There’s something magical about seeing a dragonfly darting in between the reeds ~ above a feather day. V their jewel-like colours and capability to fly backward, they’re fairly the aerial specialist.

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Image by Marc Pascual indigenous Pixabay

The dragonfly is just one of the oldest of the insect species. They also represent both air and water, because their larvae often hatch the end of water. In plenty of tales, castle symbolise wisdom, interactions from the elements, adaptation, insight, and transformations.


We previously looked in ~ the link in between butterflies and also the soul. And we investigate the diversity of optimistic associations v bees. But, together we shall shortly see, the dragonfly rectal a strange position in folklore.

Depending on whereby you are, it’s either a authorize of something an excellent or an evil omen! Keep analysis to learn much more about this fascinating insect, or hit play listed below to hear to the podcast episode.


Dragonfly Superstitions

We’ll begin off with some simple superstitions about dragonflies prior to we look in ~ regionally details myths and legends.

Seeing swarms of dragonflies median rain is top top the way.

In some cultures, dragonflies represent an excellent luck or prosperity. So do a wish when you watch a dragonfly and also it’ll come true.


Fishermen offered them as an indicator of great fishing grounds. Lot of of dragonflies meant there were plenty of fish around. If a dragonfly hovered near the fisherman, he took it as a good luck sign.

In miscellaneous spiritual pathways, the dragonfly acts together a messenger in between the worlds. They teach those who view them to ‘go through the flow’. Yet seeing one in your dreams is a warning.

If a dragonfly soil on you, you’ll hear good news from someone you treatment about. Seeing a dead dragonfly method you’ll hear sad news.

And capturing a dragonfly expected you’d marry within a year.

Regional Dragonfly Tales

This is where the dragonfly it s okay interesting. There’s a really definite ‘Europe/Rest that the world’ break-up when it involves the tales.


In Japan, dragonflies bring great fortune. The dragonfly often shows up in haiku poetry, representing strength and also happiness. The red dragonfly is thought of as sacred.

One name for Japan is ‘the Island that the Dragonfly’. That’s partly because its curved form is believed to resemble a dragonfly at rest.

The map the Japan, thought to present the curved form of a dragonfly.

One the the factors dragonflies space so lover in Japan is due to a legend around the 21st emperor, Yuryaka Tenvo. While the end hunting, bug bit his arm. Part legends say it was a horsefly, rather say it to be a mosquito. Either way, a dragonfly appeared and also ate the insect, rescuing the emperor from additional harm.

I came across one story pertained to Bon, the Japanese buddhist tradition entailing the ancestors’ spirits. Throughout this festival in mid-August, the spirits return to visit the living. About the same time, thousands of dragonflies appear. It resulted in a id that returning genealogical spirits talk the dragonflies favor winged mounts. Others believed the dragonflies were the souls themselves.

During Bon, youngsters aren’t allowed to bother dragonflies (catching castle is normally a game). People welcome the insects into the home, allowing the ancestors to temporarily rejoin the family members (Mitchell 2005: 33).

In China, they stand for harmony, an excellent luck, and also prosperity. This could relate come the id that the dragonfly is the spirit of a dragon.


One indigenous American myth argues that dragonflies were originally dragons. A coyote tricked a dragon right into shapeshifting, and it couldn’t readjust back. As a result, the dragonfly symbolises change, speed, and illusion.

It renders a nice connect with the Chinese association in between dragons and also dragonflies.

Dragonflies show up in Navajo sand paintings. Where images display them close to water, they stand for the water’s purity (Mitchell 21). They’re additionally common emblems in Navajo necklaces and on Zuni pottery.

Ancestral Pueblo, san Lazaro glaze polychrome jar through dragonfly design, 1490-1550 by Wmpearl via Wikimedia Commons

Forrest Lee Mitchell and James Lasswell relate an American belief that see dragonflies predicted rainfall. If castle flew high, that meant heavy rain. If they flew low, it would certainly be a light rain shower (2005: 17). They likewise relate another nickname for dragonflies – the of ‘mosquitohawk’.

In addition, they relate a belief that a dragonfly landing on their fishing pole carried success while fishing. A further belief claims the color of the dragonfly indicates what fish will bite! (2005: 17)

It wasn’t advisable to fall asleep external in Iowa. People thought the dragonfly could sew with each other your finger or toes.

