Something beautiful, such as a delicate realisation that is fragile and easily destroyed. The butterfly also links with the caterpillar, and therefore the ability to transform and leave an old way of life behind, therefore transformation and the spirit.
To leave an old way of life behind means a sort of psychological/spiritual death, followed by the long period of transformation. Like caterpillar that has to grow beyond its old self, it goes inwards into a quiet chrysalis before bursting out in a new life and form.
A butterfly can also be such a seemingly fragile creature, and yet can fly up to 2000 miles. So it can signify not only your vulnerable nature but also your wonderful strength. See butterflies; Freedom.
Example: A pram and cradle are in the middle of a room. Then a strange woman runs in and says ‘She’s got a baby in here with all these creatures’. I see beetles, snakes and lizards crawling around, and a massive spider in a web. Then I’m a butterfly and the woman is a caterpillar. I fly to the web to destroy it, but am on the floor as myself again.
The dream from a thirteen year old girl is showing the wonder and difficulty of transforming into a woman. The pram and cradle show what is happening in the ‘middle’ of her to get ready to have a baby. This is what the butterfly and caterpillar refer to also, the transformation going on. Her hopeful and pleasurable feelings, represented by the butterfly, might get caught up in negative attitudes – the web – about womanhood presented to her, perhaps by her family, or others. Being aware of these can help her avoid them.
Example: Leaning close I looked at the worn teeth and filmy eyes of the great body before me. “It is all dying,” I said. “Nothing left. A dead American body.” For there before me was not just John, but a whole nation dying – a reflection of all its ways and hopes. I felt hopeless in the face of such huge death, such enormous absence of life. Yet the eyes remained open and tried to look out at the world despite the thick white film of death across them. The lifeless would not stop looking at life. I felt I must comfort, and help it to die. With my fingers I closed the eyes, slowly recognising that the formless inner surgings were already at work reshaping this being. The crust of the body was like the dry skin of a chrysalis. But the Caterpillar had to die, to sacrifice itself to the unknown, to emerge as a butterfly. This I told to that flicker of life that was holding on, looking out of the dead eyes – the eyes closed. “You must die, and then we can bring you back to life. But you must trust for a little while. There is only a little bit left, all the rest is dead. It’s no good holding on to it, it’s no good. Let go of it. Die, and then we can bring you back to life.
“Now there is nothing to do but wait. Just go to sleep for a while.” I lay down on the floor beside him. “This is a bloody good floor, let’s lie here a while.” I was the priest, the hierophant, leading the initiate into the underworld. “Then we can bring you back to life,” I said. With one hand on his solar plexuses, and one cradling the dying head, I slipped down into the darkness, merged completely into the being of John. In that darkness we were one as I had never been one before. For an age we remained, and then gradually arose, as I gave him the keys to new life. “All that was dead has become earth. It’s no longer sick or rotten, but bloody good earth. The new thing can grow in it now. It is been a hard winter, and it’s going to be a good summer. There is a good harvest coming.”
Useful Questions and Hints:
What feelings were involved in the dream?
What was the butterfly doing?
Did you interact with it in any way?