The Myth of the Butterfly



Bob (not his real name) was a caterpillar living in a parallel universe to our own. In Bob’s universe, caterpillars lived pretty much like humans in our world. They were born, attended school, went to work, and eventually died. They had a rich history and also had many myths and fairy tales much like our own. From an early age the caterpillars went to school and studied about the history and lives of their kind. They were taught about the various transformations that they would go through as they matured so that they could be prepared with a realistic attitude about their potential in life. They were also taught about the important things in life like how to find food, how to avoid being caught by birds, how to reproduce, and how to prepare for death. Some young ones enjoyed studying mythology in school. In mythology class they could learn of fantastic stories that were handed down by their elders. Of course none of these stories were true, but it was fun to pretend for a while and just imagine a world where such things were real. No one ever really understood why the elders had handed down these stories that were just fantasies, but they just figured there must be some lesson in them. One of the most loved stories was the one called “The Myth of the Butterfly”. When Bob heard this story something soared in him. Everyone loved this story, but to him it felt more real than his own life. He thought – “what if” - but no, he had been taught what was real. He knew that at some point in the future, after having lived a good life, it would be time for him to construct a cocoon called a Chrysalis. Here is where he would make his final resting place as he prepared for death. There was nothing that he had to do to facilitate this process. He had been taught that at the perfectly appropriate time his body would start to shut down and he would die. Whoever had created his species had made a sensible plan for them to live by. Part of that plan was for each of them to know exactly when to build their chrysalis which would serve as a container within which they would be buried by their friends and loved ones.

But then there was that myth --

A story of escaping death though transformation. The ancient ones claimed it really happened. That there had been those that, instead of dying, had transformed into a magical brightly-colored being that could fly. In this story, all the processes of the old body breaking down were known to be leading not to death, but to the formation of a new body.

- A new body that could live forever.


Bob found himself beginning to believe the story.

What if?

Bob’s parents always knew there was something different about him. When he told them that he believed the myth was real, they tried to get professional help for him. ---

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Bob could no longer simply believe what he had been taught and just ignore his own feelings.


Bob crawled away from home. He crawled far away. He had decided to boldly go where no one has gone before. After days of crawling he came upon a forest. It seemed dark and scary but he decided to enter into this unknown world. Deep inside the forest he came upon a glade. Here was an endless field of the most beautiful flowers he had ever seen. And in the sky were the most brightly colored winged creatures he had ever seen. He assumed that they were birds and thought he’d better hide himself within the grass. He knew that the birds would try to eat him if they discovered him.

Two of the winged creatures flew close to him. He ducked as they flew overhead. He thought he heard a voice. No- it couldn’t be. He thought he heard the voice from one of the strange birds. Then he heard it again. They really were speaking his native tongue. Maybe they weren’t birds after all. He came out of his hiding place and called up to them. They heard his call and changed course and landed nearby.

What kind of creatures are you” he asked. “You speak the language of the caterpillar, and yet you fly through the sky like birds”.


We are called Butterflies” they replied. “We speak your language because we once too were caterpillars just like you.”

Bob was so excited. He realized that these must be the creatures from the myths he had heard in school.

How is this possible” Bob asked. “If you were once a caterpillar like me, how did it come about that now you can fly like a bird. No one has ever done this in the land that I come from. We have been taught that flying caterpillars, er-I mean butterflies, are just a myth.”


One of the butterflies replied. “It’s really very simple. It’s all just a matter of belief.”

Far in the past we lived in the same land as you. We have the same ancestors as you. Back then some of us believed that life could be more that just being born, living a short life, and then dying. We were branded as heretics by those that controlled our society. Eventually we decided to leave the world that we were born into and go where we could practice our own beliefs.”


I will tell you now of the practice that we did that eventually led to our ability to transform into the butterflies that you see before you.”

We were taught that changes would occur in our bodies as they “aged”, and that these were signs for us to start to prepare for death. We said ‘what if those are just beliefs and what if we can change what we believe’. We chose to believe that the transformations going on in our bodies were not the signs of approaching death but rather the signs of our success at birthing ourselves into the new beings that we had decided to be.

We deeply felt everything that was occurring to us while at the same time focusing on our belief that we would transform into beautiful winged beings.

We felt everything.

We believed that by welcoming everything that we felt it would naturally transform of itself into beauty.

So we Felt Everything And Rejoiced. (F.E.A.R.)

And when we did this there was nothing left to fear.

And then everything that we believed came true.


Bob- believe only what your heart tells you must be True- and you too will fly like us.”


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Whatever you believe is True-

Is True.


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The Transformation Process


What happens in a chrysalis?

Have you ever thought of a butterfly as a caterpillar with wings? Think again. What happens inside a chrysalis is a wonder of creation, and a striking analogy for the transformation from mortality to immortality.

When the caterpillar has eaten enough, it finds somewhere safe and spins itself a cocoon

Inside the cocoon the caterpillar changes into a pupa. In a process called histolysis, the caterpillar digests itself from the inside out, causing its body to die. Enzymes are released that digest all the caterpillar tissue, so that the caterpillar is converted into a rich organic soup. However, not all the old tissue is destroyed. In a number of places in the insect’s body are collections of special embryonic cells, called "imaginal buds" or "histoblasts." Until now they played no part in the insect’s life. These cells start developing early in the caterpillar’s life, but then they stall, remaining inert in the caterpillar’s body. As soon as metamorphosis gets under way, these cells start growing again


The job of these imaginal bud cells is to supervise the building of a new body out of the soup that the insect’s digestive juices have made of the old larval body. One will become a wing; others form the legs, the antennae and all the organs of the adult butterfly. In this way, the entire internal contents of the caterpillar—the muscles, the digestive system, even the heart and nervous system—is totally rebuilt.

Although the potential to become a butterfly is inherent in the caterpillar’s old body, the change cannot happen until the old creature in effect dies. Then, and only then, the wonderful process of metamorphosis begins to unfold, until eventually, a totally new kind of creature emerges from the "tomb." (rhymes with womb)


-Hamilton Williams



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