Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Goddess and the Butterfly

The Butterfly has been associated with the Goddess for thousands of years, and was honored in cultures like ancient Crete as well as in Native American traditions. In ancient Crete the butterfly was seen as a symbol of regeneration and fertility. The Labrys, which is a type of axe in the shape of a butterfly, is said to be a symbol of the Goddess in Crete. It was used during ceremonial events, by Minoan Priestesses. It is said that no male hands ever touched the labrys, it was strictly seen as a feminine symbol and tool, which suggests that it was associated with their Goddesses. There have been labrys's found in all sizes, some so big that it suggests they were used for sacrifice. An unfortunate but very real part of the ancient world, was animal sacrifice during worship. The labrys was also seen in depictions at Delphi, Thrace and other areas of ancient Greece. It is thought to represent feminine power and possibly related to matriarchy.

There are also Butterfly Goddesses, such as the Butterfly Maiden in the Native American Hopi tradition.She is a Kachina, which were seen as types of spiritual beings. They could be anything from animals to insects, divine beings and ancestors to name a few. The Butterfly Maiden is a Kachina but was also seen as a fertility Goddess, she is honored at Spring as she represents renewal and change, as well as rebirth and regeneration. She was portrayed as a young woman with beautiful wings, and surround by butterflies. She can help with any creative endeavors we are taking on, or for renewal and rebirth in your own life. Butterfly Maiden helps to reassure us that change is natural, just like the cycles of life, and to move on, spread your wings and begin a new life.

It is no wonder why the butterfly was and is still seen as a sacred symbol of the Goddess and life in general. The process of the development of the butterfly is known as a Metamorphosis. There are four stages to the life of a butterfly. First as an egg, then once the egg hatches, a caterpillar emerges. The caterpillar then eats and grows bigger, once its big enough, it turns into a pupa, which is the cocoon in which the butterfly will grow. It can take weeks, months or longer for the butterfly to emerge from the cocoon. The final stage of the development is seen as the adult stage, and this is the stage of the butterfly. It is said that a butterfly may only live for a few weeks, but some species are said to be able to live for a few months.

The butterfly gives promise of rebirth, to spread your beautiful wings and fly amongst the air, to feel true freedom. As she waits in her cocoon of darkness, growing stronger, her wings begin to grow, and one day she opens herself from the darkness and is immersed in light. She represents that life will always begin anew, and the feeling of freedom will once again grace your existence.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the ancient worship of the sacred butterfly!

Picture courtesy of Josephine Wall
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