If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed me making comments lately about Butterfly being a brutal teacher, or vaguebooking about contemplating a serious “leap of spirit” (whatever the hell that means!). This is a part of my practice that I don’t generally share online, the spirit work aspect. I partly don’t share it as much because I feel like I’m still figuring a lot out, and I hesitate to make grand sweeping statements that I will later regret or disagree with or change my mind on. The other part is simply that I’ve designated this blog as my “Urglaawe and Deitsch stuff” blog, and while there is Urglaawe-based spirit work, within the tradition of Braucherei, I don’t feel that what I’m doing always represents that tradition.
Nevertheless, I wanted to share some of what I’m up to lately, if only because I hate it when other people vaguebook and then don’t follow up on it!
One of my major spirit helpers is Butterfly. When I’m talking about Butterfly, I mean the overarching spirit of butterflies together, sort of as a collective or tribal representative. But I also work with individual types of butterflies as spirit allies, such as Peacock and Purple Emperor. Just as working with Tiger is not exactly the same as working with Lion, even if they’re both types of cats, these different butterflies have their own power and lessons to teach. It’s somewhat surprising to me that most books discussing totems/animal allies/etc don’t go any further than just mentioning Butterfly as a collective whole. I think that there is less exploration into insect totems because they are seen as less desirable or less powerful by some, or as less relatable than our fellow mammals.
While each butterfly species is unique, and more importantly, each person’s individual relationship with a particular butterfly spirit is unique, the one universal lesson you can draw from all butterflies is that of transformation: Butterfly is master of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. You can be sure, if you do a lot of work with Butterfly, that you will be undergoing this cycle.
If you’re someone who resists that particular cycle (not that I know anyone like that), or struggles to embrace change (errrrmmm), or that refuses to let go of the past (nooooo, not me!), then Butterfly’s lessons might come across as…somewhat difficult. Painful. Brutal. Traumatic.
Not that I know anything about that. Ahem.
This cycle is actually what life is all about as far as Urglaawe is concerned–constantly striving to improve ourselves, and by extension our communities, tribes, and all of humanity.
I’ve been involved in what I consider either a collection of butterfly cycles, or a rather big long butterfly cycle, since October of last year. (Not an insignificant or coincidental time, since it’s both my birth month and the month of Allelieweziel.) I feel that this began in response to a prayer. I asked for help taking up my personal power–no small request! You would think that after many years of considering Butterfly to be a spirit ally that I would be prepared for the fact that this means tearing things down before I get to build them up. Or perhaps the fact that I’m a Scorpio, ruled by Pluto, with the archetype of the Phoenix, who must go down in flames before being reborn. Or maybe the fact that my patron is Wudan, Who is just a tad involved with things like death, transition, crossings, shamanism, initiation, and sacrifice, would have clued me in.
Nope. Sort of forgot that little bit. My life imploded in truly spectacular and terrifying fashion. I lost almost everything I cared about, including people I loved deeply, home, finances, car, the works.
And yet, all was not as dark as it seemed. I left the poorly repaired apartment that had been making me sick for a year with mold, and regained my health. I was forced to fight for my career in a way that led to new opportunities and new directions that will enable me to earn far more money than before. I lost fair weather friends but discovered some very true ones. I got reminders to cherish the people and animals in my life every day after beloved friends and pets died. I welcomed new friends and pets into my life, and regained closeness with some family members. I gained plenty of time to focus on what truly matters to me, and do creative work like writing and fiber art.
But perhaps more importantly, I was forced to put my complete trust in the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits. Everything else I could have put my trust in was torn away from me. I had no choice but to start talking to Them more, to start asking Them to guide me, and to listen to what They had to say. I couldn’t just solve things by myself–it was all far larger than me. I had to learn to accept help, both directly and indirectly, through the people, opportunities, and gifts I was sent by my spirit family to keep me alive.
As you can probably gather, none of this has been easy to go through, nor is it easy to talk about. I’m not out of the woods yet either–or, more accurately, I’m not out of the cocoon. Trust was only one of the many lessons that I needed to learn, and I’m far from being done processing my experiences.
Meanwhile, I heard one of those things that you come across at just the right point in your journey so that it resonates with you, and helps you through those changes you’re making. That was this extremely inspiring episode of Rune Soup (a great podcast!) discussing contemporary shamanism, which is probably as close as you can get to what I mean when I say “spirit work”. What Kahn had to say was so simple, and should have been so obvious–the point of a spirit journey is to get an answer to a question, and the entire journey itself is the answer. I keep resisting the idea that the Spirits that have chosen to work with me are there to help me. I’ve always tried to shoulder it by myself, come up with all the answers, fix everything. I also clearly need to go back and do some of the work that he discusses in context of becoming a “spiritual adult”, such as clearing out past traumas and releasing baggage. Kahn is right on that we, as spirit workers, as shamans, need to be helping our society cope with problems such as the dead not being tended, and initiations to adulthood not being offered. We wonder why we have a society full of adult children, entitled and self-centered and hurt by every little thing, yet there’s no demarcation between childhood and adulthood anymore, to serve the functions of releasing past baggage and inducting you into a community with shared well-being, shared values, shared investment in one another, where you have a clear role to play. No one leaves the nest anymore because there’s no one to fly by our sides!
So that’s some of what I’ve been up to, deep within my cocoon. There’s still a whole lot of rebuilding to do–but now I have a powerful reminder to go ask my spirit guides for help. Maybe instead of struggling through Butterfly’s curriculum by myself, I could, you know, actually ask Butterfly to teach me?