The Symbolic Meaning of Crossing Paths With a Bright Little Firefly or Lightning Bug This Summer

Photo: Getty Images / Cavan Images
Some things are just synonymous with summer in my mind: lake weekends on the boat, beach getaways, gigantic chocolate-peanut butter ice cream cones with sprinkles, camping trips, and fireflies galore. All of these things were cornerstones of my childhood and now, some decades later, they remain steadfast reminders of some of my very favorite memories. But while going camping or boating are intentional choices, happening across fireflies is not. Which made me wonder: What’s the symbolic meaning of crossing paths with a firefly? To find out, I chatted with celebrity psychic Inbaal Honigman.

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The meaning and symbolism of a firefly

Fireflies—which are technically a type of nocturnal beetle!—often go unnoticed until nighttime. But, as soon as the tail of their abdomen begins to glow, the little bugs (also called lightning bugs) transform into seemingly-magical creatures that create specks of light in the dark evening air, leaving children and adults alike in awe. What makes them extra special is that they're only around for a few weeks in the summer, and only in certain areas (in the U.S., that means warm, humid climates east of Kansas).

According to Honigman, fireflies serve as powerful and empowering reminders for anyone who sees them. "A little light shining bravely in the darkness,” she says of their symbolic meaning. “Small and alone, showing us that we are each worthy, that every person shines their own unique light, and in our own world, be represented in the global struggle for illumination. Light over dark. Positive over negative. However tiny you are, your light still illuminates the darkness.”

Honigman says they’re also reminders to be intentional about the light you seek in others. “Fireflies have a unique way of shining their light, in order to draw the exact right mate to them,” she explains. “They flash their light in specific patterns, and only the right mate responds to each individual pattern. This reminds us to be specific with the people we keep around us, and to be intentional with our circle. One firefly won't be drawn to another one unless communication is exact and specific. Similarly, the right people for you will heed your call. If it feels 'off' then this isn't your person.”

The spiritual meaning of a firefly or lightning bug sighting

Fireflies remind us that it’s the small, simple things in life that matter the most. They inspire us to take a moment to slow down, ground ourselves in the moment, and appreciate all that surrounds us. “Whether we are financially powerful, or possess great physical beauty, or were born with unparalleled intelligence, none of those things matter when it comes down to our spiritual path in life,” Honigman says. “You can be tiny and insignificant in your everyday life [like a firefly], and shine a beautiful, self-generated light in our spiritual existence.”

What it means if you see more than one firefly or lightning bug

While fireflies often flit around on their own with their fellow glowing brethren nearby, a specific variety of fireflies swarms together in synchrony in the Great Smoky Mountains in what’s widely known as the Firefly Display—a natural phenomenon that brings visitors from all over the world.

But what does it mean to see so many lightning bugs at once? As Honigman reiterates, it’s a sign to be steadfast in your journey and to know that you’re not alone. “If you see a firefly [or group of fireflies] while out in the dark, it is a message from the universe, reminding you that every little contribution you make to the greater good, is a wonderful addition to the communal effort of making the world a better place,” she says. “Your part counts. Whether you're able to donate to an organization, or speak up for the oppressed, or bravely live your own truth without hiding—whatever you're doing is inspiring to someone, no matter how small it is.”

The meaning of a firefly landing on you

Another major moment to take note of is if a firefly actually lands on you. “Fireflies are very choosy with who they associate with,” Honigman says, noting that a landing signifies a reminder to be true to yourself, without apologies or regrets. “Mostly, they are choosy within the firefly world, but if they pick you, as a person, that's a double honor, as this firefly has welcomed you into its tribe, and you're not even a firefly yourself.”

The significance of continuing to see fireflies

Do you keep seeing fireflies, even though peak lightning bug season is over? “When we fail to interpret a message from the universe, it will appear again and again in our lives, in increasingly ludicrous locations, until we heed the message,” Honigman says. “Seeing fireflies every so often tells us to take pride in ourselves and shine our own individual light. If they fly into our lives non-stop, that's the universe shaking us by the shoulders and calling out loud to shine our light, and that we are enough.”

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