A Long Journey
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
People are sometimes curious about how Monarch Mental Health Services was named. The short answer is that a butterfly-related name was chosen to symbolize hope. In ancient Greece, the butterfly was so closely associated with the human soul that the same word, psyche, was used for both. In English, "psychology", and other words beginning with "psych" come from this root. For the Greeks and many others throughout history, a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis as a changed creature served as a reminder that the soul can be renewed and fly free.
The specific choice of the Monarch was a practical one. With 750 butterfly species in the United States, you might think there would be many top contenders. Oddly enough, American butterflies have remarkably inappropriate names for a counseling practice. The Cabbage White, the Mourning Cloak, the Question Mark, the Painted Lady, the Grey Hairstreak, and all the others are lovely butterflies, but the Monarch "won" by default.
I've recently learned a bit more about Monarch butterflies; it turns out that they really are very special, with more to recommend them than an inoffensive name. Monarchs are butterflies on a journey. They are endurance experts committed to the long-haul - the only round-trip migrators among butterflies.Their tiny bodies can fly up to 100 miles a day, and they may travel as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home. When they get there, they aren’t finished; they rest up until spring and then make the trip in reverse, returning to the fields where they hatched. If a butterfly had the ability to reflect back on its life, what would it make of all it had been through? What stories would it tell? If it could speak to a caterpillar crawling slowly along, I wonder if it might say, "Don't give up. You're just getting started!"
If you would like to know more about these amazing creatures, take a look at the video Unraveling the Monarch Butterfly Migration Mystery, or this information from the US Forest Service. If you want even more fun facts, read about how Monarchs invaded Australia, where they migrate in reverse. If you'd like to help Monarchs, you can plant milkweed to attract them and help them along on their journey.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash