Dance of the Butterfly

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There’s an American Indian legend—some say it’s Cherokee, others Shoshone—that a beautiful butterfly woman lost her mate in a war. Grief-stricken, she took off her wings, wrapped herself in a cocoon, and went on a long journey.

She walked carefully, stepping on stones as she went, and saw a very beautiful stone. Her sadness ended at the sight of this stone. Throwing off the cocoon, she put on her wings again and danced joyfully. To this day, her tribe dances the Butterfly Dance to greet new seasons, new life, and new beginnings.

In the world of totems, butterfly is a symbol of change, joy, love, and metamorphosis. Not overnight, the butterfly morphs in a series of four stages:

Egg—fertilization, giving birth to something new
Larva—strengthening the foundation
Chrysalis—cocooning for reorganization
Butterfly—emerging in lightness and joy

Like the butterfly, we’re always changing too—shedding the old, stepping into the new.

What stage are you currently in?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               — Laurie Buchanan and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

38 thoughts on “Dance of the Butterfly

    • Kim – You’re right, I would have been very surprised if you hadn’t flown right over to check out any title that has the word “butterfly” in it 🙂

  1. Laurie,

    I almost thought I was looking at my own photographs! Well done journey.
    Lovely story. Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Gateway to Conscious Evolution uses the process of the butterfly as their metaphor along the journey of evolution. It is a beautiful process…
    I believe I am in the Larva process once again: Strengthening my foundations!

    • Jeff – Strengthening foundations is a wonderful place to be! It’s bicycling season again here (at least most days) and I carry my trusty camera with me. Except for the apple blossoms (in our back yard), the other two shots were taken on near the Hebron Trail (west of us, but still in McHenry County). I say “near” because we ride off trail a lot. A bit of history…

      The Hebron Trail was at one time the Kenosha Division Railroad. Constructed in 1860, the K.D. line ran from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Rockford, Illinois. In addition to passenger service, the railroad managed mail, newspapers, milk, express, and freight. The K.D. made it possible for passengers to leave in the morning, spend a day in Chicago, and return the same evening. After serving the Hebron community for 79 years, the K.D. made her final run in 1939.

  2. Excellent timing Laurie, following the energy of this new moon and the eclipse, indeed the energy of ‘change’ is ever increasing.

    Personally I think I’m in the Chrysalis stage. I’m pulling in to realign my energies by solstice. It’s funny how endings always hold the nub of new beginnings w/in them and yet it takes a while before we realize that doesn’t it.

    Thanks as always for showing up in my life in exactly the right way.

  3. Such a great blog! We are so often at the different stages, cycling round and round. I feel like I’m at the larva stage again, strengthing the foundation, re-experiencing and re-feeling deep emotions for deeper integration. Thanks for asking us.

    • Kathy – It is, indeed, a cycle. Like a great big wheel that ever moves forward — very slowly. If our life span was that of a butterfly, we’d only get one go-round. But most of us have many years, so we can to experience the cycle many times over.

  4. Beautiful reminder Laurie! I can not really determine the stage because they seem to constantly be changing. The good news is that I am mindfully aware of being transition and remember as a good friend once told me “just stay ready”.

  5. lovely pictures and words today…at this moment I think I got “stepped on” or I was going too fast..ran into a wall?

    I have a virus of some kind – broken veins in my eyes, lots of neck and head pressure and green apple quick step and upchucking the day before yesterday…I am thinking it is just passing through, but I feel like I could sleep for a week…I keep hearing my business teacher saying baby steps…maybe I was pushing the river again and I did not recognize it for my happiness

    …and my body is weighing me down today – heavy – I am off to take a hot bath and sweat….not sure what stage of the butterfly I am in…but am in the middle of whatever it is…more tea/more tea…and some turkey soup…

    • Patricia – I’ve found that when I put my head through a brick wall, have morter crumbs dusting my shoulders, and am bent in a precarious and vulnerable position, it’s usually because I’ve gone too fast — my foot’s been stuck on the accelerator.

      Your business teacher may well be right — baby steps. Better to crawl or toddle your way there and arrive isafely, well-rested, and in one piece. Consider yourself zipped in the pod!

  6. Hi Laurie,

    Your question started me thinking about the essential difference between human and most other life, and a breakdown in the analogy you gave.

    Life forms like butterflies have evolved over billions of years, and are very strongly controlled by genetic influences.

