Ancient cultures associated butterflies with children, in their beliefs. A number of stories in ancient mythologies of different lands and people revealed that butterflies symbolized birth, death and after life. The most significant about the butterfly is its relationship to children.
The people of Anishnabe culture (Anishnabe are the Algonquin Indians living in Canada} have a very interesting story in their mythology. The story goes that their children were taken care of by animals soon after birth. The animals gave them food, warmth and companionship. The larger animals kept a watch, guarded and protected the children from cruel animals. The smaller animals amused the children, made them laugh and happy. The children loved the company of animals and imitated them. They moved around crawling on their fours, the way animals did. Nanabush, the God of the tribe watched the little children laugh, roll and tumble. He wanted the children to realize that they were Anishnabe tribe, and it was time they gave up imitating animals and grow as humans. First they had to get up and walk. So, Nanabush scooped up a handful of small pebbles and through them in the air. Each pebble turned into a butterfly. The children looked up at the fluttering colorful insects. They stood up on their legs and tried to catch the butterflies with their hands. They began to run after the butterflies, while the butterflies made them happy and grow.
A similar story about butterflies and children is popular with Papago (Papago Indians live in Southern Arizona, Gilabend and North western Sonora) people. The creator whom the papago worship, felt sorry for the little children when he realized that their destiny was to grow old, weak with wrinkled skin, become deaf and blind. The creator had thought that the children deserved excitement and entertainment in their life. He gathered colors from flowers, leaves, sky and sunlight. The colors were put in a magic bag. The creator invited the children and presented them the magic bag. The children became curious and when they opened the bag, butterflies flew out of the bag. The colorful insects began to sing and dance and entertain the children. The children ran after them in joy. On seeing this, the songbirds grew jealous. They complained to the creator that it was their duty to sing and it was enough that the butterflies displayed their colors alone. The creator heard their plea and granted their wish. The butterflies then onwards stopped singing. They became silent; their colors remained their forte of entertainment.
In the images of Garden of Eden, Adamís soul is symbolized by a butterfly He has butterfly wings. In the paintings of Mary and her child, the butterflies represent their care for humans and their children.