Julie Ross has been an avid monarch rearer for years. As she released her butterflies, she developed a ritual that, up until recently, she had no idea corresponded with a centuries-old tradition in Mexcio.
“Since pre-Christian time,” Julie says, “the people of Mexico celebrated the Day of the Dead on November 1st – which corresponds with the return of the migrating monarchs (specifically to Michocan, Mexico).”
The people watching this massive migration believed the monarchs were their ancestors returning from the land of the dead. The living set out flowers and fruit (which, Julie points out, is exactly what monarchs like to eat) as offerings to honor their relatives.
It’s fitting, then, that Julie would whisper the name of her deceased loved ones as she released her butterflies. She calls the process healing. After learning about monarchs' significance in Mexico, she’s inviting others to join her and her contemporaries from Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI) on Sunday, September 23 at 3pm in Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport for a mass release of the butterflies.
Throughout September and October, the generation of monarchs that will eventually make it to Mexico will just be emerging from their chrysalides (cocoons). These are the butterflies that will be in Mexico on the Day of the Dead celebration.
QCI got involved because, as a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people together, they saw an opportunity to show solidarity with their fellow human beings who have faced discrimination as of late.
“Join us in a ceremony at Vander Veer Park to symbolically support those who migrate–butterflies AND humans,” QCI says on the event’s Facebook page.
The event invites locals to “sponsor” a butterfly for a suggested donation of $10 each starting on September 1. If you choose to sponsor a monarch, that butterfly will be tagged. Each monarch’s tag has a unique number that you can then use to monitor your butterfly on MonarchWatch.org. That means other monarch enthusiasts that see your butterfly can enter its ID tag on MonarchWatch.org, thereby allowing you to track its movements all the way back home to Mexico.
“As an organization,” Julie says, “QCI is dedicated to protecting the rights and dignity of people who migrate.”
Join them in showing your support and learning a little more about monarchs in the process. See you there!
Image credit: Image made using logo from QCI web site