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Imaginal Cells & The Art of Transformation

Transformation is a process...and it looks and feels a lot like caterpillar soup when you're in the middle of it...

If you're not familiar with the natural phenomenon of the imaginal cells of butterflies, a Google search will lead you down a rabbit hole on their myriad wonders if you are so inclined, but I will offer you the highlight reel below:

Caterpillars will gorge themselves for weeks preparing for the journey ahead and then, depending on the species, will shelter themselves with a cocoon or chrysalis for their wondrous and shocking transformation into a butterfly.

Once housed, the caterpillar releases enzymes that completely dissolve its entire body, leaving nothing behind but caterpillar soup! On a cellular level, even the cell membranes dissolve and only fragments of cells remain, except for the imaginal cells.

The imaginal cells contain DNA that is NOT of a caterpillar. It is the DNA to build a butterfly. These special cells are designed to survive the enzymatic breakdown to complete their mission.

“This is so wonderfully poetic, as if part of the caterpillar could always imagine flying.” Paul Hetzler, Natural Resources Educator

And then the magic begins. The imaginal cells begin to migrate, gather, multiply, and form completely brand new structures and tissues.

“By the time the pupal chamber unzips and [a butterfly] emerges…not a drop of caterpillar soup can be found—all of it was needed. Everything the caterpillar once was, now serves its new life as a butterfly.” Paul Hetzler

This is a beautiful metaphor for our experience as a human, too. The same potential for becoming the most stunning version of ourselves: beautiful, human-sized butterflies, is also something that resides in us all right from the very beginning, too.

Our hero's mission is to continue to churn our experiences, heart-breaking lessons, mind-expanding insights, passions, and unique visions for ourselves until we emerge on the other side of our transformation more regal, full of wisdom, and fantastically more free than we ever were before.

When it comes to mind.body health healing and wellbeing transformation, the power of community and the ripple effect also must not be underestimated.

One positive change often leads to the next, and then the next, in a wonderfully interconnected upward spiral - amplified by connection with a like-minded community providing support and illuminating the journey ahead.

Wild at Heart services, programs, and community are all designed to be your companion on your journey of wellbeing transformation, until one day, voila!

A butterfly emerges.

The Wild at Heart Method is uniquely designed to help you transition into a lifestyle that awakens your inner wild and supports your wellbeing.

Subscribe for reWilding inspiration and download the reWilding Retreat Guide: a nature-infused, self-guided retreat to explore on your own or with family and friends designed to help you de-stress, disconnect from technology, soulfully connect with loved ones & nature, nourish your mind.body with healthy whole food, and provide the mental space for mindfulness.

See you in the wild,


Angela Juhl, MS, CHWC, CYT

Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine

Wellcoaches™ Certified Health and Wellness Coach

Wild Woman Project Circle Leader

Certified Yoga Teacher

Wild at Heart was founded on the mission: to take a stand against unsustainable cultural norms by empowering YOU to realign your lifestyle & mindset with the wisdom of nature for mind.body.heart & soul healing and rekindling a soulful relationship to the natural world...for yourself, your loved ones, our communities, and our beautiful planet.

Quotes are provided from Paul Hetzler's online essay "Imaginal Cells Make Butterflies from Caterpillar Soup"

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