Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cats and Butterflies


A couple of years ago, while working through difficult and complicated grief, I began learning about omens and signs. Around that time, a tabby cat began showing up out in front of my apartment in Uptown Minneapolis. I took it as a sign that a mysterious world would open up to me, and indeed, it did as I began exploring various avenues for a deeper, more spiritual understanding of the issues that came into my life. Right around that time, I interviewed a local author in St. Paul about her first book, a memoir, that was due to be released soon after. She was kind enough after the interview to do a palm reading for me. She said a number of things, but something that stood out was her words:  "You're like a butterfly; you have this wonderful beauty as a person, but you are so light and unobtrusive that people hardly know you're there."

In the past month, I've begun noticing these two omens, cats and butterflies, in my life. One morning a week or so ago, I woke up to a huge moth on my screen. I didn't even know such big moths were around in Ohio. He was on one screen when I got up in the morning, and some time later had moved to another window. Later that day, I watched a Japanime film, a trippy, surreal story about dreams. In it on several occasions were a flurry of blue butterflies. Later in the day, as I thought about the moth, I made the connection to the moth on the window and thought to myself, Is there a connection? Just as I said that, I spotted a butterfly fluttering around some plum blossoms of a tree growing next to the sidewalk.. 

A few days later, I was sitting next to a window in the library when a tiny moth came up to the glass right in front of me and fluttered there for a bit. And then again, later in the day, I was sitting next to a window when two women starting making a fuss about something on the window behind me. I was in deep concentration on what I was reading and felt a little annoyed at the interruption, but when I looked up, there was a big, cobalt blue butterfly on the window behind me. It looked like the ones in the Japanime film. 

Earlier this week, I was chatting with a friend in Japan. I'd told her about all these butterfly encounters and she told me about her trip to the beach. While she was sitting there, two butterflies came and lighted upon her slippers. They stayed there for a moment, and the fluttered along into the sky. 

Yesterday, I saw a cat lying on top of a waste-high wall next to a convenient store. Someone had put out a can of food for it and it lay there eating its fill. On my way back, I spotted the cat sitting in the parking lot, all fat and satisfied, staring at me. It occurred to me, I wonder if that's my cat totem getting my attention again. There was no particular reason for this thought; it's just what occurred to me.

A few minutes later, I passed through a dark parking lot behind a pharmacy, where I'd found a dime last week. I was looking at the ground, but it was too dark to see anything. Still, I looked at a particular spot and was sure there was a coin there. I bent over and put my finger against the spot, and sure enough, there was a penny. Of course, I picked it up and kept it. 

A few steps down the next block, while walking past a house whose owner had left the curtains opened wide, I spotted a cat sitting in the middle of the window, looking out at me on the street. I thought, How odd. I was just wondering about that. And then, the very next house down on the block, in the middle of a picture window, where the curtains were parted maybe a foot, stood another cat looking out at me. I thought, Certainly, there must be something to this. 

Two more times on my way home, I walked past houses with cats sitting next to open curtains looking out the window at me. As I neared my house, I thought, If between here and my house I see a cat, I'll be certain that something's going on here. I chastised myself immediately for my lack of faith in my own premonitions and omens, thinking, I know there aren't any cats around here anyway.

I walked down the block to my house, looking around to see if any cats were around. I'd given up seeing another when I walked past my uncle's window (he lives in the lower part of the house under my upstairs apartment), and there stood Tiger, his cat, looking out the window at me as I walked past. I'd forgotten about Tiger, and was amazed to see him there because he rarely sits by that window at night.

Had "something" told all these cats to look for me? I don't think it was a coincidence, so I'm trying to make sense of what these two omens mean. Butterflies and moths represent death, transformation, beauty, and frailty. Cats represent dreams, the underworld (the unconscious), and understanding mysteries. I've been doing some readings for a couple of projects that I'm working on that have me looking at religion and spirituality, and it's clicking with many other thoughts I've had throughout my life concerning my destiny and purpose in this life. I'll write more about this later.