On my way to the mailbox, I glimpsed a fat, striped caterpillar from the corner of my eye. It was stretched out on a milkweed leaf. Without hesitation, I pinched off the leaf along with the fat cat. I brought it inside and put it and a long stalk of milkweed in a large, empty pickle jar. Fresh in my mind were headlines I’d read that morning: West Coast Monarch Butterflies Flutter Toward Extinction. The milkweed plants in my garden had hosted Monarch caterpillars in previous years. This year there were none, until I discovered this wildling.
Delighted with my new house guest, I watched it devour the milkweed stalk. I searched online and read everything I could find about caring for Monarch caterpillars and butterflies.
I was so happy to have it here! It was exciting and intriguing to have this cute and curious wildlife inside my home.
The morning after next, the jar was empty. Oh no! My little visitor had gone traveling. I knew that it was looking for a place to pupate. I looked madly to find it, wondering… where would I go if I was a caterpillar? I didn’t want to step or sit on it! Throughout the day, between appointments, I resumed my search. One of my priorities that afternoon was to create a curriculum for a class on intuition. I sat at my altar and meditated. Later, I returned to the empty jar with sadness and then hunted for the little critter and then went back to work. Grrrr…
Daylight faded to sunset and with a sigh, I crawled on the floor and searched under my desk, a chair… where was it?!
There… on my altar, over 11 feet away from the empty jar – it was hanging on one of my Tibetan bowls. (The Tibetan bowls are antiquities. They are made by hand, with prayer. They are offering bowls. When they are played, they offer prayers through the resonant vibrations. )
In the classic “J” shape, it was attached to the side of the bowl by a silk button. Oh my!
The next day, it pupated. I returned home to find a fresh green gem of a chrysalis. Astounded and amazed, I watched and waited. After 10 days, it began to darken as the butterfly matured.
Soon, the orange and black veined wings could be seen through the transparent skin of the chrysalis.
On day 11, the chrysalis cracked open. A healthy male Monarch butterfly emerged with fragile and wet wings.
I was enraptured as I watched his wings unfold and grow. I was fascinated as he extended two thin wisps from his mouth and “zipped” them together to form his proboscis (the straw-like tube used for sipping nectar).
As he gained strength, he began to climb. (I didn’t know that the smooth metal of a Tibetan bowl was not the optimal surface, despite his sharp tarsel claws.) He made it up to the rim where he continued to dry his wings.
Several hours later, I brought him on my finger to go outside. It was a bit breezy, but the sun was shining.
He clung to the salvia until he was ready. Then he took his first flight, up, up and away into the wild blue sky.
One caterpillar transformed into a butterfly which then led to another and of this writing I’ve released over 400 (8/26 update: over 500. 10/14 update: over 800). I’ve researched and studied about their lives. I’ve observed and listened as the butterflies have whispered their secrets to me.
Ubiquitous symbols of transformation, the reality of their lives is much more profound than we realize. The life cycle of a butterfly, from egg to winged creature, is a lifetime of constant metamorphosis and trusting in the unknown. Again and again, it must be patient with its vulnerability and trust its instincts. There is much we can learn from them.
There have been powerful experiences here when a client witnesses a caterpillar pupate or a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis during an astrological consultation or a tarot reading. Sometimes we release butterflies before or after our work together. Their beauty and the lightness of their flight is a precious experience for those who are in the depths of their own transformation.
“The reading from Jacqueline was a magical, transformative experience.” Tim T.
I have more experiences and stories to share from my role as a Butterfly Guardian. Stay in touch to learn more!
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