Superstition Wednesday White Rabbits
Growing in a family with a variety of beliefs was always interesting. For example, when Easter rolled around, my Christian family celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is one of the two most important holidays in my life. When I asked my Christian family why they didn't talk about the celebration of Eostre, they would roll their eyes and tell me I shouldn't listen to the stories of the mountain people. According to some members of my family, my mountain family was all crazy.
They didn't realize that my mountain family had found a way to combine their Christian faith with their old-world teaching. They didn't sacrifice the past in an attempt to fit in better. That brings us to this Wednesday's Superstition about White rabbits.
I was taught that rabbits are good luck. Rabbits symbolize fertility, not just human fertility but also the fertility of the earth. After a harsh winter seeing a rabbit in your yard meant spring was on her way. That Eostre was on her way, and the harvest was going to be bountiful that year.
On the flip side of that is finding a rabbit in your garden during the summer would be bad luck. Rabbits can eat their weight in plants, and typically they only eat parts of the vegetables, the best sections, leaving the rest to rot in the ground. Rabbits are tricky creatures.
As I was researching about the white rabbit superstition, I learned new good omens and some not so good omens that these cute little furry creatures bring with them. Being raised primarily in Southern Arizona, I grew up with Kokopelli.
Kokopelli is a fertility god of the indigenous people of the southwest. He is pictured as a hunchback man playing the flute. Like most fertility deities, Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture. He is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music. When I looked at modern-day representations of Kokopelli, I thought he was hunched over because he was a rabbit-like creature.
I was fascinated to learn that in the United States and the U.K., it's been a long-standing tradition that the first person in a household to wake up and say "White Rabbit, or Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit" On the first day of the new month will enjoy good luck for the rest of the month. I have never heard of this being a tradition in the U.S., so I continued down the rabbit hole.
The answer to why they use rabbit was a tricky answer to find. Most cultures see rabbits and their wild cousins' hares as good luck, yet other cultures see them as Evil's bringers. In both Asian and indigenous North Americans, the rabbit is a good creature.
These cultures saw the rabbit as a lunar creature, A supernatural creature that lived on the moon. What we know as "the man in the moon" was first the image of a rabbit. They used the rabbit to symbolize moon cycles and phases, linking rabbits to fertility and rebirth. To this day, Chinese calendars use the rabbit as a zodiac sign and to represent longevity.
Rabbits and hares also represent love and sex. With does' being fertile the majority of the month and their rapid thirty-day gestation, it no wonders they were chosen to be the representative sex. Along with their large litter sizes and their constant ability to reproduce, some early Christians warned about hare meat consumption. Church leaders would warn that eating hare would increase your libido, causing some men to become frantic with lust. This uncontrollable desire would lead one to become a corruptor of young boys.
During medieval times, rabbits were used to communicate lust. Imagine walking into a new town and finding a door covered in rabbits. It's an easy way to say what is inside without the use of words. Next time you get a chance to look at a rabbit or hare head-on, their ears can from time to time represent a woman's legs.
Of course, some always want to rain on the best parades. During the 19th century, clergymen taught that witches could shapeshift into the forms of rabbits. This, to me, sounds more like the teachings of a person who a lovely young woman turned down with a reputation of owning her sexual needs and freedoms. Others thought that rabbits were "familiars" to the witches.
Familiars are small animals thought to be gifted to witches by the devil. These familiars were seen as companions to the witches. Some witches even used them to carry out malicious errands.
On the other hand, white rabbits were the luckiest of all. Because of their pure white coats, they were seen as pure and blessed. They often appeared in paintings with the Madonna and child.
No one truly knows how the rabbit or hare went from unlucky, terrifying causes of young men deflowering and a gift from the devil.
It is evident in my own opinion that up until Christianity began spreading throughout the world, the people of earth cherished the rabbit. Then, to control the people of lesser understanding, rabbits and hares were painted as the villain. Fortunately, today Rabbits and hares are loved and cherished by people all over the world. There are fancy rabbits with pedigrees and wild rabbits that are delicious in a stew.
One of the most exciting pieces of knowledge I learned from my research into the love-hate relationship of rabbits is you can starve to death if the rabbit is the only food in your diet. Their protein is so lean that your body uses more energy digesting it than you get from actually eating it. When you are cooking it, because of the lack of fat, if you don't cook it with other foods, rabbit meat will be dry and chewy. That's one way of getting back at the people who spread lies about you.