Moth Tattoos and their Meaning

A quick search on the internet and it becomes very apparent how prevalent moth tattoos have become. And although the reason behind the tattoo will vary between the individual there are some undoubtedly common themes throughout.

Moth tattoos can represent a number of themes, including new life, faith and sensitivity. We’ll look at these themes in depth to determine what compels thousands of individuals to get moth body art.

Transformation

If you ask any tattoo artist they’ll all too readily tell you that butterfly tattoos are common. Almost a little too common. And while the butterfly and moth both represent very common themes there are some clear distinctions that fuel the reasoning for a moth tattoo.

One of the main considerations here is the imperfections moths represent. Butterflies are always seen to be such a perfect creature with an optimistic meaning attached to it. The darker connotations associated with moths means that they are commonly used to represent that change is necessary with life, but not always perfect.

Ceasing the day

We only live one life, we need to make the most of it. As we’ve mentioned when observing luna moth symbolism these insects emphasise the finite nature of life. Moths (particularly the luna moth) have a short lifespan and live their lives purely to reproduce. In the case of the luna moth, they don’t even eat!

Having a moth tattoo serves as timely reminder that we need to make the most of our short time on this earth!

Moth tattoos could represent faith

Tattoos of a moth often have a religious meaning. Moths live their life constantly pursuing the light of the moon, of which they are eternally attracted to. As a result of this, they have always been seen as somewhat of a spiritual symbol.

Just as the moth unquestionably seeks the light a moth tattoo serves as a reminder that we should also keep loayl to our faith, even in the darker times. There’s always light at another point of our journey.

Moth Symbols in Hinduism

Moths are well discussed and highlighted throughout a range of Hindi texts across time. Although these are open to interpretation, we’re aiming to devise a clear connection between these fascinating insects and the spiritual world.

Fire in Hinduism

Before we can understand Hindu moth symbolism we must understand the meaning of fire. Fire is one of the most sacred elements of Hinduism, and is mentioned throughout Hindu texts as a power of both nurture and destruction.

In the Rigdev, there are many mentions of the fire god Agni. Agni is a god of high importance, well renowned for his eternal wisdom and his role in connecting mortals to gods. When darkness is overthrown by the light of fire, Agni is born.

Agni’s destruction is feared, and he is cited multiple times in the Rigdev as eating corpses with his flames. This impure form of Agni, known as Kravyad, instills fesr into all of humanity.

Moths and Hinduism

We’ve referenced throughout previous guides the attraction that moths have to light, and the symbolism this evokes. The blind faith that fills moths with purpose all too often leads to their demise.

Given the symbolism and importance of fire in Hinduism,  a moth could be interpreted as a medium between the natural and physical worlds. As the moth charges towards the light it is ferociously engulfed, bringing it back into the natural world. Given the common interpretation of moths as souls of the deceased, it seems possible that this could be the case.

What Does it Mean When a Ladybug Lands on You?

When a ladybug lands on you, be sure to celebrate the good times and embrace the good fortune coming your way. Ladybugs fill us with infectious joy, and it is only in our best interest to share this joy with the special people in your life.

 

A Ladybug Landing On You Brings Good Luck!

Ladybugs are popular creatures within almost every culture, but particularly through Europe. In fact, the Turkish name for a ladybug actually translates to ‘good luck bug’. In Croatia the ladybug is the official logo of the lottery!

 

The actual explanation for why ladybugs are considered lucky is unknown, however many believe this relates to a few factors. One is that the ladybug, unlike many insects such as mosquitoes and fleas, is harmless to humans. The other has more religious origins, with Christians throughout history praying to the Virgin Mary after having a ladybug land on them. They would ask Mary to protect their crops and land, and saw a ladybug as the vehicle in which she would answer.
It’s a little known fact that the ladybug would actually help the farmers by devouring thousands of aphids a day.

 

Feng Shui

Ladybugs, like butterflies, are a popular symbol in Feng Shui. This however seems to be a western creation, with the ladybug not native to China. Feng Shui traditionalists believe this has happened as a byproduct of the concept gaining traction in North America, where the ladybug has long been a symbol of fortune.

 

Although it has become popular to include a ladybug symbol as part of your interior decorations, remember to use it sparingly! Too much clutter will damage the chi energy of your home.

