by Catherine Mauron • My visit to the butterfly sanctuary years ago was an awesome experience. Lying on the ground, consciousness filled with fluttering wings, eyes drunk with the awesome beauty of the colorful winged beings flying in circles above me, I started to wonder about the butterfly story.
The medicine of the butterfly is rebirth, transformation, rejuvenation. Like a spiritual aspirant, the caterpillar starts its life at the base, preoccupied first by physical needs, eating nutritious leaves, sleeping, and growing. Until, one day, suddenly, something calls from deep within its being, and the caterpillar starts to turn inwards.
It wraps itself in a cocoon, its meditation closet. Then it waits and waits. Finally after much perseverance, deepening its own knowledge about itself, it reaches illumination: “I’m no longer a caterpillar! I am a butterfly!”
The pure Self has revealed its true nature, the veil of the cocoon has become thin, like the veil of meditation, and the light of knowledge starts to pierce through. What an awesome spiritual insight the butterfly can bring to us if we try not only to understand it with the mind, but rather try to feel it deep within us.
Now the butterfly slowly unfolds its wings, observing with awe its transformation, fluttering gently in its new winged attributes, letting the gentle breeze dry them. No more concerned about eating, sleeping, or growing, it starts to fly—just a little bit at first. Soon it understands the full potential of its new abilities, and the open sky, infinite in its beauty, becomes its garden of Eden. “How high and how far can I fly?”
Some butterflies don’t fly very far. Others migrate, flying over the ocean, limited only by their own imagination. Just by realizing their true nature they allow it to become manifest. Let us all fill ourselves with butterfly medicine and fly higher and higher to meet the sunrise of our spirits.
Light on Sunburst Sanctuary – Sky Crest Trail • Hiking one of Sunburst Sanctuary’s trails in spring, amidst the intense green of Nature’s botanical explosion is a treat. Here’s photos from April 5 of 2021. Our first grand view is of the “deer field” up the canyon from the lodge (photo above). Winding up toward the top of the canyon the newly graded road—Thanks, Heiko!— outlines the far side of the deer field, which is currently planted in a mixed hay crop.
Photo below: The next grand view is of the deer field directly below. We are looking toward Point Conception and the Pacific Ocean. Sky Crest Trail follows the eastern ranch boundary fence up the hill to the top boundary of the Sanctuary.
Soon the trail leads into the oak forest.
Photos above: In the forest, mushrooms sprout amidst the deep oak leaves, and a bush lupin catches early morning sunshine. Photos below left to right: Shooting Stars and Buttercups appear amidst the oak trees.
The trail ends at the main road that winds back down into the canyon.
“In talking to children, the old Lakota would place a hand on the ground and explain: ‘We sit in the lap of our Mother. From her we, and all other living things, come.We shall soon pass, but the place where we now rest will last forever.’ So we too, learned to sit or lie on the ground and become conscious of life about us in its multitude of forms.
“…The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature ever learns, and that was to feel beauty.
“…Observation was certain to have its rewards. Interest, wonder, admiration grew, and the fact was appreciated that life was more than mere human manifestation; it was expressed in a multitude of forms.”
Light on Sunburst Sanctuary– Finding Plant Pioneers • Striving to exist gently on the Earth, Sunburst Sanctuary practices organic growing techniques along with permaculture. The ecological term for a weed is “pioneer,” because it appears where soil has been disturbed. It’s job is to bring normalcy back to the soil structure. But when a plant appears where we don’t want it, we call it a weed. The photo above was taken in Sunburst Sanctuary’s “Garden”. A significant amount of wood chips have been placed on the path to discourage weed growth. The orange and gold calendulas provide beneficial insect habitat.
Above: Curtis sprays a natural weed deterrent on new growth in the Sanctuary’s labyrinth. His mixture is a gallon of white vinegar with a cup of salt and a tablespoon of dish soap. Weeds retreat from this mixture. Although the lush greenery Craig is mowing looks lovely in the photo below, it needs regular trimming in order to maintain it as a beneficial ground cover.
We’re thankful for the weeds, our plant pioneers, because they return the soil to a natural healthy state after it’s been disturbed. Nature is wise beyond our understanding.
When you arise in the morning
Give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and your strength. Give thanks for your food
And give thanks for the joy of living. — Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee Nation
Light on Sunburst Sanctuary – Today • Notice the fresh green leaves popping out on trees behind the Sunburst mailbox and sign on Highway 1. Springtime is progressing at Sunburst Sanctuary, though spring doesn’t officially start for a few more days.
Below the entrance road, ignoring the frost, early morning wild turkeys are cleaning up the horses’ hay from yesterday.
The main area is still lovely with its gardens, water features, and wild birds, including Anna’s hummingbirds.
Inside the temple – above. Heiko feeds the horse – below.
Everyone very much looks forward to the day it’s safe for us all to return to Sunday services, and group events. That day will come! Meanwhile stay safe and stay well, to live and love another day.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”– Maya Angelou
A recent hike through one of Sunburst Sanctuary’s deep canyon oak forests proved to be a magical wonderland. Hundreds of butterflies cavorted pell-mell through filtered sunlight, creating a fairy-like landscape. Some were white, some blue, some had orange wing tips. There were also Mourning Cloak butterflies, and Western Tiger Swallowtails (shown above), even a Monarch or two.
Above, left to right: Cabbage White, Sara Orangetip, Clouded Sulphur. Row 2: Echo Azure, Monarch, Mourning Cloak.
Flowering plants and butterflies go together, and both bring us joy. Butterflies are also seen as a symbol of the soul and transformation, of renewal, hope, and courage. Each of these is associated with the “fire of life,” and the act of surrender, sacrifice, or resignation that is required to make a change, just as the butterfly goes through three stages of development before getting its wings.
At least one Native American tribe believes the butterfly will deliver a prayer to the Great Spirit. You may unconsciously associate butterflies with being lighthearted and free. Some people ascribe different personal meanings to the different colors of butterflies that they may encounter. Whenever you see a butterfly, enjoy the beauty and appreciate whatever personal message you receive. These lovely creations definitely brighten our days.
“Happiness is a like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Light on Sunburst Sanctuary – Springing Forward • Despite very cool mornings, Nature is springing forward at Sunburst Sanctuary. An opening double-photo shows the King’s almond tree at the start of February with buds on bare branches (left side) and, at the end of the same month, fully opened almond blossoms (right side). Deer are enjoying fresh green shoots in the main field (below).
Farther up the canyon, a field Sean disked and sewed with hay seed (1st photo below), is now green with new growth (2nd photo below).
To prevent insects larvae from boring into dormant spring peach tree buds, Al sprayed mineral oil on them.
A Pueblo Blessing: Hold onto what is good, even if it is a handful of earth. Hold onto what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands by itself. Hold onto what you must do, even if it is a long way from here. Hold onto life, even when it is easier letting go. Hold onto my hand, even when I have gone away from you.