Thursday, April 5, 2012

Soul Theft and After: The Butterfly Return

A few days ago, I was saddened to see this sign tacked to a tree on my street. I remembered when those vividly colored solar butterflies appeared on the block, ready to flutter their wings in a shaft of sunlight. I thought it was very sweet that a young woman renting a street-level apartment had decided to brighten the sidewalk in front of her building, and hoped that passers-by would respect her gift.   
    The theft of the solar butterflies made me think about theft of soul. In Greek, the word psyche means both "butterfly" and "soul". In many cultures, butterflies are a metaphor for soul, and for growing soul, because of their amazing life cycle of metamorphosis. They go through four stages, in each of which they appear entirely different. They are born inside eggs. They emerge as caterpillars (or larvae) shedding their skins several times as they get bigger. Then they produce their own crucible of transforming: the chrysalis, inside which their tissues break down and they liquefy, on the way to emerging in a new form, ready to fly. Talk about earning your wings!
     This morning, the J'accuse was gone from the tree. It seems to have done the trick; the solar butterflies are back on their posts.
    The homecoming of the solar butterflies is a happy reminder that while pieces of soul can be lost or stolen in any life on the planet, soul can also be returned. Sometimes that requires us to recognize what we have lost, and speak our truth. Sometimes it requires us to take inventory of the souls we may have taken; for example, by holding on to a part of someone with whom we once shared a relationship.
    The sun is coming out from behind the clouds. I want to see those wings flutter and shine.


Wanda Burch said...

What a lovely return of "soul." In a very different situation, one also dependent on the survival of the soul for body, mind, and spirit to thrive, last week I was trekking the paths of dreams recorded in the letters of three Civil War soldiers. One of those dreams was written from a hospital site at Point of Rocks Hospital in Bermuda Hundred, Virginia. Charles Hagar, a chaplain with the 118th Adirondack regiment, writes of a steep hillside where he trips :…”Coming up the stairs from the river this afternoon I stumbled and fell. Some of the surgeon’s wives laughing said, chaplain that is a sign that you will dream of your sweet-heart tonight—I put my hand on my heart—saying O Ladies, I have dreamed of her every night for a week past.”

As I stepped around tangles of roots coming up from the hillside where we believe the hospital was located and probably in the location where Chaplain Hagar tripped, I was met with a flurry of butterflies, two of them landing on my blouse, a confirmation for me of finding the right location and of a soul-healing moment.

Dreamweaver said...

One of my big significant dreams last year involved a large Blue Morpho Butterfly.

I am walking along the wharf at a large river looking out over the water. I see a large blue snake, the color of the Blue Morpho butterfly, with a human-like expression on its face come up by one of the wooden pilings onto the wharf and it rises up looking square at me. The snake lunges at me as if it is flying toward me. I am not frightened but I duck as a reflex as the snake is coming toward my head. The snake immediately morphs or shape shifts into a large beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly with at least a 3 foot wing span. I am crouched down and looking up at the underside of this huge beautiful butterfly as it sails over my head, amazed at the whole incident. The butterfly passes over me and I turn around to watch it more. Just at this instant the Blue Morpho butterfly changes into a large beautiful peacock of the same color. The peacock glides high through the air effortlessly, circles and flies over to the top of a large house about 100 yards away, lands on the peak of the roof and looks back toward me. I wake up feeling like a powerful message has been given to me confirming the current direction of my spiritual journey. I had asked for guidance about continuing in the direction I was headed. I felt I could grasp the meaning of the water (spirit), snake (awaken unconscious energies that influence feelings,intuition, urges, and instincts, bringing these energies up to the surface, they will further shape my personality and destiny), and butterfly (Psyche & soul), but it was not until I found in Carl Jung’s writings last week that the peacock in alchemy, was synonymous with the Phoenix (The mythical bird that never dies, representing our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it).
Oddly, the same color blue had appeared in a dream many years ago where I had been given, like a blue laser beam directly to my “third eye” , some kind of psychic blue energy ray from the eyes of a mystic feminine character in a dream as I was observing someone levitate above a table. Any thoughts?
John W. Robinson

Robert Moss said...

Wanda - what a magical account of synchronicity working through butterfly wings. Life rhymes, and sometimes it also flutters. Many of us are eager to read your new book!

Robert Moss said...

John - If this marvelous dream of metamorphosis were mine, and I had asked for guidance on spiritual direction, I would notice that my journey requires several distinct phases of transformation. Raising the serpent energy is of primal importance. Learning from the butterfly cycle is my next assignment, and the Morpho has additional lessons. I was reading only yesterday (in a different context) about how the lower part of the Morpho's wings are black to make it invisible to those who might seek to attack or devour it from below. The peacock has different associations in different cultures, but something relevant for me would be the semblance of the many eyes making it iconic kin to the cherubim.

Morpho and Morpheus (in Ovid the god of dreams) draw their names from the same source. In Greek, "morphe" is "form" or "shape"; the god of dreams is the "maker of shapes" and certainly your dream producers seem to have been working in his service.

Robert Moss said...

A lovely bittersweet story about butterflies and souls from a friend in Lithuania (where I'll be traveling and teaching in May):

I love your story about stolen butterflies. After my grandfather's death I found a butterfly near window and it lived all the winter on the heater, so I think it was my grandpa's soul. That nice butterfly always was near my bed, on my table. But my daughter was little and once she tore to ribbons my " grandpa". She said she liked beautiful wings. I made a coffin" from a tiny box for the butterfly soul.