Animals Folklore and Myth Seasons & Sabbats Spring Witchcraft

What Do Rabbits Symbolize? The Hare in Folklore & MAGICK

The Easter Bunny. Peter Rabbit. Bugs Bunny and the Velveteen rabbit. They’re fluffy and cute. They hop down the bunny trail and bring us treats at Easter. They’re an inevitable part of the Spring season and ingrained in our holidays, but why? What do rabbits symbolize and why are they so important in folklore and magical traditions? Here we meet the energetic, spry Hare. Who, in addition to being cute, is also a harbinger of magic and witchery. Let’s dive into the meaning behind seeing a rabbit in nature, its symbolism, and discover the link between witches and rabbits.

What do rabbits symbolize?

So what do rabbits symbolize? The truth is, SO MANY THINGS. And, depending on the culture, can have different meanings. We will try to list the major ones here:

  • Fertility
  • Creativity
  • Speed
  • Prosperity
  • Agility
  • Survival
  • Love
  • Beauty
  • Success
  • Good Luck
  • Mischief
  • Regeneration and Renewal
  • The Goddess and Feminine
  • The Moon

The Meaning Behind Seeing Rabbits of Different Colors

Seeing a rabbit or hare may be a sign or message from your guides. Pay particular attention to where it pops up, its behavior, and its appearance. Different colors and shades of a rabbit’s fur may have extra meaning. This system is based on my own Unverified Personal Gnosis. Here is my simple guide:

Brown Rabbit Signs

When we see a brown rabbit, we must first think about agility and survival. The brown rabbit’s fur disguises it from predators amongst the brush. It allows the brown rabbit to hide easily and quickly slink away from danger. Brown also indicates prosperity, being grounded, and a sense of stability. It could indicate a time of prosperity.

White Rabbits

White snow-shoed hares are a rare and beautiful sight to see. A white rabbit or hare is considered bad luck to some folks, but here at Otherworldly Oracle, we see it as good luck. White means purity and a connection with the Fairy world. It could indicate a fairy or door to the Otherworld is closeby.

The Black Rabbit

Most wild rabbits and hares are not black in color; however, it does occasionally happen due to mutations or because a domesticated bunny has escaped its home. When a black rabbit or hare is spotted in one’s path, it is a clear sign of witchcraft afoot. The black rabbit is calling you further into the realms of magic and the occult. To embrace the sacred darkness and moon cycles.

Gray Rabbit Meaning

Some Eastern cottontails take on a gray-ish appearance but frequently have brown or reddish tones too. But if you see a gray rabbit in the wild, the message is to remember that not everything is as it seems. That perhaps your answer is in the “gray” area.

The Easter Bunny, Ostara, the Vernal Equinox and Queen Boudicca

Most people don’t realize the Easter Bunny tradition stems from an ancient Germanic belief in a maiden goddess of Spring named Eostre. She’s also called Ostara and is the origin of the word Easter. Her festival was celebrated on the Spring Equinox, which is likely the pagan origin of the Christian holiday Easter as we know it today. Rabbits almost always accompany this beautiful goddess in illustration and story. And, in some illustrations, her consort was a man-sized hare.

In the Spring we see a renewal of LIFE in the world all around us. The green grass starts growing, flowers begin blooming, and the sun is beginning to dominate the sky again. In addition, nature is teeming with the beauty of creation. Baby animals are being born all over the place, including birds, lambs, and RABBITS. And where there aren’t babies being born, there are babies being made (wink wink). Because this is a time of fertility and renewal, and because rabbits are so prominently mating in the Spring, the rabbit has become an intricate part of the Spring season. And has stayed in its lore and traditions for centuries. I don’t think it’s going away any time soon!

But it’s not just Eostre and the Easter Bunny with ancient connections to this animal. Apparently Aphrodite was associated with the hare in ancient times, and Caesar said the Celtic Britons found the hare to be sacred so that it was taboo to eat them. Yet hare and rabbit have been a staple food for humans for millennia. Perhaps that is why they’re so lucky too, in that they kept people from starving in desperate times. The Celtic goddess of war, Andraste, was also linked to the hare and it was said the great Queen Boudicca released a hare on the battlefield before war. Perhaps this was in honor of Andraste, invoking the great goddess, or maybe it was a method of divination to divine the outcome of the battle.

What do rabbits symbolize in Ireland? In Ireland, the hare is considered a fairy animal and is often believed to be a witch or hag in disguise. On May Day, it was believed that hares stole milk and crops so therefore were feverishly hunted on that day. Yet specifically in County Kerry, people refused to eat hare because they believed it might be their grandmothers’ souls, according to modern Irish writer Niall Mac Coitir.

