NAME: Rabbit or Hare, when the mystic or divine aspect of an animal is the subject that animal's name is used, only it is capitalized, so there are rabbits and hares, and there is Rabbit and Hare, depending on the word used in the culture in question.
Some hare or rabbit gods & goddesses are
- Hittavainen the Finnish god of Hares,
- Kaltes the Siberian goddess of the moon who often took the form of a hare,
- Jade Rabbit, who pounds out medicine on the moon for the Chinese gods,
- Ometotchtli (Two Rabbits,) Aztec god of fertility, parties & drunkeness who led 400 other Rabbit gods known as the Centzon Totochtin,
- Kalulu, (Central African) Trickster god.
- Nanabozho (Great Rabbit,) Ojibwe deity who took part in the creation of the world.
- and we might also add Frith the god of the rabbits in the novel Watership Down.
(Note how many double sounds we have in the Hare & Rabbit god/desses above)
SYMBOLS: Depends on the culture, Some are such things as colored eggs, a number of different glyphs and icons, the "lucky" rabbit's foot, which if done right should only come from a rabbit caught and killed in a graveyard on the night of the Full Moon on a Friday (New Moon according to some, and some say it has to be raining!) and only the left hind foot is to be taken.
However one very prominent one that stretches from China, though the Middle East, to Europe is one known as the 3 hares or the 3 rabbits in China.
The images is so old that it's exact meaning is lost, and consists of a circular motif which features 3 hares or rabbits, either chasing each other, or running around in a circle. Each of the ears is shared by two animals so that only three ears are shown forming a triangle.
White common. its origin and meaning are uncertain, it is also unknown if this image spontaneously sprang up in the places where it appearers or moved from the East to the West or West to East.
However the earliest occurrences seems to have taken place in cave temples in China which have been dated to the sixth to seventh centuries. One of the latest ones is a coin from Iran dated around 1300.
In England the 3 racing hares are almost always found next to the Green Man, a symbol known for its links to paganism.
Whatever the case, whether they are rabbits, or hares, for critters running around in a circle they have been able to travel a very long way!
USUAL IMAGE: Depends on the culture, but pretty much in all of them focus on the long ears. Though the Aztec also give Rabbit fangs!
- First Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox; this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.
- July 4th, date in 1862 on which the story "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" arose with the appearance of the White Rabbit as told by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, during a boat trip on the river Isis (the local name for the stretch of the Thames that flows through Oxford) from Oxford to Godstow with his friend Robinson Duckworth, and the sisters Alice, Lorina and Edith Liddell
- July 27, Bugs Bunny's Birthday
- First day of each month, see below.
FORM OF WORSHIP: Originally Welsh, the custom has spread and varies from place to place, the basic folk tradition is the saying of either Rabbit or Rabbits, or White Rabbits once or three times on the first day of the month, variations are saying Bunny, or Black Rabbit the last day of the month before going to bed, and White Rabbit on waking up on the first.
This is suppose to bring good luck,,however if you say Rabbit a second time that first day, or you hear someone else say it before you, it brings bad luck.
This peculiar folk belief, in its many other permutations in the method to be preformed survives to this day.
GODS & GODDESSES ASSOCIATED WITH RABBITS OR HARES: Eostre or Ostara (Anglo-Saxon) / Chang,'e (Chinese) / Ixchel (Mayan) / Hecate (Greek) / Okuninushi (Japan) / Venus (Roman) / Freyja, who had hare attendants (Norse) / Cerridwen (Celic) / Andraste (Britain) / Holda, who had a whole troop of hares that carried torches for her. (Teutonic.) / Orion, who's hounds chase the constellation Lepus / Windmaker (Sioux) / The Buddha, who as he was dieing called for all of the animal kingdom, one the 12 that showed up was Rabbit, earning Rabbit a place in the Chinese Zodiac.
RABBITS & HARES FROM FOLK & POP CULTURE WHO HAVE FOUND A PLACE IN THE PUBLIC'S MIND:
Brer Rabbit in the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris, which were all based not on African, but Cherokee tales of Rabbit.
Bunnicula carrot sucking vampire bunny (Deborah & James Howe)
Peter Cottontail (Thornton Burgess)
Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, the Flopsy Bunnies, the Fierce Bad Rabbit, and others (Beatrix Potter)
St. Peter Cottontail, the first and true pope (South Park)
Rabbit one of Winnie the Pooh's posse (A. A. Milne)
Uncle Wiggily subject of stories and a venereal old board game (Howard R. Garis)
The Velveteen Rabbit
Hazel-rah, Fiver ,Bigwig,, Blackberry, Dandelion, Pipkin, Silver, Speedwell, Hawkbit, Buckthorn, Acorn and all the rest from Watership Down and El-Ahrairah & the Black Rabbit of Inie (Richard Adams)
The White Rabbit & the March Hare (Lewis Carroll)
One unlucky bunny in Of Mice and Men
Bugs Bunny, American Trickster god
Frank, the 7-foot tall apocalyptic rabbit in Donnie Darko
Harvey (actually a pooka) in Harvey
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney's main hero before Mickey Mouse
The Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Roger Rabbit originally a sinical disillusioned Toon
actor (a separate species from humans) who
committed suicide in 1983 in the novel Who
Framed Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf, (no spoiler
warning needed, this all happens in the first
chapter!), afterward turned into the very type of
stereotypical cartoon rabbit that Roger despised in
a much more famous film set in 1947 that was
totally unlike the novel.
Thumper, in Disney's Bambi
Bunny Rabbit, Mister Moose's pal, from Captain Kangaroo
Crusader Rabbit, the favorite cartoon of Elvis.
The Duracell Bunny Energizer Bunny
Mr. Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
The Trix rabbit
Binky Binkenstein from Life in Hell
Bun Rab in Pogo
Captain Carrot, leader of the "funny-animal" superhero group the Zoo Crew
Cutey Bunny from Army Surplus Komikz
Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, a member of the Marvel Family
Max from Sam & Max, "ground level" black and white comic book.
And many, many others.
DETAILS: Most animals are regarded as sacred or manifestations of the divine to some degree or other in the past among some people.
Its easy to figure out the bear or horse for their ferocity or strength, the dog because of it's loyalty, the cat because of it's mysterious nature, eagles, hawks and other birds for flight, even the lowly spider because of it's ability to spin webs.
Therefor it stands to reason that rabbits and hares would show up somewhere on the sacred radar screen as well.
The question I think is why have these creatures, who are one of the few to serve as pet, pest and food simultaneously, gained such a prominent place in world myth, legend and religion while other animals we are closer to show up less, or have less esteem?
Why have they found a place beside so many gods and goddesses that would more logically be filled by a dog, cat or horse?
Is it their fertility? Their seeming ability to survive in a world where almost everything else seems to want to eat them? Their speed? Their agility? Perhaps it's that they remind us of ourselves.
Small creatures in a larger hostile world with no allies, and the companion of nothing, and yet able to not only survive, but multiply.
It's a thought, and if that is the case it seem that our ancestors might have been on the money, a recent study has shown that rabbits and hares are not as closely related to rodents as was thought, but are in fact closer to primates.
Perhaps it's just those ears.
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