Here is a new wooden board painting, called Psyche because of the butterflies in it. (You can read the myth of Psyche and Eros here.) She is the latest in my series of Goddess paintings.
Below are others from the series: Abundance, Soulful, Nurture and Moongazer. They have all gone to loving homes in the big wide world.
Butterflies continue to be a theme in my life. I couldn’t resist writing about a butterfly that I nearly trod on on my way to the allotment. Here it is, a White Letter Hairstreak that was sitting cryptically on the pavement, the first one of this species I’ve seen.
I knew they were flying around the elm trees around now – and we have plenty of elms in Brighton. The larvae live on their leaves.
I picked the butterfly up and put it on an elm leaf. It then flew off. I was meant to find it as on my return journey, there it was again! Or another one. So I picked it up and carried it home to take these photos. You can see the white ‘W’ on its hindwing quite clearly. I put it again on an elm tree leaf for shelter. No doubt it’ll fly off and find some privet blossom or bramble flowers and return to the elms to mate and/or lay eggs.
A couple of weeks ago I had some Shamanic healing. I was told to choose a stone from a selection of different stones and crystals laid out on a lovely homemade felt square. I felt very drawn to a dark stone that seemed to have a mere hint of blue to it. When I took it and examined it more closely, the stone flashed the most beautiful irridescent blue at me. The rest of the healing ceremony was interesting – but it was the significance of the stone that I took away with me. I found out that it was Labradorite.
According to The Crystal Bible, Labradorite is said to be a highly mystical and protective stone, raising consciousness and connecting with universal energies. It is a stone of transformation and esoteric knowledge. It calms an overactive mind, energizes the imagination and dispells illusions.
I couldn’t help thinking about a butterfly trapped in stone. The stone flashed like a butterfly, a Blue Morpho. Morpho is a genus of brilliant irridescent blue butterflies found in Central and South America. A meandering path of memories came to me of my visits to Costa Rica and Ecuador where I’ve seen many Morphos before. Perhaps, those places have more to teach me…? I feel like writing a story about a butterfly trapped in stone….watch this space :)
Release the butterfly. If there’s such a thing as a totem animal, I think mine might just be a butterfly right now – even a Morpho. Perhaps the butterfly is teaching me that changes can be good and bring freedom, lightness and detachment. Perhaps it teaches me to listen to my soul. (Psyche means both soul and butterfly in Greek.)
I recall a few memorable butterfly encounters. I spent years butterfly monitoring at a nearby nature reserve. I became very familiar with the chalk downland butterflies, mainly the “blues”, including the fabulous Adonis! It is like a meditation walking through grassland with butterflies flying up all around, noting each one and moving on. Walking through tea plantations near Munnar with Kevin on a visit to Kerala in India, a swarm of light blue butterflies as far as the eye could see enveloped us. A joyous occasion! In a forest in Mexico, I came across a strange butterfly that made a clicking sound with its wings. I found out that it was a Cracker butterfly, genus Hamadryas. And then there were the stunning Morpho butterflies.
Blues of Morphos, Adonis butterflies and labradorite have ignited my passion to paint in bright blue. I’ve developed my “River of Memory” painting to make it somewhat more aqueous – they could be ‘swimming’ with butterflies instead of birds. I’m not sure I like the dots, I may have to merge them somehow.
Thousands of elm seeds have fallen in great drifts in my street.
on to steps and porches,
like children, they play,
with the wild gift of
A girl scoots through an elm seed drift
as though through snow;
This is the time of Elm,
through its dance, it speaks.
Brighton has many elms, they are famous survivors. We have possibly the oldest surviving English Elms in the world in Preston Park just down the road. They’re called The Preston Twins. Hollow giants, they’re home to bats and, if one is lucky, one may see a White Letter Hairstreak butterfly flitting among the canopy leaves in early summer. There are few mature English Elms beyond Brighton because Dutch elm disease has wiped out all but the odd one.
“Dreams are the seeds of change.
Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.” (Debby Boone)
I have seeds of inspiration…
I woke up this morning thinking about Morphos, those big iridescent butterflies I’ve seen in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Knowing little about them, I did a search and learnt a few facts eg the males patrol stream and forest edges for females and they eat rotting fruit and animal remains, sucking up the juices with their coiled mouthparts. I found the facts quite refreshing and got stuck into reading about British butterflies as well – such as Purple Emperors that drink aphid honeydew up in the tree tops laying their eggs on Goat willow.
As far as nature is concerned, I’ve been out trying to enjoy it and take photographs for a dance project rather than study it. I’ve been inspired by several books that I’ve stumbled on, one of which is David Abram’s ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’.
I discovered what I think is a beautiful excerpt from David’s book while doing a web search. It’s a description of a vision he had while in Bali and it made me want to read the whole book.
David Abram is a notable writer on ecophilosophy and basically the book is about how phonetic language and the written word in the West have helped to sever our relationship with the natural world. He writes beautifully and magically delving into subjects such as ‘Phenomenology’ which I hadn’t come across before. He draws on early Greek script and his and others’ experiences with indigenous, animistic cultures using their stories and language to illustrate how they are still interconnected with the natural world and how severed we in the west are. He suggests that we can rediscover a connection with nature by changing the way we write and use language. Abrams writes in such a way as to reach us on a level below our conscious, rational intellect where we can begin to perceive the natural, non-human world more directly. This is a book well worth reading and rereading.
Here is a photo taken inside a butterfly farm: