Amber Rose Ostaszewski
Moths and butterflies are some of my favorite creatures, and looking through history, it's pretty clear that I'm not the only one fascinated with them. I think that part of the fascination with our little winged friends lies in their total transformation, from a worm or caterpillar, to a cocoon or chrysalis, and ultimately to their ethereal final form that we have come to adore. Through this process there is so much us humans can learn, and that's why spiritualists, philosophers, and alchemists alike has used them as metaphors for many of life's lessons.
It's important to note that these creatures have been historically associated with the souls of the dead. In fact the Greek word for butterfly is "psyche" which means "soul" and from which English speakers glean other meanings of the word, particularly in psychological contexts. This is often why in art history, butterflies were seen in many scenes as a representation of transformation, or in still life works where they underscore the memento mori message of a fleeting life.
The life message that has been most relatable to me, personally, is that of sovereignty. Even though I'm a fiber artist, moths (wool enemy #1) are my favorite. You see, once they've taken in all that the world can offer them as a worm, which to be honest, is mostly food, but in a human context this might be seen as knowledge, experience and nourishment; they instinctively create themselves their own sacred space (a cocoon), and turn to goo. Literally. When the worm has finished creating its cocoon it releases digestive enzymes so that it liquifies and only a few parts, called imaginal discs remain. I see these imaginal discs to be the "true" form of the moth, and from these, the moth's cells rearrange and align so that it can grow antennae, legs, and of course, wings. It's almost as if the moth figures out their most authentic, sovereign self, and fully commits to embodying it.
If you've been following along, you'll know that I have been leaning into embodying Queen of Cups energy, and with the latest shift in energy from Pisces season into Aries season I feel like I am getting closer to embodying my truest, most authentic self and expressing that to the world with flying colors, and I don't think I'm alone in this feeling. Collectively I feel like we've all spent so much time in our cocoons that we're all, in some way or another, finding our most sovereign selves as we move forward.
Another aspect that I adore about moths is their inherent attunement to the moon and nature. There's a line from the song "Evolve" by Ani DiFranco that I think of often:
And there's this moth outside my kitchen door
She's bonkers for that bare bulb
Flying round in circles
Bashing in her exoskull
And out in the woods she navigates fine by the moon
But get her around a light bulb and she's doomed.
She is trying to evolve,
She's just trying to evolve.
It's funny that my guides offer me this line when I'm laying in bed doom-scrolling on social media, reminding me with a very poignant message: stop it. Stop distracting yourself from that which is not your true nature. As I reflect on this, it truly relates to my spinning practice. What I love about spinning fiber is that it places me in the cyclical rhythms of nature--the moon revolves around the earth, the earth keeps spinning, and I too, spin.
I could continue to wax poetic on moths and spinning silk, but I think it's best that I end this post with one of my favorite folktales from Poland that features a very special butterfly. It's an unusual tale that I haven't heard or seen before, I actually found it in this book I snagged from a used bookstore in downtown Cincinnati a few years ago titled "The Spirit of Butterflies: Myth, Magic, and Art" by Maraleen Manos-Jones. In the tale, a beautiful butterfly appears under suspicious circumstances, and as the tale unfolds, leads to the release of truth, forgiveness, and compassion. It's a lovely story that I hope resonates with you as much as it has with me for many years to come.
To learn more, I highly recommend checking out Maraleen's book and by visiting her website at www.spiritofbutterflies.com