USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘moth’
Legends
Narrative

Mothman

Mothman is a large creature that’s a cross between a man and a giant moth, and he supposedly lives somewhere on the East Coast. He has glowing red eyes and likes to fly at people’s car windshields when they’re driving. People claim that he was the cause of a collapsed bridge. Some news reports attribute Mothman sightings to large flying birds, however.

Informant is not American but knows a lot about contemporary American culture. He frequents Reddit, a “social network” very concerned with current events and urban legends. Mothman is an interesting piece of folklore because many have claimed to have seen it, like sightings of UFOs or Nessie, and the legends surrounding this creature are abound.

general
Narrative

Story – Native American

Story of the Moth

“So, um my aunt was telling me a story about why we have stars in the sky. Um and so she told me that before we had moths and butterflies, we just had butterflies. One night, they realized they wanted light at night; something beautiful to look at. So some of the butterflies decided to fly all the way up to the top of the sky and when they got to the top, they poked little holes in the sky. But on their journey up, they lost a lot of their color because the journey was really stressful! So then when they came back down they were different and no longer just had butterflies. We have butterflies and moths and even though moths are not as beautiful as butterflies, they gave us stars in sky and for that they’re more noble. They sacrificed what they look like for a good cause.” –Kim Mills

Analysis:

Kim heard about this story from Olive Kelly, her great aunt who is half Native American, a quarter white, and a quarter black. She learned about it from her a long time ago. Olive thinks it’s important to preserve their Native American culture (they are descendants of the Cree tribe) and make sure they understand their roots and are proud of them. When I asked Kim about her thoughts on Native American folklore as a whole, she said that they always have some underlying meaning and simple message. They offer great advice in life and encourage us to recognize the world around us. There is usually an emphasis on nature and animals to demonstrate the importance of nature and encourage appreciation and celebration of the world around us.

I really like the underlying message of this particular story. When I think of moths, only negative attributes come to mind. They create holes in clothes and are almost impossible to get rid of when they fly inside the house. However, this story sheds a positive light on their character. The story shows how a negative attribute can also serve a positive function; creating light in the sky so we can see at night. Maybe this was not the intention of the story, but my take on it is to not judge a book by its cover. After all, moths are not as attractive as butterflies. However, they evidently have good intentions and work for the greater good of society. I would like to think that everything that lives and breathes exists for a reason, even moths whose attributes initially seem more negative than positive.

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