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A Time for Metamorphosis


I wrote in this space yesterday about the mourning cloak butterfly, and about my mixed feelings with regard its arrival each year. They too often live up to their name, appearing just in advance of a death, as though to warn us to have our own sackcloth and ashes at the ready. It doesn’t help that we lost one of our chickens (thankfully, simply to the gentle sleep associated with advanced age) on Monday, and another is egg-bound and fighting to survive. The latter problem is often one of sheer caprice, but given that she came from the same source as several other chicks acquired just over three years, many of whom, unlike our others, have experienced the same problem, it appears to be a breeding issue. Ours are eggers and pets, and those who can no longer do the former simply become more fully the latter, so, as with her sisters, she will get the care she needs for as long as she needs it.

But the mourning cloak’s appearance again this morning, fluttering around me as I worked, has left me unsettled, wondering whether, as has happened so often in the past, with animals and people alike, her visit is a message.

They are messengers, after all, these small spirits of the summer winds, and what they have to tell us is not necessarily always welcome. That’s especially true now, of course, when the message itself is their very existence here out of season: The old saw says that there are only two sure things in this world, death and taxes, but I think it’s safe to say that climate change is now the third in that list. And climate change unchecked will be the death of us all, in the most literal of terms, and sooner than we as a species are willing to contemplate.

But this mourning cloak differed from her fellow spirits of summers past in one appreciable way: She finally settled down upon the ground at the threshold of one of the horses’ stalls . . . and sat, seemingly contentedly, in the sun. Under ordinary circumstances, her kind are always in motion, not the fastest of aerial dancers, but perhaps the steadiest. Neither of us has ever had a chance to capture one’s image. Until today.

Mourning Cloak Resized

She did not, it’s true, permit me a shot of her with spread wings, the better to perceive her true colors and patterns. In the shadow, they appear darker than they really are; she is not black, but the deep dark red of a fine wine, a garnet shade that brushes up against amethyst. Her wings are limned in speckled ivory, bands that edge opalescent accents of ivory and black and cornflower blue. Her song is so quiet as to be mostly beyond the reach of mortal ears, but its message insists on making itself heard, even if it is not always well or properly understood.

I wonder whether she understood that today would be devoted to her clan and kind.

We don’t think of butterflies as warriors: they have no stingers for weaponry, no intimidating sound or call. But we have perhaps mostly misunderstood the nature of war itself, always preferring to regard it as a temporary state of affairs between human combatants rather than an existential fight for survival. Today, we are all in the latter, humans and butterflies and every other species whether we know it or not, and the choices we make and the steps we take now are all individual skirmishes, battles large and small in a truly global campaign.

And as is always the case in any kind of war, the loudest, most insistent, most self-centering voices are the ones who are best heard but should be least heeded. Survival requires strategic thinking and a willingness to sacrifice, and at such times, it’s most useful to turn to those who live out both strategy and sacrifice on a daily basis, whose ancestors have done so over the course of history and existence.

In other words, the women.

And so we come to the point of today’s featured work, and of this post. Rather than elaborate twice, I’ll simply let the item’s description speak — or, perhaps more to the point, sing. From its description in the Pins Gallery here on the site:

The Butterfly’s Song Warrior Woman Pin

The butterfly’s song is sung mostly out of reach of human hearing, but it shapes our world all the same. With the latest in his signature Warrior Woman series, Wings honors those whose song goes too often unnoticed and unheard, but whose work renews the world and all our lives. As always, she holds a moon in her left hand, this time adorned with new-blossoming petals; in her right, she carries an amethyst, the color of new dawn and twilight. Her dress bears the symbols of the winds and the sacred directions, with butterflies flying toward the center, carrying their song and their gift of pollination. A slender serpent hangs over her right shoulder, a symbol of prosperity and abundance. Pin stands 2.75″ high at the highest point by 2″ across at the widest point; cabochon is 3/16″ across (dimensions approximate).

Sterling silver; amethyst
$325 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Wars are fought and one with music, too, and the song of the spirit is the most powerful kind. Music transcends, but the song of the spirit, of the heart? It transforms war into peace, death into life. The butterfly’s song is our warning: It is time for metamorphosis, if our world is to survive.

~ Aji




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