My Celtic Moths art - plus a dive into moth meaning, symbolism and folklore to explore the place that moths hold in our understanding...
What are moths?
Moths, often seen as ‘night butterflies’ are actually a cousin of the butterfly. They are of the same scientific classification ‘lepidoptera’ but are distinctively different species.
Although most moths do fly by night, many are seen during the day and may be mistaken for butterflies.
Moths may be as old as 190 million years old – more ancient than butterflies!
The easiest way to tell a butterfly from a moth in most cases is that the moth folds its wings flat over its body when at rest, whereas the butterfly folds its wings up over its back.
The moth also usually has feathery antennae which the butterfly does not. Moths pupate in cocoons of silk while butterflies pupate in a hard, smooth chrysalis.
Moth meaning, symbolism & folklore
Although there is a lot of crossover with butterfly meaning and folklore, in Western culture there seems to be a connection between the moth and ideas about death – perhaps due to the link of the darkness of night and the never-ending sleep of death. But it could also be because of the strong association between butterflies and moths and the human soul (you can read more about that here…)
The symbolism of the moth still seems a little darker, in this instance, than the butterfly – in old Irish folklore, there was a belief that an animal would die if a moth landed on it.
There is also the idea of the moth frantically beating its wings against a light source – and moths have been known to die whilst attempting to get to this light. This can lead to moths being seen as a symbol of turning towards the light – but this should be followed with caution, as such obsession or ‘blind faith’ with any source of light can certainly lead to destruction.
The Bhagavad Gita of the holy Hindu scriptures notes that “Men rush to their doom like moths fling to their death in the candle-flame.”
But in other cultures and traditions, the moth seeking the light symbolises our soul’s search for the divine light. In Persian culture, in particular, the moth represents humanity’s seeking for divine love.
Just like butterflies, moths are seen as a symbol of transformation through its journey from larval/caterpillar stage, the pupa stage of cocoon or chrysalis, and the final emergence of a beautiful winged-creature – with wings also being seen as the ultimate symbol of freedom – this also links back to ideas of death, rebirth, and the human soul.
So moths can be a message of caution to us – do we need to adjust our path to avoid crashing and burning? Do we need to undertake our own transformation? Where and how are we seeking our light and freedom? Is this the right path?
In Scottish folklore, it’s said the moth brings a message to ‘stop hiding from yourself’ and focus on your true and deepest emotions to reveal your true path in life… good advice for us all!
Creating my Celtic Moths artwork
I put together my moth drawings that you can see above with Celtic knotwork drawings and drawings of oak leaves and blackthorn flowers...
The drawings are scanned into the computer and then I import them into Adobe Illustrator and start arranging with them digitally...
How to Buy
My 'Celtic Moths with Leaves & Flowers' are available as cushions, T-shirts, mugs, phonecases, shower curtains, journals, notebooks, bags, clocks and much more in my Redbubble store here...
Worldwide delivery is available from manufacture-and-print centres in UK, Europe, USA, Canada & Australia and customs charges will be refunded if you're unlucky enough to be charged...
Or get some mothy inspiration below...
My Celtic Moths have a distinctly 'Art Nouveau' style so would look beautiful in a period or heritage home, but also work equally well for a modern-vintage style academia aesthetic look...
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