We are born out of the eggs of our mother, inseminated by our father, awakened to our immediate environment. As Caterpillar, the next stage includes wandering about in small circles, munching on the leaves we were born on, following the wisdom of our immediate and distant ancestors. In the same pattern utilised since time immemorial, our mother instinctively chose the right plant to lay her eggs on. Likewise, we’ve followed our own internal compass, to feed and grow, extending the range of our explorations until we find their natural limit. Next, it’s time to pull back. Think of it as a mid-life crisis, where we realise that the strategies we’ve utilised so far don’t work anymore; or an initiation, like into adulthood, where we know we have to step up to a new level, to leave behind the indulgences of childhood and accept the pleasures and responsibilities of being a fully fledged member of adult society.
Either way, we are in need of transformation. In terms of the climate crisis, we all face this now, which was the point of the original post that inspired this series: as a race of technologically driven modern humans, we are acting like children, despoiling our nest and hoping someone else will clean it up for us, But as George Monbiot recently warned, no one is coming to save us. Which makes it ironic that one of the most influential environmental activists of the time, Greta Thunburg, is a schoolchild. It’s also of note that the oldest cultures still alive lead the way when it comes to ecological wisdom; if only we could listen better. So what to do? In worldly matters, protest, join the movement that places ecological health above profit and endless growth, agitate and never give in. In terms of the inner life … well, that’s another thing.
Because there is no division between mind and body, or humanity and the rest of nature, our social lives completely infiltrate our psyche. The reverse also pertains; as below, so above, or as we think, so we feel and act. We need to take care of ourselves, our souls and our breath, if we are to live fully and not become victims of the stress, anxiety an depression that increasingly afflicts modern society. If we care about the damage humanity is doing to this beautiful, precious and now fragile planet, we need to take good care of ourselves even more so. Sometimes, we need to withdraw from the world and find solace within. Each night, as an allegory, we curl up into our restful world of sleep, allowing the relief of night time to wind us down and prepare us for another fresh day tomorrow. We choose a soft cocoon, just as the caterpillar does, and retire into it. And that’s where the magic happens. (Again, the feature image is the actual cocoon created on my little lime tree by the swallowtail butterfly.)
Inside our cocoon, we dissemble. Sleep turns our mind to goop. The butterfly appears as a transformation beyond the complete dissolution of the caterpillar; it no longer exists, except as a memory of this incredible new creature. This doesn’t happen for us, however. If anything, most of us probably find the loop of thoughts and habits that limited us yesterday kick straight back in almost as soon as we’re awake. BUT we can make the process of transformation more conscious, thus more effective. We might not wake up completely transformed into a beautiful new being, but each night something changes and over time we do transform. Why not make this more conscious with a simple ritual designed to support this process?
Every morning i make a little space for myself and intone my thanks to the spirit of the butterfly. I ask that my night’s rest bring me new insights and allow the parts of myself that are still broken, or crawling inside their own cocoon, or dissolving into goop, or recrystallising and getting ready to break free, to find their way towards transformation into the more evolved being they are destined to become. Find your own way to this and allow the magic to work.
“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.”
Geoff Berry, outlining the rites of the Butterfly: Adapt and Practice, Practice and Adapt.