Dragonfly Symbolism and Meanings
When the dragonfly spirit calls to you, you are being blessed with the wisdom of the ages. One of the first winged insects, dragonflies have inhabited the Earth for over 300 million years. By comparison, evidence of the first humans dates back to just 2.8 million years. As ancient artifacts attest, dragonfly meaning and symbolism intrigued our distant ancestors, just as it intrigues those of use living on Earth today.
This post covers all aspects of dragonfly symbolism and meanings, as well as the dragon spirit animal. To go directly to a specific section in this post, just click on the jump links in in the table of contents.
Table of Contents
Dragonflies belong to an order of insects called Odonata, of which there are 5,000 species across three sub-groups: Anisoptera, Anisozygoptera, and Zygoptera – the last of which are the “cousins” of dragonflies known as damselflies.
Dragonflies exist of their own accord. They are not here for us. Yet exploring dragonfly meaning and symbolism helps us to understand these ancients beings better, as well as our own place in the Universe.
Dragonfly meaning and symbolism in ancient and modern cultures around the world:
When a Dragonfly Lands on You, Crosses Your Path, or Otherwise Makes Themselves Known to You
If a dragonfly makes their presence known to you, whether it’s in real life, through the media, in art, 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.
Symbols of Transformation, Change, and Opportunity
Dragonflies are blessed with an abundance of unique traits. Throughout the world, they are viewed as symbols of self-realization, transformation, and change – even rebirth.
Dragonflies are born in or on the water, where they exist in their larval stage for months or even years before they molt and become adult dragonflies – the beautiful flying insects with clear wings that we love to see.
However, like butterflies, dragonflies only live as adults for a short period of time. Dragonflies remind you to seize the day and live in the present. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.
Dragonflies also symbolizes that change is imminent. This change can be a personal transformation, a change in an area of your life, or change in your relationship with someone else.
Now Is the Time
Because dragonflies’ time in their Earthly manifestations is temporal, they are also symbols of opportunity. Timing is important. If you are presented with a promising opportunity, jump on it, as it may not come again. The dragonfly says, “Now is the time.”
Vision and Insight
Dragonflies, like owls, have powerful vision that sets them apart from other creatures, including us. Where humans, and many other animals, have trichromatic vision, which means we see things in combinations of three primary colors: red, green, and blue, dragonflies see the world through up to 30 “primary” colors. Their eyes are far more sensitive to light than ours. Thus, the dragonfly sees things in ways that we do not.
In addition, like owls, dragonflies can see nearly 360 degrees. Their special visionary powers are why dragonflies 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 dragonfly sees.
Maneuverability and Finesse
Like hummingbirds, dragonflies have 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.
Dragonflies can also lift things that are 15-times their body weight. These powers have fascinated scientists because we humans, as of yet, have been unable to duplicate something so extraordinary with our own flying machines.
The dragonfly’s unique flying skills remind you to be more flexible – think quickly on your feet and be ready to “switch gears” and change course if needed. In the way the fairy Tinker Bell is here and then she’s gone, the dragonfly spirit reminds you to be quick and light. Envision the lightness of your being, and you can handle the changes coming your way.
Places to See Dragonflies in the Wild
If you live in an environment where you don’t get the opportunity to see dragonflies in the wild, you can still get to know them through the work of artists, filmmakers, biologists, and dragonfly protection organizations who are working to help us understand them better.
However, I encourage you to get out in nature, so you can see dragonflies in their natural habitat. A good place to start is with a dragonfly field guide for your geographical area. Or, you can google “where to see dragonflies in…” – plus your geographical area or a place you plan to visit.
If you’re up for a trip, visit the Dragonfly Sanctuary Pond at the Albuquerque BioPark.
Here’s a video from Albuquerque BioPark of the Dragonfly Sanctuary Pond:
Dragonfly Color Meaning and Symbolism
Dragonflies come in a rainbow of colors, so many people are curious about what different colors of dragonflies symbolize. I’m always hesitant to apply a specific meaning to what an animal or insect means if you dream about them or if you see one in a specific color because interpretations can be so personal. I’m of the thought that we all have the capability to tap into Universal Wisdom, or our spirit guides. My purpose for writing this post is to help you tap into yours, and of course, to help our dragonfly friends.
I’m a firm believer in chakra energy because I’ve personally had experiences with chakra toning that were quite profound and had a positive effect on me. So, in this post, I will associate chakra colors with dragonfly meaning. Yet, I encourage you to explore your own super-conscious through learning, prayer, and/or meditation to understand more about what these symbols might mean for you personally.
Red Dragonfly Meaning
If you see a red dragonfly, depending on your location, it could be a meadowhawk, of which there are a few different sub-species, such as red-veined darters. Another red dragonfly is the calico pennant. Red dragonflies are rare, so if you see one in the wild, it’s a special event.