Germany and Romania

The snapshot isn’t so rose in Europe. End 150 various folk surname exist for dragonflies in Germany. These incorporate Teufelsnadel (“Devil’s needle”), Wasserhexe (“Water witch”), and Teufelspferd (“Devil’s horse”). Nice. Part people believe the dragonfly come from Germany, while various other tales think it come from Romania.

In the German beginning story, a vicious princess rode about her kingdom v merry abandon. One day, she encountered a little man that tried to speak come her. She ordered the to get out of her way. He didn’t listen so she rode end him. The little man cursed her to constantly be join to she horse. She and her horse ended up being one, transformed into the dragonfly.

One the the Romanian tales has the devil trying to cross a lake. A fisherman refuses to bring him in his boat, for this reason the evil one adopts the kind of a winged insect to paris across. The takes the form we now recognize as a dragonfly, and also hence dragonflies exist.

In Europe, dragonflies often end up linked with the adversary or black color magic. Some of these an unfavorable associations do appear in American folklore, implying people took the ideas with them when they emigrated come the new World. Yet the equal variety of positive tales around dragonflies in America suggest an ability for people to create their own myths and beliefs.

United Kingdom and Scandinavia

In England, they’re regularly known together the “Devil’s darning needle” and “Horse stinger”. On the other hand in southern Wales, world called them gwas-y-neidr, or “adder’s servant” (Rowland 1929). I found two different folk ideas relating come dragonflies and snakes. In one, civilization spotted dragonflies sitting on the heads of snakes, as if they’d charmed the snakes into a trance. In the other, dragonflies monitor snakes and also stitch castle up when they gain injured.

One tiny bright clues of positivity in English folklore is that it to be considered negative luck to death a blue dragonfly. I m sorry was daunting because it was additionally supposed come be great luck placing the wings of a blue dragonfly in a spiritual book favor a missal.

In Sweden, dragonflies were an omen that tragedy or injury. Many believed they were on the lookout for bad souls. Having actually one float near you meant it weighed your heart in judgment.

One an especially dark belief claimed dragonflies sewed close up door the eyes of naughty youngsters or liars (Learn about Nature). I composed a short story inspired by this snippet, which friend can acquire in your inbox by including your email deal with below.

This specifically vicious facet of the dragonfly is reflected in a belief from Kansas, that the dragonfly “may sew up the mouths that scolding women” (Mitchell 2005: 20).

Yet despite this dark association with the Devil, they’re associated to Freya in vikings mythology. She’s the goddess that love, war, and fertility. Some think they came to be her symbol because mating dragonflies kind the form of a heart.

But either way, the dragonfly is a valuable ally to humanity.

While butterflies and bees pollinate ours plants, dragonflies rid us of pests choose mosquitoes and gnats. And considering mosquitoes lug diseases like malaria, possibly we should consider it a price of an excellent luck to see one of their predators near our home!

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Learn around Nature (no date), ‘Symbolism/ definition of a Dragonfly’, Learn around Nature,

Mitchell, Forrest Lee and James Lasswell (2005), A Dazzle that Dragonflies, Stephenville, TX: Texas A&M college Press. (aff link)

Rowland, together (1929), ‘Natural background and Folk-Lore’, Nature, 124, p. 229.

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Filed Under: Folklore Tagged With: #FolkloreThursday, folklore, insects

Reader Interactions


Nia Ané says

August 13, 2020 in ~ 7:44 am

A lovely piece to read, yet for Wales placed under one English title. The really fact you have done this displayed your finish lack of expertise of mythology for this component of the world. Please research your facts. Wales is not a part of England in ~ all! it is a nation tied to the uk the same method as Ireland was and Scotland is. The is very offensive to suggest otherwise.

I’ve included a reference to present where this translation come from, however for simplicity, it came from here:

I understand that this is not the ‘official’ translation because that dragonfly in Welsh, however rather the ‘folk name’, so I’ve also updated the post to demonstrate its intake in south Wales.

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I enjoyed your story on this net page an extremely very much.Can you you re welcome recommend a book on dragonfly folklore/myths . Ns love bucks I believed if anyone would understand you would.Thank you AgainSusan

I couldn’t discover any certain books – the lore is frequently scattered amongst lots of other articles and books. There’s a thing in A Dazzle that Dragonflies (linked above), but nothing particularly on myths.

Thank You! I appreciate you taking the time I think that would certainly be a an excellent thing because that you to create a book on the topic without favor wildfire