silent thunder

Taoist Immortal Monarchs: Alchemy in Nature

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My son and I were sitting on the porch of a house we rented in the foot hills of Mt Hood in Oregon.

 

This butterfly flitted about us, checking out my son in depth. 

He held out his hand and it came to rest in his palm. 

It grew quite still and after a time, we realized, it had passed.

 

We set it in the branches of the bonsai.

 

Just months prior, I had a similar experience while walking up to the beach on my birthday.

A night moth, up uncharacteristically in the early morning light, alighted on my palm and died.

 

Like little deaths, life unfolds, dissolving reforming...

just as my mind, body and subtle bodies do.

 

When I resist, or try to prop up and hold on... i experience incredible tension, anxiety, wracking pain.

 

As this Alchemy continues to play out some through my intention, the vast majority beneath and beyond it... as through my cultivation and self inquiry I become able to more directly relate to it, i find increasingly i'm able to release radically into the flow of life and simply abide in raw unperterbed presence... there is a wonderous expanding of sense of self, releasing of long held blockages and a sense of bouyancy emerging. 

 

muddiest waters

left to itself, undisturbed

rests in clarity

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Unignorable Synchronicity... 

 

About half an hour after posting this thread, I hear my wife say...

 

"Aw hey... Monarch in the house.  And you just moved your picture..."

After logging off I'd just rehung a framed version of the picture in the first post, next to my desk so I could soak it in.

 

I get up and looked over to see this Monarch fluttering in and about our dining room, then back out to hang among the spindly remains of our passed milkweed and then checking out the two straggler twigs who popped up in neighboring pots...  and the lavender that's just starting to bloom.

 

She danced around for a few minutes... realized there wasn't any real estate available and headed out.  She let me get a bit of video.

 

Couple hours later, I'm passing through to the kitchen when Maya, our short hair female is clearly telling me to check things out on the plant table as she's doing her 'please let me touch it!' dance. 

 

I settle in and in a few seconds it moves and I see it.

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This one is a beast.  Looks about ready to make the change.

 

Then while I'm suggesting going to the nursery now and not waiting for the Farmer's Market tomorrow; our son spots a second, in the dirt of a neighboring pot, cruising fast.  Not quite as big as the first. 

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By the time I've grabbed my keys, he's spotted a third one, tiny little guy, right next to his face, halfway up our screen door framing. 
 

"They're everywhere!"  He says in his best Halo Grunt voice and we head out to the nursery, talking about returning to find mom hosting a kitchen covered in caterpillars wearing hats, reading 17th century french poetry to each other, while sipping milkweed tea.

 

So, it's official, we're now a Monarch Foster Family.  kizmit.  synchronicity.

I love life.  In the midst of this anxiety and tension... such simplicity reminds me unignorably that Alchemy is always playing out... aware of it or not... and we're all, always a part of it.

 

More to follow... 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Final count seems to be four.

They've all settled in on the new plant and are munching away.

It's interesting watching them sever a leaf while holding an inverted downward dog underneath it. 

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They anchor the severed leaf with silk and then hang upside down, their weight causes the leaf to droop over as they sever it, so it ends up covering them while they feed, obscuring them from sightlines.  Then they feed from the bottom of the leaf upward at their leisure, starting at the stem in the center... with all the juicy nom noms.

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The big fella, Big Chongus as my son refers to him, isn't bothering with leaves, and heads straight up to the flower bursts and munches those exclusively so far.

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Went to the Farmer's Market looking for another, larger plant, but none available.

 

I mulled putting a screen around them, but rejected this, pretty quickly.  Our balcony is well covered on five of six sides and besides, nature has its own way.   I'm meddling quite enough already with my incessant hanging out, talking to them and photographing them at their dining table and toilet.

Edited by silent thunder
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Posted (edited)

So May and June is the second generation of the year's cycle of four generations.  We're hosting four members of the second generation of this year's cycle who are making their way North.

 

They are halfway to the year's first destination in Eucalyptus, Monterey Cypress and Pine Groves ranging from San Diego all the way to Santa Cruz. 

