Dragonfly meaning and symbolism includes opportunity, transformation, spontaneity, ancient wisdom, and other mystical qualities. These beautiful winged insects have fascinated people for thousands of years. In fact, the dragonfly spirit animal is a powerful totem that appears in the spiritual beliefs of many cultures.
One of the first winged insects, dragonflies have inhabited the Earth for over 300 million years.1 By comparison, evidence of the first humans dates back to just 2.8 million years. As ancient artifacts attest, dragonfly meanings intrigued our distant ancestors, just as they intrigue us today. In this post, you’ll learn about commonly shared dragonfly symbols and meanings, dragonfly mythology, the dragonfly spirit animal, and more.
Table of Contents
- What does a dragonfly symbolize?
- Detailed Dragonfly Symbols and Meanings
- Dragonfly Color Symbolism
- Red Dragonfly Meaning
- Orange Dragonfly Meaning
- Yellow Dragonfly Symbolism
- Green Dragonfly Symbolism
- Blue Dragonfly Meaning
- Purple Dragonfly Meaning
- Brown Dragonfly Symbolism
- Black Dragonfly Symbolism
- White Dragonfly
- Dragonfly Spirit Animal
- Dragonfly Power Animal
- Dragonfly Totem
- Dragonfly Dream Meaning
- Dragonfly Meaning in Cultural Mythology and Folklore
- Celtic Mythology and Fairies
- Dragonfly Symbolism in Nordic Folklore
- Dragonfly Symbolism in the Bible
- The Dragonfly in Japan
- Dragonfly Symbols in Feng Shui and Chinese Culture
- Native American Dragonfly Meanings
- Dragonfly Tattoo Meaning
- Organizations that Protect Dragonflies
What does a dragonfly symbolize?
- Spiritual Growth
- Ancient Wisdom
What does it mean when you see a dragonfly?
If a dragonfly makes their presence known to you, whether it’s by flying in front of you in real life, in art, the media, or in some other setting, pay attention. There are no coincidences.
Allow the dragonfly who has crossed your path to expand your awareness. The dragonfly has a message for you.
“Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing, seeing how wonderful the fireflies are and how magical are the dragonflies.”
– Ama Vanniarachchy2
Detailed Dragonfly Symbols and Meanings
Transformation, Change, and Opportunity
The dragonfly is blessed with an abundance of unique traits. Throughout the world, they are viewed as symbols of self-realization, transformation, change, and even rebirth.
Dragonflies are born in or on the water. They exist there in their larval stage for months or even years before they molt. Finally, they become an adult dragonfly – the beautiful flying insect with clear wings that we love to see.
However, like the butterfly, the dragonfly only lives as an adult for a short period of time. Thus, they remind us to seize the day and live life to the fullest. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.
The dragonfly also symbolizes that change is imminent. This change can be a personal transformation, a change in one area of your life, or a change in your relationship with someone else.
Live to the Fullest: Now Is the Time
Because the dragonfly’s time in their Earthly manifestations is temporal, they are also symbols of opportunity. Timing is important. If you’re presented with a promising opportunity, jump on it, as it may not come again. The dragonfly says, “Now is the time.”
Vision and Insight
Like the owl, the dragonfly has powerful vision that sets them apart from other creatures, including us. Humans and many other animals have trichromatic vision, which means we see things in combinations of three primary colors: red, green, and blue. The dragonfly, on the other hand, sees the world through up to 30 “primary” colors.3
Their eyes are far more sensitive to light than ours. Thus, the dragonfly sees things in ways that we do not.
In addition, like the owl, the dragonfly can see nearly 360 degrees. The dragonfly has special visionary powers, thus they are also symbols of vision and insight. If you ever hear stories from people who have had near-death experiences, one theme that is common to many is that when they passed over, they saw colors that they never knew existed. Perhaps they saw the colors that a dragonfly sees.
The dragonfly reminds you that you have the ability to look at things from different perspectives. Let your mind be flexible, and your consciousness will expand.
Maneuverability and Finesse
Like the hummingbird, the dragonfly has special flying skills. They can fly as fast as 45 miles per hour. In addition, they can maneuver instantly from side to side, upwards, downwards, and then stop in midair.
The dragonfly can also lift things that are 15-times their body weight.4 These powers have fascinated scientists because we humans have been unable to duplicate something so extraordinary with our own flying machines.
