Dragonfly meaning and symbolism include opportunity, transformation, spontaneity, spiritual growth, ancient wisdom, and other special 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.
In this post, we’ll explore all aspects of dragonfly meaning and symbolism, from spiritual meanings to dragonfly mythology, the dragonfly spirit animal, and more.
Table of Contents
- What does a dragonfly symbolize?
- What does it mean when you see a dragonfly?
- Detailed Dragonfly Symbolism and Meanings
- Dragonfly Color Symbolism
- Dragonfly Symbolism: Fairy Wings
- Dragonfly Mythology and Folklore
- Celtic Dragonfly Mythology: Fairies
- Dragonfly Symbolism in Nordic Folklore
- Dragonfly Symbolism in the Bible
- The Dragonfly in Japanese Culture
- Dragonfly Symbol in Feng Shui and Chinese Culture
- Native American Dragonfly Meanings
- Dragonfly Spirit Animal
- Dragonfly Power Animal
- Dragonfly Totem Animal
- Dragonfly Dream Meaning
- Dragonfly Tattoo Meaning
- Summary: Embrace Your Lighthearted Spirit
- How You Can Help Dragonflies
What does a dragonfly symbolize?
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 countless ancient artifacts attest, dragonflies intrigued our distant ancestors, just as they intrigue us today. Here are some high-level qualities that dragonflies represent. We’ll go into more detail on these throughout this post:
- Spiritual Growth
- Ancient Wisdom
What does it mean when you see a dragonfly?
If a dragonfly makes their presence known to you, such as by flying in front of you or landing nearby – pay attention. There are no coincidences. The dragonfly has special messages for you.
In many cultures around the world, people believe that divine energy is manifested through animals and other living things – just as it is through people. However, just as some people are, certain animals and insects are more receptive to this higher energy working through them. Dragonflies are one of those beings.
Even if you are more skeptical about these concepts, simply paying attention to and learning about other livings beings besides humans expands your consciousness.
However, since you are reading this post, I am going to assume that you are one of the believers like I am!
“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 Symbolism 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 iridescent 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 change in one area of your life, such as a love relationship or other type of relationship, a job, etc. Or it can represent something like a personal transformation. The dragonfly represents the idea of embracing this change.
Live Life to the Fullest: Now Is the Time
Because the dragonfly’s time in their Earthly manifestations is temporal, they are also symbols of opportunity. They say timing is everything! So, if you’re presented with a promising opportunity, jump on it, as it may not come again. The dragonfly says, “Now is the time.”
Dragonfly Symbolism: Vision and Insight
Like the owl, the dragonfly has powerful vision that sets them apart from other creatures, including us. For example, 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.
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.
Because of these special visionary powers, the dragonfly symbolizes vision and insight.
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. Indeed, 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 and light on your feet. Think quickly 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, and many people are curious about what the different colors of dragonfly symbolize. Color symbolism is personal to each person and it varies culture by culture. However, here are some universal color meanings that can be applied to dragonfly symbolism.
If you see a red dragonfly in the wild, it’s a special event because they are very rare. Red is a power color. It’s the hue of primal energy, passion, anger, and intensity. In China, red symbolizes good luck and wealth. And in Japanese culture, red dragonflies are associated with autumn.
Red is also associated with your first chakra, which is 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. For example, 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. Tailor it to an area of your life where you want more vitality or passion, or to help yourself feel more grounded and secure.
Dragonfly species that are orange include a variety of skimmers, such as the flame skimmer, firecracker skimmer, golden-winged skimmer, or Needham’s Skimmer.5
As with orange butterfly meaning, orange dragonflies symbolize joy, creativity, wellness, and sensuality.
You 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.
So, 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 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.
Thus, as with yellow butterfly meaning, the energy of the yellow dragonfly is one of youthful exuberance. They remind 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 your willpower to exert positive change in your life and the lives of others. You have the capacity to be happy and to make others happy.
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 in this lifetime.
Dragonflies that are green include the darner, the pondhawk, and other species.7
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 love 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 symbolizes loyalty, as in a “true blue” friend. It also symbolizes trust, faith, and wisdom. Blue, or turquoise, also symbolizes your fifth chakra. It is Vishuddha in Sanskrit. Your fifth chakra rules your ability to connect, communicate, and express yourself.
As with blue butterfly meaning, 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 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 is a reminder that we all need to stand in our own truth and to speak our truth.
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.
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. As with purple butterfly meaning, the purple dragonfly reminds you that your angels have messages of guidance for you and that you are capable of tapping into them.
Dragonflies that have brown hues include the brown hawker (Aeshna grandis), the swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros), and the striped saddlebags (Tramea calverti).10
As a warm hue, brown is reminiscent of wood and soil. 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.
