What does the Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem Mean? Life Cycles

Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem

While other animal medicines may visit our lives for a time and then depart, this medicine is always present in all we do because we are always in one of three stages of energy: the caterpillar stage, the cocoon stage, or the butterfly stage. Understanding the unique characteristics of each of these three stages helps optimize the enjoyment of your experience here on Earth. Is it time to put away the fancy things and return to the repetitive tasks that will deepen your craft?  The caterpillar phase is all about repetition and data input.  This is the time to gather and prepare.  Caterpillar inches towards her transformation with unstoppable resolve.  She is at peace with the slow pace of things at this time and only concerns herself with eating her leaf bite by bite.  The Butterfly Spirit Totem is teaching you the importance of breaking your tasks down into accomplishable activities. Some days are all about just eating your leaf. Keep going, keep simple, keep trying, and keep moving forward no matter how tiny your advancement may seem.  Caterpillar knows that all those wonderful moments of flight and success were due to all the time spent in the slow process of effort.

When it seems that your already slow pace has arrived at a complete standstill and you are at a total loss of what to do next, welcome to the cocoon.  It is time to put effort down.  There is nothing more you can do.  In the cocoon phase, all thought process lose their thread of logic.  You often forget the whole point of your goal and the material you were once so familiar with suddenly seems strange and irrelevant.  Frustration is the most common reaction at this point but the medicine of the chrysalis asks us not to fight the phase of stillness we have entered.  When cocoon energy arrives let the dismantling process occur. You will not be able to follow the play by play sequence of events that are about to happen to you.  And your effort is no longer required.  It is time to get out of the way and watch. When a caterpillar shifts into a cocoon phase, paralysis takes over and a single silk thread of energy begins to spin out from her inner (infinite) core.  That silk is a product of all her efforts.  It comes from the cosmic mystery and carries new information impossible to predict.  When you find you can’t read another book, or swing one more backhand, or take one more free-shot, it is time to wrap yourself in the magic of your efforts and let go of all you think you know.

Inside the cocoon caterpillar breaks down every cell of her old body and liquefies herself into a matrix of potential.  This is no small feat. She disintegrates herself with the full knowledge that she will emerge into astounding changes. Unlike Snake medicine which enters a process of renewal, (becoming a new version of its same shape) the Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem enters a process of reinvention.  She becomes something completely different.  When you’ve entered the cocoon phase know that you are fragile.  Easy does it. Remove yourself from activities that might tear your concentration.  It is time to yield to total stillness.  In the stillness, new information will arise.  Receiving this new information may not be a mental experience you can keep track of and it may not ‘feel’ like anything except odd and indescribable. Know that you are improving your sense preceptors, you are developing new capacities of understanding.   Your old methods of perception are being redesigned by a force of nature beyond your limited physical comprehension.  Let yourself enter the ‘no-thought-zone.’  Say ‘I don’t know’ to questions that seem exhausting.  Ever so slowly as you hum from your cocoon you will begin to feel a new limb reach out, a new ability suddenly appears.

The butterfly is emerging.  Will you believe it and step into your hard-earned magnificence?  You can fly now and there’s not much time, so go!  Let your self take action now.  Waste no time scrutinizing the strangeness of what you have become or where it came from.  Believe it and explore your new skills. In the butterfly phase, we feel optimal grace and clarity.  Productivity is at high tide and information seems to stream endlessly from an inner river of wisdom.  Now is the time for glitz and glam.  Go all out.  Take the stage and find your light.  Does getting fancy make you uncomfortable? The challenges of the Butterfly stage can be about letting yourself step into the power and beauty you are capable of.  While everyone around you is munching away at their personal leaf, you’ve suddenly come into your own.  Will you leave the old environment behind?  Or will you stay put and try to fit in where you don’t belong anymore?  Butterfly says to follow your personal adventure.  Another challenge in this stage of energy is navigating the inevitable shift back into caterpillar mode.  We can not fly indefinitely. We are going to eventually run out of inherent clarity and we will always need to return to the slow efforts of caterpillar once more.  It is also very helpful to remember our health while we are flying high in this phase of life and not to forget about the basic care for our body.  It is easy to forget to eat when living in a rush of inspiration.  Butterfly loves sugar.  Her body is built for it, but yours isn’t, so don’t forget to eat your leaves in this stage.

The Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem is ultimately about learning how to move with grace through these three distinct phases of energy so that when the shifts occur our transition into the next phase is a smooth one.  When at a loss, take a moment to identify where you are in the cycle of Butterfly medicine.  Is it time to push yourself? Is it time to tuck yourself in and zone out? Or is it time to launch into inspired action?  Butterfly medicine is constantly fluctuating between social and anti-social activities.  In matters of love, there couldn’t be much sweeter than Butterfly medicine.  But she reminds us that all relationships are fragile, paper-thin cycles of understanding that must be protected with gentle care.  It may be time to let go of the sexuality and find intellectual chemistry… or… it may be time to put down the philosophical discussions and let your animal bodies out of their cages.   Do something mindless and fun to feed the late nights talking by the fire.

Butterflies are insects and insect medicines always involve extraplanar, multidimensional sensations.  There is no end to their eccentricities at every stage of life. It is sometimes hard to believe they are real, they seem so outrageous. Butterfly is a literal shapeshifter, the stuff of fiction to our mammalian understanding of things.  Many of our science fiction stories reference insects as they describe alien encounters.  Insects are often difficult medicines for humans to experience because they are so different from our design and makeup.  But the butterfly is an iconic symbol to the human psyche because her life story is a visual reminder of what our own souls do as we evolve through time.

This medicine shares many of the same teachings as Dragonfly medicine but the differences between them are valuable to note.  Dragonfly is a predator animal whose design is a hovercraft that can zero in on a target. She is an aggressive energy that can, if mishandled, become quite painful.  Butterfly evolved with the flowers.  Her design flutters and blends in with the petals and colors of plants.  Like the hummingbird, she lives on the sweet stuff of life.  To find this medicine spend time lying in fields or bring some flowers home to cheer things up.  People who have Butterfly medicine in their personal totems often experience these cycles with an intensity bordering on paranormal.  Consistency can be a challenge as they may suddenly wake up feeling so completely different from the day before.  Butterfly medicine people can also experience lapses in memory and moments of disorientation as a brand new self suddenly drops into place.  Walking with this personal medicine is a study in how to assert your own rules to life.  The ‘standard’ social system may not always work.  Use the systems in place only to the extent that they are helpful.  Drop them when they no longer feed your interests. The lesson here is to stay true to your unique natural process regardless of how unconventional or inconvenient it may seem to others. The beauty and wisdom that emerges from an uninterrupted butterfly process is priceless and always worth the wait.  Butterfly is also a pollinator whose actions have long-lasting and unpredictable effects on an environment.  She makes connections, sets a process in motion, all by doing what she loves to do.  Butterfly does not concern herself with what the flowers might need from her.  When she focuses on what she needs from the flowers, the balance of the meadow is sustained.  The Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem suggests that you do what you love to do and trust that it is part of a much larger symphony in nature.


Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem
Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem
Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem

Butterfly Spirit Animal Positive Affirmations:

  • I relax into the movement of change and let myself be transformed by my current situation.
  • I trust the Universe will guide me through what I can not fully understand.
  • I say, “Yes!” to the spotlight and let myself shine. 
bat medicine, meaning of bat, spirit animal meanings
Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem
Butterfly Spirit Animal Totem
About the author

About the author

Hi, I’m Jess.  I study and practice nature-based healing methods.  I offer healing arts workshops and life guidance in Los Angeles, California. Learn more about Jess…

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