A live butterfly release, whether in ones and twos or by the dozen is a beautiful and memorable addition to any occasion.
The symbolism of releasing butterflies can have a variety of meanings, from carrying our good wishes and blessings, to creating an everyday reminder of a special event. It’s rarely enough just to open the basket and release the butterflies – you need some form of wording to link your actions with your intent, so that your guests are able to participate fully with you.
Occasional Monarchy have collected examples of some ways people have put words around their live butterfly release.
Below are some inspirational ideas for the occasion you have in mind. We encourage you to use or adapt them to suit yourself, or, if you can’t find the words you’re looking for, just ask – we may be able to suggest something for you!
Monarchs for Babies, Children and Young Adults
A live butterfly release, whether in ones and twos or by the dozen is a beautiful and memorable addition to any occasion. Using butterflies to celebrate an occasion with your child is a beautiful symbol of new life, hope, and the future.
Children and adults alike are fascinated by nature, and the experience of holding a perfect butterfly in your own hand is something that will stay in a child’s memory for many years to come.
Whether it’s a baby naming, christening, graduation, or a birthday, monarch butterflies can help create an occasion that is out of the ordinary, and will become part of your family’s archive of memories.
The words you include in a baby naming ceremony might be along these lines:
“As these butterflies spread their wings and move out into the world, they carry our hopes, prayers and dreams for [the child].
In the years ahead, whenever you see one of these butterflies, remember the words spoken here today, and commit yourself afresh to actively supporting [her] as she grows and takes her own place in the world.”
“We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies
as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are.
We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them
and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them.
It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it.
Whoever would partake of all good things must understand
how to be small at times.”
“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”
Hans Christian Anderson
Grown-ups love figures.
When you tell them that you have made a new friend,
they never ask you any questions about essential matters.
They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like?
What games does he love best?
Does he collect butterflies?”
Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he?
How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?”
Only from these figures do they think they have learned
anything about him.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943
A FLIGHT IN THE SUN
That first bright step into the sunshine of life
begins with the opening of the family cocoon.
The caterpillar becomes a butterfly
spreading her wings into the world.
What she is today is but a tiny mirror.
of the transformation that is yet to come.
For with time, love, humor and warmth
She is an ever changing masterpiece.
Whether as wife, mother, career woman or all,
she will find her center of peace.
A place that is hers and hers alone,
the essence of what she is and will be.
Using the instincts that each of us have
to find the good in each other.
to be a caring friend, lover, helper and playmate,
to listen and share, to laugh and to cry.
With loving support of family and friends,
she takes flight down an unknown road towards her future,
like the rising of the sun in the east.
Each day filled with new beginnings.
Finding excitement and challenge at each new turn.
Her flight through life filled with many happy adventures
and memories to put in her book of life,
as the sun moves along that steady path across the sky.
When the sun at last begins to set in the west
and her flight nears its end, she can look back along her path
and know that she has been everything she can be
and has done her very best.
Monarchs for New Beginnings
The occasion of a new beginning may be an extremely private moment, or a public celebration. For either setting, releasing a butterfly is a way to symbolise the changes that have taken place to bring you to this point.
In the time leading up to any new beginning, there is often a lot of hard work an soul searching that goes on unseen by anyone but those experiencing the change – much like a caterpillar inside a chrysalis.
You may choose to celebrate with a triumphant flutter of butterflies, or in a quiet reflective moment of a a single butterfly taking flight, perhaps more slowly, by watching the process from caterpillar to butterfly – Occasional Monarchy will work with you to create the occasion that is right for your new beginning.
The words you include in might be along these lines:
“Nerves and butterflies are fine – they’re a physical sign that you’re mentally ready and eager. You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that’s the trick.”
“Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development.
A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.”
“Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.”
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
Richard Buckminster Fuller
“The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can effect climate changes on the other side of the planet.”
Words for a new beginning from Angel Pearson, Celebrant:
Today marks a threshold in your life. We are here to celebrate the changes that have brought you to this point, and the new beginning unfolding before you. Making changes, even positive changes, can be the most turbulent times in our human journey. Butterflies are an incredible mix of strength and fragility.
Nick probably doesn’t remember taking his first steps as a baby, but I bet it involved a fair bit of wobbling, even some stumbling, and landing hard on his butt. The process of becoming [something new] is all not that different.
It’s quite likely that over the next few months and years, there will be times when Nick seems to be about to fall on his butt again. One of the reasons for the ceremony we’re about to take part in is to remind ourselves about that process. We need to give Nick space to stumble and fall SAFELY, to learn how to stand on his own two feet – at first with a lot of support, and then as time passes, helping him to launch off into empty air.
We have come outside tonight to remind ourselves of the limitless possibilities that surround you, Nick. Standing here, in the quiet, it almost feels like the whole universe is holding it’s breath with anticipation for you!
As you open your hands and release this butterfly, we affirm our support for you. We acknowledge our instinctive desire is to keep you safe, and recognise that we need to allow you the freedom to continue to grow and change. We offer you our unconditional love, our support, and, when you need it, our guidance.
Whatever the future may hold for you, each of us here share your conviction that you are ready to face it, and we give you our blessing.
A family released butterflies before their children left for uni, and have given permission to reproduce their words here:
… inside the box you’re holding is a butterfly. It’s beautiful, [just like you].
And, for now, it’s safe and completely protected from any danger. But if we keep it in the box, no matter how carefully we care for it, that butterfly will die, without ever achieving all it was created to do.
As your Mother, I’d like nothing better than to keep you safe, right here beside me. But I know that that would not be living, and more than I want to protect you, I want to see you become the woman I know you were created to be.
Your Dad and I have watched you grow and develop, from a greedy little grub to this amazing young woman – I could never have guessed, all those years ago, what an amazing experience, both a privilege and a delight, it would be to watch you grow up.
I know that in the next few years, you’re going to experience some incredible things – some fantastic, some that will leave your wings tattered.
No matter what, I want you to know that we love you, we think you’re amazing,, and look forward to having you fly back in and out of our lives…
A live butterfly release as part of a funeral or memorial service is a beautiful addition to the words and rituals of the ceremony.
Because the butterflies will have been hibernating prior to their release, it is quite common for them to settle on the corsages and bouquets for some time, before finally flying away. This creates a beautiful moment for reflection, as loved ones gather their thoughts and make their final farewells.
The words you include in might be along these lines:
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
The butterfly, a cabbage-white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight.
Robert Graves, “Flying Crooked”
“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
The butterfly’s attractiveness derives not only from
colors and symmetry: deeper motives contribute to it.
We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly,
or if they flew straight and briskly like bees,
or if they stung, or above all if they did not
enact the perturbing mystery of metamorphosis:
the latter assumes in our eyes the value of
a badly decoded message, a symbol, a sign.
Availability of Monarch butterflies is very seasonal, generally from November to April. We also offer beautiful Doves for outside of this seasonal time.
The most common explanation is said to come from a Native American Indian legend, which recommends whispering your wishes to a butterfly and then releasing it.
It is believed that ‘the Great Spirit’ will grant your wish in return for granting the butterfly its freedom.
It’s a nice way to invite your guests to make a wish or blessing for the participants, and works well for weddings, baby naming ceremonies, and New Year celebrations.
The formal wording could go something like this:
It’s said that if anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.
Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit, who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.
So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted. Let’s take a moment to quietly make our own, personal wish for [the couple], and then set these butterflies free in trust that all these wishes will come true.