Symbolic Meaning of the Moth

Written by avenefica on April 9th, 2008
Moth Meaning - Moth Symbolism

Moth Meaning - Moth Symbolism

I’ve been asked about the symbolic meaning of the moth.

It took me a few days to really jive with this amazing creature, but once allowed access, I was given some incredible insights.  These (intense) thoughts can be seen here on my symbolic meaning of moth page. Here are some other observations:

Moths are nocturnal, and much of their symbolism deals with:

  • Intuition
  • Psychic perception
  • Heightened awareness

Indeed, many people who are spiritual practitioners (particularly of an esoteric ilk) attract the moth as their animal totems.

As if being a night-dweller weren’t enough, the moths are babes of the moon.  They follow the mother moon as a source of light, and this connects them with some powerful moon associations such as:

  • Knowledge of the Otherworld
  • Second sight
  • Influence
  • Prophesy
  • Clarity

However, as I mentioned in my in-depth page on moth symbolism here, those of us who fly high with the moth must be mindful to not be too carried away by her influence.  Moon creatures such as moths ask us to have a firm foundation before lunar journeying.

The moth expresses some tender vulnerabilities, which I’ve mentioned here. We may take this as a message to be open to our heightened spiritual experiences yet allow for adjustment and protection too.

Indeed, we find this theme of protection in the moth’s chrysalis.  Unlike her cousin, the butterfly (with whom the moth shares many symbolic attributes), the moth’s coccoon is like an internalized womb with a hard casing, allowing more protection against the elements.  (the butterfly has an externalized womb, more exposed and subjective to the environment).

This may be analogous of garnering protection for ourselves in our spiritual practices.  The moth reminds us to have a willing heart in our spiritual growth, but realize the heart is a treasure to be taken care of.  Part of this caretaking involves nurturing and protection during times of development.

I’ve written more about the moth’s message of balance, grounding and protection (particularly in terms of its attraction to light and flames) here.

As a dream symbol, the moth may be interpreted as a message to listen to our inner voice.  Dreaming of the moth may also indicate we are on the path to attracting love into our lives (see more about the moth and love symbolism here).

Another dream animal aspect of the moth deals with influence.  Here, our dreaming mind may ask our waking mind what is it that rules our attention, or what are we allowing to overly influence us in our daily lives?

In superstition: A white moth is said to embody the soul of a loved one.  White being the symbolic color of purity of the soul, and the embodiment comes from an ancient idea that the night (realm of the moth) is a dwelling place for souls (in terms of the Underworld or Otherworld).

Another superstition connected to the moth is that when one is seen, an important letter or message will arrive (I have yet to find an origin for this one – if you know where this folk-myth came from, feel free to comment).

But don’t rely on superstition to receive an important message.  Take some time to connect with the moth…she may be a bit elusive at first, but she’s worth the persistence for the wisdom she imparts.

For more information on symbolic meaning of the moth click here.

Other insect totem information can be found here.

I’ve also written about other animal totems; a list can be found here.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  1. Liara Covert says:

    One of the most poignant images I can think of involving a moth is on the Silence of the Lambs movie poster (and movie cover). Actress Jodie Foster’s (character Clarisse Starling) face stands out as a large moth placed over her mouth. Looking closer at the moth, you notice a subtle skull on the head of the butterfly — the so-called “death’s head” moth from the film. It prompts us to ask what feelings this evokes in us.

    Butterflies and moths both belong to the order Lepidoptera derived from Greek for “scaled wing.” More than 180,000 species exist. Only ~10% are butterflies. The rest are moths. The first primitive moths evolved 140 million years ago. Butterflies came later only ~40 million yrs ago.
    You decide if the added age brings more wisdom.

    How moths behave in the wild and the diversity of species themselves all enrich their symbolism.

  2. avenefica says:

    Hi Liara,

    Sheer brilliance – these observations allow us to step even deeper into this magnificent creature’s secrets.

    Many thanks!

    Namaste,
    A.

  3. Amp says:

    In Latin cultures it is known when you see a moth it symbolizes death. I myself have seen 8. In which five have ended up in the death of a loved one and or friend. I have come across 3 more in the past week.

