When I was a young boy nothing interested me more than roaming the yards and alleys of my block, net in hand, searching for the exotic butterflies I read about in my insect book.  While I would find Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks and Tiger Swallowtails, I was ever on the hunt for exotic purple, blue and other magical specimens that I believed just might drift up from the deep jungles of South America or mystically get swept up in a trade wind from Africa.

I dreamed of being an entomologist and once literally dreamed of a vast underground archive of every butterfly that ever was—level after level going down and spreading out in all directions in a treasure trove of all the colors and patterns from nature’s palette (far exceeding anything I could ever express of my own palate).

Much later, as I ventured into my studies in psychology, it pleased me to learn that the word “psyche” means both soul and butterfly in Greek.  So, in a way, my path as psychologist was foretold in my almost magnetic enchantment with butterflies, as well as representing my intuitive quest for the Anima (with the butterfly an apt symbol of the luminescent soul that we all tend to project out and pursue in the world until we realize, as my early dream also foretold, that it is to be found deep within us, as symbolized as residing within the depths of the earth).

It is interesting what the child’s mind knows before it is taught and influenced by the world, and I suspect that most kids carry this sort of knowing, only most quickly forget it as they acclimate to the world.  I never really fully acclimated to the world, but I remember arcane things of child-mind, in recompense perhaps.

It is in the context of my long interest in butterflies that I had a recent dream which has been haunting me:  in it, my younger son, Will, had made a film in which he animated butterflies in a three-dimensional space; a couple of butterflies were seen perched on a doorframe without a door or a wall, but the slight butterflies were pulling apart the frame, revealing nails and scotch tape.

While dreams offer multiple layers of meaning, in part I saw this as my deep Self (symbolized by my beloved, creative child and “Will”) animating, or bringing to life the symbol of the psyche/soul, which in turn, dismantles the frame, or way of seeing the world.  The door is also a portal, which can be a path, a beginning, a transition (and while I will have more to say about it in coming posts, an exhibit of Jung’s “Red Book” has just come to Los Angeles, possibly marking some sort of transition in consciousness rippling out into the collective).

Jung speaks about how individuation can make a person feel a bit concerned about their grip on sanity, that it is healthy and creative, but also disturbing.  I share this dream in the spirit of both kindred encouragement for readers who are on their own sometimes lonely and at times disorientating, uncomfortable or discomfiting journeys, and for those who currently pass through some dark nights of the soul—to trust in what is within you, and also what is between us all.

Another gloss on this dream is the often bandied about image in chaos theory that a butterfly’s wing-flap could set off an event that culminates in a hurricane—that small things can have big impacts.  It is in that sense that I share this dream as well, in the hope that small moments of presence, of compassion, of productive suffering, of creativity and love might have effects that we cannot necessarily fathom.

So perhaps we might dedicate today to an inward-turning appreciation each for our own psyches, those luminous and elusive soul-Selves which guide, nourish, deconstruct, construct, complete and transform us—wellsprings of our very being and of our best Selves—placed in the conscious service of both our own individuation processes, and of our world and all its collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

p.s. If anyone cares to share any dreams that haunt, puzzle and/or seem like they pertain to the collective feel free to share it in a comment or send an email to poptheworld at att.net.  Making use of this blog as a place for collective dream work is one idea I have been playing with for the future.


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6 Responses to “Butterflies”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    It’s an interesting and lovely dream, one that no doubt set off a chain of thoughts – a butterfly effect of its own – an effect I am a believer in. Our collective “soul-selves” – it sounds good. Some days I can believe, and others, not so much.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      It’s particularly on those “other days” that we need to reaffirm that we’re in it together, comparing notes on our dreams and realizing that we are all co-dreaming the collective dream.

      If any butterflies show up drop me a line.

  2. Stephanie Says:

    I love how the animated butterflies in a film combine two of your past aspirations and how they pull apart a door frame, literally disolvibg any limitations for what cones next for you. And the double-triple meaning of the architecht of the scene being Will, as you pointed out yourself, your Will and your child.

    For a minute when I read the dream, I first read it that the butterflies fell apart and were revealed to be taped and so thought it was something about the dissolution of idealization of filmmaking-something I think we share.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I have been dreaming a lot and will share my next here.


    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      “the dissolution of idealization of filmmaking.” Yes, I like that—in a sense trying to get past “art” in any modern sense (i.e. commercialized, striving for collective approval, expressing the individual ego) back toward the shamanic roots of symbol-making and the collective unconsciousness’ wish for Self-expression.

      I look forward to yours, and other dreams that might wash up onto the shores of this space.

  3. Lindsey M Nelson Says:

    So interesting that I am reading this just moments after a butterfly life cycle video mini-marathon with my boys who are currently fascinated with caterpillars (especially Eric Carle’s “very hungry” one) and their metamorphosis. Watching them helps me to be more sympathetic to my children and the effort it takes for them to grow and learn, a chance to see our own life dramas and evolutions mirrored in the expedited life process of the butterfly.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      I love Eric Carle and that much-read book that floods back to my mind with your comment (he really captures something magical, doesn’t he?).

      Here’s to change as our only constant—thanks for sharing as we all metamorphosize together.

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