The Portuguese Butterfly Woman

For some months after Joan died I kept a record of my dreams which I carefully recorded upon waking and then transcribed to my computer. Here is one of the more significant dreams:

Thursday, November 01, 2007: The Portuguese Butterfly Woman

<dream>: 8:07 am. I’m back at El Camino College, walking across the campus, and I am introduced to the new Vice President of Academic Affairs and I chat with him for just a minute or two. He recognized me from a telephone call previous to our physical meeting. He then leaves and I am walking on with his girl friend, a very strikingly beautiful woman. And I ask her name, and she says something and I try to repeat it, and I don’t get it right. So she tries again, and I still don’t get it right. She says something sort of disparaging like, “Do I have to draw you a picture or something?” At this point she starts snapping her fingers and moving then around. And I finally intuit, “Oh, butterfly.” “Yes,” she says with a smile, “My name in Portuguese means butterfly.” We separate at that point and I walk on to my office, which I had not been to in a long time. It is very, very crowded with another desk or two, and a typewriter stand, and I can barely make my way into the office. Someone else comes in and we start talking about what we can get rid of in order to free up some space. </dream>

[The masculine imagery (the Vice President) is of a strong, competent Self. But the anima image, although beautiful, is flitting about and needs to settle down. The cluttered office is like my cluttered mind, cluttered up by too many ideas and theories. Perhaps I need to relax a bit from my current intensity and allow the beautiful female butterfly to alight and teach me something. So I did. I went in and sat in my easy chair and listened to Bach for a while. 11/3/2007, I learned from reading Bullfinch’s Mythology that the Greek word psyche means both butterfly and soul.  So, I had a nice walk and talk with my beautiful anima-soul image! 11/7/2007. The butterfly is a Christian symbol of the Resurrection.  The Resurrection is the story of a death and transformation. So, perhaps, my anima is gently (butterflies are gentle creatures) leading me through death to a new life.]

From that day to this, butterflies have had a special significance to me.

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About Hugh Thomas Hodges

I am a retired college teacher who lives on the San Francisco Peninsula.
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