Dragonfly Symbolism in Literature

Dragonfly Symbolism

Dragonflies Symbolize Life after Death and Transformation:

The dragonfly's life cycle often symbolizes transformation and life-after-death. For generations, teachers, counselors, parents, and grandparents have used the science of the dragonfly's life cycle to help explain death or other important life changes to children.

The dragonfly's life cycle appears in works of literature from present day to as far back as the 1920s. It is a recurring theme. We provide a partial list of books on this page that may be of interest. In some cases, the dragonfly's life cycle is merely referenced while in others it is integral to the story. Yet, in one of the books,The Dragonfly Secret, the dragonfly represents hope, comfort, and the memory of someone, without any reference to the dragonfly's life cycle, whatsoever.

In many instances, though, the dragonfly's life cycle is important because it helps some parents explain death to a child by combining religious beliefs with the science of nature.

Here's how - Female dragonflies typically lay their eggs in mud or attach them to underwater plants in a pond, marsh, or stream. When an egg hatches, and depending on the species, the nymph stays underwater for one to six years. As it eats and grows, the nymph's skin becomes tight and splits open. Each time, though, the nymph crawls out wearing a new larger skin. When the nymph is finally ready to leave its underwater home, it will climb the stem of a plant or some other object until it emerges from the water. This often happens at night when hungry birds are asleep. The nymph clutches the stem and rests above the water. Its skin splits open. But this time, the nymph crawls out as a dragonfly with wings, completing the metamorphosis from a water dwelling nymph to an air breathing adult. The morning sun warms the dragonfly. It breathes air and pumps blood through its body to straighten its wrinkled wings. Soon, it is time to fly and find shelter in tall weeds or trees. It may eventually look for a partner to help lay eggs, thus continuing the cycle of life after its body has finally died.

Stories that build on the dragonfly's metamorphosis allow parents and grandparents to interpret the nymph's transformation into a dragonfly as a metaphor for heaven or as an analogy to life after death. Consider the nymph's perspective. It lives underwater for years and then one day it feels a natural urge to leave its underwater home. The nymph suddenly finds itself above the water in an entirely new world, transformed into a beautiful winged creature with the possibility of new life experiences. The young nymph may have had no way of anticipating these future events until it actually transformed into something else. Is this nature's way of giving us insight into what lies ahead?

For agnostics, the dragonfly's life cycle has something to offer, too. For example, a discussion between a parent and child can focus on birth, growth, change, maturity, and death, but with the perspective of - "we don't really know what happens at death until it happens, that's why it is a mystery." In this way a parent can still focus on the continuity of life because the cycle of life repeats itself with new birth following death, similar in some respects to the changing of seasons.

In many instances, though, the core message of stories based on the dragonfly's life cycle is one of hope for those who grieve the death of someone or who yearn for answers to one of life's greatest mysteries.

Please note, the dragonfly's life cycle was excerpted, in part, from the final pages of The Dragonfly Door. Feather Rock Books, Inc., publishes The Dragonfly Door and The Dragonfly Secret. It does not publish the other various works mentioned on this page.  The other books on this page are not available from Feather Rock Books, Inc. If you know of other works that are relevant to Dragonfly Symbolism, we'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail us at customerservice@featherrockbooks.com.

Books to Consider

Adams, John. The Dragonfly Door. Maple Plain. Feather Rock Books. 2006, 2007 & 2013.

Uses the dragonfly's life cycle to symbolize life after death and to help explain death to a child or to symbolize the belief in life-after-death.

Adams, Clea and John. The Dragonfly Secret. Maple Plain. Feather Rock Books. 2008.

Uses the dragonfly's life cycle to symbolize life after death and to help explain life death to a child or to symbolize the belief in life-after-death.

Cavert, Walter Dudley. "A Parable of the Future Life." Remember Now. pp 197-198. New York & Nashville. Abingdon Press. 1944 & 1971.  

Palmer, Albert W. "Some Reasons for Believing in Immortality." The New Christian Epic. pp 159-160. Boston & Chicago. The Pilgrim Press.  1927.

Parrott, Les.  "Your Future is Brighter Than You Think." Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. pp 22-23. Grand Rapids.  Zondervan.  2003.

Rampa, T. Lobsang.  Chapters of Life.  pp 89-91.  Cutchogue.  Buccaneer Books. 1967.

Rosman, Steven S. Deena the Damselfly. New York. UAHC Press. 1992.

Stickney, Doris. Water Bugs and Dragonflies. Cleveland. The Pilgrim Press. 1970, 1982, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, & 2010.


The Dragonfly's Life Cycle

Would you like to see the various stages of the Dragonfly's life Cycle? If yes, follow this link to our Life Cycle pages ...


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