My paintings have gravitated toward nightscapes over the past couple of months. The interplay of moonlight on plants and water and animals. And the moth is one of the nocturnal creatures that I have researched.
The Luna moth, in particular, intrigues me. The luminous lime green color, the size of its wingspan (up to 4.5" across), the distinctive eyespots on its wings. And in the final stage of its life, the adult Luna moth is also an example for all of us, an example of Life lived abundantly while in the process of dying.
After surviving the perilous transitions from egg to caterpillar to cocoon, the winged Luna moth emerges. However, in this final incarnation it has no mouth. Consequently, it can only survive -- for about a week -- by living off the sustenance that it has stored from earlier stages. During this final stage of its life, however, how glorious. Females send out sounds and pheromones which attract males. The males mate all week long and the females mate and lay eggs. Thus, the sole purpose of the luna moth in its final stage is to use all of its remaining life force to participate in the act of creation.
Moths and butterflies have roots in ancient mythology and tradition. The Greeks originally depicted the soul or spirit as a stick figure with wings. The butterfly/moth as a symbol of spirit and its potential for transformation originated from that source. The Greek myth of Psyche and Eros (Cupid) is a mythological metaphor for the feminine journey toward consciousness. Psyche is the Greek word for both soul and butterfly.
In Mexico, for example, the Nahauatl people believe that Monarch butterflies are the souls of dead children returning to their ancestral home. This interpretation is based on the migration habits of this species. Around November 2 every year (the Day of the Dead celebration) the Monarchs appear en masse in the Oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico. They remain for the entire winter season before returning north to the lay their eggs and die. The massing of these butterflies is so dense that on still days the sound of their wings flapping is quite audible.