The dragonfly’s unique flying skills remind you to be flexible – think quickly on your feet and be ready to “switch gears” and change course if needed. In the way that the fairy Tinker Bell is here and then she’s gone, the dragonfly spirit animal reminds you to be quick and light. Envision the lightness of your being, and you can handle the changes coming your way.
Dragonfly Color Symbolism
Dragonflies come in a rainbow of colors, so many people are curious about the different colors that the dragonfly symbolizes. Color symbolism is personal to each person and even in different cultures. However, there are some universal color meanings that can be applied to dragonfly symbolism.
Red Dragonfly Meaning
If you see a red dragonfly, depending on your location, it may be a meadowhawk,5 of which there are a few different sub-species, such as red-veined darters.6 Another red dragonfly is the calico pennant.7 Red dragonflies are rare, so if you see one in the wild, it’s a special event.
Red is a power color. It’s the hue of primal energy, passion, anger, and intensity. In Asian cultures, red symbolizes good luck and wealth. In Japan, red dragonflies are associated with autumn.
Red is also associated with the first chakra, also called the root chakra. The root chakra is the foundation of your physical vitality, your will power, your passion, courage, desire, and security. As the name implies, your root chakra helps you to feel secure.
If you see a red dragonfly, think about areas of your life related to your root chakra that may need transformation. Do you need to fortify your personal security, whether it be physical, financial, emotional, or even spiritual? Are there areas of your life where you need to infuse more passion? If you see a red dragonfly, make a wish for good luck and more vitality in an area of your life where you need more security or passion, or to help yourself feel more grounded.
Orange Dragonfly Meaning
Dragonfly species that are orange include a variety of skimmers, such as the flame skimmer, firecracker skimmer, golden-winged skimmer, or Needham’s Skimmer.8
Orange dragonflies can symbolize joy, creativity, wellness, and sensuality. The second chakra, or sacral chakra, is orange. It’s called Svadhisthana in Sanskrit. This chakra is located in the area of your lower abdomen. It affects your gut instincts and (along with the root chakra) your sexuality.
If you see an orange dragonfly, consider the areas of your life that need nourishing. This might be your relationships, such as with family, friends, colleagues, or your romantic partner. It could also be your physical well-being. We all perform at our best when we come from a place of health and wellness. We are more creative, more sensual, and happier. Your orange chakra is foundational within your body. When wellness thrives within you, the rest of your life can thrive too. An orange dragonfly can be a sign that you need to make changes to improve your health and wellness routine.
In addition, the orange dragonfly reminds you to go with your gut. The fast and agile dragonfly is not about mulling over decisions. The orange dragonfly says, “Trust your instincts and be quick about it!”
Yellow Dragonfly Symbolism
Yellow symbolizes happiness, optimism, intellect, and honor. Your yellow chakra is called Manipura in Sanskrit, and it governs your solar plexus. It represents your will and how you assert yourself in the world.
The energy of the yellow dragonfly is one of youthful exuberance. He reminds you that you have the energy within in you, no matter how ancient or tired you may feel at times, to accomplish what you must on your soul’s journey. If you see a yellow dragonfly, tap into your inner youthful vitality. It exists!
In addition, the yellow dragonfly calls on you to consider how you can use your wits, your intellect, and willpower to exert positive change in your life and the lives of others.
There are forces at work in the Universe. However, at the same time, we have been blessed with free will. How do you tap into your higher power so you can better use your will to bring more happiness to yourself and the world?
Yellow is also akin to the power of light. The yellow dragonfly reminds you that you are a light worker. You are here to honor God, or your higher power, with the greatest expression of yourself. No matter how difficult, painful, or frustrating life can get, the yellow dragonfly reminds you that you are here to do good work on Earth.
Green Dragonfly Symbolism
Dragonflies that are green include the darner, the pondhawk, and other species.10
Green symbolizes nature, renewal, growth, fertility, and emotions. It also symbolizes financial abundance and security. This is a color of trust; hence you will notice a lot of financial institutions use green in their logos.
Your green chakra is your heart chakra, or Anahata in Sanskrit. As your fourth chakra, Anahata governs your chest, including your heart, lungs, and respiratory and circulatory systems. This chakra also affects your heartfelt emotions and relationships.
