Legends of Bugs

Because of the beauty, power of flight, and complete metamorphosis found in butterflies and moths, these insects frequently are found in Native American myths. In the belief held by the Blackfeet that dreams are brought to us in our sleep by a butterfly. Their sign for a butterfly was a design roughly in the shape of a maltese cross with one arm horizontal and the other vertical.

It  was also the custom for a Blackfoot woman to embroider the sign of a butterfly on a small piece of buckskin and tie this in her baby’s hair when she wishes it to go to sleep. At the same time, she sings to the child a lullaby in which the butterfly is asked to come flying about and put the child to sleep. The Blackfeet believed that the butterfly is soft, pretty and moves gently and that if you look at it for a long time you will go to sleep.

The sheer beauty of many butterflies is explained in a legend of the Papago. According to this myth, the creator felt sorry for the children when he realized that their destiny was to grow old and become wrinkled, fat, blind, weak etc. Hence, he gathered beautiful colors from various sources such as the sunlight, leaves, flowers, and the sky. These colors were put into a magical bag and presented to the children. When the bag was opened by the children, colored butterflies flew out, enchanting the children who had never seen anything so beautiful. Interestingly, the butterflies also sang which further delighted the children. However, songbirds complained to the Creator because they were jealous that butterflies were both so beautiful and could sing like birds. Hence, the Creator withdrew the ability to sing from butterflies. And, hence butterflies are so beautifully colored, but are now silent

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