Red is a powerful color. It’s the color of primal energy, passion, anger, and intensity. In Asian cultures, red is the color of good luck and wealth. In Japan, red dragonflies are associated with autumn.
Red is also the color associated with the first or “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 grounded.
If you see a red dragonfly, think about areas of your life related to your first chakra that must undergo 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, to help yourself feel more grounded.
Orange Dragonfly Meaning
Dragonfly species that are the color orange include a variety of skimmers, such as the flame skimmer, firecracker skimmer, golden-winged skimmer, or Needham’s Skimmer.
Orange dragonfly meaning can symbolize joy, creativity, wellness, and sensuality. Orange is the second, or sacral, chakra. It is called Svadhisthana in Sanskrit. This chakra is 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 could be with your relationships, such as with family, friends, colleagues, or your romantic partner. It could also be your physical 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.
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 Meaning
The color yellow symbolizes happiness, optimism, intellect, and honor. Your yellow chakra is called Manipura in Sanskrit, and it governs your solar plexus. Your yellow chakra 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 in 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, and yet – you 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 the color of light. The yellow dragonfly reminds you that you are a light worker. You are here to honor God, or your higher power, with your 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 Meaning
Green dragonflies include the green darner, the pondhawk, and other species.
The color green symbolizes nature, renewal, growth, fertility, and emotions. It also symbolizes financial abundance and security. Green is a color of trust; hence you will notice a lot of financial institutions use the color 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. Your green 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. The green dragonfly reminds you to come from a place of heart and make sure you are nourishing your relationships in an authentically healthy way.
The green dragonfly may also be a sign that financial abundance is on its way.
As dragonflies are symbols of transformation and rebirth, consider the areas of your life that are related to your green chakra that you would like to expand and improve, such as your relationships, your respiratory and circulatory systems, and your finances.
To keep your green chakra tuned up, make sure you’re moving enough to get the energy flowing in your body. In addition to exercising and dancing, chakra toning is a fun and easy way to get the chi, or energy, flowing in your body.
This audio video from Jonathan Goldman covers all seven chakras and is a great way to get your body in tune. You can just listen as you lie back and relax, or you can chant the sounds to really feel the resonance in your body.
Chakra Toning Video
Blue Dragonfly Meaning
The color blue symbolizes loyalty, as in a “true blue” friend. It also symbolizes trust, faith, and wisdom
The blue, or turquoise, chakra is your fifth chakra. It is Vishuddha in Sanskrit. Your fifth chakra rules your ability to connect, communicate, and express yourself.
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 also 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 truth and speak our truths.
Purple Dragonfly Meaning
The color purple is special in the way it combines the warm color of red with the cool color of blue. Striking this balance and creating something beautiful from this dichotomy is why purple is the color of 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. Use your mind to 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 your angels are standing by, waiting for you to reach out and connect with them. The purple dragonfly reminds you that there is more out there, and you are capable of living in an elevated state.
Black Dragonfly Meaning
The color black symbolizes mystery, formality, elegance, and rebellion. Without the color black, other colors would lack variety in depth and hue.
The black dragonfly reminds you that some matters require discretion. In our culture of over-sharing and seeking attention, the black dragonfly reminds you that you have the privilege and a right to your privacy. It’s ok to 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.
Dragonfly Spirit Animal
While they are insects, dragonflies are still considered to be powerful spirit “animals” to many. As with other spirit animals, the dragonfly spirit serve as a guide to help you navigate your life path here on Earth.
According to many Native American traditions, you don’t necessarily choose your spirit animals, and you can have more than one. Instead, they choose you. Thus, identifying your spirit animals is a process of becoming more aware and more spiritually in-tune with your surroundings, as well as your true nature and purpose.
How do you know if the dragonfly is your spirit animal?
If you are wondering if the dragonfly is your spirit animal, consider the questions below. If you already know, you may learn some new things about dragonflies in this post that will help to guide you on your soul’s journey. There is always more we can learn from these ancient beings. You can also take UniGuide’s spirit animal quiz to explore more possibilities.
Questions to consider:
- Has a dragonfly made himself or herself known to you in a way that riveted your attention? This could be a live dragonfly flying in front of you, or one that grabs your attention in art, on a piece of jewelry, in the media, or elsewhere.
- Were you especially interested in dragonflies as child?
- Do you ever dream about a dragonfly or a dragonflies?
- Have certain stories, books, or movies that involved dragonflies had a strong impact on you?
- Do you feel an affinity with dragonflies and experience a powerful sense of curiosity about them?
Your dragonfly spirit guide reminds you that you are here to learn and evolve. Born in the water, dragonflies evolve to become airborne beings. Water represents your subconscious, and the air your intellect. Your dragonfly spirit guide reminds you to use your intellectual curiosity, not just your gut instincts and intuition, 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.
