Dragonfly, dragonfly darting quickly hither and yonder, up and down, left and right – a transparent shimmering spark with effervescent wings, representing the dreamtime and the illusionary nature of reality. Dragonfly, dragon – both immortalized in mythology worldwide.
Dragonflies are ancient and beautiful inspects, having been around for over 300 million years. They are part of the Odonata order of carnivorous insects comprised of both dragonflies and the smaller damselflies. Their swift flight, reaching an astounding 45 miles an hour, and iridescent colors draw us into their beauty as they hover and fly over lakes, rivers, ponds and marshes.
Dragonflies have very large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong wings and a long, thin body. Like all insects they have six legs – yet they cannot walk.
With their translucent beauty, erratic flight patterns and speed, dragonflies have inspired people for centuries. They are found in myth and stories worldwide. They most frequently symbolize transformation, both physical and mental/emotional changes in self-perception.
To the Native American the dragonfly indicates a whirlwind of quickness and activity and illusion and change – spirit helper to some, transformed dragon to others – always a symbol of good luck, insightfulness and true sight.
Dragonfly’s association with true sight is more than likely related to their amazing eyes. Their huge compound eyes, comprised of several thousand facets produce a mosaic of images and allow them to see color beyond our human range.
The importance of dragonfly to the indigenous pueblos of the American Southwest is evident by the abundance of dragonfly images found on their pottery and carved in stone as petroglyphs.
To the Hopi dragonfly symbolizes water, fertility and abundance. Dragonfly was credited with saving them during a difficult period of transition in which dragonfly used its supernatural powers to bring the corn to maturity in only four days. The Zuni see the coming of dragonflies in summer when the corn tassels bloom and sway as a blessing of abundance for their people. Dragonfly imagery is found all throughout the native tribes of the Southwest on jewelry, weavings, and pottery.
Like the Native Americans, the Japanese saw dragonfly as representative of power, agility and victory. Their name for dragonfly, kachimushi means “victory insect.” Dragonflies, who can hover and fly in all directions are revered by the Samurai, the Japanese warrior class. Dragonfly embellishments can be found on hilts of swords, arrow quivers and other weapons of war. There was even a dragonfly shaped helmet worn by high-ranking lords in the 17th century. In the past Japan, home to 190 dragonfly species, was called Akitsushima, or Dragonfly Island.
Dragonfly, who lives in watery areas, is found in the rice paddies of both Japan and China. This associates dragonfly with prosperity, harmony and good luck. The Japanese are found of using dragonfly in paintings as symbols of joy and light.
This association with light could come from the fact that dragonfly’s body reflects light to create its beautiful colors – a light which exposes illusion, teaching us that things are not always as they seem. The Lakota tribe called upon the dragonfly’s understanding of illusion to help their warriors trick their enemies in the battlefield.
In one Native American tale coyote, as the trickster he is, brings dragonfly to life. Coyote observed dragon as it flew through the night, scales shimmering and breathing light into the darkness with its breath. Coyote convinced dragon that with its great powers of transformation seen by its fire-breathing ability, it could change into a beautiful, delicate dragonfly. But alas for dragon whose illusionary belief in itself as all powerful was in fact the folly of hubris. Once dragon took the form of dragonfly, it could not change back. The transformation was final.
The Celts also associated dragonfly with the dragons of old who were the guardians of sacred stones and wells. In addition the Celts believed that the “wee” folk of the fairy realm used dragonflies as their steeds. In this way the fairies were able to travel from one place to the next in the blink of an eye. Some tales even recount the belief that dragonflies were fairies in disguise, only very difficult to discern as such. Dragonfly’s constant movement and shimmering, shifting colors indicate deep magic, the ability to travel between dimensions and to perform its role as dream messenger.
Other European legends tell of a horse who grows wings and becomes dragonfly. Thus one finds horse related names for dragonfly such as “golden horse” and “little horse.”
Dragonfly’s association with metamorphosis and transformation is strengthened by its own physical transformation from a dull, drab, water-being larva to a sparkling air-spirit dragonfly, symbol of spiritual renewal and self realization.
It is also believed that dragonfly brings messages from the elemental world of Earth creatures such and fairies, and elves, helping us release from old patterns that no longer work and opening our eyes to the illusions that have been holding us back. Dragonfly is the wind of change, navigating through all kinds of weather. Let dragonfly help you navigate through the stormy times of your life. Open your heart to its messages of wisdom and enlightenment. Transformation has arrived.
The theme of balance and true sight is seen again as dragonfly, inhabitant of water and air evokes reflections on our emotions and our minds. When dragonfly appears, seek balance of emotions and mind as dragonfly shines its light on our illusions. In this way we can move into a maturity with greater true sight. Seek flexibility and new perspectives.
Dragonfly offers the wisdom of transformation and adaptability, the joy of life and light, lightness of being, maturity and depth of character, an end to illusions, true sight, power and poise, connection with elemental nature spirits and other realms, dream interpretation, a deeper meaning of life, and self-realization. Invite dragonfly into your life and soar to new heights.
Sources: Daphne Shadows, Learn About Nature, Dragonfly Times, Spirit Animal, Animal Sake, Owlcation, Dragonfly (Tombo), Interconnectivity, Pure Spirit, Amateur Entomologists’ Society, Science Blogs, What Is My Spirit Animal, Doowans.com
Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is out and being very well received. You can order your deck on Judith’s website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her artwork. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. In recent years Judith became very interested in the Goddesses of her own ancestors, the Celts. Originally from New Orleans, Judith now makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.