream. The next time this happens, take note of how you felt in the dream. "If you feel peaceful and serene, the dream will always have a positive meaning and connotation," explains Kirsten. "If you felt anxious or scared at first encounter, it could represent a disturbance to your natural emotional state in your waking life."
Dreams often provide a lot of information, so take time to reflect on the details of yours—and maybe jot them down in a dream journal. For example, colors in a dream can provide intel. "There are many species of dragonfly and many colors; most commonly they are green, blue, and red," says Shuman.
To help with dream interpretation, Shuman poses some questions to reflect on: "Is it a 'normal' color for a dragonfly, or is it odd or strange? Does it bring up a feeling? The relationship of the color to the dragonfly will help you understand the symbol at a deeper level."
What to do if you keep seeing dragonflies.
Animal messages can help guide us—as long as we're receptive enough to really observe and integrate them.
According to Mastroberte, at the end of the day, continually seeing a dragonfly should serve as a source of comfort. "[The Universe] is trying to tell you that if you are struggling right now because transformation and change are not always easy, in the end, it will all be worth it and you will be in a better place," she says.
If dragonfly symbolism resonates with you, Charles also offers up a chant to say aloud the next time you see this critter, "Dear dragonfly, I call on you to reveal whether a new direction is best. I will heed your guidance, and I ask that you empower me with graceful adaptability so that I may step into my truth with ease."
Animals and insects can come into our lives as a way to share messages or wisdom. Like butterflies, dragonflies help guide us in finding comfort in discomfort, navigating transformation, and seizing opportunities that could prove life-changing.
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Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about gardening, food, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has been published in Allrecipes, Greatist, The Healthy, The Kitchn and more.
When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time in her garden, experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen, or spending time by the ocean. See her portfolio on her website.