Updated: Sep 3, 2022
During my first year of seminary, our director told us the story of imaginal cells in a liminal space. We know the evolution of the caterpillar to the butterfly. One day, the caterpillar stops eating and spins itself into a cocoon. It molts into a chrysalis, creating space for everything to dissolve. It actually consumes itself.
We often refer to this as Butterfly soup, because that is exactly what it is. A goop, a mess, a soup...seemingly just a blob. At many points in our lives, yes, even repeatedly during times of rapid transformation, we feel as if we are in that soup. We know what we were, but we do not know what we are becoming. Not all caterpillars become butterflies. Some become moths, and there are so many types of butterflies.
There is magic in this soup. Bit and pieces, memories in the cells of what the soup are to become. These are called Imaginal cells, and they reside in a liminal space. Liminal space is nowhere, it is not here...it is not there...it is the essence of the unknown, where we are in the dark, not knowing what will emerge. Looking in from the outside, perhaps it appears that nothing is happening.
But, inside that soup, there are imaginal cells. These cells know what they will become. They are destined to bring a new part of the butterfly to life. They have a vision of moving forward,
they have a vision of creating a new life.
Something wonderful starts. The imaginal cells awaken, they light up, they remember who they are, which part of the butterfly they will create. A wing, antenna, an organ....these imaginal cells start to find each other. The wing cells collect, the antenna cells congregate, gathering
together until an entire butterfly is created.
The butterfly knows when to emerge, in its beauty and after a total transformation.
Consider these questions:
What are you dissolving within this butterfly soup?
What are you leaving behind?
What are you bringing forth? What lights you up?
How are imaginal cells gathering in your life? Perhaps through connections and synchronicities, perhaps through gatherings and communities.
Are you seeking other imaginal cells? How will you call them in? What lights you up and puts up your "I'm Here!" flag?
Is the world going through a collective butterfly soup?
We transform through this process many times in our lives. The soup is not pretty, it is not easy, but in order to change and grow it is necessary. Navigating those times takes resilience, presence, faith and trust. It takes us being open to meeting other imaginal cells to accompany us on our journey.