top of page
  • Writer's pictureJessica Morgan McAtee

The Butterfly Molt Pause

Messages in Nature

Humans make sense of things with metaphor, stories and connections. We navigate our world by what we have seen before and this helps us predict what may be to come. Since the beginning, we have understood our world by observing nature and finding parallels.

The butterfly is surely one of our favorite muses. It reminds us that we can be more than we are. It teaches us about growth, change and the butterfly molt pause...

Metamorphosis Prerequisites

For a butterfly, every stage of growth is marked by stretching and a shedding of what once was. This includes all caterpillar instars, pupal formation and adult emergence. They are all molts and they are each pivotal moments in the insect's life.

Every time a butterfly grows it must endure a time of stillness, a molt pause.

A time of stillness must endure before, during and after every molt. The creature is undergoing major changes at this time and a wrong move or sudden twitch could be disastrous. This is why, when rearing butterflies, it is so important to leave them alone while they are changing form.

Each of its molts (exiting the egg, entering all caterpillar stages, forming a chrysalis and emerging as an adult butterfly) involves a transformation of casting off old skins, former identities, appearances and ways of being. The expired container that encapsulated the being is no longer sufficient for its new shape and mode. It must be delicately released with pulses, writhing, expanding and care.

Once it is out, the insect must rest and wait. There is a butterfly molt pause. It will take time for the soft, wet, new exterior to harden. Humans would measure that time as about two hours, but in the comparatively brief lifespan of a butterfly, surely it is longer.


If we are to mature, stillness will be our companion. We can learn the butterfly molt pause as we undergo our own transformation. It is a time of re-centering, prayer and reverence. It is a time of gratitude for what is finished and joyful expectancy of what is to come.

Many faith traditions, including Christianity, embrace stillness. This is reflected in prayer practices, meditation and silence.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

From a psychological standpoint, meditation is known to relax our minds, reduce negative emotions, lower our blood pressure, manage stress, focus on the present, help us calm our over-stimulated imagination and focus better. One can meditate and pause without a higher power and still gain massive benefits.

From a spiritual standpoint, it can teach us to usher in new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.

May we remember to practice the molt pause.

Be Still


40 views0 comments


Conserve & Transform

bottom of page