The threat of life.

I posted a picture on Instagram that cost me 200 followers and my sanity. People were so upset by it, calling me evil and threatening to kill me. The picture, since taken down because my tender heart couldn’t handle any more, was my butterfly wing pyramid.

Now, after being shocked and hurt by the comments, I began to be very fascinated by the strong visceral response such an image created in people. I had a disclaimer on my subject line (These butterfly wings are recycled from an insect artist who had no use for them for one reason or another. She assures they were farmed and died of natural causes.)

So besides the fact that butterfly farming is a lucrative business for people who might otherwise cause deforestation with other types of farming, and besides the fact that no wild butterflies were harmed, and that the farmed butterflies were not even harmed, these people writing hateful comments to me were bothered by…

The severing of a wing of a dead insect.

(The wings came to me personally as wings, but someone along the line must have either cut them off of the insect, or they fell off and that’s why they couldn’t be used.  I’m not sure).

So my question is this:

Why doesn’t a leather hand bag cause the same kind of reaction?  Or milk? Or the use of antlers in decoration, even the ones fallen to the forest floor?  Or bones?  Or cut hair?

Why do butterflies in particular cause that kind of reaction?

I think there is a deep meaning here that these people aren’t even realizing exists.  I believe butterflies symbolize life after death.  They are this worlds closest thing to magic: wings from a chrysalis. 

I think the thought of a butterfly being harmed makes people feel like a soul, like beauty itself, is being harmed. Their bright colors and patterns, their searching for sweetness from flowers and starlight.  They are our world’s fairies, pointing towards a greater power, mimicking another voice.

I think this world fears death in ways we cannot truly fathom because we cannot truly understand life.

If my butterfly wing pyramid bothers you, I want you to search deep within yourself and ask yourself why. Perhaps there is an answer there waiting for you.

But don’t write me a death threat.  At this point, don’t write anything negative.  Believe me I’ve heard it all.butterfly pyramid

13 thoughts on “The threat of life.

  1. Birth, life, and death are natural. Some people are mean and unthinking. I love the person and the artist you are. I enjoy your posts. Often they are the bright spot in a dreadfully busy day. Keep doing what you do and live long.

  2. I’m so glad you posted this, Bridge, and didn’t allow the haters to have the last word. And that line, “I think this world fears death in ways we cannot truly fathom because we cannot truly understand life,” is so profound. As always, you take me to deeper places of the soul. Love you.

  3. Good thoughts Bridget, be strong and keep doing what you love and know that whatever you do will bring out the good and bad in people but then you will have opportunity to teach others about what is good and important in life, as you did. Love it!

  4. People are so stupid sometimes. I think some people just like conflict and social media is an easy outlet while they hide behind their computer screens. I loved the pyramid! And I love you.

    I want to slug people for you…
    it never ceases to amaze me how quickly we slur and hurt online…
    Oh Bridget—i loved this post and thought it was above and beyond kind how you posted about how you received the wings.
    I also think you hit the nail on the head, we are a culture and people, terrified of death. Desiring to prolong life as long as possible…
    and also–yes, as you posted I was thinking also, why don’t we get upset over things that matter. Which of course drives me to thinking of all the women in Portland and Tel Aviv I work with who are trafficked. Why not get upset over that, too.
    I have my own issues and points of passion.
    keep creating beauty and writing. i am cheering you on and grateful for how you bring life (and beauty) into this world.

  6. I totally agree with what you said re: cows milk, leather bags and antlers! People become desensitised with where things come from. The above things mentioned have been around for a while and people are so removed from the acquiring process, they don’t realise the pain and suffering those animals went/are going through. Milk – do people realise that you have to be pregnant to produce milk?? These cows are pregnant their entire lives. They produce so much milk that the milk has pus and blood. That’s why it has to be pasteurised. Do ppl know that baby cows are taken from their moms so we can kill them? Eggs, honey, meat, leather. All these things invoke senseless killings. Your butterfly pyramid is beautiful and I’m happy to hear that the wings were acquired without senseless killing. The piece has woken people up to life and death. That’s what art is partly about – bringing emotions to the forefront.

  7. I think the piece of art you made from these discarded wings is so beautiful, and that whatever happened to these butterflies, you have given them a far more dignified celebration of life than would have otherwise happened.

  8. I think it’s a beautiful and profound piece, in part because of its design and in part because it evokes death. You’re right: we live in a culture with an abiding and unhealthy discomfort with death. And you have done exactly what art has the unique capacity to do: asked us to sit for a little while with our discomfort. I’m happy you posted the piece (and wrote about it) here. Keep it up!

  9. Hi Bridget – I think the pyramid is gorgeous! I’m so glad I didn’t read all the negativity your butterfly wing pyramid caused! Even though you went to lengths to assure that the wings weren’t pulled off a living butterfly! I think your idea about why people reacted in such a negative way is very humane and forgiving. – Linnea

  10. Dear beautiful Beth
    I am such a huge fan of your work and everyday I am in awe of its beauty and the life that you breath into these beautiful gifts from the universe that once were alive on their own…the basil plant next to my bed that no one thought would make it inside is very much alive and full of life!
    I am sorry for the comments you received. I believe that even in dark there is Light. Do an aura cleansing on your laptop or burn some white sage to wash away the not so niceness.
    You are wonderful and I smile every time I open my Instagram and see your lovelies 💜

  11. I’m so glad you wrote about the experience you had! When I was a little girl I read “A Girl of the Limberlost.” I then got a net and caught a few of my own butterflies, killed them, and pinned them to boards.

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