Butterflies and Life Transformations

This week I visited my friend in her garden. There we spoke of the many transformative changes in our lives and in the world around us, as we watched butterflies and hummingbirds lighting on milkweed and on butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii).

Milkweed, is a native North American wildflower that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Viewed by many as a weed this important plant has been removed from acres and acres of land and replaced with lawns. But many organic gardeners like my friend and I are allowing it to take back the habitat it once was so prevalent in. Image credit

Butterfly Milkweed is noted for medicinal properties. One of its old nicknames is Pleurisy Root. It was widely used by Native Americans for treating throat and lung ailments and for cuts and sores. It was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1905 and in the National Formulary form 1916 to 1936. Extracts from the roots of Butterfly Milkweed have been shown to be active against tuberculosis cultures.– Butterfly Milkweed

Butterflies develop through metamorphosis, a Greek word that means transformation or change in shape.  Thus in many cultures the shape changing butterfly is a symbol of transformation,  transition, and resurrection associated with the soul.

In Greek myth, Psyche (which literally translates to mean “soul”) is represented in the form of a butterfly. Befittingly, Psyche is forever linked with love as she and Eros (the Greek god of love, also known in Roman myth as Cupid) shared an endlessly passionate bond together – both hopelessly in love with the other.  — Butterfly Animal Symbolism — Symbolic Butterfly Meaning

butterfliesFrom egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to egg laying the butterfly completes a remarkable transformation of forms in just a few weeks time. Throughout that short lifespan ants, birds, lizards, parasitic flies and parasitic wasps, praying mantis, rats, toads, snakes and wasps have this species on their menu. Image credit

While in the larval stage a caterpillar with many eyes and legs will shed its skin many times as it grows. Following each shedding the caterpillar can become a different colour or present a significant change in appearance from they way they looked before.

The caterpillar’s job was to eat. The adult’s job is to mate and lay eggs. Some species of adult butterflies get energy by feeding on nectar from flowers but many species don’t feed at all. — Four Stages of Butterfly Metamorphosis

butterfliesDepending on species the protective chrysalis around the pupal caterpillar can present in many shapes and in a range of green/brown color shades, protectively camouflaged so they are frequently overlooked. It’s in this hanging chrysalis that an amazing transformation of form occurs, for what emerges from the a chrysalis in no way resembles the caterpillar that produced it. Image credit

Butterflies of Love

As we sat in the garden  I shared how I find myself to be in a chrysalis feeling the need to burst free and spread my wings.  And she shared how she viewed her baby granddaughter as a caterpillar that she wants to  see become a beautiful butterfly.   Both my friend and her daughter are breast cancer survivors, who have gone through physical and spiritual transformations. They hope the little caterpillar will not be likewise become stricken with breast cancer and so do I.  We shared words of  hope, courage and strength. Then we entered the silence, each cultivating the seed thought that all the little caterpillars of today and tomorrow inherit a transformed world.

Butterfly : Mystery of Transformation

In embracing the symbol of the butterfly we are also holding to the essence of our vision to transform this world back into the sacred; regenerating joy, beauty and peace, beginning within our homes, rippling outward with each wave of our wings initiating a new cycle where freedom rings loudly through concerted efforts creating the world in celebration; united.  We as a people collectively opt to make the necessary metamorphosis to peace.

Discussion

When my friend and I parted I shared this quote:

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. —
Maya Angelou

What symbolism do you associate with the butterfly? Do you have a favorite caterpillar or butterfly experience or quote that you would like to share?