Día de los Muertos and the Monarch Butterflies

Día de los Muertos and the Monarch Butterflies
Aside from the transformation monarch butterflies go through and the beautifully colored species they are. I never paid too much attention to them. Recently I stumbled upon an article about the relation they have with Dia De Los Muertos, so I decided to digg a little deeper.

Millions of monarch butterflies migrate to central México from Canada during the months of September, October, and early November. The arrival of the butterflies occurs just as the festivities of Día de los Muertos begin. For many communities, this is a meaningful coincidence: in their traditions, the mariposas are the souls of their ancestors, returning to earth for a brief visit.

Butterflies are a common symbol for life and death in many places, including indigenous cultures from pre-hispanic times. Those cultures tended to see death as a natural part of life, and a natural transition for human souls to travel to Mictlān (the afterlife).

Warriors – just like flowers and butterflies, were expected to live short but glorious lives. Butterflies represented to the Aztecs the souls of dead heroes, warriors who fell on the battlefield or died in sacrifice, or of women dying in childbirth (who were also considered warriors).

The dramatic life cycle of a butterfly, as it suddenly erupts from a dormant cocoon into lively butterfly, mirrors how dead warriors were wrapped in cloth bundles and burned, their souls flying up to accompany the sun, Huitzilopochtli, the war god.

Trapping monarchs is forbidden, unlike other species that are caught in nets. Monarchs are sacred, as no one wants to trap a soul.

Photo Credit: Ian Georgeson

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