The butterfly is most often seen as a symbol of transformation because of its impressive process of metamorphosis from egg, to larvae, to pupa to butterfly in a relatively short period of time.
The Greeks likened the butterfly’s constant movement from one flower to the next to be reflective of the restlessness of the human mind: constantly changing from one thought to another to another in a never endless parade (usually celebrating nothing of importance). In fact, the Greek word for butterfly is “psyche” from where we get our word “psychology” – the study of the mind.
In some cultures butterflies are seen as the departed souls of their ancestors. Indigenous people recognize the cocoon as the soul trapped inside in the body. The emergence of the adult butterfly symbolizes the freedom of the soul upon death.
The caterpillar stage is marked by a voracious appetite and constant search for food and has been linked to the insatiable materialism of our world. We search for jobs, families, houses, cars and a bigger paycheck as some definition of “having arrived”. When the material aspects of life no longer serve as a reason to support our definition of self and life, we seek answers inside ourselves. We stop, pull back from the material world, and take our “mid-life” crisis into the cocoon searching for “higher” answers. The cocoon stage represents that fundamental inward journey where we question, re-evaluate and re-define our point of view concerning the meaning of life. Emerging as a butterfly we awaken to a new consciousness. We see reality from a higher perspective and seek to live our lives in a more spiritually evolved state of being.
Who amongst us can even imagine our self perception and life becoming unrecognizable in a blink of an eye? The butterfly is a call to a faith that the journey, even with the many, and varied, and frightening transitions, is worth taking. Think of the beauty that would be missed by the world for every caterpillar that elected not to become a butterfly!
If I were a butterfly, my life would be a shining example of a journey toward enlightenment based on an unwavering faith that there is a grand plan for my life created by a Power higher than myself.