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PET CORNER

The World According to Butterflies

By Allen and Linda Anderson

 

For most people, butterflies symbolize transformation. Going through changes means breaking out of our cozy cocoons, spreading our wings, and flying in a new direction.

Spiritual growth also finds inspiration in butterfly symbolism. Greek myth presented Psyche, which means soul, as a butterfly. Ancient Christian tombs were decorated with Christ holding a butterfly. The Mexican town of Michoacan celebrates millions of monarch butterflies alighting onto its oyamel fir trees after their two-thousand-mile migration from North America. The mystical view is that the butterflies are souls returning for one more breath of life on earth.

The sad news, reported by United Kingdom’s Telegraph in August 2012, is that butterflies are endangered and at greater risk of extinction than the lions and tigers, according to a global study by the Zoological Society of London.

Perhaps the stories below, first published in “Angel Animals Story of the Week” newsletter, will serve as reminders of the significance of preserving and protecting butterflies and the delicate inter-connectedness of all life.

Butterfly Soul

Mary Hendricks and her husband Neil, live in the country, just south of St. Louis, Missouri. Mary shares her story of butterfly love below.

“As I sat for hours by our new dog Hula to keep her from taking out her stitches, I enjoyed an amazing gift of love. Our Sweetie Dog had gone to the heavenly worlds a month before. Hula, a one-year-old, beautiful chocolate Lab, seemed to be afraid of the doghouse and slept on the floor of the garage.

“While I was watching Hula, a large butterfly began circling around us. It looked familiar somehow. Then I realized that its lower two wings were the same black and white markings as Sweetie had on her feet. The upper two wings were orange. Sweetie had come back in the form of a butterfly to visit us!

“I watched the butterfly in awe as it lit on nearly every inch of the doghouse Sweetie had loved so much, infusing it with her love. Then the butterfly sat on the driveway by us.

“From that time on, Hula has loved to be in the doghouse. She felt safe there from storms and loud noises. She could feel Sweetie’s love.”

Have you had an after-death visitation that helped you understand that with pets, as with people, the love and spirit never dies?

Charlie, the Swallowtail Butterfly

Peggy Lubahn is a lifelong nature lover who lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan with 10-month-old feline friend Roxxie Rocket, whom she rescued last October. Her butterfly story resonates with the themes of transformation and change.

“I spotted a handsome green caterpillar with black and yellow markings on one of my dill plants. The little fellow was about three-quarters of an inch long, so he must have already been at least two weeks old.

“I called him (or her) Charlie and talked to him every day while I watered my plants. His color matched the stems and leaves of the plants so closely that sometimes it took a little while for me to find him. Before long, it was easy to see that the mother butterfly had been wise to lay only one egg on my dill plant. Charlie ate so much that there wouldn’t have been enough leaves to share with one more caterpillar.

“A month later, I found Charlie in the wrong place. He had obviously gotten confused and wandered along a catnip branch that was close to his dill plant. Now he was resting on the catnip plant. At first I was worried that Charlie would starve: All the books say that black swallowtail caterpillars like to eat only the dill and parsley leaves. Catnip leaves are simply not on their menu.

“Then I realized that he was ready to make his chrysalis because he was getting into his “question mark” position. I was sure that he was on the wrong plant because he didn’t know any better. I figured the best thing to do would be to move him back to his ‘proper’ home on a dill plant. Charlie knew where he wanted to be, and it wasn’t on a bare dill stem where a hungry bird could see him. I watched in amazement as the poor guy scurried around in a panic, trying to find his way back, until I wised up and helped him return to the catnip.

“I stayed with Charlie long enough to make sure that he found another comfortable spot on the catnip. I was really worried he might have used up so much of his stored energy when I moved him that he wouldn’t have enough strength left to turn into a butterfly. But the next day, Charlie the caterpillar had become Charlie the chrysalis and he was perfectly camouflaged against the green leaves of the catnip plants. I guess he knew what was best, after all.

“I still felt guilty about interfering and I continued to check on Charlie every day. It wasn’t long before I was encouraged by new patterns and colors appearing under the surface of the chrysalis, as Charlie transformed inside.

“A few weeks later, I stepped outside to find that Charlie had already emerged from the chrysalis. I got my camera and spent an hour with him as his wings dried, partly to help keep birds away and partly so I could reassure myself that he was okay. I was able to get great photos of Charlie before he finally soared away on a breeze. I am happy and relieved that my good intentions didn’t prevent Charlie from becoming what he was meant to be.”

Visit www.angelanimals.net/nlimage36.html to view some amazing images that go with this story.

What are your natural-world symbols of transformation? How can you help to make sure they survive for generations to come?

Allen and Linda Anderson are cofounders of Angel Animals Network and authors of a series of books about the spiritual connection between people and animals www.angelanimals.net. Find out more about their newest book at www.adognamedleaf.com