Today I saw my first butterfly of the season, a black swallowtail who’d arrived a little later than usual. One glimpse out of the corner of my eye and I was filled with springy glee.
Of course, the outer dazzle of that first flutter is just the beginning. You probably learned about metamorphosis in school, and you might have read some of the endless children’s books on the same topic. The way that the caterpillar’s own enzymes turn it into a big melted mess inside the cocoon surely is 100% science plus 100% miracle…. and that’s not even the best part!
The best part is, the imaginal discs – the bundles of cells that develop into the butterfly – they are there all along. Sitting there, inside the caterpillar, as she hatches from her egg. Sitting there as she munches her way through the garden. Sitting there as she spins her cocoon. Just waiting for the right time to do their thing, to give this wormy hungry creature its wings.
So, dear Honeybees, the next time we are feeling like wormy hungry creatures, I hope we will call on our own imaginal cells. The ones that have been waiting all along, waiting for conditions to be right.
True, we might need to dissolve into goo first.
But then we get to fly.
* I’ve been meaning to understand more about butterfly metamorphosis ever since I heard the inspiring Elisabet Sahtouris describe the process at a gathering hosted by the equally-amazing Hazel Henderson several years ago, and this interest was rekindled when I read Gaia Codex by Sarah Drew early this year. All three of these women are winged creatures in their own right, and it is well worth spending time with their creations.
* You can read more about metamorphosis in this Scientific American article, and there are some terrific 3-D CT images in this National Geographic piece.
* photo from Wikimedia Commons, credit Treffert/Carter 2013.