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Animals and Witchcraft

(The Witches Familiar)

Rabbits & Hares

By Patricia J. Martin 

Time to hop into Spring!  And who better to do it with than those adorable long-eared and short fluffy-tailed creatures, the Rabbit and his cousin, the Hare - both of whom are well associated with fertility, Spring, creativity and new beginnings. 

The Rabbit and Hare have also long been associated with the Goddess and were the totem of several - the hare to Artemis and Hecate, the sacred rabbit to Aphrodite, to Holda who was accompanied by several torch-bearing hares, to Cerridwen and Freyja who both had hare attendants, and, of course, to Eostre who was said to have taken the shape of a hare at each full moon and whose Anglo-Saxon counterpart, Ostara, was often depicted with a white hare by her side.  There are many more goddesses associated with or attended to by both rabbits and hares and, in such, these gentle creatures can assist us in becoming more attuned to the lunar cycle.  All rabbits in general are associated with the Moon, magick, luck, love, creativity, success, sensitivity, agility, spontaneity, abundance, rebirth and, of course, fertility.  

There is something to be said about the "March Hare" who is typically seen this month darting around at all hours of the day and night when normally they are nocturnal creatures, and there stands reason behind the old saying "mad as a March Hare," for March is the beginning of their mating season.  The males will be seen acting strangely and appear quite "mad" in their antics, especially if rebuffed by the female. 

Rabbits are also out and about at this time of year, and are there to teach us that fertility has returned to the land and to us too, in all respects.  Ostara is the time to rejoice in the return of the Goddess in her maiden form, and in the growth and early maturity of the God who is youthful and now coming into his own.  It is a time to awaken and continue welcoming the return of the Sun, as we cast off the cloak of winter and are now ready to begin to put into play all that we have thought about and mulled over during our own internal musings during the slow, cold months we've been delivered from.  And it is a time to give thanks for the resurrection of life, once dormant, but now once again alive and fertile.  The Rabbit and Hare are most happy to attend to the season and to welcome it in.  And with this Totem, our own lives and endeavors are assured to grow in leaps and bounds. 

There are striking differences between rabbits and hares.  Newborn rabbits are called kittens, while newborn hares are called leverets.  And while baby rabbits are born naked, helpless and blind, baby hares are fully furred at birth and are able to move independently and able to immediately see.  Hares can actually live on their own very soon after birth.  As each matures, the common Cottontail Rabbit will be smaller than the Hare (who has much larger ears, back legs and overall mass), and will have a year-round lighter brown color fur, whereas hares usually have splotches of black in their coat, and the overall color will change from grayish-brown in summer to white in winter.  But even with their slight differences, both will

Since rabbits are often prey for many larger animals, they are usually on guard and can be quite timid or leery of the slightest movement in their surroundings.  Their ears are large and will stand straight up when they detect danger.  They keep their eyes trained on both land and sky.  Luckily, rabbits are also quick thinkers and quick movers.  In a protective move, they are known to double back to elude a predator.  Those with Rabbit Totem will find themselves more quickly capable of seeing all sides of an issue, having an increase in clairvoyance and especially clairaudience, and becoming much more acutely aware of their surroundings - all making for clearer visions and rapid, auspicious decisions.  This Totem teaches us how to never again box ourselves into any corner, and thus frees us from limitation.

While teaching of freedom, Rabbit will also teach us the value of knowing when to speed up, when to slow down, and when to double back to revisit something we may have missed or need to set right.  This includes all species of Rabbit, including the Cottontail, Snowshoe Rabbit, Hare, Jackrabbit, and even all varieties of domestic rabbits.  In watching this animal, we see that it is not uncommon for it to stand stone-still while, ever on the alert, it assesses its situation.  Alternately, we can also see that it knows when to dart away from danger or to run like the wind whenever it needs to.  For this, rabbits are often associated with fear.  Even in the story we see the White Rabbit (white symbolic of the purest essence of one's Self) showing his fear of being late and yet leading Alice into a fantastic world of adventure.  Fear has its place in situations of survival, as it attempts to show us how to be careful and mindful as we go after our new goals.  But by having this Totem, we will also be reminded to not let fear hinder nor keep us from moving forward toward where we want or need to be.  They also teach us that how we think, will often manifest.  So we must dispel old fears that are not serving any purpose other than to thwart our movements.  But with increased intuition coming into play with this Totem, we are assured of success and for good fortune to follow if we stay mindful and alert during all our new adventures.  Like Rabbit, we must rely on finely-tuned senses, agility and wit. 

This quick-witted animal, who expects us to view and confront our own fears, is known as a "trickster" in more than one ancient tradition.  Certain Native American tribes credit the creation of the earth to the "Great Hare" and view him as a hero, while others see him as more the trickster clown.  Either way, Hare or Rabbit's style of trickery, while gently teaching a lesson, is always soft and simply wise.  In Chinese myth, it is said that the Buddha called forth all animals to his side before he was to leave this world, but only 12 came - the rabbit being the fourth to come bid him farewell.  Buddha rewarded the 12 animals by naming a year after each, and the Rabbit came to rule every fourth year of every twelve in the Chinese Zodiac.  In Indian legend, it was said that Buddha was a hare in one of his earlier incarnations.  Within the Christian adaptation we have the Easter Bunny.  In Greco-Roman myth, the hare is symbolic of romantic love, abundance, sexuality and tremendous fertility.  In fact, Pliny the Elder wrote that eating hare meat would increase sexual attraction for nine days, and that it could be a cure for sterility.  And in Egyptian lore, the rabbit is connected to the very essence of being.  These mystical creatures, known throughout the world in legend, lore and literature, are gentle leaders, pushing us toward fertile grounds, physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Rabbits are vegetarians, eating soft bark, leaves, herbs and fruit.  As a Totem, they will encourage us to start eating more lightly too.  Fresh salads with baby greens, new early Spring vegetables, and a lighter menu in general will be most beneficial as we head into the more active time of year.  Gone are the heavier and more substantial Winter meals.  Rabbit shows it is time to be light on our feet, more active and more playful. 

Rabbits and Hares have long been associated with magick and the ability to walk between the worlds and commune with the faeries.  This is because both are most often seen at those magickal 'tween times of dusk and dawn when it is safer for them to be out and about.  During the day they stick close to home, which is usually a hidden burrow or, as with the North American Cottontail, in thickets or dense brush.  Their ability to dart quickly amidst the shadows as they walk between the earthly realm and the spirit realm, often disappearing and reappearing in the blink of an eye, makes them privy to hidden knowledge and wisdom.  It is no wonder rabbits and hares have often been witches' familiars.  And it is no wonder that throughout the centuries it has been thought of as lucky to carry a rabbit's foot in one's pocket, for they are a quite magickal Totem. 

Even in the stars we can see the mysticism of Rabbit.  Across the night sky, the constellation Lepus is the Hare that forever eludes Orion's hunting dogs. 

In the black furror of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled of the green;
And I whispered "Whsst! witch-hare,"
Away like a ghostie o’er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there. 

(19th century children's poem by Walter de la Mare)

 

Sources:

Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews

http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/rrRabbits4.html

Rabbit and Hare, themselves

 

© Patricia J. Martin, February 27, 2009 

Pari lives on the East Coast of America and is a Shamanic Witch.

http://www.peacefulpaths.com

 

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

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Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

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Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Rituals:

 

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest

 

 

Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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