Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Strange Stats....."Caterpillars and Black Butterflies'

"The caterpillar spins or weaves the cocoon, and in that cocoon, what the caterpillar is creating is his own tomb. We don’t know if he knows that or not. And he crawls into it, and his body liquefies. Complete disintegration of caterpillar. But in that caterpillar soup are these cells that have been in the caterpillar’s body all along, called imaginal cells. Isn’t that a fabulous word? Imaginal cells. It’s called imaginal by botanists because the adult form of that creature, the butterfly, is called imago. So these are imaginal cells, but to me those cells are ‘imagining’ flight. And these imaginal cells know how to take the soup and reconfigure  that into a butterfly, an adult. I believe nature has designed us humans to go through a similar experience."

Imagine your Imago - Liberating the Imaginal Cells of the Human Psyche
Bill Plotkin

When I began this blog in 2007 to document my project "Spider Woman's Hands" as an Alden Dow Creativity Fellow I never really expected anyone to read my journal.  I've been delighted ever since to meet many kindred and inspiring souls through Blogger - thank you!

"la Mariposa"

I've also sometimes wondered at the statistics Google presents me on its stat page.  What is surprising are the posts that month after month attract the most attention.  Number one is always one I wrote about purple Jacaronda trees, and after that, consistently, a post about a "Green Caterpillar Synchronicity"(2010),  "Black Butterflies"(2011), and several posts about "The Butterfly Man".

I noticed these were at the top of the list today, which is especially funny, since I'm currently doing paintings about butterflies. 

I think often of sychronicities as spirit contact, affirmation, and sometimes as "living metaphors", as dreams made visible and hence open to interpretation on a multitude of levels.  Dreams and sychroncities are personal.....but they also reflect what is collective and archetypal. So I've pulled up again these two posts out of sheer curiosity,  this strange clustering of butterflies that is going on in my life these days, and apparently, in the life of the internet as well. Which, come to think of it, is one of Spider Woman's latest appearances.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Green Caterpillar Synchronicity

(it looked kind of like this)

This morning I went to my mother's house to prepare her breakfast, and beside the door, on a "cat rug", was a strange looking fat green thing, curled into a little spiral. At first I thought it was a bit of plastic the cat had dragged home, but then it moved! Keep in mind that I live in Southern Arizona, where it is currently about 102 degrees, and there are very few leafy trees. I've never seen a caterpillar like this here, although obviously they are around.

I put it on a potted plant, the only thing I could find it might like to eat, although, sadly, the poor thing looks none too well for its encounter with a cat. Can't get over the fact that just yesterday I was writing about, and reading about, Phillip Slater's book  "The Chrysalis Effect"** in my previous post!

I think caterpillars represent, to me, what we are as a global humanity, adolescent, trying to mature, to transform. We're presently, like a caterpillar on a leaf, mindlessly gobbling up our world, eating up everything in sight. The hopeful thought is that there is an impulse, a greater force, within our collective instinct that will lead us into, and eventually through, the Chrysalis, the "imaginal" stage. So that we might become, at last, "winged, whole". Pollinators.......

"Butterfly Man" Netherlands, August 2009

**The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture

The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture"The Chrysalis Effect shows that the chaos and conflict experienced worldwide today are the result of a global cultural metamorphosis, one which has accelerated so rapidly in recent decades as to provoke fierce resistance. Many of the changes that have taken place in the last fifty years - the feminist movement, the rapid spread of democracy, the global economy, quantum physics, minority movements, the peace movement, the sexual revolution - are part of this cultural transformation. Contrary to accepted opinion, the conflict it engenders is not a struggle between Left and Right, or between the West and Islam, but one taking place within the Left, within the Right, within the West, within Islam, within everyone and every institution." "Currently, the world is in the middle of an adaptive process, moving toward a cultural ethos more appropriate to a species living in a shrinking world and in danger of destroying its habitat - a world that increasingly demands for its survival integrative thinking, unlimited communication, and global cooperation." Today our world is caught in the middle of this disturbing transformative process - a process that creates confusion over values, loss of ethical certainty, and a bewildering lack of consensus about almost everything. The Chrysalis Effect provides an answer to the question: Why is the world in such a mess?"
Paperback, 242 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Sussex Academic Press

Black Butterflies

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"The Ancient Greek word for “butterfly” is “psuché/psyché”(ψυχή, 1st.declension) which is used in the meaning of ‘butterfly’/ ‘moth’ by Aristotle and Theophrastus, though its usual meanings are :  breath, spirit, life, soul, departed spirit, ghost, living being, person."  In Ancient Greece the butterfly was a symbol of the soul, because it changes from caterpillar to a beautiful winged creature. Plus it has a shape of a double ax which was an Minoan symbol of the Great Goddess. Greek paintings often showed a 
small butterfly - "soul" - flying free from the mouth of the dead."
What I'm trying to approach with my capture net of words is the magical butterfly, a black one at that, a creature that clearly exists on such an elusive multitude of dimensions and metaphors........that it's impossible to consider her mysterious flight without a "holographic" approach. Butterfly is a creature that flies right into the Dreamtime as she so chooses. So, I'll begin by slipping, momentarily and gratefully, back into mythic time and mythic place, the life-renewing, fluid land of the Fey, the imaginal.