 

Ladybugs and Love

The striking red polkadot pattern of the ladybug makes it symbolic of love. Asian literature throughout the years has noted that a ladybug encounter spreads the message of love. When a ladybug lands on you, it will fly to your true love and whipser in their ear. A blossoming romance may be close by!

 

Have you had a recent encounter with an insect? We’ve got guides covering every symbolic meaning from moths to ladybugs!

 

What Does it Mean When a Butterfly Lands on You?

When a butterfly lands on you – think of your inner spirit! From the Aztecs to the Celts, the butterfly has always been a representation of our spiritual side. The Greeks went a step further than this, and actually use the same word (psyche) for both the butterfly and the soul.

With such a connection to spirituality, is every interpretation of a butterfly landing on you positive? We’ve created this guide to explore the symbolism behind this special moment.

Dreams

Native Americans believe that butterflies bring dreams, and that having one land on you will bring dreams to your sleep. They believed a butterfly to be a way of greater powers communicating with us.

This is commonly seen among Blackfoot Indians of Northwest America. The Blackfoot Indians would use a butterfly in paintings to notify travellers that the messages of their paintings were inspired by the Great Spirit. This symbol meant the painter’s body was encompassed by the spirit, and meant it held profound significance.

Transformation

Transformation is prominent throughout the life of a butterfly. We can see it undertake a metamorphosis to become a beautiful, free spirited member of Earth. Could a butterfly landing on you symbolize imminent change?

We should always be wary that what doesn’t change becomes lethargic and still. As we see with the butterfly, change could result in significant joy, despite initial hardships.

Joy

Personally speaking, I always feel a sense of joy whenever a butterfly lands on or near me. It fills me a warmth of connecting with a creature that is gifted such a short life on this earth.

Many cultures also believe that a butterfly encounter brings joy, and have always treated it as a beautiful omen. It does not have the strong purposes we see in other insects such as the moth or bee, rather flutters around enjoying everything life has to offer. Don’t treat a butterfly with apprehension, embrace its presence and you will find its joy is contagious!

Your Soul

The Aztecs believed that the last breath of a dying human took the form of a butterfly. They weren’t alone here, with similar sentiments seen in Chinese, Celtic and Greek culture just to name a few.

Most cultures believe the butterfly, like the moth, represents the soul of a deceased loved one. When a butterfly lands on you it’s worth considering the context – who could be trying to communicate with you from the spiritual world? Are they trying to protect you from something?

You can read more on lepidoptera and the soul in our post on symbolic meanings.

Still trying to work out what it means to have a butterfly land on you? Comment below and we’ll see what we can do!

 

Why are Moths Attracted to Light?

You’ve seen them charging at your fluorescent lights, at your lamps, even at open flames! A moth’s attraction to light is profound – so what causes this?

We did some research into this throughout the week, and we’ll use this week’s post to discuss moth meanings based on their attraction to light, while also exploring more scientific explanations.

What Makes Moths Attracted to Light?

We’re probably all familiar to the old saying ‘like a moth to the flame’ – where one with blindly follow someone without concerns of the consequences. While we are usually able to diagnose these issues within humans, moths are a different kind of beast. Although there are a plethora of theories attempting to explain why moths blindly charge towards light, we haven’t quite had anything conclusive.

One of the most common theories is that unnatural sources of light throw out a moth’s internal navigational system. The theory is supported by what is believed to be a moth’s transverse orientation. This relates to some species of insects flying in a constant angle relevant to natural light sources, namely the sun and moon.

Many entomologists believe that an artificial light throws out of a moth’s navigational system. The second light source, which is also closer, distracts the moth and gets it caught in a continual charge towards the light. Makes sense right?

But what about natural selection? Fires have been around for over 400 thousand years. Shouldn’t the moth have evolved to a level where it can determine different light sources?

Further to this, there have been studies (most notably by PS Callahan) into moths being sexually attracted to flames. Sounds bizarre, but Callahan theorised that the candle flame acted as a sexual mimic of the infrared wavelengths from the sex scent of a moth.

Moths, Light and Symbolic Meanings

The moth’s persistence to head towards the light has several symbolic meanings. Many believe the light to be metaphorical for the right way, and associate a moth’s travels into the light as a reminder for us to do things for the greater good. This also ties back to quiet achievement, as moths focus on a singular purpose that is achieved in absence of the need for violence and hardships.

Through the light, a moth also reminds us of how the reliance on material goods is petty. All we need in our lives is purpose, an inner light that can guide us through any situation.

Many cultures also tie back moth’s attraction to light back to intuition. With a constant purpose towards the light, you can rely on a moth to bring you security and comfort in knowing the right way.

Moths and The God Delusion

Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins uses moths to exemplify his issues with organised religions. In his book ‘The God Delusion’, Dawkins mentions that moth’s celestial navigation causes issues for the species when artificial light is concerned, meaning many species of moth have fried in flames.

Dawkins likens this to what he considers a need for humans to head towards psychological evolution. He believes religion to have been a by-product of the human race’s evoluritionary process.

It’s rather ironic consider how often moths are associated with faith!

Bogong Moth Symbolism

The Bogong Moth is native of Australia, serving an important purpose in Aboriginal culture. A small moth with dull brown wing patterns, it was a major source of food – particularly in colder areas such as the Snowy Mountains.

We’ll use this week’s post to review the symbolism of the bogong moth, tying this back both to Aboriginal culture and common symbolic meanings.

Origins

The name ‘bogong’ comes from the now-extinct language of Dhudhuora. In this Aboriginal language, ‘bogong’ translates to ‘bigfella’. Given the modest wingspan of the species (5 centimeters) this has always been a little confusing!

In Victoria, Mount Bogong has been named after the bogong moth, as have a series of peaks in the Kosciusko National Park.

Use in Aboriginal Culture

Bogong moths were considered a viable food source by the Aboriginals, particularly to those of New South Wales’ Southern Highlands where they were in abundance.

The bogong moths were usually caught in groups, due to their tendency to rest upon each other.

Aboriginals cook the moth and mash it into a paste, known commonly as ‘moth meat’. It is believed to have a wholesome, nutty taste, rich in protein and fat.

Stories of the Bogong Moth

A common story in Aboriginal culture tells of it once being covered in a range of vibrant colors, similar to that of a rainbow. However during heavy snowfall it was consumed by snow, and when it managed to escape it had left behind all of its colors. As the snow melted, these vibrant colors turned into spring flowers.

Bogong Moths Symbolize Intuition

The bogong moths have extremely enhanced senses, particularly their hearing. This enhanced, ultra-sonic hearing ensures that they can avoid predators such as the bat, because they are always aware of their presence.

This is believed to symbolize our own intuition. It is important with us to make decisions we believe are right and remove any external pressures.

If you encounter a bogong moth, think about upcoming decisions. They serve as a reminder to always go with your gut!

Atlas Moth Symbolism

The Atlas moth is one of the most impressive specimens of the Lepidoptera order. They are brightly colored with an incredibly wide wingspan and striking wing patterns.

All species of moths have significant symbolic meanings, and the Atlas moth is no exception to this. We’ll review what encounters with this interesting moth entail, its origins and their cultural significance.

atlas moth symbolism
Image source: Wildcat Dunny (Flickr)

What’s in a Name?

The name origins of the Atlas moth are often disputed. One line of thought from sources such as Natura is that their name id derived from their wing patterns, which could be seen as to resemble a map.

Other sources believe that the name originates from the giant Greek God Atlas. Atlas was the ancient Greek God of endurance, who was condemned to hold up the earth for all eternity.

Wingspan and Patterns

Contrary to popular belief, the Atlas moth is not the worlds largest moth in terms of wingspan. This title is claimed by White Witch moth, whos wingspan has been measured at 11 inches (compared to the Atlas moth’s 10 inches).

This impressive wingspan still evokes symbolism. The Chinese believed the Atlas Moths wings resembled that of a snakes head, due to its bright colors and contrasts of orange and black. In Cantonese the name translates as ‘Snake’s Head Moth’ – further reinforcing this.

Snakes hold quite a strong symbolic meaning across cultures. They are typically symbolic of rebirth and immortality due to their ability the shed skin and heal. Snakes are also often represented within Asian temples such as Cambodia’s Angkor, where the snake was seen as a spiritual guardian.

Colors

It is worth noting the symbolic signifcance of the atlas moth’s strikingly colorful wingspan.

The dominant color of the atlas moth is orange, which holds many positive connotations. Orange is seen by the human eye as a warming color, giving a pleasant sensation that’s not as aggressive at the color red. As a result of this, we generally associate the color orange wit joyous elements, such as those of sunshine, warmth and the tropics.

