Wednesday, April 15, 2020

M is for Monarch butterflies (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Status: Status under reassessment in 2020 for the Endangered Species Act

The butterflies come for the Day of the Dead
Legend from Mexico

According to legend a group of indigenous people were migrating south from the Rocky Mountains, all the way to Mexico. On the way they met cold, harsh weather, and they had a hard time moving forward. They decided to leave the children and old people behind so they could shelter while the stronger adults found the way and a new home. To weather the cold, the children and old people covered themselves in tree pollen and resin. Their god saw their suffering, took pity on them, and changed them into beautiful butterflies so that they could make the southward journey easier, and reunite with their families.
Other legends say the butterflies are (or carry) the souls of the dead on their wings. Incidentally, they arrive to their wintering places in Mexico around November 2nd, which is the traditional Day of the Dead. According to this belief, the souls of the departed come back to visit their families for the occasion.

Sources: Read the story here, here, or here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, here, or here.

What kind of an animal would you like to become after you die?


  1. Like the story about the butterflies....what animal would I like to become? Perhaps my cat!? Perhaps an eagle flying high and sharing raising the new eagles? Not sure- good question.

  2. Great story. Love butterflies. Thanks for sharing.

    Personally, would prob choose to be a cat.

  3. I love the idea of them becoming butterflies so they could journey more easily. Hmm ... definitely would want to be some kind of cat - they seem to have their lives sorted out.
    Tasha đź’–
    Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles

  4. Both beautiful tales today Csegne.
    Deborah's Letter K post mentions some other 'Butterfly' stories which are equally enchanting.

  5. I hope the god turned them back once they had joined their families down south!

    That is interesting about the coincidence between their arrival and the Day of the a Dead.

  6. Very interesting - both these legends unheard of. Didn't know -even Butterflies had a story.

    In India the belief is Crows represent ancestors who have passed away.

  7. I have a dedicated butterfly garden, and one I call a pollinator garden, but haven't had a single Monarch visit yet. Lots of milkweed, I guess they just haven't discovered me!

  8. These butterflies are an endangered specie? I though they where thousand, and more?
    M is for Modern Quilts

  9. Those are lovely stories.

    Though the spider and turtle are my spirit animals, I'd probably choose to be a horse or cat.

  10. This is such a beautiful tale! I do understand how butterflies symbolize the deceased.

  11. A lovely tale. One of my favorite books, a children’s story which I read every year, is set in Mexico amidst the Monarch butterflies annual migration during Los Dias de los Muertos. It’s called Ghost Wings by Barbara Joosse. I can never see a Monarch without thinking of it.

  12. Beautiful story.
    I've heard that in Ireland too tradition say that batterflies are the souls of the dead.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  13. I had no idea they were even on the list -- we have plenty of them here...

    An A-Z of Faerie: Merrows