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Moth Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

moth

Animals and insects all have a symbolic significance for mankind, so it is little wonder that moth symbolism is also important and significant to man. Moths, like other spirit animals and insects, have the acumen to assist us in all aspects of our lives. We share the Earth with these insects and animals and hence we must use their wisdom to navigate successfully and abundantly through life.

Table of contents

Moth symbolism and meaning

So what is moth meaning? Moth medicine’s meaning is resurrection and transformation. A moth represents tremendous change, but it also seeks the light. Thus, moth spiritual meaning is to trust the changes that are happening and that freedom and liberation are around the corner.

A moth omen also indicates one’s habit of falling for things or people that are beyond one’s reach. Just as a moth seeks the light and warmth of a candle and even gets burned in the process, one may be trying too hard to win the love of someone beyond their reach and getting burnt or damaged in the process.

A moth dances around the fire or light source. This may be an indication to not take life too seriously and instead learn to dance while seeking the light. The cocoon of a moth represents bindings and traps, but once it emerges, the adult moth seeks light and liberation. This is very much symbolic of a soul of man that is drawn to Knowledge and Ultimate Truth.

As per The Illustrated Dream Dictionary by Russell Grant (1): To catch a moth represents that someone is jealous of you. Killing a moth and dead moth symbolism means you will outwit your rivals. Moth holes in clothing and materials symbolize sadness in the family.

Moth Native American symbolism

In changing from a mundane cocoon and caterpillar and going through stages of dissolution to emerge as a winged insect with delicate patterns, what do moths symbolize? The moth symbolizes rebirth, change, transformation, resurrection, and the power of regeneration in Native American mythology.

In fact, butterflies and moths both hold a significant position in the Native American culture. Many tribes like the Hopi used these insects, their dance, and their figures on their pottery. For the Blackfoot people, these winged insects represent sleep, dreams, and souls of the dead.

Native Americans believe that both butterflies and moths teach us that there must always be death for rebirth and growth to occur. These winged creatures encourage us to release singular ego attachment and make room for the rich complexity of our authentic nature.

Since moths are nocturnal and come out at night, they are the teachers and guides of the Dreamtime, of the repressed shadow aspects of ourselves, and often of our disowned wild natures. Shamanic teachers believe that moths teach us the wisdom of the Dreamtime as well as the rich wildness of our dark natures. 

They also teach us that darkness and light are integrated co-creative life forces. Although the moths come out at night – they are drawn to the light. Only from this sacred union of light and dark can co-creative miracles emerge and authentic transformation and purpose be expressed. (2)

Moth Christianity symbolism

Many Christian parables refer to moths. In Matthew 6:19-20, the parable of the moths, rust, and thieves is famous. Moths and rust settle on costly objects. Moths even eat silk garments while rust damages and corrodes perishable treasures on the earth. 

Moths and rust work from the exterior to the interior and eat their way through these objects. Thieves, on the other hand, look for imperishable treasures. The Lord exhorts us to lay up treasures in heaven where moths or rust cannot destroy, nor can thieves break through and steal them. (3)

The Bible also mentions cloth moths while Aristotle and Pliny mention a few agricultural pests, including moths. The early name of moths was Phalaena derived from Phallos. 

Later on, the flying phalli came to be considered soul birds. Moths swarming over light and cemeteries may have spread a myth that it is a symbol of resurrection. (4)

Thus, the mention of the moth in the Holy Scriptures is this: They all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.” Where moth and rust doth corrupt” and “Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten.” In Job xxvii, “He buildeth his house as a moth” – reference here being to the leaf-rolling moth varieties whose cases are crushed by touch.

Moth Celtic symbolism

In Celtic mythology, butterflies are represented for their beauty and delicateness. Moths, on the other hand, are depicted as death and decay. Celts have always viewed moths as having a dark side. This is further exacerbated by the fact that hawk-moth has a skull marking on its thorax.

In Scotland and Ireland, the entry of a Death’s Head moth inside a home was considered a harbinger of imminent death in the family. In Wales, it was thought that the single scale from the Death’s-Head moth would cause blindness. That is why; the fluttering of a moth around the candle was not welcomed.

