The symbolism of the dragonfly is a very relevant metaphor that allows to illustrate the cycles of life. We often need this kind of literary metaphor, both mystical and anthropological, which comes to us from the animal kingdom in order to better understand certain concepts of our life.
Whether it is the wolf, the cat, the butterfly or even the elephant … Thanks to their specific characteristics, animals very often give us a lesson that can serve as an inspiration.
Among them is the dragonfly. The latter usually symbolizes two fundamental concepts. Namely, adaptability and transformation. This insect has always attracted the attention of human beings because this little creature interacts with three elements of this world: earth, water and air.
Indeed, its transformation processes, which make it go from larva to dragonfly, allow it to rub shoulders with these three essential natural environments.
It is also an animal of great beauty and a certain fragility. In addition, it has existed on our planet since long before we appeared as a species. Indeed, we know that there were already dragonflies in the Carboniferous period. Either, more than 300 million years ago. However, their appearance was somewhat different. They had a large wingspan since their wings reached 90 cm.
This gigantism has given way to the insect that we know today. They are delicate and almost magical creatures that line many areas where there is a body of water. The dragonfly has many things to teach us.
The dragonfly metaphor: change, adaptation and progress
The anisoptères, or dragonflies are among the most fascinating insects of the kingdom of invertebrates. They are incredibly fast since they can reach a speed of 85km / h. But it is their eyes that constitute one of the most fascinating aspects for scientists and the curious who are interested in them.
Indeed, they have about 30,000 hexagonal faceted eyes. Each eye thus has its own lens and its own retina. All of this has one goal: to offer one of the most perfect views of the animal kingdom. Thus, the dragonfly is able to see at any time, at a single glance, its entire environment at 360º.
However, beyond its anatomy, its brilliant colors or its extraordinary flight, there is the symbolism. The dragonfly metaphor is present in multiple cultures which have observed similarities in its life cycle with our own existence. Let’s analyze this in detail.
A life of transformation
The life cycle of the dragonfly is very particular. During a metamorphosis, it goes through three very specific phases. This is the hatching phase of the egg, then the larva phase, before becoming a superb dragonfly. These successive transformations last between 3 and 6 years. Oddly enough, the shortest step is the last.
Thus, the life of a dragonfly as such lasts only a few weeks. She spends most of her life in the form of an aquatic creature. The larva has gills and feeds on worms and tadpoles. It is only later that she begins to transform. During this process, she undergoes nearly fifteen molts until her wings eventually emerge.
Just like dragonflies, we adapt to this vital rite of change where almost nothing is static. The dragonfly knows that to survive in any new environment you have to change, change your skin, and let go of your old ways. Only then do we come to be what we really are and what we dream of.
Live fully from day to day
The dragonfly teaches us a valuable lesson. It is about the need to make the most of our daily life. When the larva sheds its last skin and its wings emerge, it is aware that its existence is fleeting. It is then time to embrace the wind, to travel, to explore, to experience a world that goes beyond water, its former comfort zone.
We too must be able to appreciate life with the same passion and with the same delicacy.
The dragonfly metaphor: balance
Throughout the ages, there is something that has always fascinated all cultures about dragonflies. It is about their wings. They have extraordinary colors and shades and they allow dragonflies to perform surprising flight maneuvers. Dragonflies are mighty and graceful in the air. Yet they have spent most of their lives in the water.
Interestingly, they flap their wings about 30 times per minute (unlike mosquitoes which do about 600 times). They deploy 20 times more force on their wings than do other insects and their flight maneuvers are very surprising while being precise.
This insect is most revered in Japan. Indeed, in this culture, the dragonfly precisely symbolizes the balance of life.
The last journey to the afterlife
For Native Americans, the dragonfly is a very powerful metaphor. For them, this insect symbolizes the final journey of every human being. This journey which allows us to leave the world of earth and water after a long life, to become a creature of the air. A winged being who eventually ascends to the heavens in the form of a free spirit and soul.
As we have seen, the dragonfly conjures up interesting and evocative concepts. Metaphors imagined by cultures that see nature as a mirror in which to reflect. Metaphors where the symbolism is inspired by the magic of the animal world. It is well worth considering.