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 color of 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 reminds you that creating something wonderful in your life starts with a vision of what you want to make happen.
Dragonfly Symbolism in Ancient Cultures
For as long as humans have lived on Earth, dragonflies have been here. Thus, dragonfly meaning and folklore have existed in cultures around the world throughout human history. Here are some examples:
Dragonfly Meaning in Christianity
Dragonflies are not directly mentioned in the Bible. Yet 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.
Dragonfly Meaning in Celtic Mythology and European Folklore
While it’s hard to find specific stories in Celtic mythology that involve dragonflies (if you know of any, write me at kristen at uniguide dot biz!), there are many Celtic stories that have fairies. If you met someone who had never seen a fairy, you could described them as tiny, human-like beings with dragonfly wings.
Dragonfly Meaning in Nordic Folklore
In Swedish folklore, dragonflies were viewed negatively. The ancient Swedes called the dragonfly the Devil’s Steelyard. They thought the dragonfly’s body resembled a weighting tool, and that the Devil used the dragonfly to weigh people’s souls. It was believed that a dragonfly circling a person was measuring the weight of their soul.
Dragonfly Meaning in Japan
In Japan, dragonflies are positive symbols who represent rebirth, courage, happiness, and the changing of the seasons, in particular, autumn. Dragonflies are also common themes in Haiku poetry, examples of which you can see below in this post in the section on Dragonfly Quotes.
Dragonflies also appear in Japanese folklore. According to Japanese legend, Emperor Jinmu, the mythical founder of Japan, climbed a mountain 2,600 years ago. As he looked down from the summit, he said that Japan looked like a dragonfly. In another version of the story, Emperor Jinmu is bitten by a deadly mosquito, but is saved because a dragonfly eats the mosquito.
Dragonfly Meaning in Feng Shui and Chinese Culture
In China, dragonflies symbolize summer. Yet, they also symbolize change and instability. In Feng Shui, dragonflies symbolize 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 tribes of the American Southwest, dragonflies are called “snake doctors” because they were believed to follow snakes and heal them if they got injured.
According to the site Native Languages, for the Navajo, dragonflies are the symbols of pure water. For the Hopi and Pueblo tribes, the dragonfly is a medicine animal who is associated with transformation and healing. Among the Pueblo, it is bad luck to kill a dragonfly.
For the Zuni, dragonflies symbolize 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 goddesses 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 tribes, dragonflies represent invincibility and protection. The Plains tribes painted dragonflies on their clothing and teepees to ward off injury and other dangers.
The Native American tribes 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 in the constellation Orion, the Dragon Serpent dwelled.
However, there was someone who was jealous of the power of the Dragon Serpent. Coyote, being a magician and a trickster, wanted to steal some of the power that the Dragon Serpent possessed. 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.
Dragons can shapeshift into many different beings; however Coyote was not happy with any of those 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 flew in the sky, she became aware of Coyote’s false pretentions and that he was trying to steal her power. So, she dove into the mystical water world of the Pleaides and escaped him for eternity.
“Time is for dragonflies and angels. The former live too little and the latter live too long.”
– James Thurber
“It’s very far away,
It takes about a half a day to get there,
If we travel by dragonfly.”
– Jimi Hendrix, Spanish Castle Magic
“Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing, seeing how wonderful the fireflies are and how magical are the dragonflies.”
– Ama Vanniarachchy
“If you are old and you wish to be young again, if only for a moment, try and identify a dragonfly.”
– Simon Barnes
“The distant mountains,
Are reflected in the eye,
Of the dragonfly.”
– Kobayashi Issa
“Deep in the sun-searched growths, the dragonfly,
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky.”
– Dante Gabriel Rossetti
“The beauteous dragonfly’s dancing,
By the waves of the rivulet glancing,
She dances here and she dances there,
The glimmering, glittering flutterer fair,
Full many a beetle with loud applause
Admires her dress of azure gauze,
Admires her body’s bright splendor,
And also her figure so slender.”
– Heinrich Heine
“Hey Miss Dragonfly,
I see you look at me with your beautiful eyes,
You must be wondering what type of creature am I.”
– Ziggy Marley, Dragonfly
Dragonflies are the inspiration for a lot of Haiku poetry. Here is one example, and you can find more on the website The Haiku Project.
The beginning of autumn,
By the red dragon-fly.
Books About Dragonflies
If you have a special connection to dragonflies, by all means, learn all that you can about these ancient beings. Here are some books to put you on the path to dragonfly mastery.
Dragonflies and Damselflies: A Natural History by Dennis Paulson
Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast: A Life Size Field Guide Paperback by James S. Walker
Dragonfly Coloring Books
For the creative dragonfly lovers, there are also dragonfly coloring books.
Resources and Organizations that Protect Dragonflies
If you care about dragonflies, please help to protect them. Here are some organizations and resources that will show you how: