Monday, December 5, 2016

Metamorphosis, Imaginal Cells and Transformation

We Americans use a lot of the world's resources.  I've heard it said that it would take five planet earths if we were to provide all of humanity with the same amount of resources that Americans use.  That is a pretty huge footprint.  And it reminds me of the gluttonous way that a caterpillar ravages a garden just before it embarks on its transformation. 

As a little tiny baby caterpillar hatches out from its egg case, it eats progressively more and more plant material.  As the days and weeks pass by, it begins to consume many times its own weight per day.  This leaves the plants it has been feasting on devastated.  And the caterpillar begins to succumb to the need for a deep sleep.  It prepares it's bower, camouflaged and hanging down from the boughs of the plants that have sustained its massive appetite.  Protected in this dormant state, its outer shell hardens and the caterpillar becomes a chrysalis. 

Now, this is where things get really interesting.  The immune system of the caterpillar begins to be called into play.  Rogue cells that have been lying dormant in the body of the caterpillar start arising.  These are stem cells and they have an entirely different genetic makeup.  The immune system of the caterpillar repeatedly kills these cells, but more and more of them keep arising.  Soon the immune system of the caterpillar is overcome.  Meanwhile, the stem cells, known as "Imaginal Cells," continue forming.  As these imaginal cells proliferate, they begin to create a brand new animal, the butterfly.  Slowly but surely the genes of the butterfly, which were there all along, replace those of the caterpillar and the metamorphosis is complete.

Those of us who have embarked on a journey of self discovery soon realize that change is the only constant in the Universe.  Everything comes and goes.  We see similar patterns of transformation throughout nature and the world.  Infants become adults, frogs emerge from plump little tadpoles, mountains become hills, lakes become meadows and volcanoes arise from the molten depths of the earth.  We learn to accept these changes and to move with them, rather than fight against them.  

Sometimes we may have to tuck in for a long dark night of the soul, something rather like a chrysalis stage, in between our various metamorphoses.  I find it helps to remember that Divine Creator has a hand in everything.  We wouldn't want to kill a caterpillar, because then we wouldn't have the butterfly. 

So, here in the Northern Hemisphere, during the longest nights of the year, it might be worthwhile to ask ourselves, “What have we been overindulging in?  What are we resisting?  What might we imagine?”  Who have we been and who are we changing into?  How is this occurring on both a personal level, and a global level?  What kind of normal development would we collectively like to see after our embryonic stage is complete?

These might be some nice questions for all of us to meditate on. Who knows what beauty might soon begin to arise from the depths of our beings.

© Josephine Laing 2016