The Chrysalis and Transformational Coaching

I use the words “Creator, Coach, Chrysalis, Catalyst,” to describe myself.

So, what is a chrysalis?

What is a chrysalis?

Merriam-Webster [1] defines chrysalis as:

    • a pupa of a butterfly
    • the hardened outer protective layer of a pupa
    • a protecting covering
    • a sheltered state or stage of being or growth

Wikipedia [2] explains:

The term [chrysalis] is derived from the metallic-gold coloration found in the pupae of many butterflies, referred to by the Greek term χρυσός (chrysós) for gold.

In my own understanding, a chrysalis is the intermediary phase of metamorphosis during which a caterpillar literally turns to goo inside of its lustrous full-body shield. This goo then coagulates into the familiar form of a butterfly, at which time it breaks free from the old shell that served it so well, stretches its wings, and flutters away.

A truly awesome and wondrous process indeed.

Now that we have established a basic understanding of what a chrysalis is, let’s go deeper into why I call myself a chrysalis.

Why I call myself a chrysalis

I use this term specifically in the context of my work as a transformation coach. Knowing that, it becomes clearer why “chrysalis” is a good way to describe how I help people.

As a transformation coach, I facilitate the process of metamorphosis which humans move through. Our transformation may not be as physically profound as the progression of caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, but psychologically our journey of transformation can certainly be just as profound.

Here’s a fascinating and relevant bit of etymology:

The word “psyche”, which we often use to refer to the “soul”, was used by ancient Greeks to mean “butterfly” as well, because of the transformational process the human soul was imagined to move through on its journey of becoming.

As a transformation coach, I become your chrysalis for a time, holding sacred protective space so that you can transition from one state (of mind) to another, emerging as a new version of yourself.

The magical implications of chrysalis

In the practice of magic, or alchemy, there are two essential stages [3]: solve and coagula.

The solve [sahl-vay] (as in “dissolve”) stage is the dissolution of a substance into its essential parts. We see this happen to the caterpillar when it dissolves into goo within the protective container of its chrysalis.

We also see this happen in our own selves when we experience traumatic events, mid-life crises, and other types of “breakdowns” that drastically alter the regular patterns of our lives.

Ultimately, if embraced with healing intention and the desire to evolve, these challenging situations lead us to profound development and positive change. Just like the goo which was once a caterpillar, from our own gooey states we can build ourselves anew.

This is the next stage of the alchemical process: coagula [co-ag-yoo-luh]. During this stage, the essential parts come back together, or “coagulate”, taking a new form. Some parts which were present in the previous form are no longer here, while new parts not here before have joined the form; as a whole, the parts have rearranged.

Where there were many legs there are now six; where there was a wingless thorax, there are now wings.

Metaphorically, on your journey from caterpillar to butterfly (and to caterpillar again), your psyche will move through changes just as profound.

It helps to have a chrysalis along the way.



  3. There are multiple systems of alchemy, with differing numbers of stages. “Solve et coagula” is perhaps the most basic and foundational system.