My favourite author is Gill Edwards – check her out on http://www.livingmagically.co.uk. The butterfly is a recurring symbol in her work. Not surprising given that the caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis offers rich resonance for personal transformation.
I had an interesting recurring experience the week before last. The sun was warming our beautiful city – London, that is – so I was spending a lot of time outdoors. One morning, returning from a walk I was about to open my front door when a butterfly flitted across about 3 inches from my face and landed on the door frame. Having recovered from my surprise I barely glimpsed its colouring – flashes of oranges and browns – when it snapped its wings shut and remained absolutely still. I remained captivated by its stillness and closed-ness. I gazed at it for a good 30 seconds during which time it did not move and not open up. So I opened the door.
The next day another butterfly – this one was a variagated creamy colour – did the exact same thing except that it landed on a leaf (I was out in the garden). Wings snapped shut, remaining still. Apart from feeling both surprised and delighted that these butterflies were practically brushing past my skin I was now intrigued by the still closed-ness. I was waiting to watch it take flight and delight me with its display of beauty. But it didn’t. Eventually my impatience dissolved and focusing on my own breath I left the creature to its own devices.
By the time a third butterfly did the same thing – in a different part of the garden a few hours later – I was paying attention. Suddenly I was thinking about the relationship between (dis)playing in the world and withdrawing from that display. This time, I shut the door.