In Celtic literature, moths are associated with death. Children were asked not to allow moths to enter into a home as it was symbolic of ‘death in the family.’ In Gaelic (Scott-Irish) traditions, a butterfly or a moth flitting over a corpse was considered to be its soul. Irish kids were admonished for chasing out butterflies and moths as they could be the souls of the grandparents or ancestors.

The wormlike appearance of the moth’s larvae led to popular superstition that the moth was made by witches with the help of the Devil. In many European countries, there was a belief that moth larvae were made by tree spirits, and they could crawl in a man’s brain to drive him mad. (5)

Moth in dreams

According to Llewellyn’s Complete Dictionary of Dreams by Michael Lennox (6), a moth has the same meaning in dreams as the butterfly except that it relates to the shadow side of the equation, being nocturnal.

A moth, like butterflies, represents change and transformation. Since this insect always seeks light, it also means that you must search for the light which is present within each one of us. 

The moth makes the mistake of dancing around the light source, getting burned in the process. If you have seen a moth in your dreams, it may be an indication not to seek materialistic pleasures or pleasures outside of you since all that you seek is already present within.

If you are a young girl or boy in love with someone who shows you no preference, then the moth may be hinting for you to quit before you get burned. Analyze your life situation well if you see a moth in your dreams. It may be indicating the fact that you are chasing something or someone and that pursuit may harm you or be fatal for you.

A moth also represents the human soul. If someone you loved has passed recently, then the dream of the moth may be indicative of that person’s journey towards light or liberation.

Moth encounters and omens

According to the Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences by Cora Linn Daniels, C. M. Stevans (7), if a moth flies about you at night, you will receive a letter soon. Many people are afraid of killing moths because they believe they are angels.

If a moth is flying about light, it is believed that immortals wish the watchers well.  However, in some cultures, moths, especially their larvae, are looked upon as delicacies and even fed with a meal to fatten them up before cooking.

In England, a moth flying about a maiden in gloaming means that she will get a letter from her lover soon. In Yorkshire, people call the white moths that fly about at night the souls of their ancestors.

What does a moth symbolize if it is found in your house? Moths in the house sign meaning represent enemies who may be trying to get you injured. They are laboring to undermine your position in life. It also indicates a quarrel between you and your lover with a possible separation.

The hawk-moth or sphinx moth symbol, if white, indicates the coming home of someone who is abroad. If black, it symbolizes the coming of bad news. The luna moth is a beautiful green-colored moth; luna moth symbolism stands for change and calls us to live for what our souls love. (8)

Moth mythology and folklore

According to Insect Mythology (9), the moth is the symbol of the soul’s quest for truth. Like the moth is always attracted to the light, so is the soul attracted or drawn to the Divine Truth. A moth is also fragile and delicate and represents the fragile nature of life.

Many artists depict the moth to be as beautiful as the butterfly in their artworks and stories because of the moths’ delicate wings, symmetric shapes, patterns, and colors. And because the moth is attracted to light physically, artists believe that the moth represents a sensual creature that also physically succumbs to the seductive light.

In most mythological representations, though, the moth is associated with the soul, especially since the ‘souls’ of the dead fly at night seeking the light. In Polynesian mythology, the black moth meaning is the emblem of the soul of man.

In Guajiro of Columbia, what does a white moth mean? If a white moth is found in the bedroom, it is the spirit of an ancestor, and hence it must not be mistreated. Moths in the house sign meaning are that they are souls of the dead and hence must only be gently removed if troublesome else those spirits may take revenge.

In the folktale of Lady Moth, a beautiful fairy flew around Sir Candlelight and burned herself alive. She lost her glittering wings of gold in the process. It is a warning to young girls who seek the society of those who show them no preference.

Moth spirit animal

Spirit animals help us see and utilize their power so we can apply their ‘medicine’ to our daily life. The meaning of moth spirit animal is to never despair and that there is always light available when we seek it. And when you find that inner light, the moth asks you to dance around it! (10)

Moths’ symbolism is to lighten up and not take life too seriously. It also indicates a change coming – a big one at that. Yes, there will be challenges and one might even get ‘burned’ in that process, but the moth tells you to accept that challenge. It indicates that ‘this too shall pass.’

Call upon the moth spirit animal if you are confused and you need clarification. You can also call upon the moth for increasing your attractiveness and for increasing your sexual attraction.

