Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Butterfly and the Spider

Dream image: A beautiful butterfly, wings folded close in and almost wrapped around it like a cocoon, is caught in a spider's web. I am upset and scream for Clark.

Interpretation: Clark spoke to his mother's doctor, who said she is near death. I think of my mother (now deceased) and my mother-in-law (near death) as the beautiful young women they once were and am forced to see the results of Chronos (Time) eating his children. It's hard to accept the selfishness of the Life Force and the ultimate tragedy of we who are enlisted to serve it. It's something like a beautiful butterfly caught in a spider's web.


  1. Dear Dreaming friends, thank you for this post and for the dream and the interpretation contained here - my GrandFather just passed on December 29th and I lost my Father at an 'early' age (61) ten years ago. Although the emotions and feelings connected with death are difficult to have, it's been my lengthy experience that no dream comes to tell me that I have hardships to face without also showing me creative and life-affirming responses to my waking and dreaming struggles...

    If the above dream were my dream, and in imagining it for myself, I think upon my recent studies and reviewing of Clarissa Pinkola Estes book, "Women Who Run with the Wolves", and reflections Estes shares there about two central Feminine Goddess figures, "Spider Woman" and "the Butterfly Maiden". Clarissa speaks at beautiful length in her work about the Life/Death/Life cycle, and the dream and recent life experiences bring this nature to the fore of my feeling-states and also my imagination here.

    Of each figure, she says:

    "What are soul needs? They live in the two realms of nature and creativity. In these realms lives Na'Ashje'ii Asdzaa, Spider Woman, the Navajo Creation Goddess who gives psychic protection to those who seek her. She is in charge of teaching the souls both protection and the love of beauty."

    p. 196 original edition


    (In relaying the poetry of the paradoxical Native American dance ceremony in which the Butterfly Maiden is necessarily embodied by a large, round, old woman who has seen more than her share of life)

    "Butterfly Maiden pollinates the souls of the earth: It is easier than we think, she says...
    This is woman (inner and outer) connected to her wild nature, the translator of the instinctual, the fertilizing force, the mender, the remembrance of old ideas. She is La Voz Mitologica."

    p. 212, also from the first/original edition

    So, if the shared dream above were my dream, these two deep and psycho-spiritual, or divine energies are engaging in the dance of Life/Death/Life wherein what once was always falls away (or is eaten, to feed Life and Death) to give birth to a whole new state of being - that's certainly one of the promises of the butterfly energy in its biological and metaphorical transformation from the cocoon/larvae into a wild flying creature of such intense and deceptively strong beauty.

    The dream and the profound facing of death also reminds me of a tender joke Michael Meade likes to tell about how he hopes we all got that memo - the one about how each of us will have to make the Death Journey someday, and the dream here helps me to imagine and prepare for that eventual leave-taking into a whole new and different evolution of re/birth and continued beingness.

    I hope these words might be of service and I send My Best to Folks who are or may be grieving the losses of loved ones,as I myself am doing at this time - All Best, Travis W

  2. Thank you, Travis, for this thoughtful comment; it adds a new--and hopeful--dimension to the dream.It's interesting to see the universality of inner experience brought to light through these similar archetypal expressions.

  3. Hello Carla, An interesting dream! I've experienced powerful dreams involving both spider's webs and butterflies in the past and so this dream had considerable resonance for me.

    So taking the dream as my own I would note that the butterflies wings are "folded close in and wrapped around it like a cocoon". This is the appearance of a butterfly when it is emerging from the chrysalis. It wings are soft and limp. They must be pumped full of blood to expand them to their adult size and configuration. In death butterfly wings are stiff and either folded flat together or held outstretched, as in life. I would take heart from this. For me all the signs are that this butterfly is emerging to new life.

    What is it emerging from? Not only the dark and rigid confinement of the chrysalis, that "tomb" of transformation, but also the clutches of the spiders web. I have always considered the spiders web to represent the linear, if elaborately constructed, framework of our everyday mind - that in which we catch the reality of the familiar outer world. It is when we are able to step outside those restrictions that we begin to realise our potential to fly; to appreciate the previously unappreciated.

    In good faith

  4. Thank you, Openfoot! I appreciate your pointing out the significance of the state of the butterfly's wings, and I find your take on the spider's web as symbolic of a constricting framework an excellent insight.

  5. Taking this image as mine I would ask first why am I crying Clark, and how precisely am I upset - is it fear, or something else?

    Butterfly here may indicate as Openfoot says a beginning. I am inclined in this way, and since the butterfly is often representing Psyche, and the spider often the negative mother, I wonder if there is a potential for growth as the result of the looming death of Clark's mother.

    Has she been by any chance been keeping the psyche from developing, constraining it by the force and entanglement of its web?

  6. Aleks, this is a very insightful comment. Clark's mother is indeed a very difficult person who created webs of difficulty that will never be completely untangled.

  7. I haven't read the other comments yet....In real life I just learned that my mother in law is dying. She is almost 99 - I love her - I came to sit at my computer and this image is right there..I didn't open to it That is a "dream" in itself - Regarding your dream "In my dream"......simply I see a beautiful butterfly which represents youth, beauty, freedom, transformation caught or enveloped or cocooned in a spiders web - the web is finite yet not - it is a connected path - spiders feel old to me, not colorful really - somewhere i read they can represent the mother complex, in part. I like to think of the web as a natural cocoon on the one hand and a realization that I may need to do something in completing the relationship before she dies. maybe that is why i scream to Clark. A spider represents words also- language - even writing this for me is utilizing a good spider energy - thank you- My friend Lisa told me about you a couple of years ago... - thoughts and prayers, Deborah

  8. Well, I just lost my comment.~Recapping - Surprising, I just learned that my mother in law is dying.- she is almost 99 - I just sat down at the computer and this post/picture was in front of me - I did not open to it!
    Wow - So as to your dream - "In my dream" a butterfly is youth, beautiful, creative, transformation - a spider seems older, scary, unknown, yet also of nature - has something for me -i read a while back that the spider represents the mother complex in part - also language - this spider energy for me is causing me to reach out and write my thoughts - perhaps also let my mother in law know what I need to tell her - the image of a butterfly "cocooned" in the web is comforting to me - caring yet also unknown - natural - perhaps that is why I call to Clark - the Clark I know has already died 5 years ago - He was my mother in laws' nephew -(friend of mine also)
    I call to him to greet my mother in law (Gertrude) as she gets ready to die.
    the end of my dream thoughts....I have not read the other comments, but I will - Thank you (friend Lisa told me about you) Thoughts and prayers, Deborah

  9. Deborah--this is fascinating. First, that this particular post was in front of you when you opened your computer. Jung would call that a synchronicity; he never ruled out the mysterious as a factor acting in our lives. Thanks for giving us an example!
    Second, it's interesting that the comment you thought had been lost was in actuality posted. Maybe we needed to hear this more than once.
    It sounds to me as if you have a strong spiritual center, and I know this will help you through the sadness of your impending loss. Wishing you comfort and strength, Carla