The Symbolism of Butterflies

Butterflies have floated their way into my life recently. I thought they would be a nice creature to dedicate this first Auratraits blog post to. I have a very dear friend who introduced me to the deeper meaning of butterflies several years ago. She enlightened me as to their symbolic nature when they present themselves in our lives.  Animal symbolism is something ancient cultures have found meaning and answers in since the dawn of time. When you find an animal come into your life, it could come to you in various forms. Perhaps a photograph, a verbal mention or a thought appears to you. Or the animal could literally cross your path at a time when you are most in need of its medicine.

Butterflies are harbingers of transformation, trust, patience and courage. Transformation occurs as the humble caterpillar becomes the beautiful butterfly. Patience and trust are necessary in the butterfly’s journey; the caterpillar turns to complete liquid leaving behind everything it knew before taking its new shape as the butterfly. Finally, courage is embodied by the butterfly. It is not an easy or painless feat to release all that came before in order to become something completely new and transformed.

There is a wonderful proverb* I want to share with you all called the man and the butterfly cocoon. There was a man who happened upon a butterfly’s cocoon. He sat and watched the freshly formed butterfly forcing its way out through as small hole in its cocoon. After a while the butterfly stopped emerging from the cocoon as it appeared to be stuck. The kindly man felt concern for the butterfly and decided to help it. The man snipped the remainder of the cocoon off the butterfly so it could emerge with ease. When the last bits of the cocoon dropped away there was indeed a newly birthed butterfly. However its body was swollen, and its wings were shriveled and deformed. This man now excitedly waited for the little butterfly to take flight, but it never did. The butterfly never flew as long as it lived.

What the man did not realize is that the uncomfortable and slow push that the butterfly experienced as it forced its way through the small hole in the cocoon was necessary for the butterfly’s final transformation. The force that butterflies exert as they emerge from the tiny hole in their cocoons is what assists butterflies in pushing some of the fluid from their bodies into their wings so that the wings can fully form and take shape. The pause the butterfly took in its emergence was not because it was stuck, it had to take its own time to allow its final transformation to occur.

It takes courage when you are being called to embody a new version of yourself. It takes faith when life is asking you to step more fully into your power, your beauty and your brilliance. Change can be very challenging. Many of us get so comfortable as the caterpillar that we cannot possibly imagine ourselves as the butterfly. However deep down we know when we are being called to transform in some way.

Once we consciously agree to change and step into our power, we must undergo an immense metamorphosis. It can often feel like everything in our life dissolves. Like the stage of chrysalis the caterpillar must undergo before becoming the butterfly we too must dissolve much in our lives. We may lose friendships, lovers, homes, marriages, children, jobs, or our perceived identity. It is often an uncomfortable and slow process to emerge from our own ‘cocoons’ in times of transformation. But the discomfort is necessary.

In times of great change know that the safety of your cocoon surrounds you as you come into your new being. Don’t let anyone rush you in your process or meddle with your path; go at your pace and trust that your higher self knows the right way. When it is finally time to emerge remember the final ‘push’ and struggle that must occur. Let yourself breathe life into your new wings. Once you are through the hole of your cocoon, your new wings will take you to far greater heights than you could ever have imagined.

*I believe this is a proverb – it may have been a true story.

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