Butterflies & Moths

October 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

“Among the ancients, an emblem of the soul and of unconscious attraction towards the light. The purification of the soul by fire, represented in Romanesque art by the burning ember placed by the angel in the prophet’s mouth, is visually portrayed on a small Mattei urn by means of an image of love holding a butterfly close to a flame. The Angel of Death was represented by the Gnostics as a winged foot crushing a butterfly, from which we may deduce that the butterfly was equated with life rather than with the soul in the sense of the spirit or transcendent being. This also explains why psychoanalysis regards the butterfly as a symbol of rebirth. In China, it has the secondary meanings of joy and conjugal bliss.”

– J.E. Cirlot

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