If you see a green dragonfly, it may be time for a new relationship to come into your life. It can also be a reminder to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while to reconnect. Like so many other things in life, with nurturing, relationships can grow and evolve. This dragonfly reminds you to come from a place of heart and make sure you are nourishing your relationships in a healthy way.
The green dragonfly may also be a sign that financial abundance is on its way.
As the dragonfly is a symbol of transformation and rebirth, consider the areas of your life that are related to your heart chakra that you would like to expand and improve, such as your relationships, your respiratory and circulatory systems, and your finances.
Blue Dragonfly Meaning
Blue symbolizes loyalty, as in a “true blue” friend. It also symbolizes trust, faith, and wisdom.
If you see a blue dragonfly, think about the messages that you are putting into the world. Even without speaking, you are constantly communicating to others. This may be in how you carry yourself, what you post on social media, whether you greet people with warmth or judgement, or even with your silence.
The blue dragonfly asks you if you are being authentic. Are you presenting yourself and are you communicating in a way that reflects the truth of who you are and the highest version of who you were meant to be? As the saying goes, “The truth will set you free.” The blue dragonfly reminds you that we all need to stand in the truth and speak our truth.
Some blue dragonflies are indigo in hue. Seeing a darker blue dragonfly can also be a sign to tune up your sixth chakra, which you can read about next.
Purple Dragonfly Meaning
Purple is special in the way it combines the warm hues of red with the cool hues of blue. Striking this balance and creating something beautiful from this dichotomy is why purple symbolizes peace. Purple also symbolizes nobility, wealth, aspiration, and devotion.
Both your sixth and seventh chakras are shades of purple. Your sixth chakra is indigo and your seventh is violet, though some may interpret it as white.
The sixth chakra, or Ajna, rules your mind and your third eye, or intuition. Your seventh chakra, Sahasrara, is at the crown of your head, and it governs your super-conscious.
If you see a purple dragonfly, you are being called upon to tap into your higher power. Let your mind connect to this source through prayer or mediation. The purple dragonfly is an exalted symbol, one that asks you to seek out something greater than yourself. You have within you the capability to tap into a higher power and evolves. Your angels are standing by, waiting for you to reach out and ask for their help. The purple dragonfly reminds you that there is more out there, and you are capable of tapping into it.
Brown Dragonfly Symbolism
Dragonflies that have brown hues include the brown hawker (Aeshna grandis), the swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros), and the striped saddlebags (Tramea calverti).15
As a warm hue, brown is reminiscent of wood, soil, and the Earth. Thus, it symbolizes Earthiness, groundedness, security, and stability. The meaning of brown is exemplified in the description of someone who as “very down to Earth,” meaning they are real, easy to relate to, and without pretense.
As is the case with brown butterflies, the brown dragonfly reminds you to ground yourself and get back to basics. Honor that which is real in your life, that which truly gives you a solid foundation from which to blossom.
Seeing a brown dragonfly can also mean your home needs some attention. Does it feel like a refuge or is it a place of stress? The brown dragonfly can be a sign to make changes in your abode, such as getting some new house plants, an indoor fountain, gardening, or even playing soothing music to bring in more harmonious vibes.
Black Dragonfly Symbolism
Black symbolizes mystery, formality, elegance, and rebellion. Without black, other colors would lack variety in both depth and hue.
The black dragonfly reminds you that some matters require discretion. In our culture of over-sharing and attention-seeking, the black dragonfly reminds you that you have the privilege and a right to your privacy. It’s ok to politely shut out anyone who invades your privacy in an unwanted way.
Seeing a black dragonfly may also symbolize that you need to explore an issue in your life more deeply to truly understand it. For positive transformations to occur, we often have to “go deep” vs. just skimming the surface. If something is “not adding up to you,” go with that instinctual feeling, and explore more. A change is afoot, and the black dragonfly is telling you to investigate the unknown further.
As with butterflies, a white dragonfly symbolizes purity, innocence, simplicity, clarity of thought, and angels. White is also associated with the seventh chakra, which rules your intuition and psychic abilities.
Seeing a white dragonfly can mean that an ancestor or loved one who has passed is reaching out to you. The purity of white serves as a reminder to you that whatever pain they experienced before they passed is now gone. At the same time, it serves to remind you to not focus on the pain or anguish leading up to death, but on the purity of your love and the happiness of your shared experiences. This is how you honor and celebrate their life.
