The Butterfly Shaman

Jeff Oxford

Self-transformation is difficult because it begins with complete surrender. We surrender our expectations and our self-criticism. We surrender to the process. We become patience and perseverance. We become like the caterpillar and fully embody our transformation so that we can experience ourselves like the butterfly.

The magic goes something like this…

When it’s time the caterpillar isolates itself, spins a silk pad and securely suspends its body. The caterpillar’s body becomes its vehicle of transformation known as the chrysalis. Within the chrysalis, it begins to completely disassemble its larval body and its imaginal disks begin to form the tissues of the adult butterfly.

During the transformational stage, imaginal disks which had been dormant in the caterpillar begin a process of creating a new form and structure. They are the seeds of future potential which contain the blueprint of a flying creature. At first, these imaginal disks operate independently as single-cell organisms. They are regarded as threats and are attacked by the caterpillar’s immune system.

But they persist, multiply, and connect with each other, forming clusters and clumps that begin to resonate at the same frequency, passing information back and forth until they hit a tipping point. They stop acting as discrete individual cells and become a multi-cell organism and a butterfly is born.

By the end of the process, the caterpillar has undergone a profound transformation especially considering that there are no structural similarities between a caterpillar and a butterfly. It had passed through a cycle of death and rebirth, dying to its own agenda and self-definitions while at the same time activating the potential of its soul blueprint.

Now it weighs one-third of its original size leaving behind its denser earth body to become a creature of the air with new abilities and a new purpose.

The butterfly is our shaman when it comes to fully embodied self-transformation. It shares with us the medicine of going within, entering the chrysalis of our psyche, and discovering new and unknown dreams, desires, and potential for transformation.

It teaches us that profound transformation starts from within, that we are our own chrysalis and our own access to a new dimension of self.

It teaches us to honor the stage of our simultaneous dissolving and re-forming without self-criticism. This is the most difficult stage in the process. We are left suspended between the play of paradoxical forces and a polarity of emotions and we are asked to go through them without judgment so that we can move past them.

The process of evolution and transformation is constantly happening in our cells. The power to transform is innate in us. We don’t need to hang on to worn out forms and definitions that don’t serve our highest truths.

We have only to align our will to what we know is true about ourselves and allow the process of transformation to take over.