 

September's brood will live not six to eight weeks, but six to eight months.  They will out live the previous three generations combined and will complete the reverse trip South in one go. 

 

 

I have to repeat this bit for emphasis.  Here is where the alchemy compounds on top of the Alchemy of total physical transformation from walking/crawler to flyer... to this fourth generation who also displays and possesses magnitudes greater longevity than their forbears.  Why not always have Monarchs that live six to eight months?   Such precarious seeming balance.  Life is such a wonder.

 

That I even have the possiblity of sitting here in awareness, sharing this exprience by typing these glyphs and symbols... and that others across the glove may see and interpret them and participate...

 

How much miracle is contained in one square yard of simple, normal dirt?  It boggles my mind in its unimaginable intricacy and simple complexity.

 

Contraria sunt complementa.  Opposites are complimentary.  Self balancing, co-arising conditions of the aggregates of form, rising from non-form.  Awareness at its core.

 

The trip it took three generations to make North, the fourth generation will complete themselves in one go.  Upon arrival they will mate, lay eggs and then pass and the seasonal cycle will begin again, responding as it always has, to cues in the climate. 

 

As it has for countless eons now.  All while maintaining balance with the food chain.

 

Such a miracle... to just be here among this... this... life.

 

Edited by silent thunder
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After only seeing one Monarch this last year, my wife bought some *milk weed seeds, kept them in the refrigerate for 3 weeks until they sprouted and just planted them today. *"asclepias fascicularis" 

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My neighbors grows a couple varieties of milk weed.  He'll also capture certain caterpillars, cage'em, keep'em fed, wait til they chrysalis, and turn to butterflies then releases them.  Says they have a better chance that way.  I don't know. 

 

I do like butterflies though.  They are perhaps our true Phoenii, correction phoenixes, ..'If talking about the mythological bird, there is no plural. Only one existed at a time.'

 

Fini

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Big Chongus was gone this morning.

 

Figured a bird got him, then something told me to look under the table.

He was either climbing back up the wall after falling.

Or he was climbing down... and away.

 

Placed him back in the pot and after a few minutes, he'd made a bee line up and over the edge of the pot.

 

Seems he's lookin for a spot to anchor for the Chrysalis stage.

And this time, he's gone under the rim around the edge of the pot.

 

Everyone else is still munching.

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Monarch update.

 

I'm suspecting that by the time we became aware of them, they were all suffering from lack of food, being laid as eggs on such a spindly and small dead plant.

 

Big Chongus did not succeed in transitioning to Chrysalis.  He inverted, but did not initiate transformation from there.

 

Itty Bitty is still Itty Bitty and has not grown a wink since we discovered her, but she continues to forage very slowly on the small shoots near the soil.

 

Nameless inverted and begun initiating Chrysalis formation last night.  Usually the Chrysalis forms within 12 hours of the start.  Nameless may yet succeed, we'll know by tonight.

 

and our fourth foster... She Who Is Beyond Naming, has fled the pot and is no where to be seen.

 

The reason the old plant whithered I suspect is that I kept it on our balcony too long and did not replant it in the ground.  Once this process has played out, I'm taking this new plant down to the open plot between properties and planting it there.  Hopefully the neighbor's gardeners will leave it be as the plot is not owned by them.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Nameless transitioned to Chrysalis.

 

After 11 hours of seeming inaction, within the last 37 minutes, Nameless went from an inverted caterpillar to a full Chrysalis.

We missed the transition it occured so quickly.  But here's her in the end result.

 

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So ~14 days from now we'll see if she's made the full transformation...

Edited by silent thunder
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Here's a real time video of what we just missed occuring if interested.

 

After hours of inversion, once the splitting of the skin occurs, the chrysalis forms in about 10 minutes.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Nameless' Chrysalis has changed shape rather significantly and is developing a ring of beautiful gold spikes along a newly emerging upper ridge.

 

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When I look to the lighter portion toward the bottom right, I can begin to see the wing lacing.

 

It's almost as if the inner layer of the Chrysalis' inner wall is the mold giving the wings their shape as they take form out of the liquid.

Edited by silent thunder
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Posted (edited)

Here's a couple new images of Nameless' Chrysalis on day 8.

she's developed a ring of black under her upper gold spikes and a second ring of only a few gold spikes has emerged along the bottom yesterday.

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Sources say she should emerge in as few as 2 days, I sense she'll be another 5. 

She seemed on the small side when she began the shift.

 

I've been working on the battery of our old GoPro, trying to build it up.  It sat dormant for a while. 

Going to start running video on day 10, hoping to catch the 3 minute window in which she will emerge and fly off.  Need to rig a new tripod for my camera too, the old one went gammy.

 

Can pretty clearly see the wing veins and structures in the lower sections of both pics.

Assuming she'll go clear before she emerges, but don't know.

 

Shift and shift... inner and outer.  Me.  Her.  Society.  Earth.  Sun.  Galactic Flow.  Void.  Dao.

It's relentless and inertia is gathering... palpably resonant for me...

 

I'm sensing some new harmonics on old resonances... 

the stirrings of my old viking nature, the raw delight for exploring and enjoying the shift and leaning into it... rather than abject neutrality in apathy.

 

we'll see... hibernation may be coming to an end for me as well soon.

 

Gratitude for simple raw presence in beingness continues to emanate its harmonic influence under all else...

 

There is such potency in active surrender.

 

Edited by silent thunder
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Well... Nameless didn't make it.

We discovered her empty Chrysalis this morning.

Shortly after that, we found her stuck to the table where she evidently fell while emerging. 

 

Her wings hadn't dried yet and when she fell, her wings then dried to the table, rendering them useless.

 

So she won't be making the trek to Northern Cali, she was breakfast for a local bird instead.

 

and the cycle continues...

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This afternoon, we noticed a female hanging about.

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And the cycle continues... she laid a few eggs.

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one, right next to Nameless' Chrysalis.

 

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such gentle power.

shining yin resilience.

monarch life cycle.

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Posted (edited)

One egg hatched this morning.

She's about 3/4" long and may have the entire plant to herself as I don't see any others, but I'm not looking over much, or too carefully.

 

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Edited by silent thunder
added the pic
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Sheer poetry reading your posts my friend!! 🙏🏾🙇🏻🤗

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Alchemy is changing something.. converting one substance into another.. Thaumaturgy and Theurgy are both ways that existence changes..the quest to understand what things can be changed vs what cannot.. the honest Onion of truth.. is that there is many layers.. skin cells etc.. so the onion of truth is both like a Mustard Seed and a Kernel of Pop Corn(maze). The onion of truth is a current.. a current that cannot end.. without the end of time.. anything that happens is measured within time.. 

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Was wondering how much caterpillers sleep, as two seem to be quite sedentary yestereve and this early morn.

 

Turns out they were molting.  They've swollen in size noticeably.

 

The other two are hunkered down in the flower bursts up top, munching contentedly.

 

Simple joy to watch them in silence... myself also content.

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Posted (edited)

Monarch Caterpillers are referred to as Instars.  They hatch from eggs as Instar 1, then molt four more times in the larval stage.

Instar 3 is when we see the tell-tale arching chewing and heavy leaf consumption begin.  In Instar 1 and 2, there's almost no activity and so far, no visible signs of eating.  Though based on how they're positioned on the leaves, it seems they are breaking through the main vein of the leaf they're on and drinking from that... perhaps their mouths aren't developed enough for leaf chewing until Instar 3...

 

This next bit is quite intriguing.

The timing of their molt between each Instar phase is temperature dependent, as is when they transform to Chrysalis.

 

This may explain why three of the last four did not successfully Chrysalize and why they are known to travel up to 10 meters from their birth plant to find a suitable place for forming the Chrysalis.  They may have been seeking the right spot with the appropriate temperature to make the shift.  This is rather critical as the Chrysalis forms in under 10 minutes from the initiation of the process.

 

If temps are outside the range, they cannot shift.

 

Edited by silent thunder
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