The Swallowtail Butterfly
I don't know when exactly it was that I first became aware of the true nature of butterflies, possibly when chasing them around the garden at home with my little yellow net, when I was barely able to walk, let alone run, at the age of two. When I felt free. When I was trying to catch the cabbage white, its lime green and black caterpillar having eaten up all of next door's greens. The adult butterfly having emerged from its chrysalis used to flock to our garden resting itself on our dahlia heads or rose bushes in our flower packed beds.
I used to get into all sorts of trouble rushing about trying to catch these dull looking, elusive creatures, a plain white butterfly with the odd black spot on the tips of its wings. I would take swipe after swipe with my ready made trap as I pursued them across open grassland and vegetable patch, doing more damage to the poor flowers and growing harvest than the butterflies themselves had ever done in my attempts to avenge the atrocities their former selves had administered to the plants over the fence. My parents were far from pleased with my antics.
One day, having pulled the wings off my umpteenth leaf and petal pest, suddenly something happened to change all that. A wonderful swallowtail butterfly fluttered over the top of the hedge from below our house and danced magically for a few moments throughout the shrubbery bringing with it a new felt warmth into the garden as if it carried with it the sunlight itself. Its brightly coloured coat of yellow, cyan, magenta and black held me in awe of its own unique identity, shining well beyond mine. I would not wish to capture such a creature but just watch it, let it pitch and glide and wonder at it blissfully, as it made its passage through my life and be thankful for the time it had graced me with its presence.
In later life I was to learn that this was indeed a rare sight and this experience was well and truly special. Swallowtails are scarce, hardly ever being seen in South West England more commonly being witnessed on the European mainland, although inevitably in decline with habitat loss. Had this one got lost? I wondered. Were they more common at the time? It's hard to believe these days that I actually saw it. Maybe I dreamt it? It certainly left a lasting impression on me. Perhaps it had brought a subliminal message from spirit that I wouldn't truly know the meaning of until experiencing another synchronistic moment like it some 30 years later. This is what I have come to believe in any case.
I realized instantly from seeing it, that it was high time I put my net down, no longer to be used as a weapon of mass destruction against my fellow creature. I would celebrate the winged one for all it was, even the cabbage white, who in hindsight I thought had done its level best to emerge from its own destructive past into a much higher being. Who was I to condemn it for that?
No, that would be a lesson for me in later life, a teaching about my own ability to transform, one in which I now hope to help others with too, including yourself, in learning what it takes to become a butterfly or a true ally of nature.
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