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Cultural Butterfly


We are in the “Corona Cocoon”

Who could have, or would have, imagined a cocoon would look like this?

For 6,000 years we’ve been living in an Empire culture, which has been characterized by fear, greed, scarcity, disconnection, competition, conquering, and controlling. This Empire culture, as Dr. Ruth Miller calls it, is ending.

It’s very much like a caterpillar reaching the end of its life. At that time, it becomes a gluttonous monster, voraciously eating multiple times its body weight in a feeding frenzy, consuming everything in its path until it is so bloated that it hangs itself up, goes to sleep and its skin hardens into a chrysalis.

We have been in that feeding frenzy, commoditizing and consuming ourselves, each other, and the planet. Now the coronavirus has stopped us in our tracks. This effectively creates a cocoon, giving us a “time out” with an opportunity to be still and go within. It’s a different world than we had a month ago, with difficulties, losses, and challenges that we could not have previously imagined. It’s also the “compost” and ground for new possibilities.

To look at what the purpose and possibilities might be for this cocoon, let’s continue the caterpillar metaphor. Inside the body of the caterpillar in the chrysalis, the butterfly starts to form from the “imaginal cells” that have been dormant inside the caterpillar all its life. These “imaginal cells” have been undeveloped until the crisis of overeating, fatigue and breakdown of the caterpillar allows them to develop, gradually emerging as a butterfly.

There is a great deal of increasing evidence of “imaginal cells” birthing into a new Emerging culture with very different characteristics than the Empire culture we’ve known. Blogs on this Cultural Butterfly Project website give examples.

Here are some distinctions of the two cultures:

Empire Culture, characterized by: Emerging Culture, characterized by:

Disconnection Heart-based connection

Fear Love, caring, kindness

Greed Generosity

Scarcity Abundance of true wealth

Competition Cooperation and harmony

Conquering Humility and being in service

Controlling Reverence for all of life

Elizabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and futurist, says “Our bloated old system is rapidly becoming defunct while the vision of a new and very different society, long held by many 'imaginal cell' humans who dreamt of a better world, is now emerging like a butterfly, representing our solutions to the crises of predation, overconsumption and breakdown in a new way of living lightly on Earth, and of seeing our human society not in the metaphors and models of mechanism as well-oiled social machinery, but in those of evolving, self-organizing and intelligent living organism.”

So this coronavirus is giving us a “cocoon” as a chance to learn new ways of being (not just doing), and becoming something very different than we have been, both individually and collectively.

This is the break and the opening we have needed for our culture to transform.

Charles Eisenstein writes in his essay “The Coronation”:

“The phenomenon follows the template of initiation: separation from normality, followed by a dilemma, breakdown, or ordeal, followed (if it is to be complete) by reintegration and celebration.

“Now the question arises: Initiation into what? What is the specific nature and purpose of this initiation? The popular name for the pandemic offers a clue: coronavirus. A corona is a crown. “Novel coronavirus pandemic” means “a new coronation for all.”

“Already we can feel the power of who we might become. A true sovereign does not run in fear from life or from death. A true sovereign does not dominate and conquer (that is a shadow archetype, the Tyrant). The true sovereign serves the people, serves life, and respects the sovereignty of all people. The coronation marks the emergence of the unconscious into consciousness, the crystallization of chaos into order, the transcendence of compulsion into choice. We become the rulers of that which had ruled us. The New World Order that the conspiracy theorists fear is a shadow of the glorious possibility available to sovereign beings. No longer the vassals of fear, we can bring order to the kingdom and build an intentional society on the love already shining through the cracks of the world of separation.”

And Brene Brown also speaks to this “cocoon” experience:

“This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.”

In November 2018 I founded the Cultural Butterfly Project to be a catalyst, inspiration, and support for the Emerging culture of the greater good and well-being of all during this transformation. Let’s choose and create the new world we’ve dreamed of!

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