The Butterfly and Al-Anon

The Butterfly Symbolizes Tranformation That Many Find in Al-Anon

Monarch Butterfly
The Butterfly Symbolizes Transformation. © Getty Images

Each time you see a fuzzy, little caterpillar, try to will one day be transformed into a beautiful butterfly. It's difficult to imagine -- an ugly, crawling, perhaps even repulsive creature will one day become a bright, beautiful, winged butterfly.

This new creature is very different from its former self. It is a beautiful sight indeed. Before this miraculous transformation takes place, the little caterpillar withdraws into its own world.

It finds a place it can be alone.

Then it painfully struggles to make a cocoon, which it wraps tightly around itself. During this cocoon stage, it is sealed off from the rest of the world. It remains in this dark place for days. Gradually, a tiny crack appears in the covering and as the crack widens, a new creature emerges.

A Beautiful Sight

This new creature is very different from its former self. It is a beautiful sight indeed! The new butterfly stays near the cocoon for a while -- a safe familiar home. Soon its tiny, wet wings begin to dry in the sunshine.

It slowly begins to flutter its wings and it flies from bloom to bloom. With every stop it makes at a flower, it gains strength. In turn, each flower offers the butterfly some pollen.

As the butterfly visits each succeeding flower, it leaves behind some of the valuable pollen. This is how the flowers are able to form seeds and be reborn.

Our Spirits Could Merely Crawl

When most of us come to Al-Anon, we are similar to the butterfly. There was a time when we, too, were unlovely creatures. Our spirits could merely crawl, never soar.

As the disease of Alcoholism progressed, our ability to cope with anything grew weaker and weaker. We, too, built a cocoon around ourselves.

We withdrew from the world and hid. Time passed. Then we heard about Al-Anon and hope caused a tiny crack to begin in our outer shell. After several meetings, the crack opened and we emerged.

We sat in the light and absorbed the warmth, friendship, and understanding of the group--just as the butterfly absorbed the sunshine. In time, we begin to carry to others the gifts we'd received. Each time we help others, we strengthen ourselves.

A Symbol of Transformation

This is why you often see Al-Anon members wearing a butterfly pin or tie tack. The butterfly is one Al-Anon symbol. Not only is it a spiritual symbol, but it is a symbol of beauty and transformation. We can look at a butterfly and see God. The butterfly is sometimes described as the "kiss of God".

A butterfly makes a wonderful gift for the person who introduced you to Al-Anon. It's also appropriate to give to a person you introduce or sponsor in Al-Anon. It's a symbol of hope, love, change, and beauty. As we grow and change in Al-Anon, we are transformed into beautiful butterflies!

-- Lin

Not an Official Al-Anon Symbol

To be clear, the butterfly has never been officially adopted as a symbol of Al-Anon by the Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. It's use as an Al-Anon symbol has been a grassroots effort over the years by some members of the fellowship.

Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope, in order to solve their common problems. Members do not give direction or advice to other members, but share their own experiences.

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