The Stag's Head

My Blog on Art, History and Crafts

Fertility in the form of Hares and Rabbits

Fertility in the form of Rabbits and Hares by Imogen Smid

One of the stand-out symbols of Fertility is the Hare and/or Rabbit.  Of course you’ve heard of the expression to breed like rabbits, so it is of little wonder that the creature has become such an important fertility symbol.

Have you ever wondered why it’s a bunny that brings eggs at Easter and not a Chicken?  Well, it is simply because the rabbit is just as much a symbol of fertility as the egg.  In Celtic traditions, the rabbit is an animal associated with the goddess Eostre.  Eostre represents the fertility of spring, love and carnal pleasures.  Although she is not worshipped as much as she was, the Easter Bunny is still a widely spread symbol which returns every year to bring fertility to the people with his eggy gifts, keeping Eostre alive in a new form.

Another Hare-fertility based symbol is that of the Moon Gazing Hare.  In ancient times it was the belief that if you witnessed a moon-gazing hare, it would bring good luck, rebirth and abundance.  The Moon-Gazing Hare in itself is a symbol of fertility of Spring and shows us that the Sun is going to be returning once more.

This lunar connection also links back to Eostre and the time of Easter.  In some countries (mainly the UK and other Commonwealth countries), an Easter tradition is the eating of Hot Crossed Buns, a currant bun with a white cross on it.  Although now many people may believe that the cross is a reference to Christ and the Crucifixion, but it is in fact much older than this.  It’s not so much the cross we should be looking at but the quartered pieces that the cross creates: this represents the four quarters of the moon: the new moon, the waxing moon, the full moon and the waning moon.  These different phases (quarters) of the moon work almost like a zodiac and each have different influences on your behaviour.   Hot Crossed Buns were originally meant as offerings to the gods and were hung outside the house to ward off evil.

One last important Rabbit fertility connection is to be found in the culture of the Aztecs.  The Aztec god of fertility was named Ometotchtli, meaning two Rabbits.  I think we can presume that those two rabbits got quite busy because this god led 400 other Rabbit Gods known as the Centzontotochtin.  These divine rabbits liked to frequent parties and are the gods of drunkenness and I’m sure we can guess what they did when they’d had a few.

So all-round, we can see that the actual fertility of the rabbit has been recognised in numerous cultures and therefore has become an important fertility symbol and is still a symbol very much alive today.

 

© Copyright 2014 Imogen Smid, All Rights Reserved

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