The spiritual meaning of moths is that you have a profound appreciation for the natural circles of life and death. You are also a flighty animal and you have the tendency to chase things that can sometimes be harmful to you. It may indicate that you fall for the wrong person or seek the wrong things in life as they cause harm, injury, and could even be fatal to you.

Moth totem animal

Moth animal totem represents metamorphosis or change. A moth, like its attractive cousin butterfly, emerges from a cocoon. If a moth has shown up as your totem animal, pay close attention to the life stage you are in and the situation you are currently facing. Ask yourself: what stage of change are you in?

A moth is a significant creature in the spirit world. It is a symbol of change, or moving towards the light, or seeking knowledge, love, and happiness. Examine the color of the moth since it can further help you understand its significance. 

A white moth, for example, can tell you more about a positive change coming into your life. A black moth, on the other hand, may alert you to be more cautious about what it is you are pursuing.

Moths often appear to be dancing around the light sources. This may be an indication that you should not take things too seriously. It may be a reminder for you to bring happiness or pleasure back in your life, no matter the darkness outside. 

A moth totem animal tells you that life is never quite the way it appears, but there is always light, and it urges you to seek that inner light within each one of us.

Moth power animal

Moths as power animals signify the fear of death, of the unknown, and even as bad luck or a negative omen. Moths are almost invisible at night and they are also nocturnal. The nocturnal-ness and invisibility are both responsible for people fearing moths. (11)

The moth’s invisibility is subsumed in the dark; there is no way we can see a moth when it is dark. Yet the moth itself seeks light and may even get burned in the process of seeking the light. 

Thus, there is a concrete association between moths and night or darkness. And it is these associations that have made the moth symbolic to ‘fear,’ ‘negativity,’ ‘bad omen,’ and even darkness.

Like wolves, barn owls, and bats, moths are related to the night and dark. All these creatures of the dark are further characterized by their dark or black color. Most moths are black or dark brown to further help camouflage them against the barks of the trees. Black itself is symbolic of the night; therefore, moths, like all other nocturnal animals, are symbolic of bad or negative news.

And since the opposite is true – white or light – indicates positivity, hope, and peace; white moth meaning is a harbinger of good news.

If a moth is your power animal, you may have the tendency to chase bad things that could harm or destroy you.

Moth tattoo meaning

A moth tattoo is one of the most sought-after tattoos among the young and old alike. After all, like the butterfly, moths have beautiful patterns on their wings. It is due to this reason that moths have been called ‘night butterflies’ by some people. A talented tattoo artist can come up with a gorgeous representation of a moth.

Are you planning to get a moth tattoo? It is a great decision! Discuss your vision with your tattoo artist so you can work out a tattoo that best suits your vision and purpose. 

In general, the symbolism of moths tattoo means ‘pursuit of light.’ A moth is always seen dancing around candles or lights when it is dark outside. In the pursuit of light, this little insect often ends up injuring itself.

Thus, moth symbolic meaning maybe someone who runs after things that are unhealthy for him or her. This could mean a person who runs after unhealthy love, or material wealth, etc. 

You can get a moth tattoo to signify those things. Remember that moth significance can be both positive and negative: it could imply self-destructive behavior, or it can mean the self-harm inflicted when one has an intense desire for knowledge, light, or the pursuit of enlightenment.

Conclusion

Whether you are seeing moths around you or in your dreams or are planning to get a moth tattoo, understand that moth symbolism is complex and has several meanings. 

These meanings change based on the moth’s color and may also be linked to your present life situation. We hope this guide helps you decipher exactly what the moths are trying to tell you.

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17 thoughts on “Moth Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. Every time I’ve had a miscarriage, a moth has landed above a door in my house. The first time, the moth would not leave me alone and followed me around the house until it landed at my bedroom door.

    Today a month landed above my front door. My sister is pregnant but it’s not looking good for the fetus. I’m sure it’s a sign of miscarriage again.

  2. Hi. Just today I was sitting on the porch with my beautiful cat, at around 4pm, when a moth landed beside me & dropped it’s pupa beside me & flew away. It was white & black. What does that mean?
    Thank you!!

