What happens when the energy of the land seeps into those who live in it? Maybe it is why we get attracted to live in certain places as they match our own energy, or they have something that we need in our lives for a time.
In Australian Aboriginal culture, the land is imbued with ancestral spirits that have formed the land, that impregnate babies with that particular energy, and who then absorb these humans back into country when they die. During their life, these people have a duty to sing and look after their country, knowing that they are its caretaker, that it contains themselves and their own ancestors and that they will become part of the spirit of this land when they die.
The spirit of a particular place can be observed in many ways, one of which is by the spirit of the people that live upon it, or what it invokes in those who visit it.
Byron is in Bundjalung country. I once asked a Bundjalung man what ‘bundjalung’ meant and he replied that it was just the name for this area. Not being satisfied by this and knowing the disconnection especially in this area between the indigenous and the old language, I resorted to the library, and discovered that the Bundjalung word for butterfly is ‘banjalam’. Well it sounds very similar to me!
Ten years ago, I coordinated a homeopathic proving of a common local butterfly, the Blue Triangle butterfly. A proving is where people take the remedy and note what it does to them under supervision. This is then sorted through painstakingly to get a picture of the remedy. Out of all of the people taking the remedy, each went through major change in their lives during the one month period. Whether it was suddenly having to move house, a relationship breakup, a career change, or some who were already struggling through ‘the change’ of menopause, not one person remained unaffected. Apart from all the physical symptoms it brought about, a gentle summary for this remedy would be that it is for anyone who is stuck in the process of change, or finding it difficult to change or transform in some way. You can access this proving here.
Symbolically, the butterfly is said to represent transformation, death, rebirth, fertility, spring, and ‘soul’. (The Greek word for psyche means both ‘butterfly’ and ‘soul’). In many cultures around the world butterflies are thought to be the souls of the dead.
Common knowledge is that Byron was traditionally a place for the indigenous to come and gather for healing and for birthing, not a place for people to stay. And certainly it is a changing town, people come and go frequently, there are always new faces arriving, or people returning again and again. Just like the butterfly, there is constant change, people come here to transform themselves from the busy, running around suits of the city to relax and heal, to bathe in its nurturing energy and be inspired with its beauty, to lighten the loads of their daily lives and to experience joy again. But it is a strong place to stay beyond that. Those who do well here long term seem to be those working in some form of healing, or those working deeply on their own healing and transformation.
Then there are others who are completely burned out by being here for too long, homeless and destitute, drug addicted and penniless, or those who are constantly ill or searching externally, but not looking inside. And this is butterfly territory too – those who change frequently on the superficial level in order to avoid looking deep within, flitting from one thing to the next in constant avoidance of their true selves. This was another theme in the homeopathic proving – people who had had project ideas for years suddenly put them into action while taking the remedy. The butterfly treated their own butterfly nature – it helped them ground their ideas. And this I think is one of Byron’s greatest gifts and greatest challenges – it challenges you to bring your true self to the fore, to follow your bliss rather than what we believe others or society may want us to be, to put into action our soul’s work. And there are so many here who manage to do that successfully – Byron is a mecca for amazing artists, musicians, writers, dancers, storytellers, all managing to make their love a large part of their life. And if you’re not quite there yet, it is really in your face! Butterflies are symbols of the Soul, that juicy part of you that makes you you.
Butterflies have a simple life. Once they become a butterfly the hard work of transforming a heavy body into a lighter being has already been accomplished. Their days are spent sucking nectar from flowers or puddles, of mating with many different partners and laying as many eggs as they can before one of their many predators finish them off. Contrary to common belief, butterflies can live for many months.
Can you see any parallels? Definitely some of the more superficial lessons Byron country seems to offer is that of relaxing, of tasting the nectar of life, of taking the time to enjoy the roses and indulging the senses, focusing on beauty and life’s journey instead of speed and getting to a ‘destination’.
And then there’s sexuality. Where else can you find courses in anything under the sun from intimacy workshops to yoni yoga mentioned casually without the blink of an eyelid because they are commonplace?
And there’s commitment in relationships. There are those experimenting with freedom and trust in open relationships, or simply taking advantage of these open beliefs to flit about and sleep with as many people as possible. These issues seem to come up often here. Its not like they don’t come up anywhere else, but here it is strikingly common. Byron shire is also a single mother hotspot – and many are strong goddess women, willing to wait for a man that can meet them. Commitment can be like a dirty word – whether its committing to meet someone the next day at a certain hour (‘I just want to go with the flow’), or staying in a relationship beyond the romantic stage, to committing to a certain life path, commitment is a common question this area seems to bring up.
And it is a valuable question. After all, how can we commit to anything externally until we have looked deep inside? But then looking deep inside takes great commitment and effort and doesn’t necessarily fit in with the butterfly scenario of flitting around sipping nectar, dancing and mating with many, seemingly light and carefree!
And of course there’s birthing. With many sacred birthing tea tree lakes in the area, indigenous women were said to come here to birth. And this energy seems to persist, with so many earth mothers coming to sit here in the shire and journey through the transformation of birth and motherhood.
In a place long renowned for transience and transformations (such as healing and birth), it is interesting to see how there is also a great resistance to change. There are those out there who are ready to put in energy to transform suggested change into awesomely ecological ways. And then there are those who just protest all change in any way.
We live on very sacred ground here in Byron shire. Country that can help us heal our wounds and transform our souls into lighter more effective beings if we have the courage to dip deep below the surface and commit to our true selves.