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Butterflies: Beings of Light

“The butterfly flutters above and over the earth, borne on the air and shimmering with light… We ought really to see them as nothing other than beings of light, joyous in their colors and the play of colors. All the rest is garment and luggage.” —Rudolf Steiner

Truly poetic and deeply esoteric, these lectures by Steiner have been gathered here for the first time as a single volume, along with an in-depth introduction that traces and explains the stages of butterfly metamorphosis.

The emergence of a butterfly from its pupa is one of the most moving phenomena we encounter in nature. In this creature’s visible transformations, we experience a revelation of spirit. A butterfly, says Steiner, is “a flower blossom lifted into the air by light and cosmic forces.” Butterflies are beings that develop from and through light—a process of incorporation and internalization. By gazing into the world of these special and rarefied creatures, we intuit that they radiate “something even better than sunlight; they shine spirit light out into the cosmos.”


Introduction: “The Butterfly Being” by Wilhelm Hoerner

1. Woven Sunlight
2. Metamorphosis
3. Born out of Light
4. The Butterfly as an Image of the Immortal Soul
5. Butterfly Beings and Plant Nature
6. The Butterfly’s Spiritualization of Matter
7. butterfly Corona, Early Evolution, and Reincarnation

Appendix: “Planetary Evolution”

About the Author

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.

Matthew Barton is a translator, editor, teacher, and poet, and taught kindergarten for many years at the Bristol Waldorf School. His first collection of poems was Learning To Row (1999). He has won numerous prizes for his work, including an Arts Council Writer’s Award and a Hawthornden Fellowship.

Additional information

Weight 12 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × 0.2 × 8.5 in


Matthew Barton


Wilhelm Hoerner




July 2013






Rudolf Steiner Press


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