Dragonfly Spirit Animal
While they are insects, the dragonfly is still considered to be a powerful spirit “animal.” As with other spirit animals, the dragonfly serves as a guide to help you navigate your life path here on Earth.
Your dragonfly spirit guide reminds you that you are here to learn and evolve. Born in the water, the dragonfly evolves to become an airborne being. Water represents your subconscious and the air – your intellect. Your dragonfly spirit guide reminds you to indulge your intellectual curiosity to learn and to evolve in this lifetime.
When the dragonfly is your spirit guide, pay attention to your dreams and the ideas that pop into your head, seemingly from out of nowhere. The dragonfly spirit helps you to turn your creative ideas and “aha moments” into reality in the material world.
If you are curious about other animals and insects who might be your spirit guides, you can take UniGuide’s spirit animal quiz to explore additional possibilities.
The dragonfly’s clear and iridescent wings show you the beauty and magic in life. How can something that looks so delicate, as if it’s made with air, carry something that is 15-times its body weight? In a dragonfly’s wings is the miracle of nature and the ancient wisdom of evolution. The dragonfly’s wings are also iridescent, magically reflecting every shade in the rainbow.
The dragonfly spirit animal reminds you that miracles can originate from the simplest of ideas and from things that appear to be delicate, frail, and temporal. As the author Roald Dahl said, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
The dragonfly spirit animal reminds you that creating something wonderful in your life starts with a vision of what you want to make happen.
Dragonfly Power Animal
As the name implies, power animals can empower you with their most dynamic traits. So, if you feel stuck in some aspect of your life and you need the courage to make changes, meditate on the dragonfly power animal. After all, the dragonfly embraces change vs. resisting it.
It’s true that people around you may feel threatened as you evolve. Think about how the dragonfly uses such finesse as they fly. The dragonfly power animal can help you make changes with delicacy and grace.
Animal totems encapsulate the protective powers of the animal they represent. Thus, the dragonfly totem serves as a helpful symbol when you are going through a change in your life and you need some extra energy for a positive outcome. The dragonfly totem is also a good luck symbol for bringing more opportunities into your life.
Dragonfly Dream Meaning
If you dream of a dragonfly and you’re left wondering what your dream could be telling you, consider the emotions you felt in your dream. While dream meanings and interpretations are personal to every individual, one thing we all have in common is that our sub-conscious emotions don’t lie to us.
Once you understand the emotions you felt in your dream, you can apply some of the commonly shared dragonfly meanings to your dream to gain better insights. In general, dreaming of dragonflies can mean that a change or transformation is going to happen in your life. If you felt anxiety in your dream, it can mean you need to address the reasons for those emotions while in your conscious state.
A dragonfly dream can also be messages from your spirit guides who are standing by to help you in some way. Your guides are there. Sometimes you just have to take the time to acknowledge them and assure them that you are listening and welcome their guidance.
Dragonfly Meaning in Cultural Mythology and Folklore
For as long as humans have lived on Earth, the dragonfly has been here. Thus, dragonfly symbols and folklore have existed in cultures around the world throughout human history. Here are some examples:
Celtic Mythology and Fairies
While it’s hard to find specific stories in Celtic mythology that involve dragonflies, there are many Celtic stories about fairies. If you met someone who had never seen a fairy, you might describe them as tiny, human-like beings with dragonfly wings. Thus, many historians believe that Celtic fairies were inspired by dragonflies.
Dragonfly Symbolism in Nordic Folklore
In Swedish folklore, dragonflies were viewed negatively. The Swedes of old called the dragonfly the Devil’s Steelyard.18 They thought the dragonfly’s body resembled a weighting tool, and that the Devil used the dragonfly to weigh people’s souls. The Swedes believed that a dragonfly circling a person was measuring the weight of their soul.
Dragonfly Symbolism in the Bible
Dragonflies are not directly mentioned in the Bible. However, for many Christians, they are representative of the rebirth of Christ and his ascent to Heaven. Dragonflies evolve dramatically in their lifetimes, just as Jesus did. This evolution is one of the tenets of Christianity: You have within you the power to do better, to forgive, and to be forgiven.
The Dragonfly in Japan
In Japan, the dragonfly is a positive symbol who represents rebirth, courage, happiness, and the changing of the seasons – in particular, autumn. The dragonfly is also a common theme in Haiku poetry.
