Moth symbolism represents change, disguise, and attachment. Many cultures and religions have also assigned importance to moths. They often serve as guides, reminding us of things we already know, should know, or to trust what we already believe.


What Does a Moth Symbolize?


Moths, like butterflies, transform from their original caterpillar form to become something more. Like that caterpillar, we, as people, can also transform. It may not be easy or comfortable, but the moth indicates that we must change to become who we were meant to be.


Moths are believed by many cultures to be emissaries, helping people transition to the spirit realm. This is another form of transformation.

They can also symbolize new beginnings to cultures, religions, and people who believe in an afterlife. Moths are supposed to help with the transition between the earthly and the spiritual world, moving on to the next stage in their journey. They symbolize endings but also new beginnings.


Moths are attracted to flames, which can harm them, the way people are often attached to things outside themselves to attain happiness. In addition to fire, which can kill moths, they are also attracted to lightbulbs. How often have you seen one banging repeatedly against a lightbulb, trying to get to it, and beating itself to death in the process?


Moths are masters of disguise, often to avoid predators, which people also need to do for different reasons. In most cases, humans are unlikely to be hunted or killed by predators, but they can be manipulated, used, and taken advantage of.


Moths are often associated with intuition because of their attraction to light. Being drawn in a particular direction without completely understanding why is a sign moths deliver to us to follow our intuition, even when we don’t entirely understand it.

Seizing the Moment

Moths have very brief lives and serve as a reminder that every moment is sacred and should not be wasted. Moths only live for one to six months and understand how to make the most of their short lives. It would benefit us humans to follow their example, appreciate the things that matter in our lives, and not waste time on the things that don’t.

Moth Symbolism and Spiritual Meanings


The Navaho, on the other hand, believe moths are bad luck and evil creatures. There are many stories in this culture of an illness known as Iich’aa, roughly translating into “moth craziness” or “one who falls into the fire.”

The symptoms of Iich’aa include self-destructive behavior, loss of self-control, rage, and even convulsions. The Navajo believe that moths were formerly butterflies who committed cultural taboos and are being punished for their aberrant behavior.

Japanese Culture

In Japan, moths are considered spiritual creatures. Along with butterflies, they are believed to be a stepping stone to the afterlife. This culture believes when people die, their souls transition into moths or butterflies before moving on.

Greek Mythology

Moth symbolism is very prevalent in Greek mythology, perhaps nowhere more so than in the story of Icarus. Though Icarus was not a moth but rather a boy with wings made of wax and feathers, the story about the dangers of hubris is believed to be where the moth’s attraction to flame, despite its potential to kill them, stems from.

Celtic Mythology 

Like the Greeks, the Celts believed moths bore great significance and were bearers of important messages. The colors of the moths matter in this culture.

White moths are considered a bad omen, bringing news of imminent danger or evil and meaning someone in the household will die soon. But black moths are good omens that indicate an ancestor who has passed is visiting the home. And brown moths mean a critical message will be arriving soon.


The Chinese celebrate a holiday honoring their ancestors, called Quing Ming, in which moth symbolism plays a significant role. The celebration occurs when moths begin to become active.

Small cups of wine are left on gravestones, along with photographs of the loved ones buried there. It is believed the ancestors come back to walk amongst their loved ones during the holidays, and a moth landing on one of these photographs is a sign that ancestor has risen to dwell with their family members.

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