I've spoken with many people over the years who have had mystical Butterfly stories, among them my friend Fahrusha (her name, in Arabic, actually means Butterfly), who recounts an amazing synchronicity with a black butterfly in her blogOut of curiousity, I looked up "Black Butterfly" on Amazon.com recently, and was stunned to find there were 27 books with that title. I think a black butterfly is about the transformation that happens when the Shadow, in Jungian terms, is also given wings, transmuted.  It is a perfect symbol of integral consciousness.

I have met many people who have told me about butterflies appearing in connection with the loss of a loved one, or at times of personal despair. I list below a site that is devoted exclusively to "miraculous butterfly experiences". **To me,  butterflies wonderfully participate in the interface between dream and waking life, flickering on the wings of synchronicity with their multi-dimensional messages, disappearing into the field of dreams just as mysteriously. A "Butterfly Experience" can be  intimate in the meanings they bear, and equally, universal and impersonal. 

Perhaps the most dramatic "butterfly experience" I had occured more than 10 years ago. Since this experience had to do with both dream and synchronicity, I don't know if I can tell it very cohesively, but I'll try.

It began with a disturbing dream. I dreamed I was on a ship, and on the deck many people sat in deck chairs, all of them playing with masks, taking them on and off. I seemed, in the dream, to be two people at once. I knew that there was, down in the lower decks of the boat, a demon. One of the women that "I" was was a kind of priestess or missionary - she was about to descend into the depths of the boat, where the demon below would torture and kill her. She thought that if she did so, offering herself as sacrificial victim, she could save the people above.

The other "me" was a cynical observer who thought she was a ridiculous martyr, and knew everyone, especially her, was doomed. I woke up as the "martyr self" began her descent.

Without going into the circumstantial and psychological meanings of this important dream, I'll skip ahead in real time. About 6 months after having this dream, I actually found myself, with a lot of actors, and a few masks, on an old decommissioned ocean liner (the "art ship"), which was anchored in the industrial harbor of Oakland. I was acting in a movie, TRAGOS, written and directed by  Antero Alli,  and he had decided to do some of  his filming in the very bottom of this 5 level boat; the old, cold, dark, dank, cargo bay.

Descending into the bottom of the boat brought my dream back vividly, and every superstitious notion of prophetic dreams I ever had came right to the fore.  I was going to die in some way! I didn't like it there!

Between shoots, the cast hung out in what must have once been the crew's cafeteria - located in a middle deck, it had round portholes, all of which were closed because it was a cold day in March. As we waited, the Director offered everyone a card from his own fascinating deck of oracular cards (with his artist wife, Sylvie Alli), and there was lively interest as each person contemplated his or her card.  I took a card from Antero with trepidation, and sure enough, damn if it wasn't the "DEATH" card.

Not five minutes later, as I stood with the card of doom in hand, a small orange butterfly landed on my shoulder.

There was absolutely no explanation for how that butterfly could have gotten into that closed room. I had lots of witnesses - and after the miracle revealed itself, several of them helped to catch the butterfly and get it upstairs where it could be released.

As a kind of synchronistic post-script, in 2005 I was back in the Bay Area for a two-person show (with Rye Hudak) at Turn of the Century Gallery, in Berkeley. The movie "Mirror Mask" was premiering, and I remembered how, when I opened my gallery in  Berkeley in 1998, the first thing I was inspired to do was create a mask made of a mirror.  I was also surprised that, of all the works in the show, the gallery owner chose to put on the card announcing the show  "The Butterfly Woman". 

When I arrived in Berkeley to hang the show, I went to nearby Cafe Trieste for a cup of coffee. Two stacks of cards were on the table there, side by side.  One was the card for my show with the image above. 

The flyer next to it was an announcement of the premiere of a new movie by Antero Alli called "The Greater Circulation" (inspired by the life of poet Rainier Maria Rilke). The image on his announcement was a face encased in a skull - a Death's Head.


1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Am so glad you reposted these. The butterfly synchro, I think, is how we first connected with you. The blog stats are always weird, I've realized.