    Genetic controls are not like blueprints, they are much more like recipes. They work by sequencing things, steps in processes, concentrations of things, etc. Life forms take on the forms they do as a result of many thousands of major changes, and many more thousands of subtle changes in concentrations of things in various parts of the body over time.
    Often the triggers for such things are cues from the environment, like increasing temperature, or increasing day length, leading to breeding activity etc.

    We certainly have such things in our bodies, they reach their adult form by following a genetic sequence of instructions.
    We also have many such forms from culture, as we work through stages in various disciplines, traditions, occupations, organisations, etc; and we also have something else.

    For me, it is the something else that is most interesting.

    For me, it is the ability of the human mind to go someplace where nothing has ever gone before, to create new order and pattern with intention, rather than simply at random, that is something entirely new in life on this planet.

    So while I acknowledge the existence of the sort of patterning you describe in the butterfly analogy; what most interests me about people is their ability to operate completely beyond the constraints of previous levels of patterning (be they genetic or cultural) and to create something entirely new; in entirely new ways.

    I acknowledge that evolution has explored many ways of creating novelty over the last 4 billion years (in both genetic and cultural/mimetic systems), and that it is wise for us to study the ways of living systems, and the ways of old cultures, and to respect all of the lessons and wisdom found in both sets of systems; and it is also wise for us not to be bound by such considerations, and to remain open to possibilities beyond anything previously created.

    So I am looking to life beyond the butterfly – whatever that might look like.

    • Ted – I enjoyed reading what you shared. What you say here, “…what most interests me about people is their ability to operate completely beyond the constraints of previous levels of patterning (be they genetic or cultural) and to create something entirely new; in entirely new ways” is a very close to how I define “Om” — unleashed, unlimited, potential and possibility.

      • I like that:

        Unleashed, Unlimited, Potential and Possibility.

        Sounds like a great name for a political movement.
        Double up
        Up up and AWAY!

  7. Egg.
    Looks like a new book will be starting soon – done in a way I haven’t tried before. Hope it’ll be good.

  8. Love butterflies, Laurie. They tease us with their freedom, engage us with their flight. And yes, the butterfly only emerges in due time via the process of transformation. They are here for us to watch and learn from. Have a lovely weekend! With heart, Daisy

    • Daisy – You’re oh-so-right when you say, “…the butterfly only emerges in due time via the process of transformation.” Yes – that’s what I refer to as Inner Alchemy–personal transformation.

  9. definitely emerging, Laurie; I am still in this transcendent phase where I am learning to be who I am with all of my experiences. I am leaning into the transcendent phase where I can still live in joy and love no matter what history I carry with me.

  10. Pingback: Growth | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  11. Laurie, it very much seems to be a time of building and strengthening foundations so I sense myself to be in the larva stage again, as my 60’s begin to unfold before me.

    I am also appreciating Ted’s words…..looking to life beyond the butterfly, whatever that might look like.

    And appreciating The Butterfly Effect of what you do here!

    • Colleen – I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful weekend. It’s that wonderful cycle, “…in the larva stage again.” I hope to have that opportunity a few more times before I hit my expiration date. And like you, I also appreciate Ted’s words, “…looking to life beyond the butterfly, whatever that might look like.”

  12. Somewhere between strengthening the foundation and cocooning for reorganization… I called it “regrouping” until I read your post. Picking up the pieces after overextending myself for too many years, finding spiritual, inner strength and reorganizing my home and my routine, carving out a healthier lifestyle.

    We have something similar to your Hebron Trail here in Connecticut, the Airline State Park Rail Trail. People walk and cycle along portions of it and my friend even rides her horse there. You’re fortunate to live so near a rail trail – the path in the picture looks so inviting!

  13. Laurie, I always seem to find myself in an eternal holding pattern. I’m ready to make that creative leap, but I am seemingly stymied by a variation of time constraint, indecision and perhaps a lack of confidence. The butterfly is the perfect metaphor for the stages of our own maturation and level of achievement. I do hope that someday I will “emerge” in that burst of bightness and joy. Thanks for this inspiring post!

    • Sam – I agree that the ingredients you mention (time contraints, indecision, and lack of confidence), would definitely result in “an eternal holding pattern.” Switching out those stale ingredients would result in a different — more tasty — outcome. You have absolutely nothing to lose. Give it a whirl 🙂

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