The Lucky Rabbit’s Foot Origins and Uses

There’s a misconception that the lucky rabbit’s foot charm is a modern American invention. In fact, the rabbit’s foot amulet dates back to ancient times. The Romans believed it cured gout, and in England the right foot was kept in the person’s left pocket to ward off rheumatism. Sailors were particularly fond of rabbit’s feet charms, and Mac Coitir talks of how baby’s faces were gently brushed with rabbit’s feet to ward off evil spirits. Yes, the lucky rabbit’s foot may have been used in Southern Conjure and Hoodoo, but it’s roots go back much farther than that.

When I was a little girl in the eighties and nineties, lots of kids possessed a lucky rabbit’s foot. Mostly they were kept on keychains or affixed to one’s backpack. We all believed they were lucky, and truly enjoyed the soft sensory aspect of holding it. You can still acquire a rabbit’s foot today, though there’s no telling if they were harvested humanely or not…so I don’t recommend purchasing one unless you know exactly where it came from. What do rabbits symbolize today? LUCK. Gamblers are known for carrying the foot as a talisman.

The rabbit's foot as a lucky talisman has been used for thousands of years.

What do rabbits symbolize in American folklore?

In North America, the words “rabbit” and “hare” are interchangeable. Yet in Great Britain they may mean two different species. Either way, this animal has been part of American folklore since day one. In the Ozarks, it was considered bad luck to have a rabbit cross your path from left to right. But don’t worry, you can take the curse off by immediately tearing a piece of your clothing. This superstition was likely brought to America by the Irish immigrants who believed the hare could actually be a shapeshifted witch. Seeing two rabbits meant that you were needed at home.

The rabbit, believe it or not, is considered a trickster in American lore made popular in modern times in characters such as Brer Rabbit and Bugs Bunny. Perhaps this is because it is able to dodge predators with ease. Or perhaps it’s because of it’s association with witches and ancient, primal goddesses. Not to mention the fact that rabbits tend to graze at twilight and where I live in the surburbs in the Southern U.S., they enjoy coming out at night under the light of the moon. Sure, Google says rabbits are “crepuscular” meaning they are dawn and dusk animals, yet I believe if they are living in the suburbs they adapt to their environment. They realize humans are asleep at night and so that’s when they are most active.

Shapeshifting Witches and Hares

In English and American folklore, the hare and the witch go together like bedknobs and broomsticks. Witches were thought to have the magical ability of shifting form, and they would frequently choose to turn into a hare in order to accomplish some diabolical task. You see, witches shapeshifted in order to do one of a few things: to steal from the rich, to travel unnoticed to the witch’s sabbath, to exact revenge on an enemy, or to acquire information. Obviously if a witch traveled by night in her regular human form, it would be rather easy to catch her in the act. Or to follow her to the sacred witches’ gathering place. Therefore, she would change form before ever leaving her house.

Shapeshifting into a hare

The Furry “Fetch” of the Witch

Now, this might not have been an actual physical state so much as a spiritual or astral one. In traditional witchcraft, the idea of a witch sending forth her “fetch” spirit in animal form is prominent. But, nevertheless, when the witch disguised herself as an animal and went out into the world, she was still in danger of being caught. We have hundreds of stories from the Appalachians and Ozarks that tell of a hunter shooting a rabbit. Then following the injured rabbit’s trail of blood straight to the home of a suspected witch. And when the witch answered the door? She was almost always suffering an injury to the exact place the rabbit had been shot!

The Rabbit in the Moon

Like the witch, the rabbit and hare are in alignment with the moon’s cycles. According to author Judika Illes, the rabbit’s gestation period is 28 days, the same as one lunar cycle. Which is akin to the female menstrual cycle. What I find fascinating about this fact is that it lines up with the Rabbit in the Moon, a comparative myth found in China and Central America. In the U.S. we talk about the “Man in the Moon”, but in other countries they have the Rabbit in the Moon. While we were told there is the fact of a man on the moon’s surface (made from the craters), in China and Vietnam they see a rabbit’s shadow on the moon.

Seeing Rabbits and Hares in Your Dreams

In my opinion, being approached by animals in our dreams is a clearcut sign from the spirit world. What do rabbits symbolize if they appear in your visions or sleep? If you see a rabbit or hare in your dream, consider what message it is bringing you. First and foremost, fertility is a big theme with rabbits for obvious reasons. Are you looking to conceive or could you potentially be pregnant? Fertility might also be metaphorical as in a fertile time to start a new project at work or learn a new artistic skill.

If you are shapeshifting into a hare or rabbit in your dreams, this is a big sign that you are a natural witch and are being called to the path. It could be a flash from the past, or signify that your fetch spirit takes the shape of a hare when you are in the astral or spirit realm.

As a general message in a dream, the presence of a rabbit or hare indicates good luck, fortune, and overall happiness.

Sources Used:

  • The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes
  • Ireland’s Animals, Myths, Legends, and Folklore by Niall Mac Coitir
  • Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph
What do rabbits symbolize? The hare in witchcraft and lore

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