From the caterpillar to the butterfly. Illness – a healing process

The caterpillar turns into a pupa. The person who is no longer willing to live as before is often forced into loneliness, isolation. It is like dying, like entering a dark tunnel. But at the end of it he sees light.

From the caterpillar to the butterfly. Illness – a healing process

The process of pupation

The caterpillar can be compared to an experiencing human, who lives and “eats” until he becomes “thicker”. The abundance of experiences makes him think at a certain point: “What does it all mean, does life perhaps have a much deeper meaning than I thought?” Quite secretly the soul stirs. The person searching for truth becomes insecure, finally turns inwards, he “pupates” himself.

The caterpillar turns into a pupa. The person who is no longer willing to live as before is often forced into loneliness, isolation.

Around the caterpillar it is narrow, dark. It becomes unsightly, immobile. For the seeker, who started out hopeful, it no longer goes forwards and no longer backwards. To some extent, his life slips away from him. He discovers his absolute imperfection, is exhausted, feels sick. In this phase of isolation, in the pupal stage, a new being unfolds in the caterpillar, the butterfly.

In his “loneliness on Patmos”, man experiences despair, darkness … but also transformation. It may well be the passage through an illness, perhaps even an incurable one … But when he has given up everything, let go, including despair, he experiences the “Endura”. It is like dying, like entering a dark tunnel. But at the end of it he sees light. He strives for it … and he is born in freedom – the pupa-being transmutes, transforms into a butterfly, which rises into the air and floats towards the sun.

One of the factors that the time of the Corona Crisis brought with it is that people were forced into a lack of contact. Many of them saw neither their grandchildren, nor their friends, work colleagues or their parents. They were thrown back on themselves in isolation. They were allowed to reflect on themselves in seclusion (or at least they were given the chance to do so), experienced a crisis, everything crumbled away of their previous life, but at the same time, if they saw this process as an opportunity, they could see the light, like the pupa through the crumbling cocoon.

For them, nothing will be the same as before, the chrysalis cannot become a caterpillar, and neither can the butterfly – man cannot go back. The unknown new, which many people are afraid of, comes to him.

The moment comes when the “old man” can no longer resist the pressing emergence of the “new man”.

The pupation I’m experiencing

A friend I was in contact with during the Corona period at WhatsApp said she was going through health crises; I could understand her because I felt the same way. Spontaneously, I replied that we were in the process of pupation. Neither of us sought any further contact with the outside world. We both did not feel well …

In case of physical ailments – no matter what they are – I usually experience a deep trust in myself. It’s like something loved me, someone loved me. I have no need to have my individual physical ailments clarified by a doctor, I need rest alone.

An attempt to get help from the doctor some time ago made me feel disgruntled, put me off balance. I had followed the advice of friends, and I made myself clear that I had to listen to my inner voice. I recently cancelled an operation.

Everyone goes their own way. I have very different physical experiences that no one can fully understand and that no one else has in this way. Everyone should follow their own inner self. When a general wave of flu goes around, I usually suffer from something completely different. To look at my body in such a situation is my learning process. A research for the cause, a reflection, but also a turning to my inner instance, is now called for. To entrust myself to it, to give myself to it, to surrender to it – that is what I mean by “Endura”. I am allowed to look at my imperfection, to forgive myself, and it is then also much easier for me to forgive others – I can learn to love myself.

Again and again in the last decades I experienced situations – at night in bed or in front of the computer or during a workshop – in which I thought that everyone in my place would immediately go to the doctor or even call the emergency doctor. Each time I found myself in great peace and relaxation. One time I went on a trip the next day and recovered quickly, another time I had a conversation with a friend and noticed how I recovered. Almost ten years ago, I was often afflicted by a certain “evil”. When this happened again – at a major international event in the south of France – I uttered an outburst of prayer from my depths: let me be healthy – and help came; years later these physical manifestations occurred less and less frequently. (There had always been a telephone contact with a friend which was helpful for me …)

The illnesses that I suffered in the “quiet chamber” and alone were and are for me like a cocoon stage, where I was and am completely confronted with myself. A conversation that leads to a deep self-recognition and “opens my eyes” can help me in this process.

I experience the things of life as a miracle. Isn’t there something much bigger than we can imagine, something that makes our body recover? The powers of self-healing are hidden within us, we may discover and stimulate them or promote them through healthy lifestyle. Fearlessness is a great factor and deep trust in an unknown love, trust in ourselves, in our inner doctor. Of course I also doubt again and again that there is healing within me. But when I am confronted with myself, I decide for the path of trust, for a path on which I am guided safely. I experience it as the guidance of a greater power. Years ago, inspired by an inner impulse, I sought a spiritual conversation with a friend – and it resulted in something much greater than I could have imagined, individually “tailored” to me

Bitter experiences, illnesses, disappointments, everything takes place just before or in the cocoon stage of the nascent butterfly, the maturing human being – so that the world can be seen with new eyes, with the eyes of the butterfly, with the eyes of the new soul.



How the butterfly “awakes” to itself

The transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly is a frequently used image for fundamental inner transformation processes of humans: The caterpillar pupates and from the pupa emerges the butterfly. But what actually happens? The American biologist and author Norie Huddle has intensively studied the biological processes of this transformation (see her book ButterflyA tiny Tale of Great Transformation, 1990).

When a caterpillar spins itself into its cocoon, two processes take place in parallel: the enzymes begin to dissolve the worm’s cell structure; at the same time, new cells that differ massively from the cells of the worm are created in parallel to this disintegration process. One could say that they oscillate at a different frequency than the rest of the caterpillar body. Norie Huddle calls them “imaginative” or “imago cells” because they contain the information from which the butterfly will develop.

However, the caterpillar’s immune system considers these cells as hostile foreign bodies and tries to destroy them. This is successful at first, but the more the decay processes in the pupated worm continue, the more numerous the imago cells become.

Soon the caterpillar’s immune system is unable to destroy them quickly enough. As a result, more and more of the imago cells survive the attacks and clusters begin to form that exchange information. Then, after a while, something highly amazing happens again: the clusters of imago cells form long threads and begin to form networks, thereby exchanging even more information within the pupated larva. Then comes a point where this network suddenly seems to realize that it is something, something new! This realization of its own identity is the birth of the butterfly. Now each of the imago-cells takes on its own special task and the information it carries begins to contribute to the creation of the new form. It seeks its place as the cell of the wing, the feeler, the eyes – it becomes the butterfly cell.


This is the end, says the caterpillar.

No, this is just the beginning, says the butterfly.

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Date: July 13, 2020
Author: Silke Kittler (Germany)
Photo: Ruth Alice Kosnick

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