Living Arts Weekly: Story of the Monarch

September 18, 2022

This week’s article is a story shared with us from our colleague Marielle Sestier, co-founder of LifeWays America Latina, an organization providing the offering of LifeWays North America in Spanish. Today, we share with you a portion of Cuento de la Monarca as the monarch butterfly makes its journey down through the Midwest, on its way to Mexico. You will receive the remainder of the story, along with a description of the beautiful importance of the monarca and the cempasuchil, a flower they can’t resist, in November when the Monarch’s journey will have concluded. The cempasuchil (sehm-pah-soo-cheel), also spelled Cempoaxochitl, is the Mexican or Aztec marigold, native to the Americas.

Marielle and I loved the idea of sharing this story with you because the lengthy journey of the monarch is something many of us are witness to throughout the US and Mexico, making it a symbol of our shared human experiences. Its beautiful to consider our unique perspectives on such a simple but extraordinary act of nature, which you will hear more about in November! We hope you enjoy it!

Cuento de la Monarca, or the Story of the Monarch

Sara was a small green caterpillar, hungry, very hungry. She was born in a beautiful meadow in the Land of the North where winter comes early. This meadow was painted with white and pink Milkweed flowers that had delicious bright green leaves that she loved to eat. Father Sun gently touched her caterpillar skin with light and warmth, and this motivated her to eat and eat.

One day, she felt very tired and so she began to weave. She wove and wove until she fell asleep in the warm and cozy cocoon she created. After some time, Sara woke up and was utterly surprised. Her body was very different and felt so light. She had wings of black and white and bright orange. She could fly! She had a very good sense of smell and particularly enjoyed eating from the pink and white flowers of milkweed. Her days passed happily, playing around the meadow, following bees, eating pollen, resting in the shadow of a tree. But, one morning, she heard brother wind saying: 

“Dear Sara, open your wings, and fly

Fly surely, strongly, securely

Time has come, you should move now”

Sara was not really sure what Brother Wind meant. Why would she travel if she was fine there? But then, she understood. Father Winter had arrived without a warning and touched her light wings with his cold hands. She was so cold and missed Father Sun’s warmth. She knew she must travel. So she opened her wings, breathed deeply, and feeling strong, started to fly. From time to time, she used to hear Brother wind saying:

“Here I am, Here I am, Sara

Fly surely, strongly and securely

Here I am”

Sara was surprised to see that she was not alone. Other Monarchs were flying with her. They were very kind, and it was very pleasant to be in a group and travel together. Sometimes the butterflies would just open their wings, and let Brother wind do all the work, carrying them, quickly, very quickly. But sometimes they had to fly hard, and they felt very tired. They flew by lakes, forests, meadows, and mountains. They tasted flowers that were very different. They were not Sara’s favorites, but the flowers gave them strength and energy to carry on. Sometimes, many Monarchs would gather and form a group to rest. But very early in the morning, they would feel the cold hand of Father Winter, waking them up, making them carry on with their journey. Sara was starting to feel too tired. Even though Brother Wind helped sometimes, and the other Monarchs’ company was very pleasant and cheerful, Sara felt a big need to rest. 

One afternoon, while flying through a village, she smelled a delicious perfume that captivated her. She followed the path of the yummy scent and discovered a beautiful flower she had never seen before. It was orange, bright orange like her wings. It was the cempasuchil! She tried the pollen and discovered that she loved that taste. It gave her so much strength and warmed her heart. Sara knew that she was getting closer. She landed in a magnificent tree to rest and was surprised to discover that many of her travel friends were there as well. They were all resting, listening to the light humming of Mother Tree saying:

“Welcome, Welcome

Beautiful Monarcas

Rest, Rest, Father Sun is here”

Finally, Sara knew she had arrived in Michoacan, in Mexico, the Lands of the South where Summer stays long. She was a very curious butterfly, and after a well-deserved rest she was ready to explore her new home.




1 thought on “Living Arts Weekly: Story of the Monarch”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Last week, our KG class watched 5 monarchs emerge from their chrysalis’ and we released them to cheering children. That experience will be revisited when we celebrate the Day of the Dead in November. I am very excited to have this story to share with the children.

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