Look who I met on my travels yesterday:
Meet Thad, a male Ebony Jewelwing, which is a kind of damselfly native to this region.
(And yes, I did name him.)
He looks quite different without the camera’s flash. This shot is closer to how he appeared to the naked eye under the forest canopy.
Isn’t he beautiful? That iridescent blue contrasts so dramatically with jet black.
Thad wasn’t the only damselfly that I saw yesterday. I seemed to be a magnet for these sparkling creatures on my walk, and most thrillingly of all, a few of them allowed me to come in close and take their portraits. But only if I spoke to them in a low, reassuring voice and asked permission.
If I didn’t speak, I couldn’t get within a range of 10 feet. If I spoke but neglected to ask permission, they darted off the moment I began to raise the camera. But if I prefaced any action with a nice, polite request for a portrait session, these lovely damselflies would sit still for several minutes at a time, even if my hands and lens came within inches of their delicate bodies. It was awesome!
Without their gracious acceptance, the only shots I’d have gotten would have been like this:
That’s two male damselflies having a little duel over a nearby female — or so it appeared to me. Don’t they look like turquoise light sabers flashing as tiny warriors battle it out in midair?
Fiona sat looking down at the fight from the overhanging leaf of a nearby tree. I think she was hoping Thad would win.
Isn’t she cute?
You can recognize the female Ebony Jewelwing by her less intense, more emerald green body color and the two white spots that appear on her wingtips.
Also, and this might just be my opinion, for I haven’t seen it listed in any official description, you can recognize her by the fact that her wings are not jet black like the males’, but filled with shimmering, multicolored lights. I tried to photograph them for you, and Fiona very patiently waited while I did so.
Still, I’m not sure I captured all the real-life glory of those wings with the lights in them. This is one of those times when I wish for a camera with a fancy macro lens.
Fiona’s coloration lacked the sword-sharp drama of her male counterparts, but it was the kind of Beauty that, when you finally get still enough to appreciate its nuances, makes you murmur softly to yourself, “Oh!”
Do you know the kind of Beauty I mean?
I hope so.
Okay. The next part is more of my emotional/spiritual development and deals with my year of Focus, and it’s pretty personal and long-winded. For those of you who’d like to bow out now, I’ve done the cool part. (And I may start designing the Focus 2010 posts this way, with a regular Enchanted-Earth-style post at the beginning, and then further reading for those of you following along on the personal journey.)
Damselflies and dragonflies were so omnipresent in my life this week that I had to look up their symbolism and research them a bit. (The two creatures are often confused, and most information I found used the word “dragonfly” but provided images of damselflies, as well, or lumped them all together categorically.)
I wanted to be able to understand the message the Universe was sending me — and I was pretty sure it was a personal message when one of these lovely creatures did a fly-by so near that I felt the breeze of her jeweled wing passing on my skin, followed moments later by another who landed momentarily on my arm as I knelt on the stone bridge to get a better photograph.
Do you believe the Earth and the details of your everyday reality speak to you?
I view it in almost the same manner as I do dream interpretation. There may be some useful, creative guidance hidden there, if I’m willing to pay attention. And who knows? It may be just me speaking to myself, ultimately. I have no proof that any of this exists, after all, and I’m still not convinced it isn’t all a big illusion, albeit an illusion carefully and exquisitely designed for maximum spiritual growth.
Anyway, as I read, two details about the dragonfly’s traditional symbolism set the bells of recognition ringing. Since dragonflies spend their lives in two realms, air and water, they are symbols of metamorphosis and the ability to transform oneself… and to successfully navigate the balance between emotion and thought. The dragonfly may appear in your life when you feel overwhelmed by emotion and need detachment to be able to find a creative path forward through your difficulties.
In the last few weeks, I’ve felt emotionally charged and beset by problems that look frankly unsolvable. The only “solutions” which present themselves to me involve taking a wait-&-see attitude. And that may be all that is necessary. Patience is definitely not my strong suit, as regular readers will know, and I may be in a holding pattern in order to develop that virtue. But I do feel as if there must be some better solution that I’m just not seeing, especially since a certain problem looks as if it is in deterioration mode, actively collapsing in on itself and getting worse by the day — and yet my worries and fears and yes, some anger over some of the situations do block my ability to see clearly, I’m sure of that.
I’d welcome the dragonfly into my life for that higher perspective alone. But then there was this:
“When we have made ourselves believe that the limitations of physical existence prevent us from changing and growing, dragonfly medicine teaches us to pierce our self-made illusions. Dragonfly can cause us to question the illusion which we call reality, particularly that part of our realities which hinders our ability to grow and create transformation and change in our lives. [...] This power animal is especially helpful for those who feel stuck.”
Yes! The feeling of not having the whole picture, of being trapped and extremely limited in what I can do at the moment, is pervasive right now. And I know that part of that is my fault: I’ve allowed a particular view of reality to dominate and to set my attitude. And my old picture of reality is not helpful at this point. I need to get rid of those old self-made illusions, and the only way to do that is to wake up to where they are wrong.
So the next time I pass the trickling water and see these lovely, sparkling creatures, I’ll not only ask permission to photograph them, but make a respectful request that they disillusion me thoroughly.