1. In entomology, the imago is the final and fully developed adult stage of an insect, typically winged. 2. In psychoanalysis, it is an unconscious, idealized mental image of someone that influences a person's behavior. 3. The ancient Greek word for butterfly is "psyche", which primarily means 'soul', 'mind”.
In this series on butterflies, I chose to reflect on the intricate beauty of a most familiar creature. I began this project because I missed the butterflies from my youth in Provence-- the fluttering wings across the fields of coquelicots and their magical presence in the books of my childhood.
Butterflies are beauty incarnated.
They speak of transformational identities, of polymorphism and metamorphosis. From immature form to pure beauty, they change from caterpillar to cocoon to imago, the final stage of their life.
Butterflies are the epitome of elegance and grace.
How are we to take hold of those moments or emergence in our lives, present to the transformation and witness to the final reveal of our own imago?
A physicist and friend of mine, Wes Jamroz, once told me of his study of the photonic crystals on the tiny scales that cover butterfly wings. These crystals, he explained, scatter and reflect rays of light; miraculous, vibrant color is born.
Scientists study them to create nano-thin optics. ‘Butterflies hold our future,’ he suggested.
It is inscribed in the filigree of their wings.

Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi once had a dream of being a butterfly fluttering around without care about humanity. When he woke up he realized it was just a dream. The thought came to him: "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?"