Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
K is for…
kainotophobia: (noun) fear of newness or change
I’m committed to leaning into the positive in this series of posts, so it may seem odd I’ve chosen this particular word for today. But I think it’s both possible to acknowledge where we are at any given time AND take steps to shift to something more preferred.
There’s no question that as a species we seem hard-wired to fear and resist change, which is, of course, complicating and adding to the challenge of this time of global unknowns. We’re all having to work at finding and keeping our balance. But if we accept that’s the case, then we can also lean into the things that can help us support us in shifting.
One of the archetypes that stepped forward as a guiding principle for 2020 for me was the tarot’s Hanged Man. I thought it was fascinating when it showed up and wondered how it would unfold, but now it feels like such a perfect energy to lean into.
Traditionally the Hanged Man suggests sacrifice, surrender, or being suspended in time. But bottom line for me, is a change in perspective. I feel rather excited about this invitation, and absolutely believe that’s what we’re called to collectively. We’re currently experiencing things from a different perspective, but after this immediate challenge shakes out, I have no doubt a different perspective will be called for, and exponentially useful, as we sort out all the changes and the what nows.
Steeping in the energy of a new perspective, I’ve been especially appreciating the Hanged Man as visualized by various tarot deck creators. Here are a selection of my favorite alternatives.
The Timer (from the Kitchen Tarot) meaning “rest, surrender, time out!). An affirmation offered for working with this card is “There is no need to rush. I am in the rhythm and flow of ever-changing life.
Art (from Thea’s Tarot) meaning “transformation, creative cosmic change, inner hope.” One of the invitations of this card is to “think about the exchange of loss for a gain, settle into peace after difficulty, and grow from experience.”
Tiamat (from Dark Goddess Tarot) is the Babylonian goddess of the deep. Her message is “What has been lost, lives in hidden places.”
The final card Stillness is from the Pythias Sacred Geometry Tarot deck and its message is “Be still and listen at the crossroads. Waiting requires patience and submission of will. Watch for signs, prepare for change and choice. Move when the time is right.”
I think all of these are beautiful invitations to lean into change and newness without succumbing to kainotophobia.
I’ve also been thinking about butterflies as symbols of transformation, and the connection to shifting one’s perspective. They have much to teach about stages of change, transmutation, going within and coming out whole again. There are teachings about when it’s time to incubate precious new ideas, and knowing when it’s necessary to withdraw during a transition, and equally important when it is time to emerge. But of course butterflies have other messages as well. They are a symbol of fragility – not in the sense of weakness, but more because they are so light and transparent. To watch a butterfly is to pay attention to the environment, and butterflies are one of the first species to react o climate changes. This sensitivity speaks to our need to be far more mindful about our environment certainly, but it’s also a reminder of the gifts of being receptive to the nuances all around us that can help us navigate with more wisdom and insight. Their flitting nature is also associated with joy and freedom, and a reminder to look where to make more room for that in our lives.
Butterflies are fascinating to other cultures as well, and whenever I’m studying symbols, I like to check out cultural references, creation stories, goddess lore, and whatever else I can find. It’s so interesting to see things through the many facets of understanding that are available,
Butterflies have a soul connection in many cultures, and in classical Greek the word for soul and butterfly are the same. For the Haida people of the Pacific Northwest, Raven was considered the creator of the world, but Butterfly was Raven’s spokesperson. The Hmong have a traditional tale that attributes the creation of the local peoples to the eggs laid by Butterfly Mother. Butterfly Maiden is a Kachina connected to Spring; and for the ancient Egyptians the butterfly was the emblem of Osiris. The Aztecs honored Itzpapaloti (Obsidian Butterfly) as a fierce warrior goddess; and Hina is a butterfly goddess of the Pacific Islanders associated with inspired and truthful communication. So many different entry points into the exploration of Butterfly, and each one intriguing.
No matter what, change is inevitable, and there is always newness to to adapt to. Perhaps we can be encouraged by this reminder from Rumi:
“Anyone who knows me, should learn to know again; For I am like the Moon, you will see me with a new face everyday,”
So what do you think? Have any supports you lean into as you navigate change? Think the Hanged Man or Butterfly are helpful archetypes to work with at this time? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
As you say in the 2nd paragraph, about accepting what is, all the unknowns, then we can start from there or it’s a good place to start.
Thanks Deborah, kainotophobia has a pleasant sound to it. Almost warm 🙂
It’s always lovely to see butterflies and bees, affirming to me the soulness in everything.
We can accept that sacrifices are being made, and each of us is called at this time. There is a need for it, and it will benefit the greater whole ..
These times are calling us into our best selves I think, and I’m heartened to see how many are responding that way. But it’s always good to have the reminders, and I love how butterflies and bees can be the inspiration we need to remember.
Butterflies represent a lot of my feelings right now: fragility, knowing when it’s time to withdraw or emerge, and sensitivity to the environment. I have a particular process in dealing with change; it’s almost like the grief stages but shorter.
How insightful to recognize your process is a form of grieving Margaret. I’m sure knowing that is helpful in navigating.
Thanks for all those diverse butterfly mythologies. So fascinating to see so many directions you can go with a symbol so powerful.
I am the mother of a child who looks at every change with initial skepticism, but it’s interesting to see how he comes around; it’s not really that he fights or hates change, but just that he needs to take time to get used to new ideas and states. If we’re patient and give him time he always does fine in the end.
Black and White (Words and Pictures)
I have a great interest in how various cultures interpret archetypes – I could live my whole life down those rabbit holes.
I’m glad your son has you to help hold space for him – that’s a beautiful gift I wish we all would be willing to give one another.
I’ve always loved the butterfly for it’s beautiful change of form. I wonder what the future holds for us after all of this.
Let’s hope our transformation is into something as beautiful and useful as butterflies!
It’s great that you added the butterfly reference. I think we all love that change, so it helps us recognize the positive potential.
I absolutely do believe in the positive potential Beth. But I also think opening to the different perspective necessitated by the hanged man archetype is really important as well.
I love those alternative tarot cards and how you link them to your word today. Another famous butterfly story is in philosophical taoism, where Chuang Tzu fell asleep and dreamed he was a butterfly. When he woke up he wondered if he was a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu 🙂
Oh yes, that’s a perfect addition. Thanks.
Surrounded by massages of ‘Happy New Year’ and ‘New beginnings’ in my neck of the woods, I was surprised to read the definition of kainotophobia–only momentarily though.
As I continued reading, each explanation rang true and I kept nodding my head to the truth of the words.
This sums it up for me :”going within and coming out whole again. ”
Thank you for the beautiful kaleidoscope of stories about butterflies from all over the world. Loved reading them all.
Your choice of Rumi quote has put a spring in my step. Thank you.
Your perspective of the joy of entering a new year with new beginnings is perfect Arti. I’m so glad you shared that. And I’m holding hope that that’s exactly the kind of energy we’ll move forward with.