Butterfly: totem of transformation

Butterfly/Caterpillar’s Wisdom Includes:

  • The power of the whirlwind
  • Reincarnation
  • Transformation
  • Transmutation
  • Magick


All last winter, through the misery of snow and ice and wind and rain, there huddled in a corner of my study window a small tortoiseshell butterfly, hibernating. I gave it dilute honey to drink and cherished its prescence in my room. Spring has come and the little butterfly didn’t fly. It had simply been too long a winter and it’s dead.

Walking today in the woods, I found myself buzzed by this butterfly, a different species, which came to me in total four times, until I got a decent photo of it. It’s not a small wood, but the same butterfly(I think) came to me four times. Four is a shamanically significant number, signalling truth.

The butterfly is a symbol in many cultures of transformation. My life is being transformed in so many ways right now. This little insect brought me hope through a hard winter and today brought me hope again that the creative impetus has not gone away and that beauty and truth and vision are still  part of me.

9 thoughts on “Butterfly: totem of transformation

  1. It always amazes me how nature can inspire us, give us hope and simply heal us by just “being”. Taking a walk in the woods, watching birds and clouds, listening to the ocean or simply observing a butterfly can make us feel so much better- full of love and hope 🙂
    I have always found butterflies inspirational for their ability to transform and because they remind me that we don’t necessary have to begin our lives with wings to be able to fly, but we can grow them in time…


    • I grew up with butterflies as my brother is a lepidopterist (among other things) and breeds both butterflies and moths.
      I’d love to grow some wings but they’d need to be big ones to get me airborne!


  2. I miss the butterflies:(
    When I was growing up, they were my constant companions…but you don’t find them in the cities. The cities have killed them.


    • My brohter’s final film for his degree(he did animation and photography) was a story of just such as this; a supermarket built on the ancient breeding grounds of a rare butterfly. The ironic thing is this though: he too became an endangered species as he learned animation BEFORE the advent of computers into animation so his film was all hand drawn.
      In England the various government bodies(I used to work for one)have woken up to conservation issues and have begun to drawn back. There are now wild spaces in parks where butterflies can breed. I keep areas of my own garden wild, allow nettles to grow. But then, I have always loved nature.
      My brother is a bit of a bastard in many ways, but he’s always loved the natural world and that’s his redeeming feature. His greenhouse full of butterflies and his conversation volunteer work make up for his almost Aspergers approach to life.
      You need a holiday somewhere wild and lovely…..


      • Holiday?
        Haven’t had one in five years…
        Doesn’t matter much actually…except that I can’t leave the city – I am good at escaping into my mind. Next time when I do, I’ll invite the butterflies:)



  3. Exquisite in all ways, including the photo of the butterfly, a type I don’t see in my part of the world. I saw a Monarch here on the Day of the Dead, November 2, either migrating through or hatched in my fields in the unusually warm wet weather. I was thrilled to see it and then heart-broken, knowing there are no nectar plants left for it in the fields and the wind was blowing from the south. It needed a north wind to travel south. Fast. Monarchs are usually far south from here by the middle of October. So, once again, that realization, resonating with your little dead butterfly, that Nature is harsh and She makes mistakes. Thank you for sending this, Vivien.


    • It’s a peacock butterfly; they also overwinter. nature does make mistakes; as someone with a congenital collagen disorder, I know this very much to my cost.


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