In my favourite role-playing background, Changeling: The Dreaming, a Chrysalis is the point where the fae soul that has been lying dormant in a human is awakened. There are glimpses of the hidden world, the veil blown aside a bit by the winds that change ever so often, bits of glamour revealed.
After these sneak peeks into the world behind the world, the one that only the enchanted can see, there follows the dream dance, a swirling, manic, intense experience. It’s frightening to go through this alone and many refuse the call to their truest self, go crazy, get lost in the maelstrom of wonder, monsters, feelings. But those who don’t, those who either get found in time, rescued, those who somehow make it by themselves, those who embrace who they really are, enter a whole new world-behind-worlds where (almost) everything makes sense, all of a sudden.
When a larva grows it sheds its skin, more than once. We, too, try on skins in the shape of subcultures, styles, personality traits. Once the caterpillar encases itself and turns into a pupa, it turns liquid. Whether that pupa is in a soft cocoon or in a hard, shiny chrysalis doesn’t matter, the progress is the same. Self-digestion might not be an option for humanoids – it sounds incredibly unhealthy – let’s see it as a metaphor, an analysis of oneself, a quiet retreat inside our own mind.
Just like it’s the case with the larva that turns liquid we still keep some parts of ourself. I call these parts our essence, the very thing that makes you you and that makes me me. The very parts that are still there after you discover the world-behind-worlds, that are still you even when you made it through the Dream Dance.
I’m entirely fascinated by the progress, the one of the butterfly metamorphosis as well as the Chrysalis of a Changeling. I know that the journey of finding myself will never end but I think having a liquid state – a time where I just decide to dissolve and keep only the most essential parts of myself, maybe in meditation, maybe getting lost in something else – a creative process, swimming, dancing, music – might be exactly what I need. What all of us that are weird and sometimes strangers in our human forms that seem* to live in a world cold and devoid of magic, always searching for something – others like us, our true selves, our true meaning – need from time to time.
So I make a cocoon for myself, or a chrysalis, and I turn into a hedge-goo, a pool of energy and essence, and you can decide for yourself if that’s just in my mind or if I actually dissolve into a slime on my bed.
My cocoon is my bedroom, a spot that is mine alone, soft and good for falling asleep to wake up with another bit of the veil behind me, on my way to waking up to myself, all my memories, all my skills and things.
A Changeling rarely has all of the memories of their former incarnations, and I see regaining them as a mini-metamorphosis of its own.
All these pictures were taken in De Hortus‘ butterfly greenhouse, a magical place where you can watch the pupae of the species that live there real close, marvelling at the beautiful textures.
My most magical experience at the botanical garden though I kept for the end: I was blessed enough to see this beauty wiggle itself part of the way out of its pupa and into its imago stage. I don’t think I have ever seen something so strange and magical at the same time and I hope it will never fade from my memory.