There's a lot of life out here in the country where I live, but sometimes there's death, too.
See this gorgeous butterfly? That's a picture I took of it the other day - after I fatally damaged it with my car. I think it must have flown up under the hood of my car when I braked hard after I saw an odd cluster of butterflies who were snacking on something sweet in my driveway.
I was devastated. Like, total breakdown level of devastation - which was a bit weird. But sometimes you just have to go with these things.
We have a very long driveway, and when you live in the country you're constantly on the lookout for fawns, fox pups, cats, groundhogs, squirrels and even suicidal little frogs who for some reason like to come out and cool themselves on the roads on hot summer nights - right in front of passing cars. I saw my first fawn of the season recently - just at the end of the property, hidden with its mum in some tall grasses. He started when he saw me drive by, his mum ran off, and he was so wobbly on his freshly minted wobble legs that he just flopped right back down into the grass again, unable to run after his mum. He was still at that "blinding white spots on his back" stage - too adorable for words.
I'm used to being on the lookout for critters of all stripes - and spots. But you don't usually see butterflies hanging out in your driveway like it was Palm Beach or something and they're relaxing with a nice margarita.
Since I'm such an old lady driver, always slowing down for potential creature crossings, I was especially upset that I accidentally got too close to this group of butterflies. Some of the farm help had come and mowed the lawn, and also the people who ride horses out here had dumped some fresh hay in the road, probably mixed with that loamy, fragrant horse dung that ends up creating such great fertilizer for the grass. The stuff hadn't been on the driveway when I'd driven out about a half hour earlier. Now, I was confronted with three butterflies happily sucking on something in the fragrant hay which had spilled onto the driveway. And although I reacted fast and braked hard, I must have come to a halt almost on top of this one gorgeous butterfly.
At first I didn't notice. I just got out of my car and tried to see if the butterflies were okay, and the one yellow one who turned out to be damaged was just perched in the straw near my car, I thought.
Meanwhile, since I've been doing loads of nature photography these days and it's so rare to get close enough to butterflies to photograph them, I whipped out my handy camera and started taking pictures of one of the other butterflies, a gorgeous black beauty. The other yellow one kept its distance from me.
This pretty fellow let me get some lovely pictures of him - isn't he handsome? This image is unretouched except for cropping - he really had that luminous glow on his wings.
After my initial excitement taking some photos of him, I looked around to see if I could capture any pictures of the two pretty yellow butterflies. That's when I discovered the bad news - that that lovely yellow butterfly at the top of this post wasn't moving. She was dead.
I've been going through a lot of shifts and changes lately, some of them rather intense, and it just hit me like a truck. I was just SOOOOO devastated. Such a gorgeous butterfly had been out with her friends enjoying the unexpected treat of finding some sweet stuff to suck on out in the driveway, and here I come along like the usual idiot human and smoosh her. AARGH. ME TROLLISH HUMMMANN, ME DRIVE BIG CAR, ME SQUOOSH YOU LIKE YOU DON'T MATTER. ARRGH.
While I was standing there, Mr. Black Butterfly showed that he knew something was up. He gently landed right next to the damaged butterfly (who didn't look obviously mangled or anything, so it was hard to see her injuries.) He landed right next to her and gently touched her with his wings, as if to say, "Hey, are you okay? Hon? Are you okay?"
I was crying at this point and told him, "I'm sorry, you'll have to say goodbye to her now." I had the sense that I needed to take her away and give her a proper shamanic burial - release her spirit and drum for her safe passage to the higher realms. I just felt like I needed to do it.
Black Butterfly only stood by his friend for a moment. And then I got out a paper towel and very gently took the butterfly and drove home with her.
(Insert lots of crying, some selfish picture taking of the gorgeous dead butterfly, and one shamanic drumming ritual here.)
In the end, I sensed that this butterfly should be buried in the iris garden, a pretty enclosed garden with lovely irises in bloom right now. I felt that this would be the proper place for her, at rest with all the pretty flowers.
Honoring the old ways as I do, I scattered some tobacco as a sacred offering after I buried the pretty butterfly next to some perky irises.
This was her final resting place. Poor little lovely thing. That's some loose tobacco I've scattered where she was buried. Tobacco has a high vibration (when it hasn't been chemically processed up the wazoo.) So there's a long tradition of using tobacco use in sacred ceremonies.
I've been spending some time with the irises lately, trying to learn about their energy - and taking lots of photos for my "bloom diary" which I've been amassing this spring. The iris garden has been a great place for me to examine their coloration, enjoy their funky "faces" which have their own expressions, and witness their beauty. I'm always doing "homework" of some sort out in nature because the more nature engulfs me, the more I realize I still need to learn its language. Mostly I've been getting the sense that irises don't necessarily appreciate humans very much! (And why would they like us - evil trollish butterfly squooshers that we are?)
Anyway, I've discovered irises have a LOT of personality. Some of them look like benign alien creatures, with clear "faces." Some of them even border on the grotesque - but a charming grotesque! The French have a phrase for that (as they do for everything.) It's belle laide, or "pretty/ugly" - used to describe when a woman has such unconventional features that she really is quite pretty, in her own unique way.
Here are some weeping irises. I took this picture a few days earlier after a light rain. Some of these bigger irises were getting a bit droopy because their blooms had already been out for a week or so. These big irises are an old type of iris that was widely planted before hybrids came along - and it turns out they have a really soft, wondrous scent - unlike the hybrid varieties which don't have any scent at all. When I go out there for my aromatherapy break to smell the irises, my brain wants to file the scent as "lilac - no, blueberry." They kind of have a mixture of flower and food smell about them. Very nice.
And then there are the flying nun irises. I felt good that they would be there to look after the butterfly's spirit - they look like a combination of spiritual helper and nurse, don't they?
I went through some kind of energetic release as I was mourning my tragically lost butterfly friend. I think there's so much free floating tension and sadness in the world right now, and the Earth is experiencing a great deal of it - and her little creatures are suffering enough. I felt bad about adding to another creature's pain - but I found a little comfort knowing that apparently the butterfly died instantly when she flew up under my hood. At least she didn't suffer.
And I feel REALLY blessed to have the opportunity to pay tribute to her - and to her friend Mr. Black Butterfly in the photos I was able to take of both of them. I feel that, in a weird way, the whole thing was a gift - a sad one, but still a gift. Nature is cool that way - inscrutable and wise.
I could go on about the metaphysical aspects of this experience - and talk more about what the irises told me - but somehow I don't feel this is the right blog for me to write about that. I think at my main LipstickMystic.com site, which I will be revamping before long, I'll share psychic experiences and mystical observations in much greater detail.
Here, I just wanted to show you the pretty butterflies, tell you about the butterfly funeral, and show you some wonderful irises.
There will be time enough later to share all the hardcore "weird" stuff from my life -- like how I learned about roses' vanity, my special connection with fox which I've been developing over the years of observing and interacting with fox pups and fox parents, and some of my experiences helping beings - plant, insect, animal, and human - make passages to higher dimensions during the transition process we call "death" but which is really just "not hanging out in a visible way with the people we used to hang out with anymore."
Still - it's sad to make a friend and lose one all within a few minutes, like I did with pretty Lady Butterfly yesterday. I'm still kind of shaken up by it. I think it was one of those experiences that was more than it appeared on the surface - a learning experience for me on a lot of levels.