In Chinese culture the color orange is used to portray spontaneity, something the Atlas moth has in abundance!

The Atlas Moth and Mothra

We’d all be familiar with the Godzilla franchise created by Toho. But are we as familiar with Toho’s other creations, such as Godzilla’s arch-enemy Mothra?

Mothra is a giant but peaceful moth, who only fights to bring peace and harmony to earth. With abilities such as spitting silk and lightning charges from her wings, Mothra has been Toho’s most popular creation (outside of Godzilla of course).

Interestingly enough, the creation of Mothra is believed to be inspired from giant moth species, most notably the Atlas moth. This was however a rather loose interpretation, given Mothra also had blue eyes, a larger head and talons.


Need more information? We have guides on all things moth symbolism

Symbolic Meanings of the Death’s-Head Hawk Moth

Just by looking at a death’s-head hawk moth, you know that they mean trouble. With a distinguishable skull pattern across their wings and the ability to squeak loudly if disturbed, this species of moth is often associated with the most sinister of connotations.

A species native to Europe, the death’s-head hawk moth has found itself in many works of note. From German artworks to the works Edgar Allen Poe, the species has always found itself close to the supernatural. And who could forget its ominous presence in the film ‘The Silence of the Lambs’!

How does the death’s-head hawk moth compare to other moth symbols in our guide, and where did it originate from?

 

deaths head hawk moth symbol

 

Greek Origins

There are three main species of death’s-head hawk moths. They are the Styx, Atropis and Lachesis. All three terms are derived from Greek mythology and their meanings are profound.

Atropos

The Acherontia Atropos is a large species of moths, with a wingspan often reaching lengths of 5 inches. They are identified by their brown and yellow wing patterns, and are often found raiding bee’s hives at night in the search for honey.

The species name was derived from the goddess Atropos, who was one of the three goddesses responsible for fate and destiny. The ancient Greeks believed that Atropos created the mechanism of death upon mortals.

This ties back seamlessly with previously explored moth symbols of death upon one’s self and loved ones.

Lachesis

Native of South Asia, the Acherontia Lachesis has unique patterns across its wingspan, not nearly as dense as those of the Apropos moth. They cover almost all areas of Asia, including recently becoming established across parts of the Hawaiian Islands.

In Greek mythology Lachesis was the sister of Atropos, who with Clotho formed the Moirai (the incarnations of destiny). Lachesis determined the life of a mortal, and had control of their destiny.

Styx

No, we’re not talking about the rock band here!

The acherontia Styx is also common through Asia, and are known to be quite the pest in South Korea due to their ability to pierce and damage the yuzu fruit (which is similar to a mandarin). Their hind wings have a distinctive skull-like pattern with the foreign being striped – similar to that of a tiger moth.

 

Styx has a significant place in Greek Mythology. The River Styx formed the boundary between the Earth and the Underworld. It was an essential feature of the afterword (similar to the Christian version of hell), and by name association this links the species to the common moth symbol of the afterlife. This moth symbolism is common amongst many religions, as we can see in our guide to the spiritual meaning of moths.

Cultural References

The death’s-head hawk moth holds negative connotations among the superstitious. This can be traced back to the 1600s, where the Brits believed the first instance of the moth was noted at the death of King Charles I.

 

Although it’s been used in art and various works of fiction it’s undoubtedly most recognised from the fictional horror film ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. They used the moths to play into the macabre elements of the film – knowing that the patterns of the moth resemble the dead. There are also similarities between a moth’s metamorphosis and that which key villain Jame Gumb was attempting to do. He was wanting to transition from something ugly and insignificant into something he perceived to be more beautiful. This emulates that of the moth, whose transformation from a caterpillar to something more beautiful is a common symbol as we’ve seen in previous guides.

 

 

Interestingly however, the moths actually used in production were not deaths head hawk moths! They were tobacco horn worm moths, painted by the film’s prop artists by gluing fake manicure nails onto their wings.

 

Have you had an encounter with a death’s head hawk moth? Comment below to let us know what you thought it meant!

 

Moths in Chinese Culture

Eastern cultures generally have a very different way of viewing the world than we do in the western world. Consider eastern music for example. While we are used to using semitones as intervals eastern scales typically break these into quarter tones to produce a completely different sound.

