Beauty above me,
Beauty below me,
Beauty before me,
Beauty behind me,
I walk in Beauty.
Navajo (Dine`) Prayer
"Art is not a thing, it's a way of life"
(seen on the billboard of the First Congregationalist Church this morning in La Verne, Ca.)
It's May Day as I write, Beltane, although, considering the previous article, "May Day" may also mean a huge cry for planetary help.
I love the painting above, which I found in a magazine; I don't know who the artist is, but thank him or her often for this "Butterfly Woman" from whom thoughts like butterflies emanate out into the world to do their work. Perhaps the artist will forgive me that I do not know his or her name........but be glad that the work has gone forth to do its work in my heart and imagination. Pollen: agent of new life, new hope, transformation.
As we (well, some of us) wind our way to the May Pole, and plant that metaphor into the still fertile earth, weaving our dreams into the ribbons of this ancient ritual of fertility, perhaps I can find a way to image the celebration of love and hope with a vast, global cry for help that sounds like a beating heart beneath the surfaces of our lives, just beneath our feet. As the drums and penny whistles sound, as we dance, may we all become Pollinators for our time, for the future.
Like the woman who walks above, this is my prayer: May we have butterfly minds, pollinator hearts.
|Peace March against the war in Iraq, San Francisco, 2003|
The ancient Greek word for "butterfly" is ψυχή (psȳchē), which means "
Transformers, pollinators .......... they begin their lives as caterpillars, build a crysalis, and generate imaginal cells...........
"When a caterpillar nears its transformation time, it begins to eat ravenously, consuming everything in sight. The caterpillar body then becomes heavy, outgrowing its own skin many times, until it is too bloated to move. Attaching to a branch (upside down, we might add, where everything is turned on its head) it forms a chrysalis—an enclosing shell that limits the caterpillar’s freedom for the duration of the transformation.....Tiny cells, that biologists actually call “imaginal cells,” begin to appear. These cells are wholly different from caterpillar cells, carrying different information, vibrating to a different frequency–the frequency of the emerging butterfly. At first, the caterpillar’s immune system perceives these new cells as enemies, and attacks them, much as new ideas in science, medicine, politics, and social behavior are viciously denounced by the powers now considered mainstream. But the imaginal cells are not deterred. They continue to appear, in even greater numbers, recognizing each other, bonding together, until the new cells are numerous enough to organize into clumps. When enough cells have formed to make structures along the new organizational lines, the caterpillar’s immune system is overwhelmed. The caterpillar body then become a nutritious soup for the growth of the butterfly."
from Imaginal Cells and the Body Politic by Anodea Judith Ph.D.
|Photo from: http://www.fishersville-umc.org/classes/nac/Pics/week0401.htm|
Without the grace of the pollinators, the butterflies and hummingbirds and bees, there will be no future. This idea is fundamental to spiritual traditions of native peoples of the Southwest, including the Pueblo peoples, the Navajo and the Apache. As shown above, when this young Apache woman came of age and entered into her fertile years, she was honored by the tribe with symbolic pollen.
"The Pollen Path" is a healing and initiatory ceremony/concept among the Dine` that variously enacts a mythic journey, and demonstrates a cosmology of non-duality. "Pollen Path" art and sand paintings often show the union of opposites, such as red sun and blue moon, as well as mandalas, the balance achieved within the circle. In keeping with May Day, Psyche in Greek mythology was a beautiful girl who was loved by Eros, the god of Love. Here is "fertility", generation, pollination..........the union of soul/mind with love.
As I imagine a "pollen path" for our time, and emanations of hope and beauty, I reflect as well that some butterflies, like the Monarch or the Painted Lady, are migratory. Monarch butterflies will migrate over very long distances, as amazingly frail as they seem. Some travel from Mexico to the norther parts of the United States and into Canada, a distance of over 2,500 miles.
Lastly, a few thoughts from one of my favorite storytellers, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, on the work of the Butterfly Dancer. May we all, women and men, young and old, become Butterfly Dancers this May Day.
"The (Hopi) butterfly dancer must be old because she represents the soul that is old. She is wide of thigh and broad of rump because she carries so much. Her grey hair certifies that she need no longer observe taboos about touching others. She is allowed to touch everyone: boys, babies, men, women, girl children, the old, the ill, and the dead. The Butterfly Woman can touch everyone. It is her privilege to touch all, at last. This is her power. Hers is the body of La Mariposa, the butterfly."
"La Mariposa" from Women Who Run with The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells the story of waiting to see the "Butterfly Dancer" at a ceremony. Tourists, unused to Indian Time, wait throughout a long, hot, dusty day to see the dancer emerge, expecting, no doubt a slender, ephemeral Indian maiden, and they are no oubt they were shocked out of their patronizing cultural fantasy to see at last the grey haired Dancer/Pollinator emerge, slow, not young, with her traditional tokens of empowerment.
Because in the agricultural ritual these dances symbolize and invoke, call in, the forces that initiate the vital work of pollination, this is no job for for an inexperienced girl, no trivial token flight for a pretty child. It's a job for one who has lived through many cycles, and can seed and generate the future from a solid base.
"Butterfly Woman mends the erroneous idea that transformation is only for the tortured, the saintly, or only for the fabulously strong. The Self need not carry mountains to transform. A little is enough. A little goes a long way. A little changes much. The fertilizing force replaces the moving of mountains."
The mythic voice. The Mythic Voice re-enchants the world around us, lending luminosity to each footstep, and pollinates, energizes, en-chants those who hear. It is transparent, permeable. And one way to walk the Pollen Path.
* The Pollen Path http://unurthed.com/2007/05/24/the-navajo-pollen-path/