Rabbit plays in tall grasses, dances in the moonlight, nibbles on nature’s greens, then freezes if danger is sensed. With a thump as a warning, rabbit hops away in a flash, disappearing down its rabbit hole.
Rabbits and hares, though very similar looking, are completely different species of the Lagomorpha order of mammals. The process of divergent selection began only 1.5 million years ago while the oldest rabbit fossil found is about 53 million years old.
Originally from Europe and Asia and first domesticated in the 5th Century, today rabbits live all around the world.
Fertility, Prosperity, Abundance
Well known for its insatiable breeding habits, Rabbit symbolizes prosperity, abundance and fertility.
With a 95% mortality rate in their first year and a life span of only 1.5 years in the wild, rabbits evolutionary response is one of great fecundity – producing several litters a year, each averaging six kittens, starting at about 3 months old.
The returning birds, budding trees, and growing light of spring bring the promise of summer’s fertility. Cultures throughout the world observe festivals of renewal and rebirth at this time.
Germanic people celebrated Ostara, Goddess of Dawn and Spring, with a festival calculated from the full moon following Spring Equinox, the same calculation used to set the date for Easter. Ostara and her Saxon version Eostre/Eastre were closely associated with the hare and the egg.
Christianity, with its habit of fusing pagan traditions into their own, turned Hare into Rabbit, who brings colored eggs to children on Easter.
The Aztecs recognized 400 drunken Rabbit Gods. These 400 were known as Centzon Totochtin (400 rabbits) or Gods of Drunkenness. One of these 400 was Two Rabbit (Ome Tochtle), considered the king of the Drunken Rabbits, who reigned over fertility and drunkenness.
Rabbit offers you abundance in many areas of life. Allow your creativity to breed like rabbits.
Cleverness, Spontaneity, Discernment, Luck
Well equipped to pinpoint predators from far away, rabbits have nearly 360° vision – allowing detection from all directions. Their sense of smell and hearing are even better.
When Rabbit perceives a threat it first freezes and observes. If danger is confirmed, Rabbit will thump powerfully with its strong back foot to warn the others. Then as it runs away the flash of white from under its tail provides another warning signal.
Rabbit, with strong back legs, leaps high in the air and moves forward nearly 10 feet in a single bound. Clever Rabbit runs in a zigzag manner, confusing the predator rather than outrunning it.
African stories of trickster Hare arrived in North America with the slave trade where they mixed with Cherokee and other tribes’ rabbit tales, emerging as the well-known Br’er Rabbit of the American South. Br’er Rabbit is famous for overcoming powerful opponents with his intelligence and wit.
The Rabbit’s foot is used for good luck worldwide. In the Chinese zodiac the Year of the Rabbit is considered the luckiest of all.
Rabbit calls you to assess the totality of your situation, to honor the crooked path, and to warn others when danger is near. With the use of intelligence and wit your luck will most certainly improve.
Feminine Energy, Lunar Cycle, Sanctuary
Rabbit’s reproductive cycle is in tune with the 28 day lunar cycle, associated with feminine energy. Rabbit kittens are born blind, deaf and hairless. Within 28 days kittens are ready to venture outside for life on their own, making room for the next litter to arrive.
Rabbits live in underground burrows, called warrens, usually built by the females, with multiple entrances providing quick escape from above ground dangers.
Rabbits are social animals who live in colonies, varying in size from one pair to up to 30 rabbits living in the same warren. Within the warren they generally adhere to male/female pairs and a family group within the greater hierarchy of the whole warren.
The Chinese believe that those born in the Year of the Rabbit posses powers of the moon. This might stem from the Chinese myth of Chang’e, Moon Goddess. She rewarded the little rabbit’s willingness to lay down its own life to provide food for a hungry traveler by saving it and taking it to the moon as her companion – Jade Rabbit.
Additionally Jade Rabbit is depicted pounding the elixir of life in its pestle, the elixir which granted Chang’e immortality. When the moon is full, look up and you just might see Jade Rabbit grinding its pestle.
Releasing Fear, Gentleness, Introspection
We all love cute, cuddly bunnies. Domesticated rabbits are very affectionate with each other and their human owners. Nose nudging and nibbling is not seen as often in wild rabbits – perhaps because the dangers of being in the open don’t allow for the distraction of affectionate behavior.
Rabbits prefer to spend most daylight hours tucked away in their own little world of the warren. Rabbit’s timidity indicates that a high level of fear permeates its life – no surprise being such a common prey animal with limited physical prowess. Their timidity is their greatest defense.
Rabbit wisdom teaches that instead of focusing on your fears, which will surely draw them into your life, you are better served to focus on the positive. Rabbit guides you to your own private space where you can access your intuition and gain confidence in yourself. Stop worrying about the future and do what you can in the present for you and your community.
Transformation, Otherworld Guide
After the introduction of rabbits in the 12th century to Ireland, the Celts used both rabbits and hares for divination. They believed that rabbits in their underground warrens could communicate with the spirit world, carrying messages between the living and the dead.
Rabbits live best in liminal spaces – borders between one place and another – such as woodland edges and hedgerows. Rabbits graze most vigorously at dawn and dusk – thresholds between light and dark.
Rabbit’s ability to molt, changing fur colors several times a year, reinforces Rabbit’s connection with transformation.
In Lewis Carroll’s story, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, the white rabbit leads Alice down the rabbit hole to a world that transforms her forever. Though the adventure might be chaotic and confusing, Rabbit guides us to a new understanding of our world.
Rabbit bestows fertility and abundance, all in tune with feminine energy, and guides you to a peaceful sanctuary. Rabbit calls you to act quickly and cleverly as opportunities might be brief.
Rabbit grants you the ability to shift swiftly between the inaction of assessment into a creative path to success. If you are running around in a panic with no direction Rabbit calls you to stop, define your goal and move forward. Luck just might appear unexpectedly.
Rabbit teaches you to acknowledge your fears and release them; to follow your intuition and discover your natural path forward. Rabbit communicates when to take shelter and when to surface.
Releasing fears brings transformation. Rabbit guides you through the chaotic times of transformation to renewal.
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of her manifestations, which are found everywhere in the natural world. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Spirit Guides, and on a modern folktale of the Reindeer Goddess. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.