Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Butterfly Mythology of Native Americans

by Ron Cherry E.R.E.C., (bibliography)P.O. Box 8003 Belle Glade, FL 33430 USA.

Because of the beauty, power of flight, and complete metamorphosis found in butterflies and moths, these insects frequently are found in Native American myths. In an early article, Grinnell (5) called attention to the belief held by the Blackfeet that dreams are brought to us in sleep by a butterfly. Their sign for a butterfly was a design roughly in the shape of a maltese cross with one arm horizontal and the other verticle. This sign was painted on a lodge to indicate that the style and method of painting the lodge were taught to the lodge owner in a dream. It was also the custom for a Blackfoot woman to embroider the sign of a butterfly on a small peice of buckskin and tie this in her baby's hair when she wishes it to go to sleep. At the same time, she sings to the child a lulaby in which the butterfly is asked to come flying about and put the child to sleep. Grinnell did not learn why or how the butterfly bring sleep and dreams. However, he did note that the Blackfeet stated that the butterfly is soft and pretty and moves gently and that if you look at it for a long time you will go to sleep.

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