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There's a Rabbit In The Moon And He Ain't Just Laying Eggs|
(April, 4th., 1999)
-by Wren Walker
Maybe it's all this Easter Bunny talk; maybe it's because my animal spirit guide is a rabbit (It almost seems inevitable since I was also born in the Chinese month of the hare.); or maybe it's simply because here in the Northern Hemisphere SpringTide is nibbling at the portals Whatever the reason, I suddenly have bunnies on the brain.
While the prevailing "fluff-bunny" rhetoric in the Neo-pagan community tends to label the rabbit as a trickster, empty-headed or pretty darn foolish, and more often than not-can this be a coincidence, my Dianic friends?-feminine, many old stories and myths concerning rabbits depict them as intelligent, cunning, healers, masculine and sometimes even as gods.
In a Sioux tale about how the rabbit lost his tail (in a tail-related tug of war with a pack of wolves), Rabbit is the brother of the wind/thunder god. Rather than restoring the lost appendage, with typical "brotherly love" the exasperated WindMaker tells Rabbit that he looks better with a short tail anyway...
From The East:
And perhaps because Rabbit is related to the gods, a Western Rocky Native tale has a three legged rabbit (who later makes himself a fourth leg from wood-the first artificial limb no doubt. Clever bunny!) shooting down the sun because everything on earth was just too hot!
From the two whites of the sun's eyes, he made the clouds, from the pupils he made the sky and from various solar internal organs, he made the moon and stars. Finally from the sun's heart, he made the night. From that time to this, the heat of day is relieved by the passing clouds or the cool of the dark hours.
In the Aztec empires of Mexico, the rabbit was associated with moon. Likewise the Mayans saw a rabbit in the moon and often depicted the Lunar Goddess holding a rabbit. Both cultures built pyramids which they named, "Temple of the Moon". An Aztec metaphor states: "The earth, in conjurings, was called 'face-up' rabbit, for thou art resplendent mirror..". Here the rabbit is the reflection of the earth upon the heavens. As above, so below.
According to legends of the Buddha, when he was about to leave the earth, he summoned all the animal kingdom. Only twelve animals responded to his call and so these were rewarded for their faithfulness with a spot in the Chinese zodiac.
Western Rabbit Lore:
The rabbit here "symbolizes graciousness, good manners, sound counsel, kindness and sensitivity to beauty. Their soft speech and graceful nimble ways embody all the desirable traits of a successful diplomat or seasoned politician. Likewise, a person born under this sign will lead a tranquil life, enjoying peace, quiet and congenial environment. Rabbits are reserved and artistic and possesses good judgment. Their thoroughness will also make them a good scholar."-(Chinese Zodiac)
We are currently in a Year of the Rabbit. Looks like we are going to need that political prowess real soon, too...
In a Korean tale, the king of the sea is very ill. He is told that by eating rabbit flesh or eyes, he will be well again. The tortoise tricks the rabbit into joining him into the sea, but the rabbit tells the sea-king that these are not really his eyes, but "spare eyes.". His real eyes, he says with great seriousness, are hidden in a secret spot upon the land. Rabbit is taken back to land in order to fetch his "real eyes" and, of course, escapes.
In the Chinese story of the Jade Rabbit, there were three sages who transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men but the rabbit empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead.
He jumped into the fire and cooked himself. The heavenly beings were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the Jade Rabbit.
He is believed to be constantly pounding the jade elixir of immortality in a large mortar on the moon.
In many Celtic countries, it is believed to be unlucky to meet either a hare or a rabbit, one variant stating that a rabbit which crosses one's path in front is a good omen and one which crosses behind is a bad one. Since Boadecia (Celtic Iceni queen who led an uprising against Caesar) is said to have used rabbits in divining the path that her army should take in order to ambush the enemy, perhaps the good-bad luck lore of following the rabbit track depends on whether the tale is being told by the winner or the loser.
Rabbit As Teacher:
In English Suffolk, black rabbits were thought to be ancestral spirits. Lest you think that this seems a bit odd, consider this: "Br'er Rabbit is more closely related to humans than most people suspected. If not brother, maybe Cousin Rabbit."
