Metamorphosis happens when a caterpillar cocoons itself in a chrysalis so that it can disintegrate into liquid and then reconfigure itself as a butterfly.
Major hormonal shifts, including adolescence, pregnancy & menopause (and to a lesser extent andropause for men), are times of transformation that can often leave us feeling in a mushy mess. Major hormonal changes are like trying to grow butterfly wings.
‘You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars’ (Max Ehrmann)
Whilst we live in a culture of over-ride where everything is available twenty-four-seven, traditional medicine and modern natural nutrition tell us that only by merging with nature’s rhythms can we reach our full potential. To expect our body-minds to do business as usual when we are feeling like soup is like trying to push water uphill, but modern life knows none of this.
The rhythms of day and night and the change of the seasons (ie. the planets, the lunar cycles etc.) have an impact on our body-minds. Ebbs and flows are playing out through the organic wisdom of our bodies, but the intelligence of our minds can often over-ride, distort and even silence our body wisdom, as the story below poignantly illustrates.
“I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree, just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
“That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the internal rhythm.”
A passage from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.
As I approached my 49th year, I knew nothing of menopause & was not interested in what I thought was old ladies stuff. I was fit and healthy, had a passionate interest in yoga and nutrition, I ate a predominantly high-raw plant–based diet, I felt great, what could go wrong??? If you don’t live in an earthquake zone , why would you prepare for one? Oh the ignorance of youth , the arrogance of the ego, this mortal coil! It turns out that how we treat our bodyminds throughout our lives , particularly in our 30’s and 40’s, can have a huge impact on our experience of The Big Change.
Menopause feels like all the chickens are coming home to roost. All the psychological & physical bills of the last 50 yrs show up. Karma comes round for tea. Navigating the consequent dissolution of the ego’s dreams & delusions with a modicum of decorum, aka grace, and allowing ourselves to melt into new and unknown fields , feels like advanced spiritual practice.
Buddha said you always need a sangha – a tribe of like-minded spirits – to support you on the journey. I am very fortunate to live and work in places that are inclusive, radical, real and holistic. So when menopause hit and all hell broke loose I sought out a medical herbalist , a Natural nutritionist and spiritual wisdom to help me see the butterflies from the caterpillars. It took time to turn the ancient tides of adrenal dysregulation, hot flushes, low blood sugar , achey joints, sleepless nights around but with the help of herbal medecines and supplements relevant to my particular herstory/ancestory, along with simple but truly game-changing dietary upgrades and naturopathic techniques , I journeyed through the no wo/mans land of caterpillar soup in a very participatory way and although at many points it does get rather , errrm, messy, I can now feel the stirrings of what might be wings beginning to form…
It turns out that at menopause the time for collecting data has ended, and the time for intuititive knowing begins. I clung to this beauty of a sentence for dear life and it held me in good stead when brainfog and memory loss felt like I had become a silent vacuum and nobody was home. Becoming “invisible” means no longer being a Babe . or whatever other particular identity you have clung to. The ego battles ferociously with itself. Body and soul have other plans for you my love. It turns out that becoming invisible and growing wings are gifts of magical proportions. In Chinese medicine practicioners do not attain mastery until their 80’s ,considered to be the wisdom years. Phew, I’m not hungry to become a master but am relieved to hear there is still time to play with, albeit in a completely new #whoknowswhatsgoingtohappen kinda way.
Which according to the spiritual masters is the way….but you do have to let go if you wanna fly, baby.
“What to the caterpillar is the end, to the master is a butterfly” Lao Tzu