Does psyche mean butterfly? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Does psyche mean butterfly?” and explores the concepts of psyche and butterfly to help determine if psyche means butterfly and if so, the reasons for it. 

Does psyche mean butterfly?

Yes, the term ‘psyche’ does also mean butterfly, besides its other meanings. The following are 3 insights into how psyche means butterfly –

  • Psyche is depicted with butterfly wings.
  • The term psyche means butterfly in ancient Greek.
  • The term psyche was used in the history of the psychological symbol. 

What are these 3 insights into how psyche means butterfly?

Psyche is depicted with butterfly wings.

In mythological imagery, Psyche is depicted with butterfly wings. Her body could fly freely and shed the “shackles” of her old chrysalis since she was no longer bound by death and misery.

In Greek mythology, Psyche (Greek: “Soul”) is a princess of exceptional beauty who provoked Venus’ jealousy and Cupid’s love.

According to Apuleius, Venus’s jealous son Cupid (the god of love) compelled Psyche to fall in love with the most wretched of men. Cupid, on the other hand, placed Psyche in a secluded mansion where he could visit her only in utter darkness, as per his warning. 

When Psyche lighted a lamp one night, she saw that the person by her side was none other than the god of love himself. He reprimanded Psyche and left as a drip of oil from the candle awoke him. 

While searching the earth for him, Psyche came into contact with Venus, who assigned her tough duties. Finally, moved by Psyche’s remorse, Cupid rescued her, and Jupiter, at his request, made her immortal and married her to Cupid.

The narrative is based on a multitude of folk themes; nevertheless, Apuleius’ treatment transmits an allegory of the Soul’s journey driven by Love, which was associated with the Psyche in Renaissance literature and art. The soul was depicted as a butterfly in the Greek tradition, which is another definition of the term psych.

The legend behind the psychological sign is intertwined with the unusual development of the term “psi”. It’s the twenty-third letter in the Greek alphabet, and it was transliterated into the term psyche by the Romans at some time. In Latin, it meant butterfly, but it also signified breeze, air, vitality, and, lastly, spirit.

The term psyche means butterfly in ancient Greek.

“The word psychology originated from the fusion of Greek words ψυχή and λογία.” The term psyche means butterfly in ancient Greek. This bug was also a representation of life’s breath, a breeze, and a life-giving wind. 

The phrase gradually came to symbolise the human spirit, due to the Roman Empire’s influence. Our life force, also known as “ka” in Egyptian tradition, was what they observed.

When it came to humans, the Greeks and Romans had a very definite understanding of the soul. One of their beliefs was that when someone died, the “ka” mentioned by the Egyptians would leave their body as a breath of air. 

The form of that breath would be a butterfly. That image in their heads wasn’t very frightening, either. Butterflies meant light, change, and hope to them.

The term psyche was used in the history of the psychological symbol. 

Later on, “logia” (ψυχή and λoγία) would appear. As a result, its etymological meaning shifted from “the study of the soul” to “the science of the mind” throughout time. As an abbreviation, the sign “Ψ” was naturally selected as the principal symbol.

The word “psyche” in Greek mythology refers to more than only butterflies, souls, and minds. Psyche was a deity as well, a lovely creature with butterfly wings. 

Apuleius recorded her love tale in Metamorphoses, making it one of the most beautiful love stories of all time (The Golden Ass).

According to the legend, one of the King of Anatolia’s three daughters was extremely exceptional. Aphrodite herself got envious, perceiving this young lady as a rival because she was so delicate, lovely, and full of joy. 

She was so enraged with her son, Eros (Cupid), that she dispatched him to shoot her with his arrows.

She intended for young Psyche to fall in love with Anatolia’s most horrible, ugly, and cruel guy. However, nothing went as planned. Eros, her son, was the one who fell in love with Psyche. 

Unable to resist, the young deity determined to visit her chamber every night in order to win her over and make her his. 

Psyche was smitten with a stranger who came to see her every night in the dark. She couldn’t see his face at all. The stranger was a divinity who preferred to remain anonymous.

However, something went awry. When Psyche informed her sisters about it, they advised her to end the connection if she didn’t see the face of her enigmatic boyfriend. 

That’s precisely what she did. She placed a lamp next to Eros’ face while he slept on her bed. Aphrodite’s son awoke at that very time and rushed away, furious at Psyche’s arrogance.

