Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Totems: Moth

In our tradition we divide the year not only by eight solar and agricultural holidays, but also by the Kalends. We celebrate twelve months of the year by the common calendar, plus a special thirteenth month for Samhain.  These month cycles are associated with different totemic spirits. Each month is assigned an animal, a bird (or other flying creature), and a tree. April's totems are Serpent, Ash, and Moth.

The totemic associations are as follows:

Serpent (Nathair) – resurrection, rebirth, initiation, wisdom, transformation
Ash (Nuin) – connections of past to present, spirit to earth, high and low
Moth (Lèomann) – transformation, seeking illumination, initiation

Moth

The moth and the butterfly represent transformation, due to their metamorphosis from caterpillar to winged creature.  The word for moth in old Lancashire dialect means 'soul'. The spirit of a witch is sometimes said to travel forth from the body in the form of a moth or butterfly.

Psyche, the Greek 'soul' was another word for butterfly. Psyche was the consort of Eros, and underwent many initiatory tests to prove herself worthy of him. These tests were initiated by the act of seeing her lover by lamplight.  Just as the moth seeks the flame, so do we seek enlightenment and illumination.

The moth navigates by attempting to fly to the greatest light source in the night sky, the moon.  Modern illumination often curtails this instinct, causing the moth to be drawn to another brighter nearby light source.  In this way the moth teaches us to use discernment and to stay true to our path despite distractions.

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