While in America our first instinct may be to kill moths we encounter, the insect has an important connection to humans with Chinese culture. We’ll review how moth symbolism within Chinese cultures is unique, its origins and the learnings we can take from it.

The Qingming Festival

Held in April, the Qingming Festival (known in English as the ‘Tomb-Sweeping Day’) is a day for remembering ancestors. Qingming is a public holiday throughout China where relatives pay tribute to lost relatives through song and dance, dedicated family events and even offering tributes (wine, chopsticks, etc) at their tombstones.

Qingming was established in the 8th century and has been a public holiday in China since 2008. It’s also practiced in Taiwan and parts of Singapore.

Qingming and Moths

The Chinese have long found an abundance of moths to be synonymous with Qingming, and the signficance is profound. The Chinese believe that moths represent souls of loved ones we have lost. Reports are also often heard of moths landing on photos of deceased relatives.

The killing of a moth is generally frowned upon in China, but it is a considerable taboo during Qingming for this reason.

So, you might ask, where does this spiritual connection with moths originate?

Taoist Origins

One of China’s most prominent religions is Taoism. Taoism focuses on being one with nature, with natural law being the key to one’s salvation.

Taoism places significant importance on paying respect to deceased elders, mainly due to their belief that they continue to look over us. Although ancestral worship is not an entirely unique practice within any religion it is particularly emphasised in Taoism and Confucianism.

As the connection with nature is so imperative, the possibility for a loved one’s soul to take the form of a moth is a relatively common belief. This emobiment is rooted deep within Taoist beliefs, and goes a long way to explaining common encounters with moths at funerals or shortly after one’s passing.

Do you have anything to add on Chinese moth significance? Comment below to let us know!

Moths vs Butterfly Symbolism. What’s the Difference?

Like moths, we have often seen in texts the use of butterflies to represent vital concepts and philosophies. As we’ve found through viewing several examples of moth representations, the metamorphosis these lepidoptera undertake is marveled by humans and has meant a range of things to different cultures, religions and communities.

 

From a symbolic perspective this is where similarities end, with the typically more colored wing patterns of the butterfly evoking generally more optimistic and uplifting meanings. We’ll be looking into how moth symbolism differs from that of its closest relative; the butterfly.

 

Physical Differences

The key physical differences between moths and butterflies can be subtle, although obvious differences can be seen when comparing particular species. The antennae of moths have a feathery texture, which is rather fuzzy and thick. In contrast, butterflies typically have thin, slender and smooth antennae, which are often less noticeable as a result.

There’s also a few key difference with wings. Butterflies possess the ability to fold their wings back, while moths keep their wings spread out. Butterflies also typically possess far more vibrant color patterns on their wingspan than moths, although there are exceptions to this (such as the Cinnabar Moth and the Madagascan Sunset Moth).

Butterflies also express differing behaviors to that of moths, with butteflies being a diurnal creature (while moths are almost always nocturnal).

 

Symbolic Differences

Butterflies have a range of symbolic meanings around the world, some of these which completely contrast to those of moths. Some of the most common differences include:

 

Optimism and Negativity

Butterflies are a common ingredient to scenes of mirth and bliss. The Native Americans associate butterflies with infectious joy that is passed on to all of nature. Butterflies help pollinate the flowers in spring, meaning they are further spreading beauty in our natural environment.

Often considered an omen of death, the moth doesn’t get the optimistic likenings of its close relative. It’s worth noting, however, that moths too play a part in pollenating, operating the noctural night shift along with bats.

 

Femininity

Butterflies are an elegant creature. They fly with a certain kind of grace, almost gliding with the breeze. Elegance goes hand in hand with feminity and female qualities, as does grace.

The beauty of the butterfly, with its colorful wing patterns and symmetry, is also emblematic of the purity and beauty of the female gender.

 

Decoration

Having been used as a decoration in homes to symbolise transformation, growth and sensuality, butterflies have now grown to symbolise decoration as a concept itself. In Feng Shui, butterflies are a popular wall decoration used to symbolise love, beauty and romance. Despite this, it is considered extremely bad Feng Shui to hang a dead butterfly on your wall – you’ve been warned!

Moths are also considered a token of love, but are almost always overlooked by Feng Shui practitioners. The more positive connotations associated with butterflies are undoubtedly a cause of this.