Tuesday 18 June 2024

Demons on a Moths Wing

 Imagine Man as a Moth Upon a Leaf

Many prey animals will have no coherent image of what their greatest predator actually is

This is probably more true with very specifically-evolved predator-prey relationships, and likely less so in relations between more generalist animals.

My idea here is that any prey animal that stuck around long enough to get a good long look at its predator was much less likely to survive, while any prey animal that ran for it at the slightest hint of its predator was much more likely to survive, and the slighter the hint that was required, generally the better. So over time the genetics, behaviour and culture of prey animals will be very strongly ruled by the tendency to run-don't-look. In fact active complex thinking about the predator will be almost absent because it will require a cognition and resources load that makes the prey animal over-heavy'.

So what a prey-creature 'knows' of predators is like a cubist array of images, scents, sensations, combinations of circumstance and so on, that if a certain amount or certain kinds are triggered, produce an instant flee/hide response, and that there may be layers to this bag of splintered perceptions, the deeper ones of which produce an ever more intense flee response; "If you perceive such-and such then burn your fat cells if you have to", "If these sensations combine then gnaw off your leg if you have to", "if you feel this then jump off the cliff if you have to".

So that, the more relentlessly dangerous something is, the less clearly they think about it, or at least consider it as a whole thing, and the more it becomes, to the, a scattering of burning glyphs within the mind which, if triggered, overwrite any other thinking and produce an instantaneous, physical, escape response.

Moth Wings

It’s a reasonable supposition that Moth Wings hold amongst their patterns, fragments of image that, when seen through the strange eyes and mad brain of an insect-eating bird, provide splintered signals of just such a predator; a larger bird, snake, leaping fox or similar.

The wings of the Atlas Moth are the most obvious example of this; even to us they clearly seem like snakes looking about. Other moth wings look a lot less like anything we can recognise, but this may be for several reasons;

That they are cubist impressions only; the sensation of a predator broken up into is most sensate elements yet organised in a manner unlike that seen in nature.
That birds see in ultraviolet, which we cannot, and will encounter these fragments in-flight, in strange situations of light or shade and during predation, when they are hyper-focused on one target to the exclusion of all else.
We don't know much about how a leaping predator looks to a diving bird, or how its tiny brain organises the information it does have.

In any case, we might say that, if we continue this line of reasoning; the patterns on a moths wing are nightmares of a birds mortality.

A more curious consideration is that through simple iteration, one species has evolved upon it, signs and symbols which signal to its predator, dreams and impressions of that predators own predator, which, if we continue the conceit that prey have no coherent impression of their own predators, is a transmission of information to the barely-knowable of what is utterly unknowable.

The moth carries symbols and fragments of something so far beyond its understanding that it could not even begin to conceive of it.

Esoteric and Fantastic Considerations

(I deal more in the world of honest Fantasy rather than the murky and somewhat schizoid realm of the Esoteric so I will remain focused on worlds of the imagination, but if you want to go all Von Danekin with the same ideas, then you can.)

In a Fantastic world in which Demons, and other supernatural creatures that prey primarily upon humanity, exist, and which are so utterly dangerous that humanity has developed a hyper-prey response to them, then humanity will be simply unable to name or fundamentally conceive of them, because any attempt to hang around and analyse, observe, understand them or to integrate that understanding into a larger scheme of knowledge, will get you killed.

This becomes more severe when you consider potential psychic, extra-dimensional or extra-causal entities where the environment through which they are hunting us is only partly sensible or comprehensible to us. Or Information Hazard-like entities where just thinking about them, (naming the monster adds to its power, the wizard can hear everyone who speaks their name), makes them more real and deadly

Yet, in such a world, there may well be 'impressions', cubist or modernist fragments of knowledge, information or understanding available to mankind; the 'Moth Wing Patterns' which give hints of predators the simple humans of that world could not imagine. Or even give suggestions of what is utterly unknowable, that beyond-which-is-beyond which preys upon the unknown.

Mans Moth Wings in a Fantastic World

What fragments of reality which might indicate the nature of that which is unknowable, or that which is beyond what is beyond? Or what things found in the organisation of sentient minds through culture, artefact or otherwise, that might show splintered fragments of that which preys upon that which preys upon us. Or things found in the forms of the prey of man that may suggest the form of what preys upon him?

