(I actually wrote this post this past March/April)
This is an incredibly long post. As soon as I think I’ve got a handle on what I’m sharing here, a new layer opens up. In fact, that itself seems to be the theme of this post and the butterfly symbology I’ve been working through… the continual cycle of death and rebirth.
In 2018, to honor the 7th birthday of my daughter who died years earlier, I made my first macrame butterfly by following a tutorial on YouTube. Butterfly has been her symbol, appearing over and over again in connection with her memory.
A while ago I decided I no longer liked the way this macrame looked. So last month, on the 7th anniversary of her death, I decided to go ahead and take it apart.
The timing is symbolic. I created it on her 7th birthday. Eighteen months later, the exact length of her life, I took it apart on the 7th anniversary of her death. Birth/creation – death/destruction.
The 7th anniversary of her death also happened to be the 7th day of my cycle. It was the end of my bleeding.
The number 7 feels especially potent. It’s said to be the number of completion. Of significance to me are the 7 chakras that I have been exploring since my spontaneous kundalini awakening three years ago.
As I decided to take apart the butterfly macrame, I could hear a voice inside me condescendingly ask why on earth I would destroy something I made to honor my precious daughter, especially a butterfly of all things, symbol of new life.
But as I often do, I thought about the incredibly detailed beautiful mandalas that Buddhist monks spend days creating with different colored sands… only to mix it all up after they’ve completed it. It represents the nature of the universe, the continuous cycle of creation and destruction, and a realization that our true selves are actually outside of it all simply witnessing it happening.
Nothing is permanent. Buddhism attributes suffering to attachment. We attach ourselves to things that are temporary, and experience pain when these things inevitably disappear.
There will always be pain surrounding the loss of my daughter. But that is from the ego’s attachment (which, I must clarify, is neither good nor bad). The truth is that she never truly left. When I see her life and my own life as extensions of the greater consciousness, I do not suffer. I realize that we are one, always have been and always will be.
And yet here on earth, in our limited human forms, we experience the cycles of life and death, creation and destruction, over and over again. We watch our lives unfold from one stage to the next, a rather curious show filled with tragedy and comedy.
The butterfly has spoken deeper wisdom to me in the last couple months.
Before I began bleeding during the anniversy of my daughter’s last week, I pulled the Butterfly/Transformation card from my Mother’s Wisdom deck (Butterfly was actually the first card I ever pulled when I first bought the deck).
On the full moon during my bleeding, I sensed it was time to pull another card. Butterfly appeared again. Whenever I pull the same card twice in a row, I definitely pay attention (there are 52 cards, so it’s significant).
Of course I thought of my daughter, especially as the anniversary of her death was swiftly approaching.
Butterfly symbolism was showing up for me in multiple other ways. I continued to ponder butterfly wisdom and hold it close to my heart.
After my bleeding was finished, I decided to pull another card, and I pulled Lady Godiva/Humilty. The image and story of the Lady who rode naked through the town spoke deeply to me about the things I’ve been trying to allow- the realization that nothing about me is truly about me, that my own power is severely limited, but that I can tap into the greater universal power around me. The moment I think I’m hot stuff is when my flame goes out, because my flame is not my own.
Several nights later, as my cycle shifted into the pre-ovulatory phase, I felt compelled to share something on Instagram, a somewhat cryptic explanation that I am done hiding.
After posting it, I felt it was time again for another card. I pulled out my cards and started shuffling them in my hands. One card fell out. I was going to add it back to the deck and spread them out, but I sensed that this was the card meant for me. So I turned it over and it was Butterfly. I nearly burst into laughter. I want to say it was surprising but I am no longer surprised by such things, especially being that I sensed I would pull that card again.
Three out of four draws were Butterfly. That’s some strong medicine right there. But especially important was the inclusion of the Humility card in the middle. I feel like I’m on the verge of emerging from my cocoon and becoming the Butterfly in a whole new way, but I’m being reminded that it’s not about me, and to remain humble and realize humility and nakedness is the true power.
Here’s what Butterfly taught me during that time:
Butterfly is one of the most potent and recognized symbols of rebirth. I realized recently that all of us have different parts of our lives in various stages of the caterpillar to butterfly process.
Here’s the thing: you never fully become the butterfly and live happily ever after. You never just fully BECOME some day, because there are countless parts of you that can only mature when other parts of you have served their purpose and died away. The Maiden dies to become the Mother. The Mother dies to become the Crone. The seasons come and go and come again and go again.
The butterfly may symbolize rebirth and new life, but even the butterfly dies. The butterfly does not remain a butterfly forever. Before dying, the butterfly lays it’s eggs, seeding the next generation of caterpillars that will turn into butterflies who will die after laying their eggs and continuing on forever in the unbroken chain of what it is to BE caterpillar/butterfly.
How many parts of you feel like unhatched eggs right now? How many parts of you feel like a caterpillar? Chrysalis? Butterfly? I can look at my life and see various aspects of myself and my dreams that are all in different phases. Some emerge into the world as glorious butterflies just as other parts are going into cocoons. Some parts are voracious caterpillars with a crazy appetite and deep need to be fed, and can I sense there are many, many parts of me that have not even hatched from their eggs yet.
We never BECOME.
We are always BECOMING.
Which is why I can deconstruct a butterfly macrame I made to honor my daughter.
She was here, planted her seed, and died. Even now as I write this, I can look back at her entire life and see with intense clarity the entire life cycle of a butterfly reflected in her own life. As an egg she grew inside me. As a hungry caterpillar I fed and nurtured her. As a chrysalis she endured sickness and surgery, withdrawn in a terrifying way. And after the surgery, she was a beautiful butterfly for two glorious weeks, laying her eggs in my heart before her death. And in the years since then, those eggs have hatched and grown and they all carry her imprint.
And even now, as she is on the other side of the veil, my perception of her is always morphing from one thing into another as *I* am continually morphing from one thing into another.
We are constantly changing. We are forever circling about the neverending cycle of the universe.
The moment I think I’m a butterfly, it’s time to lay my eggs and die and start the whole process all over again. Because this is what it means to BE.
I created a new butterfly macrame about a week before I even deconstructed the first one. For a long time I had envisioned a chakra design that featured a butterfly above the colors, and finally got around to making it. I didn’t feel like I had a grand story to go along with it, until everything I wrote here unfolded shortly thereafter.
My kundalini awakening, during which intense primal energy burst through all 7 of my chakras with speed and violence, was itself a rebirth. And I have died and been reborn several times since then. Every time it appears that I’ve arrived, I suddenly find myself back at the bottom. I reach the heights of ecstacy to be immediately dropped down into the abyss. The more I cling to each step of the process, the harder the shifting takes place. At some point the caterpillar must stop eating and go into itself. At some point the chrysalis must be broken through. And at some point the butterfly must lay eggs and die. To resist the inevitable causes greater pain.
None of these stages are the ideal. There is no ideal. One cannot say the butterfly is greater than the caterpillar because eventually the butterfly dies and is replaced by more caterpillars. Adults are no more special than children, and vice versa. The dead are no more special than the living, and vice versa. These are just different stages of existance.
I learn to embrace the process of life by letting go. I allow myself to dwell, impartial, within the paradox. I allow myself to fully experience the ecstatic joy and deep pain of what it is to be human while dwelling within the comforting knowing that my deepest and truest self exists outside of all this within the eternal I AM.