  3. So I was just in my garage fixing some shoes boxes, when my beared dragon which was my uncle’s who had passed away like 7 months ago. My grandma gave me his beared dragon for me to care for cause I love animals as much as my beloved uncle also loved animals . Well I noticed that my dragon was going crazy inside her cage trying to catch something when out of nowhere this giant moth which I have never one around her where I live flew out from behind my dragons cage and I honestly got freaked out I was like ‘what the heck is that’ so I ended up catching it wit one of the shoe box tops I was fixing. Idk if it’s my uncle who passed away trying to let me know something or that I’m chasing after someone who is just goin to end up hurting me which I’m currently going thru something like that with someone I feel something for idk what it could be.

  4. I believe in spirits, then the other day a dark moth flew into my car, can someone tell me what that means? I am curious.
    Thank You very much,
    Lynn

  5. In the last two weeks there have been several moths in my room at night. I‘m a little scared that it might be a bad omen. Though after reading this maybe they are meant to symbolize the mental transformation I‘ve been going through lately… any other ideas? 🙂

  6. This morning I found a wild silk moth on the side of our house. Being a shaman I find your explanations of moths illuminating. I am sure it’s a gift from Patchamama.

    1. Hello Everyone Hope Everyone Is Having A Beautiful Day…..I Woke Up And Started Doing My Morning Coffee And When I Looked Down I Saw A Moth I Thought It Was Dead When I Went To Pick It Up Ir Was Moving So I Took It Outside To Release It But When I Put It On My Plant It Flew And Went On My Chest Im Talking To It Saying Hey Ur Free Go As Im Relesing It Again It Flew Back And Was On My Pants I Released It Again And It Was Coming Back To Me I Ran Back Inside My Home Its Out In My Back Yard Flying.I Just Dont Know Why It Keep Comeing Back What Does This Mean

  7. Thank you! I am grieving the loss of my familiar. I took our other dog to the woods to embrace the full moon tonight and see if my other dogs spirit was to be found. When we got home we cuddled up on the couch and lot a candle for her. Not even 5 minutes went by and a little moth flew right into the candle and snuffed it out. So much other symbolism in here resonates, I feel her message and appreciate your intuitive wisdom.

    1. I’m so very sorry for your loss. It’s lovely, though, that this moth was there to bring you comfort. I’m glad our article was helpful for you!

      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

      1. I am unwell and was sitting when I noticed a flurry in my log burner. I went over and opened it and a moth just few out.. Can anyone help never experienced this before.. It was not a dark moth and it is mid morning here… Thank you

  8. My teenage grandaughter was visting.While we were outdoors at a friends during daytime hours several moths just appeared from nowhere and landed on her . Was so amazing and curious .Later that day we were at my home inside and 3 of the same kind of moths landed on the window screen of course at that point we totally freaked out. Has anyone ever heard of anything like this before I’d sure like some insight

    1. Hailey Brophy

      I wonder if the moths might signify the growth and transformation that your granddaughter must be experiencing as a teenager. Moths often appear during important periods of transition.

      I hope this helps!
      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  9. Very interesting & extensive . As does the moth, your article brings the awareness of light & dark in encouraging balance. Thank you for the words that I can apply to the power of thinking good thoughts & all there is to be grateful for. KARI ✌🎨💜

  10. Wow! In July of 2020, as my partner was entering our home, a giant black moth entered with him. It flew around our living room and landed above our door entrance, then the window until he pushed it outside. A week later I was in the restroom smoking a cigarette and a small black moth entered our window flew straight at me I had to literally fight it off me. Months later, an unexpected visitor came to live with us and affected our relationship a few more months passed by and COVID took my love this October. He passed away. I struggle daily, but our little boy is who keeps me going. I wish I had found this site back then. It’s good information and very well explained. Thank you, Garth

  11. So I have been seeing allot of moths in general & in the house other night I saw one had fallen into some bubbles in the bath the other one next to it was dead and I dried it off with my mouth and saved it I now have four brown ones in my room as I can see I heard when u see moths ask your self “ what position am I in right now “ but I have been feeling really good in fact better than I did a few weeks ago?? So does this still mean bad omen etc? Or does it depend on how I decide to view it ?

  12. Thank you, Garth! On a recent trip to New Mexico I found a beautiful moth that had passed. I brought it home with me as I felt it was calling me to do so. Your info, especially the Native American symbolism, was quite meaningful to receive. And the other info was also very interesting. Thanks again!

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