Recently, i suggested that global human society is at a point of transformation, adding that the best metaphor for this is a butterfly emerging from its cocoon: “already transformed beyond what we were before, we have cracked the seal of our cocoon and are breaking free of old limits … but we haven’t yet built up the strength required to fly as free as people can be.” Some people asked me, in response, what do we do about this? And what did i mean by the quote at the end:
“Choose Transformation, Create Cocoon, Allow Yourself to Dissolve into Deep Feelings, Wait, Crystallise, Reform, Grow Strength, Break Out of Former Limits, Fly Free. Repeat Daily.”
What i meant was: there are ways we can work with this pattern, which mirrors something happening in our psyche all the time, to make it more conscious and to allow ourselves to evolve and transform into better versions of ourselves. So now, it is time i outlined some of those practices, for those who like to learn from the beautiful natural world around us.
But meanwhile, as i was writing this, a magical thing happened – a dainty swallowtail, or orchard butterfly, flew past my face, landed on my little lime tree, and laid some eggs on a leaf. A few days later i took this photo of the caterpillar that had hatched:
So, let’s follow this life cycle as it unfolds, from baby caterpillar, given birth by its mother, as all of us were. As you can see from my little friend, the first thing it starts to do as it comes into life is to start eating its host plant. Chewing away on its lime leaf, this caterpillar’s most primal needs are satisfied: it is breathing, moving and feeding, in accord with its desires. As humans, the first thing we should remember is how lucky we are to be doing these things: giving thanks for breath, for life, for a body and for nourishment. Forgetting our fortune as sentient primates is like a crime against the incarnation of this body/mind. Remembering how lucky we are and giving thanks for it is a fast track back to living in accord with the spirit of life.
As we grow, we develop more robust bodies and begin to explore more of our world. As our ancestors did, we adapt to our environment, our family and other relations, and we learn. This little caterpillar will do all of this without guidance, because it is coded to do so; no questions, no seeking, just being in accord with its inner nature. Human consciousness is self-reflective and this is one of our greatest qualities; we get to know we are aware. But that reflection arises out of the distance between us and our actions. We can activate witness consciousness, but also we must, if we wish to re-align the way we think with the way we move and with the wisdom that is delivered to us from the great traditions and from our own dreams and insights. The practice that goes with this elementary stage of growth is: meditation. If anyone would like advice on a good practice and how to stick with it, i’m taking questions via the contact form at www.naturecalling.org.
Meanwhile, as this little fella grows and transforms, i’ll add more teachings of the Butterfly Spirit. But for now, a little background. I couldn’t help taking the butterfly as my personal totem, because its mystery matches exactly the way I feel about the psyche. In this gentle animal’s life cycle I found the perfect metaphor for the changes that occur in our human mind/body as we go through life. It’s not just the big ones, the life-changing transitions like leaving childhood behind when we enter puberty and become young adults; the butterfly’s transformation makes sense of everyday life, because it mirrors the way we come out of the cocoon of our night’s sleep refreshed for a new day, having become dissolved in unconscious rest, while other parts of us break down, retreat, rebuild strength and break free of the various dark places of our inner worlds.