The King of Anatolia’s daughter went to Aphrodite for aid, inconsolable, downhearted, and regretful. This was an opportunity for Eros’ mother to have the upper hand. 

She viewed it as an opportunity to rid the world of a lady who matched the goddess of beauty herself in terms of beauty. If she sought Eros’ love and forgiveness, she had to fulfil four trials and duties. 

The difficulties, however, included travelling to the underworld, confronting Cerberus, travelling with Charon, and subsequently with Hades in order to reach Persephone and beg her for part of her beauty, which she stored in a little box.

Psyche defied all expectations by demonstrating that she was more than just pretty. She was also astute, courageous, and tenacious. But, just as she had completed all of the challenges and obtained Persephone’s box, she experienced a moment of vanity and curiosity. 

She decided to open the box and discover what was inside, as well as take some of the beautiful homes with her. That’s when she fell prey to the stygian dream’s trap. Thankfully, the cursed box was snatched away from her eyes by a familiar hand. 

The hand’s familiar touch soothed her, and the owner’s optimistic smile instantly restored her delight. It was Eros who had finally forgiven her and rescued her.

This lovely couple’s story could not have ended any better. Aphrodite put an end to her jealousy of her son’s lover and danced with them at their wedding. Psyche was immortalised by Zeus. Now, the bold, beautiful woman with butterfly wings is also a metaphor for the psychology symbol “Ψ”.

The flying shape of a butterfly has been a metaphor for the human spirit since ancient times. “The butterflies were apparently one of the delights that awaited the departed in the hereafter, representing the Egyptian belief in the immortality of the human soul,” according to the Egyptians.

The Greek word for soul, psyche, was given to the butterfly by Aristotle. Butterflies are associated with the human spirit in many civilizations. The term for butterfly in ancient Greek was “psyche,” which meant “soul” and was also the name of Eros’ human lover.

The morning star is associated with the butterfly, which represents the soul of the deceased, according to the Aztecs.” The Aztecs also thought that the joyful dead would visit their families in the guise of beautiful butterflies to reassure them that everything was well. 

These butterflies flitted over the home and around floral bouquets brought by Aztec high-ranking males. Smelling a bouquet of flowers from the top was deemed impolite. 

It should always be scented from the side because the top was set aside for the spirits to visit, where they may savour the aroma that had been set apart just for them.

Butterfly spirits are also seen as souls in a tiny hamlet in Mexico, and monarch butterflies travel there every year on and around the Day of the Dead celebration. They are said to be the spirits of the dead who have returned. Butterflies are supposed to be the spirits of children in Germany.

Conclusion – 

This blog post attempted to answer the question, “Does psyche mean butterfly?” and reviewed the concepts of psyche and butterfly to help determine if psyche means butterfly and if so, the reasons for it. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Johnson, S. P. Butterfly Lore. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.baylor.edu/lakewaco_wetlands/index.php?id=34628#:~:text=Aristotle%20gave%20the%20butterfly%20the,name%20of%20Eros’%20human%20lover.

Antonakou, E. I. & Triarhou, L. C.  Soul, butterfly, mythological nymph: psyche in philosophy and neuroscience. (2017, March). 

Retrieved from  https://www.scielo.br/j/anp/a/y65SG658xdTZWxtQmjmj9qd/?lang=en

Psyche (mythology). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2022, April 9). 

Retrieved from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psyche_(mythology)

Susko, T. Psyche Means Butterfly; Butterfly Means Cure. (2020, October 18).  Retrieved from  https://tiasuskosnotsosecretdiary.wordpress.com/2020/10/18/psyche-means-butterfly-butterfly-means-cure/

Wilson, M. Does psyche mean cure? (2021, June 7).  Retrieved from 

https://www.restaurantnorman.com/does-psyche-mean-cure/

Sabater, V. The Story of the Psychology Symbol (Ψ). (2021,  November 15).  Retrieved from  https://exploringyourmind.com/the-story-of-the-psychology-symbol/

Antonakou, Elena & Triarhou, Lazaros. (2017). Soul, butterfly, mythological nymph: Psyche in philosophy and neuroscience. Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria. 75. 176-179. 10.1590/0004-282×20170012. Retrieved from  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315598495_Soul_butterfly_mythological_nymph_Psyche_in_philosophy_and_neuroscience

Psyche. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.).  Retrieved from  https://www.britannica.com/topic/Psyche-classical-mythology

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