Monarch Butterfly – Life is Short
* This essay specifically focuses on monarchs in Australia in its description, but the lessons apply worldwide.
Life is short. Fleeting moments. Transformation. Internal and external change. Personal change. Looking for sweetness. Herb magic. Flower magic. Celebrating beauty. Travel and migration. Moving to new places. Enjoying the journey. Outside of harmful or negative influence. Rhythm. Reincarnation.
The monarch butterfly has been present in Australia since the early 1800s. It is a toxic insect, notable for its bright orange, black and white colouration. They are known for their migrations elsewhere in the world, but in Australia they only make short trips if necessary, due to the already warm temperatures throughout most of the continent.
The monarch butterfly experiences metamorphosis, giving birth to eggs which then hatch to reveal caterpillars, which grow and weave a silk chrysalis which – over time – opens to reveal the mature butterfly. Monarchs are strong fliers and will often cluster in colder seasons in the thousands on a single branch. In Australia they are not considered a pest, though they are feral.
Lessons and Challenges:
The monarch butterfly teaches us that life is short, and that it must be valued. Assuming that we have decades of our lives left (or at the very least, years) is all well and good for things like economic planning, but it is through recognising the fleetingness of human existence that we come to value every day, even those which get us down or which are hard to appreciate.
Monarch butterfly asks you to consciously look at what you have gained that is valuable in each day, and even to write the things that you are grateful for down. If you are in a position where you can think of nothing to be grateful for, monarch butterfly is a guide willing to open your eyes to the beauty and gift of life once more. It is through this that monarch butterfly teaches us how to look for sweetness and light in our lives.
Have you ever had one of those moments that felt perfect? Where, despite what was going on in your life, everything seemed to come together in one fleeting moment of contentment, happiness and perfection? Monarch butterfly teaches us that all of life is made up of striving for and increasing the number of these moments that we experience, and shows us how to better value and focus on these fleeting moments. Do you remember the last time you had one? Where you were when it happened? If you can’t remember one, it might be time to seek one out again through looking for enjoyable experiences.
It is time to enjoy the journey and put aside the destination. It’s not about where you will be ‘tomorrow’ or in a year’s time, it is about valuing where you are now, even if you haven’t reached your destination yet. Remember that there is as much wisdom and joy to gain on the way to an imagined or real destination, as there is at the destination itself.
The monarch butterfly, despite being feral in Australia, has still managed to avoid many of the negative connotations that other feral animals in Australia take on over time. The monarch butterfly in many ways has remained outside of harmful or negative influence, and is a celebrated image of beauty in urban back gardens. If monarch butterfly is present as a guide, it may be that you are also outside of harmful or negative influence right now, or that the universe is preparing to give you a bit of a ‘break’ for a while so that you can celebrate the beauty that exists within your life.
Monarch butterfly indicates themes of travel and migration, even as much as moving to new places. In Australia, short-term travel is indicated, such as journeys to new places, or even taking new commutes to work or back to your home. In other parts of the world the presence of monarch butterfly asks you to genuinely consider whether you are living in the best place right now, or alternatively, if it’s worth a change of scenery to get you back in touch with nature and the rhythms of the earth.
You will be helped at this time by the magic possessed in herbs and flowers. It may be through the healing actions of herbs, and consider increasing your use of them in cooking, taking herbal supplements (only if needed and at the direction of a professional) or even just taking the time to enjoy the scent of herbs under your hands. The power of flowers is also present at this time, consider investing in flower essences, or even making your own. Alternatively, look at and enjoy the presence of flowers in your life. Sometimes just taking the time look at and visually enjoy the bounty of the earth is enough to create powerful healing changes.
Themes of reincarnation may be present. The monarch butterfly introduces us to concepts of reincarnation and, if we are believers, asks us to invest some more time into thinking about our beliefs regarding rebirth and spiritual transformation across lifetimes.
All butterflies (and moths) teach the power of transformation, and their presence in your life can be extremely empowering. They teach people how to proactively seize their own individual opportunities for growth and metamorphosis. At this time, you have great opportunity for phenomenal internal and external changes and transformations. Monarch butterfly particularly signals a time for personal change and internal change, emphasising changes of perspective and how we perceive our place in the world and our contentment within it.
The Shadow Aspects:
Those who dislike or even fear monarch butterfly may find that they are unable to appreciate the simple things in life. They may feel that life passes them by too quickly, or they may be too cynical or unfocused to truly appreciate the small joys that find us everyday – no matter what is happening around us or to us. Monarch butterfly comes into your life to challenge you to take the time to find joy and thankfulness in your life, no matter if your health is shot, or you’re so busy you rarely feel you have time to do anything at all. Make the time, or find small moments to do nothing and appreciate simply existing. Life is short, value it.
Monarch butterfly challenges you to accept that journeys are necessary in your life. These might be literal or spiritual journeys, but they are needful. It is important that you find enjoyment in your day to day, and lifelong journeys. The fact is, life will always throw difficulty at us, but monarch butterfly tells us to take a step back from that and enjoy life. We are protected from harmful influence if we choose to accept monarch butterfly’s energy. Accept travel, migration, journeying and change, they are beautiful parts of your life.
Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or share messages with you. Butterflies, due to their very nature, tend to have quite fleeting energy and are more common as short-term guides. That said, their presence in the short-term remains profound and presents a potential for transformation, joy and growth.
Butterfly is a gentle teacher, and will try to transmit significant lessons simply through its quiet, unassuming presence in gardens, or even if you simply happen to see one while walking somewhere or going about your business. Butterfly is not highly communicative, letting its lifestyle and way of life speak for itself. Offerings of flowers, bundles of herbs and colourful ornaments are appreciated by butterfly, but the best way to honour Monarch butterfly, I feel, is to find and seek out more joyful, perfect moments within your life.