The Butterfly and the Circle

Circling Butterflies by Anne

Both the butterfly and the circle carry much positive symbolism. And for me, these symbols are especially meaningful. The little caterpillar moves carefully along branches and twigs, filling itself with green leaves and perhaps flowers, and being careful not to fall or get caught in a spider’s web. Generally speaking, the caterpillar has no real defense system, and it is vulnerable to everything around it from the moment it develops from an egg.

But then it begins to build a cocoon, surrounding itself and closing out all that it has known in its brief life. And in this time, it spends in a form of meditation and growth. After a set amount of time, it begins to beat its newly formed wings (a symbol of its transformation) until it is able to slowly release itself from the cocoon. It is no longer in any sense a caterpillar. This newly transformed creature now seeks the nectar of the most beautiful flowers. Its new-found freedom enables it to travel to new locations, even those far away from where it started its life. It has no fear of going where it has never been before. Often a group of butterflies will begin to circle higher and higher into the sky.

Ancient people throughout the world recognized the circle as a symbol of infinity, and of being whole and complete. Spiritual and Religious cultures recognize the circle as a symbol of the female and the feminine energy , and especially of Mother Earth. It represents a fertile and sacred space. In the U.K. and other countries, there are many circles of stones.

The circle also represents a cycle that can be the cycle of life, death and rebirth. It can represent being complete and whole as well. For the Celtics, the circle was a sign of protection, and may be the reason that many early fortresses, temples, crosses and other sacred things were in a circular shape or contained circular motifs. The circle is found in many other cultures and countries throughout the world as well.

As I have noted, my art often contains images or symbols that are sacred to me. The cycle of life, and of completion belongs with the butterfly and its life cycle and my own life.

The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl by Anne Copeland

I loved for my Grandmother to read to me, even when I was a teenager.  I remember sitting next to her rocking chair and kneading her soft skin and telling her lovingly that it felt so good, like a turkey.  For some, that may have been a dreadful thing to tell a Grandmother, but mine understood that it was soothing for me.  She would always sit and tell me over and over the fairy tales I always requested.  Strangely, both of these stories seemed so dismal on the surface, but I always interpreted them differently. 

This is my conscious interpretation of the story.  It is true that it was likely in Victorian times in England.  It was Christmas eve, and it was very cold as citizens found their way around the area seeking last-minute gifts and special foods to celebrate.

The little match girl, a poor child who would represent reality in those times for a lot of children, was out in the street, poorly dressed for the cold.  She held up her matches, for she knew she dare not return home without selling them.  Her family did not have the good foods that others had to eat.  She perhaps had not eaten all day or even several days.  No one noticed the matches she held up in the cold.

Desperate to do something in this dismal time, she lit one of the matches.  As the long match glowed in the dark, it warmed her a tiny bit, and in that moment, she saw a vision of possibility.  She saw herself in a warm home with food and presents, and a beautiful Christmas tree lit with many colors.  The other children with her were all aglow with happiness that permeated the cold, dark sky.

The match did not last. With a sort of strange bit of hope, she lit another match.  Once again, her heart was filled with joy and happiness, if just for that moment. You know, it only takes a moment for a miracle.  If we can experience the joy of being alive in our minds and our souls, just for that moment, we experience the true miracle of life.

As the matches continued to be lit, finally culminating in the lighting of the remainder of the matches all at once, she was able to transcend that reality of her life.

We are sometimes faced with ugly realities in our lives, and we don’t  have to accept them as our forever reality.  We can see the best even in the worst of times, and know that life will change as it always does.  We are all sacred in this world, as is every plant, every animal, every grain of sand.  We are not alone.  We are part of the larger universe, and we would not be here if we were not meant to be.  If we are here but a moment, we can make it the most beautiful miracle of a moment ever. 

Celebrating a Great Teacher

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The Learning Tree Classroom Door Decoration by Anne Copeland

In my lifetime, I have come across two teachers who have been the best teachers I have ever known.  The first one I knew as a young teenager, struggling through being a shy person, and one with very little to inspire me at school.

She was a young teacher, very pretty and she drove a red convertible Corvette.  We all loved her.  She would bring photos and newspaper clippings and jazz music to the classroom, and we would all write about it.  She taught us so many things just by all the things she was introducing to us.

After one of our writing assignments was being handed back to us with our grades, when she got to me, she whispered in my ear, “You are going to be a great writer.”  My heart soared and my paper had an A on it.  I went home smiling in my heart, and the first chance I got to have money to pay for it, I got some business cards that said my name and address with “Writer” on it.  How clearly and easily I had made that decision.

Years later, I ran into an old classmate from that class and I told her about how great that teacher was.  And then she told me that the teacher had told all of the young people in the class including my friend the same thing.  What a lasting legacy she left with all of us.  I wish I could ever find her again to thank her.

I have another more recent friend I met in an online correspondence course, The Silent Eye Mystery School, a fantastic class that involves Archaeology (one of my degrees), History, Philosophy, Psychology, Science and Spirituality.  Three wonderful people founded and run the course:  Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent, and Stuart France.  We have been traveling via posts all over England studying all the great ruins, the churches, the castles and the amazing forts.  All three of them have written lots of fantastic books.

In one of the posts online, I met a lovely lady named Jennie, and she is one of the most dedicated preschool teachers I have ever known. https://jenniefitzkee.com/author/jlfatgcs/ is her writing, and her blog is called “A Teacher’s Reflections.”

Jennie writes: “I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, The Read-Aloud Handbook because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.”

I would like to give each of these women some sort of certificate of honor if I could.  I have worked in the school districts myself, and I appreciate a truly incredible teacher as these two women have been.  Thank you both for helping to make a positive difference in young lives.