Signs Of That Which is Beyond

Signs of that which might prey upon man but be unknowable to us, as a bird to a moth.

Signs and Glyphs which ward against Man

Like the magic signs that imbue fear, or which cannot be read. Or those which ward magically upon tombs. 

Any sign which repels, frightens or disconcerts so that it might not be read could well impart some essence of the extra-real predators of man.

Signs Borne on Curious Animals

Some magical creatures carry strange signs or astonish the sight without reason, or hypnotise or delude. Such as the Cobras hood, the Peacocks tail, the horses hooves when it races (which cannot be seen), or great whales who's song hypnotises, or the roar of a Tiger, which freezes.

That which is beyond may have some element of all these things, or more likely it carries the qualities which emanate the true and combined qualities, of which these beast signs are only fragmentary simulations.


These often revolt the sight with their scuttling, unnatural movement and skinless nature. Also they are low and hidden.

Poisoning Things

These things have a power to make ill and do harm much greater than is evident, that it is out of proportion with their seeming strength, that their ill may last longer and have more subtle corrosions than another wound.

In some cases this power is hidden so that you may not guess at it, but in other cases the form and colour of creatures boasts and advertises such a power, seeking to frighten and overawe.

Slithering Things

Things such as Worms, Wyverns, Snakes and all who go upon their belly, for they move by motion and not by limb. Also they are low.

Insidious Things

The most fearful and disgusting are those creatures which writhe or hide within other things, and this be worse if such things be living, for it is one living thing within another which should not be, and worse still if it be within oneself.

Perhaps that which is beyond might be able to lie unseen within other things, and even so within living things, like worms within an apple, and worse still, within ones own flesh.

Things Deep in the Sea

That they dwell in a cold blackness where nothing should live. That they mimic no earthly form. That they may come forth and take what is on the surface of their dark world and may not be opposed or followed.

Signs of the Unimaginable

Indications of whatever it is that might prey upon that which is beyond, as a Fox upon a Bird.

Signs which Ward Man from the Other

Signs, symbols, glyphs and rituals which man employs to ward themselves from what they fear may be Beyond, may employ some fragmentary aspect of the hunters of the Beyond.

By which we see that they are clear and regular, and never quickly imbued.


For as darkness itself flees fire, so do all beasts that prey upon man. Therefore fire itself in all its mortal forms may be only a symbol of that meta-fire, the nature of which is cannot be known but which must be 

Alike fire in that it is bright against that which is not, that it devours and transforms, that it lives in that it grows and dies, but not like any other living thing.

Doors, Doorways, Bars and Locks

Alike doors in that it separates on thing from another, but can alter that separation, like bars in that it can be set against what is beyond and once set, its very nature keeps it so. Like locks in that hit has a hidden complexity that may alter its nature, and that there be keys to such, and that these keys may be passed from one to another, even if the full understanding of its workings are not known to those who hold them. By which we mean to understand; spells.


  1. Did you read the antimemetics hub over at SCP? You should. Thank me later :-)

    1. I have the print copy of the antimemetics saga. I reread it relatively often. Definitely recommended.

    2. Is there a way for normies to get a version of this?

    3. Just read it in the scp stories hub. It's online and it's free. I have only tangential experience with SCP (and that was years ago) but I could follow it well enough. https://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/antimemetics-division-hub

    4. I find it hard to focus on very long-form stuff if its purely online. I get distracted easily & have a lot of demands on my attention. If i have it in hardcopy I can put it on a shelf till I have time and then focus on it directly. If the only option is to read it online then I probably won't.

    5. Print copies are on Amazon (I think that's the only place). https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09766RWR8

    6. You can buy it as a paperback "There is no antimemetics decision" by qntm. I am actually reading it right now. Crazy, I literally learnt of it last week, and now this. So far it is great.
      Maybe selective recognition.
      Or I was affected by a weak antimemetic phenomenon and was not able to remember seeing hints of this book before now.

  2. Should you write something after reading it I would be very much looking forward to that. I think it's thematically right up your alley - but I can't tell if you'll like style and story.

  3. Bugs seem like they are unpleasant to look at due to evolved concerns over hygiene... you could see diseases as 'conceptual predators' of humanity, even if their real ecological role is different