Ugly Bulbs and Caterpillars

Reflections from Bone:Dying into Life by Marion Woodman

Copyrighted photo by D. Bridge

“The inner work is my own.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 77)

“… fantastic how an ugly bulb carries with it the archetypal field that produces that particular leaf, flower, color.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 78)

“… if I spoke my mind, I was written off as a lost cause.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 80)

“What a trip this is! Negative Mother (withdrawal from life [in reference to medical radiation killing off cells]) marries Negative Masculine (the perfect technician [referencing the radiation itself]).” (Woodman, 2000, p. 82)

My reflection: I was thinking about the “ugly bulb” that produces a flower and how similar it is as a metaphor to the caterpillar that becomes the butterfly.  Today, I was talking with a friend who was part of my initiatory shamanic experiences.  We were talking about our shamanic teacher and I was sharing how I thought our teacher didn’t care much for me back a decade or so ago when we were doing that work.  My friend expressed that this wasn’t true and I said, “Oh, but I was such a mess back then!”  First she agreed with me, “Yes, you were!” and then she added, “We all were!”.  

This made me think about the people in our lives who hold space for us when we are struggling, when all the goodness and light in the world goes black and we face that interminable void.  When we are “ugly bulbs” being shielded from the light of the sun in the nurturing soil of Mother Earth; or caterpillars, and have disintegrated into the goo of simple imaginal cells in the cocoon.  

Some of these people never get to see the flower or caterpillar that eventually emerges (especially if it takes a decade or longer!). For those who do bear witness to the eventual emergence into a new existence I hold the hope that they find some satisfaction in witnessing the results of the difficult work of the dark times.  How grateful I am for these people in my life. Those people who loved me through the “ugly bulb” state that I sense I am only now merely beginning to leave behind as the imaginal cells of my existence begin to reach up through the darkness of the earth and out of the confines of the cocoon and begin to sprout into new life with wings that may take us yet to amazing places. 

It is my hope that each of these people in my life are blessed in equal measure as they have blessed me.  Amen!

Woodman, M. (2000). Bone: Dying into Life. Penguin Books.

*This reflection was first published, in part, in a Facebook Group entitled BodySoul Rhythms – Continuing the Legacy of Marion Woodman

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