Sacred Medicine of Bee, Butterfly, Earthworm, and Spider


Embodying Transformation with the Instar Medicine Wheel

dragonflyAs the wheel of the year turns once again toward spring, a renewed sense of creativity enters our hearts. That which has been dormant in the dreamtime of winter awakens and springs to life. The soil warms and new leaves unfurl. We are energized to explore, create and grow.

One of the most important learning journeys of my life is to walk in beauty, balance and harmony. This has required that I develop authentic relationships with myself, Great Spirit, and all my relations. Since I was a little girl, the doorway to my heart and personal transformation has always been found in nature and the garden. Nature has been the most unlikely of teachers, providing me with profound wisdom: insects and related creatures, like Earthworm and Spider.

This wisdom can be found in a new book that I co-authored with Linda Star Wolf entitled Sacred Medicine of Bee, Butterfly, Earthworm, and Spider: Shamanic Teachers of the Instar Medicine Wheel. “Instar” is a scientific term which refers to the stages of transformation for insects. Star Wolf and I have developed an innovative medicine wheel that integrates the wisdom of the insect world: illuminating our path forward into soulful transformation and sacred purpose.

Insects are among Earth’s most ancient creatures, dating back hundreds of millions of years. They have evolved through our planet’s greatest shifts and are still thriving today. As we face this current transformative time, insects have great shamanic wisdom to teach humanity. More than any other creature, insects embody transformation at the deepest levels of their beings.

Did you know that, before learning to fly, Dragonfly spends its life wingless beneath the water? Honeybee gathers nectar and pollen, transforming them into nourishing foods for future generations of the hive. As you consider the blossoms of this year’s garden, it is the Earthworm who prepares the way for you: recycling the old into new earth, establishing a fertile foundation for future growth.

Insects are the key connectors that allow ecosystems to thrive. Pollinators are essential for growing the food that we eat. From seed to blossom to fruit, the transformational dance of life is illuminated by the insect world. As Honeybees face Colony Collapse Disorder, and other insects are threatened by loss of habitat and pesticides, humanity must open our eyes to the wisdom and needs of our insect brothers and sisters.

At this time on our planet, we need all of us. We each have sacred wisdom, creativity and medicine to share. To paraphrase Gandhi, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world. This requires that we honor our authentic truths and commit to unlocking and embodying our potential. To be “real” human beings, we need to be fully present and grounded in our bodies, so that we can bring through the higher love and wisdom of our spiritual selves. Many of us have past wounds, trauma or limiting beliefs that block us from being fully present. The Instar Medicine Wheel illuminates this path of transformation, so that we can Be Here Now: loving, creating and connecting as soulful human beings.

Perhaps, at certain points in your life, you found yourself in the darkness, breaking down the old. Through this, you may have discovered a gift for transmuting whatever no longer serves you into new forms, fertile with potential for the future. At another time, you may have withdrawn from the outside world, needing to turn within like Butterfly — to dissolve into yourself, emerging sometime later more radiant than before. Just like Caterpillar dissolving within the chrysalis, when we are breaking down we are really breaking through.

In times of transformation, we all yearn for this grace. In the spirit of Grandmother Spider, we need our wise elders and weavers to vision the future and plant the seeds that will sustain the next generations. We need our pollen-spangled midwives tending the hives and sweet lovers meeting in sacred union, nurturing new co-creations. Like Earthworm, we need to remain humble, close to the earth, as we learn how to bring the Divine through our hearts in collective service. We need to find new winged expressions of our authentic selves like Butterfly. We need those who sustain life as an energetic conduit, connecting unity and diversity through the heart. We need shamanic journeyers who delve into the depths of initiation, and soaring flyers into the highest dimensions of consciousness.

To paraphrase Teilhard de Chardin, insects are wayshowers: teaching us how to be spiritual beings having a human experience — to be fully embodied and fully Divine as we walk our human life paths. It is often the smallest or most unexpected teachers who offer us our most profound lessons.

In the book, we explore the transformative wisdom of the Instar Medicine Wheel with a variety of experiential practices, journeys, energizing artwork, and a meditation CD filled with an angelic choir of crickets that will activate your own journey of transformation. Insects are often overlooked as wisdom keepers, due to negative associations and humanity’s disconnection from nature and our own inner wildness. In Sacred Medicine, we explore ideas for creating new, harmonic relationships with insects and supporting their important work. Imagine building an Instar Medicine Wheel garden that builds habitat for pollinating insects, and also creates a sacred space for you to connect with nature.

Beginning this spring, I will be teaching a series of one-day Instar Medicine Wheel transformational workshops in the Twin Cities that combine Shamanic Breathworkâ„¢, dance, art-making, personal exploration, and ceremony to renew our beautiful planet. The basis of our work together will be supporting your transformation, so that you can fully embody your sacred purpose and expand your visionary abilities. Imagine using powerful music, the breath, movement and healing energy work to embody Butterfly’s dance of metamorphosis, weave the Web of Life, or climb the World Tree with Cicada!

Just like the stars in the sky, we are surrounded by a vast network of grace here on Earth. Insects are always with us: building, transforming, pollinating, and enriching our lives with their sacred wisdom. We just need to pay attention and listen.

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Anna Cariad-Barrett
Anna Cariad-Barrett, D.Min., is a psychospiritual counselor, shamanic minister, and teacher with degrees in shamanic psychospiritual studies, marriage and family therapy, and family social science. The co-author of Sacred Medicine of Bee, Butterfly, Earthworm and Spider, she is a faculty member at Venus Rising University and teaches workshops around the country. She lives in Minneapolis. Her new book is Shamanic Wisdom for Pregnancy and Parenthood Practices to Embrace the Transformative Power of Becoming a Parent (Bear & Company). Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International,


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