The brown dragonfly reminds you to ground yourself and to get back to basics. Honor that which is real in your life. Give attention to that which gives you a solid foundation from which you can 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 doing a deep clean, getting some new house plants an indoor fountain, gardening, or even playing soothing music to create more harmonious vibes.
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.
In addition, as with black butterfly meaning, the black dragonfly can represent that it’s time for you to break from the status quo, make a change, and go your own way.
As with white butterfly meaning, 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 with a message of greeting. The purity of white serves as a reminder to you that whatever pain they experienced before they passed is now gone.
In addition, the white dragonfly can be a reminder to not focus on the pain or anguish leading up to your loved one’s death. Instead, focus on the purity of your love and the happiness of your shared experiences. This is how you honor and celebrate their life.
Dragonfly Symbolism: Fairy Wings
The dragonfly’s clear and iridescent wings are often described as fairy wings. In essence, they embody both 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 iridescent wings also magically reflect every shade in the rainbow.
Thus, 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 spirit of the dragonfly says creating something wonderful in your life starts with a vision of what you want to make happen.
Dragonfly Mythology and Folklore
For as long as humans have lived on Earth, the dragonfly has been here. Thus, dragonfly mythology and symbolism have existed in cultures around the world throughout human history. Here are some of those stories:
Celtic Dragonfly Mythology: 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 has 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.13 They thought the dragonfly’s body resembled a weighting tool, and that the Devil used the dragonfly to weigh people’s souls. In fact, 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, to be forgiven, and to rise.
The Dragonfly in Japanese Culture
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.
In fact, the dragonfly appears often in Japanese culture and folklore. For example, 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.14
In another version of the story, Emperor Jinmu was bitten by a deadly mosquito but was saved because a magical dragonfly ate the mosquito.15
Thus, the dragonfly is a much beloved symbol in Japanese culture.
Dragonfly Symbol in Feng Shui and Chinese Culture
In China, the dragonfly symbolizes summer. However, they also symbolize change and instability.
In Feng Shui, the dragonfly symbolizes happiness and new beginnings. Thus, 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.16
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. In fact, for the Pueblo, it’s bad luck to kill a dragonfly.17
For the Zuni, the dragonfly symbolizes abundant harvests. There is a Zuni legend that tells the tale of a Zuni tribe who had to leave their land. When doing so, they mistakenly left behind two children. Left on their own, to occupy themselves, the two 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. Worried about the children, the doll came to life and 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 doll asked the children to make her 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, including 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 believe the star cluster constellation known as the Pleaides, or the Seven Sisters, is a sacred water world. They also believe that the constellation Orion is where the Dragon Serpent dwells.18
Coyote and the Dragon Serpent
According to one Cherokee legend, the Dragon Serpent lived happily in the sky. However, 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.
Coyote lured the Dragon Priestess to his cave. Once she was in his lair, Coyote imprisoned her. He 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 herself: a dragonfly with magical transparent and iridescent wings. As the dragonfly, she could fly through space in every direction emitting magical colors.
Now that she was 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 Spirit Animal
While they are insects, the dragonfly is still considered to be a powerful spirit “animal” for many. As with other spirit animals, the dragonfly serves as a guide to help you navigate your physical life path and your soul’s journey.
Your dragonfly spirit animal 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 animals reminds you to indulge your curiosity so you can 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. As with angel number 911 meaning, the dragonfly spirit animal can help you turn your creative ideas and ‘Aha!’ moments” into something substantial 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.
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 a change, meditate on the dragonfly power animal. After all, the dragonfly is a positive omen for embracing change instead of resisting it.
It’s true that people around you may feel threatened as you evolve. Think about how the dragonfly uses such finesse when they fly. If people who don’t have your best interests at heart try to hold you back, be like a dragonfly: embrace your spirit’s lightness of being. The dragonfly power animal can help you make changes with grace.
Dragonfly Totem Animal
Animal totems encapsulate the protective powers of the animal they represent. Thus, the dragonfly totem animal 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 these 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 Tattoo Meaning
The dragonfly is a wonderful symbol for a tattoo, as these magical creatures are not only beautiful but they’re steeped in symbolic meaning and mythology. Undoubtedly, dragonfly tattoos are so popular because of their profound and varied symbolism.
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 your physical life.
The dragonfly symbol also 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!
Tattoos are very personal to the person whose skin they adorn. But the family of people who have dragonfly tattoos are a special group who have a lot to talk about and share with each other.
Summary: Embrace Your Lighthearted Spirit
In summary, the dragonfly is an enchanting little being who carries profound symbolic meaning for many on their beautiful iridescent wings. They remind us that, at heart, we are all free spirits who are undergoing a process of transformation. The dragonfly is a reminder that that magic exists and that we can transform our lives for the better.
How You Can Help 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