Blue Morpho Butterfly Metaphor

A quote from Elisabet Sahtouris, at Butterfly Connection. This metaphor has deep social, political and economic implications for our times — and to efforts at building locally self-reliant communities like OMV..

My favorite metaphor for the current world transition, first pointed out to me by Norie Huddle (Butterfly, 1990), is that of a butterfly in metamorphosis. It goes like this: A caterpillar crunches its way through its ecosystem, cutting a swath of destruction by eating as much as hundreds of times its weight in a day, until it is too bloated to continue and hangs itself up, its skin then hardening  into a chrysalis.  Inside this chrysalis, deep in the caterpillar’s body, tiny things biologists call ‘imaginal disks’ begin to form. Not recognizing the newcomers, the caterpillar’s immune system snuffs them as they arise. But they keep coming faster and faster, then linking up with each other. Eventually the caterpillar’s immune system fails from the stress and the disks become imaginal cells that build the butterfly by feeding on the soupy meltdown of the caterpillar’s body. It took a long time for biologists to understand the reason for the  immune system attack on the incipient butterfly cells, but eventually they discovered that the butterfly has its own unique genome, carried by the caterpillar, inherited from long ago in evolution, yet not part of it as such (Margulis & Sagan, Acquiring Genomes 2002).

If we see ourselves as imaginal discs working to build the butterfly of a better world, we will understand that we are launching a new ‘genome’ of values and practices to replace that of the current unsustainable system. We will also see how important it is to link with each other in the effort, to recognize how many different kinds of imaginal cells it will take to build a butterfly with all its capabilities and colors.

– Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D., evolution biologist, lecturer and author of EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution

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