"Although rabbits and hares long have been classified as close relatives of rodents (mice, rats, squirrels), a new study has concluded that the long-eared hoppers are really more closely related to primates, the mammalian order that includes monkeys, apes and humans."
"The new findings, published in Nature by Dan Graur, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University, and colleagues at Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France, are based on comparisons of the detailed structures of 88 proteins common to all mammals. The results showed overwhelmingly that rabbits are more like primates as a whole than like rodents, and very much more like tree shrews (order Scandentia), a group that is thought to have given rise to the primates."-(Feb. 5, 1996, The Detroit News)
White rabbits were presumed to be Witches. Tales from the Scottish Highlands recount how Witches were often "found out" after being wounded while in their rabbit guise and then discovered to be carrying the same wounds once they regain their human form again.
But whether the Celts thought that the rabbit was an ancient ancestor or just the Witch next door in disguise, either way, they were in big, big magickal trouble if they shot one!
Another Welsh custom is to say 'Rabbits' or 'White Rabbits' either once or three times on the first day of the month as a good luck charm. It must be the first word(s) said in the morning or you've just blown your opportunity for the next thirty days.( StarLore)
Throughout history stories of the rabbit, the bunny and the hare, have taught us lessons on how to adapt to strange conditions (They are especially adept at obtaining help from others), how to escape from the follies of our own actions (Cunning bunnies are very creative at both rescuing others and being rescued themselves.), how to pace ourselves (Rabbits leap only when they have to escape danger or are especially pleased about something.) and in general how to manifest the cunning, intelligence, ingenuity and outright brazenness that has enabled mankind to survive, adapt and learn from experience.
Rabbit As Initiator:
Rabbit makes mistakes because he is not afraid to try something new. Rabbit learns how to get out of the mess he often creates by using his wits. Then Rabbit often "tricks" us into a similar situation so that we can learn the lesson as well. And while tossing us down the bunny-hole, Rabbit initiates us into new experiences and levels of being.
Anpu (Anubis) was also worshipped under the form "Wepuat" ( or "Upuaut-"Opener of the Ways"), sometimes with a rabbit's head. Anpu knows the way through the different levels of existence-hence he makes a most excellent guide for astral travelers-and not only conducted the souls of the dead to their judgment, but also monitored the Scales of Truth to make sure they gave a fair judgment of the heart. Don't try placing you finger out there to try and tip the scales either. You sure can't fool this particular "rabbit"!
Hop On Over To These Related Rabbit Links:
"The name of the hare in Egyptian is Un, which signifies open, to open, the opener, especially connected with periodicity, as the word also means the hour. The hare is the hieroglyphic sign of the opener, which can be variously applied to the phenomena of opening; to the sun as well as the moon. The hare is an especial emblem of the god Osiris in the character of Un-Nefer, the good opener; in later phrase, the good revealer! It is as the seer that both hare and cat are associated with the witch as types of abnormal seership."-(Moon Magic, Gerald Massey)
So the next time anyone calls you a "fluff-bunny," you can simply roll your eyes up at the moon and retort, (in your very best "soup-nazi" voice) "No Jade Elixir For YOU!" (Let them look it up if they want to find out just what that means. They may learn something.)
We never know just when Rabbit may decide to 'weigh in" with a little lesson plan of his own. After all, even Bambi's little bunny friend was called "Thumper"...
Between the struggles of everyday life and the dawn of a new world, the characters develop before our eyes, teaching us more about ourselves than we could ever learn from humans. Their tale is one of survival. Survival against nature, survival against man, survival against their own kind. It is a tale of reconstruction, as real as that of the pilgrims landing in the New World and forming a new society. It is a tale of inner resolution, as each rabbit is faced with its own faith in its bond to Frith, the rabbit lord, and the cunning of their prince, El-ahrairah. In short, it is a tale about much, much more than simple rabbits; its a tale about humanity."
Walk in Light and Love,
April 4th, 1999
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