My body droops into a familiar sinkhole. Hatred fueled killings and threats. Jailed migrant children. Climate catastrophe. Political nastiness and injustice grow worse as politicians rule by fear and rage. It’s all too much to bear.
My shoulders hunch forward, tears ooze from my eyes, hopelessness invades every cell until I remember the typed pages on the couch next to me. “Let’s look at my dreams,” I say to my therapist. “They always have a different perspective.”
I glance up as she begins reading the printed copies of my dreams. Looking out the window, I notice a small movement in the sky. Something flies toward us from high over treetops and buildings, not flapping wings like a small bird and not a drifting leaf, but outstretched wings sail on the wind. A butterfly heads toward the top floor of the building where we meet, toward the windows where we sit, toward me. As it nears the glass, it swoops up and over the roof, flashing orange and black, proving its identity with a streak of grace.
A Monarch. A friend. A symbol of transformation.
Stunned by what I’ve just seen, I read the first dream since our last appointment:
I’m in a messy hotel room filled with used mesh butterfly crates. I see fresh plants in one crate and 2 multi-colored caterpillars of a type I’ve never seen. I hear construction noise. It’s a mess in this room. I want to clean up but don’t want to hurt a hidden chrysalis or caterpillar. (9/21/18)
My therapist recalls the dream we discussed at my last appointment, three weeks ago.
In my weedy garden, 2 large multiflora sunflowers are loaded with buds. I pull weeds away to free the plants and see a tired milkweed plant with new growth at the top and 5 or 6 Monarch caterpillars eating fresh leaves. I cut the plant tip and carry it toward the house with caterpillars riding along. When I’m inside, I hear men’s voices in the yard. I don’t want them to stop here. I want to feed the caterpillars. (9/10/18)
The Monarch sighting mixed with the dreams about caterpillars brings a surge of joy. I remember again why butterflies are symbols of Psyche or Soul. The dreams present new kinds of caterpillars and more Monarchs to tend, so I’m not done with this transformation. The dreams also make it clear that life is messy and disturbing. It’s not easy to stay focused and protect what’s trying to emerge.
I sometimes overlook synchronicity, a meaningful coincidence of inner and outer events that brings a message or new perspective. Meaningful is the keyword. Synchronicity is one way for Soul or our transcendent self to send a message to a stuck ego. Because I’m in my therapist’s office, I can’t dismiss this synchronicity as nothing.
I pause, let go of my lament, and take in the wonder of the Monarch. We talk about my dreams and a frequently quoted C. G. Jung’s synchronicity story:
A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy of a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes… the common rose-chafer which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. (C.G. Jung quote from Jung Currents)
The beetle and butterfly come as synchronicities and symbols of hope. I vow to write about them to honor and respect the gift. Maybe I’ll paint Monarchs or make a photo collage of the life cycles I witnessed this summer from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
Monarchs lingered in the early October fields until the wind shifted from the north so they could hitch a ride to Mexico. They’re migrants, too.
In the outer world, they’re gone for this season, but the inner dreamer reminds me to keep unfolding their message. For now, the joy and wonder of this moment is gift enough.
Friends just gave me an exquisite beaded Monarch pin. What surprising gifts have come your way to ease these hard times? For another article about Monarchs, see Mothering Monarchs, Mothering My Soul. For another article about synchronicity, see A Message from the Moon: Synchronicity as Inner Guide.