Just imagine that here is the beam of light and here the caterpillar (drawing). As the caterpillar crawls along, it spins a thread in the pattern of the beam of light. It spins in exact accordance with the beam of light and at night when there is no light it rolls up the thread. It spins it out in the sunlight and rolls it up again at night. In this way it forms its sheath. The caterpillar completely surrenders to the light, it dies in the light. Just as the insect surrenders to the flame, so the caterpillar dies into the light, but being unable to reach the sun it does not enter the sunbeam. However, it spins its own body into these threads and so forms the cocoon — as threads spun in this way are called. The silkworm spins the silk according to the light, so when you take its silk you can certainly say: This is spun light! Earthly matter is spun in the pattern of light rays, and when you come across a chrysalis you are really seeing pure sunlight spun around this earthly matter in the pattern of the sunbeam. We have now reached the point where spun light surrounds the chrysalis, and naturally something different occurs from what does in the case of the insect which burns by plunging into the flame and so can accomplish nothing further. In the short time the insect takes to hurl itself into the flame, could it but spin such a cocoon modelled on light, a new animal would arise from the fire. This is only hindered by the burning. By reason of this it is interesting to learn the real impulse of the insect which flutters around the room at night and plunges into the flame. Its urge is indeed to propagate itself and perish in order to re-emerge as a new being. Only it deceives itself because it cannot create a cocoon so rapidly. The caterpillar, however, has the time to create this sheath, to hang it up, so the sun forces, imprisoned inside, can now create the butterfly which is then able to fly out and enjoy the activity of a sun-being.
This is the way to observe things in Nature. First, quite a significant idea is implied in what I have told you. One might think that the insect by plunging into the flame just has the urge to perish, whereas this is not the case. It wants to reappear in another form. It would fain be transformed by the flame. This is always so in death. Death does not annihilate, but when it comes about in the right way it transforms the creature. This is the first thing we see. The second is the deep connection between all things in outer Nature. The butterfly you see is created out of light, but light had first to take up matter, form a case and be turned into threads inside the chrysalis. All animal entities are created out of light. This applies to man as well, by reason of the fertilisation of the female ovum. A sheath encloses the light within the mother’s body, so man is really created by this light. So the possibility arises for man to be born out of light. Thus we see how the butterfly arises from light which has first been imprisoned.
Now the butterfly flutters about in many different colours. These colours are seen to be prevalent where the light is most effective. In regions where the birds have wonderful colours the sun has greater power. What effect is produced by the action of imprisoned sunlight? In every instance colour is produced and this applies to the butterfly as well. The butterfly owes its colour to the action of imprisoned light. The butterfly is understood only when viewed as a complete creature of light which is responsible for its manifold colours.
But you see this cannot be accomplished by the sun alone. The matter stands thus: In the case of the egg, we see that moisture and salt play their part. Salt is earthy moisture in water. So we can say that to thrive, the egg needs earth and a little water. The caterpillar creeps into the light. By nature the caterpillar cannot thrive in just earth and water (in other words, dissolved chalk and water) but it requires moisture, water, and also air. This moisture and air the caterpillar demands is not merely the physical substance required by the egg, but in this moisture lives what is known as ether — what I called ether-body in referring to man. The caterpillar acquires an ether-body through which it breathes. This ether-body enables it to take in the spiritual present in air. The egg is still entirely physical, whereas the caterpillar already lives in both physical and etheric, but this it finds difficult as it contains far too much earthly matter. When the content of the caterpillar comes into contact with the light, one sees that it spins the light out of itself in the form of a cocoon. The caterpillar has an urge towards the light, but it is held back by the strong forces in it. It cannot deal with this task. Its urge is to soar, to pour itself into the light and to live there. So what does it do? Well, it isolates itself, envelops itself in its sheath along with the sunbeams. In the chrysalis the caterpillar altogether isolates itself from the physical earth forces. Inside the chrysalis where the grub has vanished, astral forces are now present — no longer earthly or etheric forces, but astral forces which are entirely spiritual and live in imprisoned light. Imprisoned light always contains spiritual astral forces, and these create the butterfly. As the butterfly consists entirely of astral forces it can now fly about in the air which was impossible for the caterpillar. It can follow the light. Being no longer subject to gravity the butterfly can simply follow the light. Through its surrender it has eliminated gravity to which it is no longer subject. So it can be said that it has matured as far as the ego. It is an ego in which we see the butterfly flying around. We men have our ego inside, whereas that of the butterfly is outside. The ego is actually light and is responsible for the butterfly’s colour.
From Rudolf Steiner, On The Nature Of Butterflies.
William Basinski – For David Robert Jones
Not sure how I discovered William Basinski. Apparently he’s a geezer like me! I love his work. David Robert Jones is, of course, David Bowie. This piece is a little more discordant than my usual Sunday morning selection.
So here is something a little more contemplative to go with your coffee …
Miles Davis ~ Sketches of Spain (1960)