  4. donna says:

    Hi … thank you for commenting on my blog. Want to share this article on “Animal Signposts” with you … I think you’ll enjoy it.

    http://whenisisrises.blogspot.com/2007/12/animal-sign-posts.html

    D~

  5. avenefica says:

    Hi D,

    Indeed, very enjoyable & impeccably timed.

    Gratitude & light,
    A.

  6. CC says:

    My Grandmother passed away 1.5 weeks ago and since then I’ve felt her presence daily. Days passed and I started noticing little things that would strike me as odd or interesting; things that struck a deep intuitive sense in me that they were signs from my Grandmother. First was the appearance of a white moth that was on the front door of a house I’ve house-sitting at. It stayed there for 2 days and seemed not to move. Then on the third day I found a white moth floating in one of the dog’s water bowls, but when I dump out the water (and moth) onto the lawn, it started to move. I put a small twig next to it so that it could crawl onto it to recover. Then two more white moths appeared on the side of the same bowl only they were attached. It looked like a two-headed moth until I realized they were adjoined (possibly mating?). The one that was rescued from the water slowly made its way onto my hand, arm, and then shirt…until I removed it. All I could think about was my Grandmother!
    Days passed until I decided to look into the symbolic meaning(s) of the moth (particularly white moths)when I found your website…it’s very interesting and right on point with a lot that’s been revealed to me in the past week. So thanks for the great insights into the world of the moth! Who knew?
    ~CC

  7. avenefica says:

    Hi CC,

    Your experience is like poetry made real. It’s so thrilling to read experiences such as yours – to know these connections are everywhere, and we all have the ability to transcend the mundane to tap into the beauty of that deeper connection taking place.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience & thoughts.

    Namaste & light,
    A.

  8. chloe says:

    i’m so thankful this is here…. for about the past month there has been each evening one single moth that appears to me in my apartement. the next morning i have found one moth, passed into it’s next incarnation, lying near where i saw it the evening previous. by sunset i have one moth again fluttering around me in my rooms. there are many ways in which moth is a very pertinent totem for me, and i had read also that in shamanistic traditions a moth has been seen as a spirit messenger. this morning the one moth from last night was sitting in front of my face when i woke up, fully alive and beautiful in its stillness. i cupped it into my hands, rushed it to the window and let it free with a message for one far away but close to my heart. this evening there are two moths fluttering before me. i’m not sure what, after this whole moth month, the symbolism of the two moths now could be, but i’ve welcomed moth into my life. thanks for all you’ve done to help us see all she has to offer.

  9. LR says:

    My father died 7 years ago last December. The night he passed a white moth appeared on my front door. It appeared again over the next 3 days or so. It was winter, snowy and freezing, no time for a moth, yet there it was. I am not religious but I deeply mourned my father’s death. I immediately thought of my father when I saw it; I don’t know why. A white moth shows up now and then, outside flitting and dancing around me during the day, or sometimes resting on my front door. One danced around me yesterday when I went to work on the lawn at my parent’s house and it made me smile. I felt the white moth was a sign from my father, perhaps a greeting. But I thought it was just wishful thinking, a way of coping with grief. Then I found your website and read about the white moth. I was astonished. Not only did you state explicitly what I presumed to be my own fantasy, I find others have had the same experience. Thank you for bringing this into the world and sharing it. I am not crazy, and I am not alone. I know it because me father sends me his love.

  10. avenefica says:

    Hi Chloe & LR,

    Thank you both for sharing these tender experiences with us.

    I am lightened to learn of your connection.

    Your posts brought me big smiles.

    Thanks so much for writing in.

    Namaste & light,
    A.

  11. laura and elise says:

    hello,
    we just came across this web site while researching the spirit of the moth. we are flat mates and moved into a house a few moths ago. we have both on seperate occassions seen what seemed to be a large black/dark moth in the house, but on further inspection there had been nothing there! do you know what this would mean?
    x laura and elise x

  12. Juju says:

    Hi, adore your site. So glad I found it and will be sure to bookmark it! Just wanted to say that you might like to consider how moths operate in nature in your musings. To me, moths represent sensuality because I read that they use their sense of smell to perceive their physical/spatial orientation and to find mates. So I often smile when I come across them as they make me think of many happy memories with my husband. ; )

    Namaste,
    Juju