On Dragonfly Wings

Usually, magic drops in quite unexpectedly.  I had just finished spreading out a white row cover over a bed of kale in my garden, when a red-tailed dragonfly dropped onto the cover and just sat there, mesmerizing me with his radiant red tail and lacey wings, each with one spot.   I had never seen a red-tailed dragonfly, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.  We sat still in each other’s presence for about ten full seconds – a long time in a dragonfly’s world.  And then I foolishly broke my gaze for a split second, and he was gone, like he had vanished.   This unexpected wonder caught my breath and took me to a space where time shifts and moves with the flit of a wing, and the light feels more luminescent.

I didn’t get a picture at the time, but I did look him up while he was still fresh in my mind and found a picture that was exactly like him, which seemed like another gift.   Most other pictures I found of this type of dragonfly were not as good.  He is called a Red-Tailed Pennant dragonfly.

I had heard before that dragonflies can symbolize change and transformation, and since we were closing on the sale of our family business in a couple of days, it felt very timely.   And then a few days later, after we had just arrived in FL for a vacation after the sale, a huge swarm of several hundred dragonflies greeted me as I walked out to the beach.  Their aliveness as they darted everywhere was certainly a wonder to behold.   And then the next morning after that, they showed up again in large numbers, fliting around the same large hedge, but that was the last day they came to be with me.   So much dragonfly energy can be quite overwhelming and that is still proving to be true for me!

As gorgeous as dragonflies are, they spend over three-fourths of their life as aquatic nymphs – little unremarkable bugs in the water.  This stage typically lasts from one to three years.   Then one day it is time, and they poke their head out of the water and attach to a solid surface and the skin at the back of their head cracks open and they emerge, let their wings and legs dry and harden for a bit, and then take off!  It is hard to imagine going from a swimming life to a fast darting flying life in a matter of an hour or so.   How scary that seems to me because any sudden change is hard for me.  I am a creature of habit.  I like to be nested, to be home, to know what is going to happen next.  Even after years of working on letting go of control, when change happens unexpectedly and suddenly it can be overwhelming for me and I feel very ungrounded.  A strength of the dragonfly – to adapt to changing situations quickly- is something I surely need! 

When the dragonfly showed up in my life, I was excited at first. Transformation!  Change!  How exciting!   The recent sale of our family business has been a transition four years in the making; clearly expected and planned for.  And yet now that it has happened, many things are changing in ways I hadn’t foreseen.  Expectations, resistance, control all are calling to be released in many other areas of my life as well.   Suddenly, surprisingly, I am getting very different messages about how and where to live my life than I have been for the past year.   Darting about like the dragonfly looking for new grounding feels oddly familiar. This releasing feels like the mystery of the Ascension- letting go of the gifts that have been given, to clear the way for more gifts to come.  How hard that can be!

There is a wonderful story called IxChel and the Dragonflies.  IxChel is the Mayan moon and fertility Goddess, and this story especially resonates with me because we have vacationed on Cozumel for many years, which is the traditional home of IxChel.  As late as the 1500s Mayan women from all over the Yucatan would travel to Cozumel to visit Her and receive Her blessing for fertility.  The ruins of her primary temple are still there on the island at a site that is now called San Gervasio.  The old Mayan name is Tantun, which simply means “flat rock”.  The temple site is a very powerful place, and I can feel the presence of the Great Mother there – IxChel being another of Her many names.  

IxChel and the Dragonflies is a tale of love and loss, and at the end of the story, four hundred dragonflies pick up the pieces of IxChel’s dismembered body and place them in a canoe and take her back to her moon palace and then the dragonflies cover Her body with theirs and hum and hum and hum over Her body for 13 days and 13 nights, and then She arises whole and healed from the life force of their song and the sound of their wings humming over Her.

I am entranced by the image of the humming dragonflies bringing IxChel back to life.  After having to release all that She was, and being torn into pieces, She was given new life by the dragonflies.   If, like the Mayans believe, the dragonflies carry the souls of our beloved ancestors, then well, what a blessing it is to see a dragonfly and know that our ancestors are with us, and ready to carry us.  

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