The dragonfly appears often in Japanese folklore. According to one Japanese legend, 2,600 years ago, Emperor Jinmu, the mythical founder of Japan, climbed a mountain. As he looked down from the summit, he said that Japan looked like a dragonfly.19 In another version of the story, Emperor Jinmu is bitten by a deadly mosquito but is saved because a dragonfly eats the mosquito.20
Dragonfly Symbols in Feng Shui and Chinese Culture
In China, the dragonfly symbolizes summer. However, they also symbolize change and instability. In Feng Shui, a dragonfly symbolizes happiness and new beginnings. Placing dragonfly art in your home or workplace can help to bring new insights and positive change.
Native American Dragonfly Meanings
For the tribes of the American Southwest, the dragonfly is called “snake doctor” because they are believed to follow snakes and heal them if they get injured.21
For the Navajo, the dragonfly is the symbol for pure water. The Hopi and Pueblo view the dragonfly as a medicine animal who is associated with transformation and healing. Among the Pueblo, it is bad luck to kill a dragonfly.22
For the Zuni, the dragonfly symbolizes abundant harvests. There is a Zuni legend that tells the tale of a Zuni tribe who had to quickly leave their land. When doing so, they mistakenly left behind two children. To occupy themselves, the children made an insect doll from grass and corn.
As the land became barren because it was not being tended, the children began to starve. So, the insect doll flew away to find the goddesses of the corn. The corn goddess returned and made the land fertile again, so the children could eat. In return for the favor, the insect doll asked for a companion. The offspring of the two insect dolls were dragonflies.
For the Plains Native Americans, the dragonfly represents invincibility and protection. The Plains tribes painted dragonflies on their clothing and teepees to ward off injury and other dangers.
The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, such as the Tlingit, carved dragonflies in their totem poles, and the Yaqui have a dragonfly dance.
Cherokee Dragonfly Legend
The Cherokee have their own dragonfly legend. The Cherokee believed the star cluster constellation known as the Pleaides, or the Seven Sisters, was a sacred water world. They also believed that the constellation Orion was where the Dragon Serpent dwelled.23
Coyote and the Dragon Serpent Story
The Dragon Serpent lived in the sky, but there was someone who was jealous of his power. Coyote, being a magician and a trickster, wanted to steal some of that power. Yet, he knew he would not be able to do it on his own. So, Coyote turned to the beautiful Dragon Goddess High Priestess, whom he knew would be able to beguile the Dragon Serpent into giving up some of his power.
So, Coyote lured the Dragon Priestess to his cave. Once she was in his lair, Coyote imprisoned her. Coyote tempted the Priestess with gifts and told her that the stars were under threat. He told her that to save the stars, she must change her shape. The Priestess resisted, but she wanted to be free of the cave and was worried about the stars. Finally, she relented and began to shapeshift.
Shapeshifting into a Dragonfly
Dragons can shapeshift into many different beings; however, Coyote was unhappy with the creatures the Dragon Priestess presented.
The Coyote decided to convince her into shapeshifting into a being whose powers he himself wanted to possess: the Dragonfly. With this disguise, Coyote knew the Dragon Serpent could be tricked.
So, the Priestess transformed herself into something even more beautiful than she herself was, a dragonfly with magical transparent and iridescent wings. As the dragonfly, she could fly through space in every direction emitting magical colors.
As the dragonfly goddess, she flew high in the sky and became aware of Coyote’s false pretenses. She had insight that he was trying to steal her power. So, she dove into the mystical water world of the Pleaides and escaped him for eternity.
Dragonfly Tattoo Meaning
The dragonfly is a wonderful symbol for a tattoo, as these magical creatures are not only beautiful but they are steeped in meaning and mythology. A dragonfly tattoo tells the world that you are a person who is spontaneous and who embraces change and new opportunities. It also speaks to your belief in a world beyond the immediate day-to-day of our physical lives. This symbol shows that you are focused on your own spiritual growth and interest in ancient wisdom. Of course, it can also mean that you believe in fairies!
Organizations that Protect Dragonflies
Like many insects around the world, dragonfly populations are dropping due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and the impacts of climate change. If you care about dragonflies, please do what you can to protect them. Here are some organizations that are working to protect these beautiful creatures:
- Xerces Society
- British Dragonfly Society
- Amateur Entomologists’ Society
- Odonata Central
- Migratory Dragonfly Partnership
- Worldwide Dragonfly Association