Io, a pastel by Stephanie Thomas Berry of the moth

This moth project all started when my creativity was piqued by the names of some moths: Harnessed Tiger, Promethea, Io.

I started to see the name of each moth as a metaphor for the stories of women. Stories that flutter around in the night, richly dressed, rarely seen.

The story of Io seems especially relevant when one considers  the stories coming to light in our news today, as women (and men) stand in the spotlight and reveal to the world the names of the powerful men who have preyed upon them.

Io resisted the advances of Zeus, but what chance had she to escape his desire? He had the ultimate power. He was a god, and she was his prey. To keep her hidden from his wife, he changed her into a cow. After many miserable adventures, where it seemed that she was doomed to wander the earth forever in four-footed form, she came across Prometheus, chained to Caucasus Mountain. He told her to take heart, that she would become the great-grandmother to the greatest hero of all (Heracles). Eventually Io escaped the attention of the gods, was returned to human form, and lived a good life in Egypt.

I look at the Io Moth and wonder, “Who is naming these moths?” Some scientist, hundreds of years ago, with a penchant for Greek mythology? And why is this moth Io?

And I think I have the answer. To escape the attention of her predators, the Io Moth pretends she is something she is not. When viewed upside down, the Io Moth looks a lot like an owl. She flashes her eyespots when startled, a bold move. She is certainly more visible, but she is channeling the power of the owl.

There is power in pretending we are something we are not. There is strength in channeling the image of the owl.

But let’s take heart that more women can claim their own power, and tell their own story. Let’s take heart that Io’s story is finally being told, and that the Zeuses of the world are tumbling from their thrones.