Rabbit: Power Animal of Fertility, Abundance, and Creativity
Rabbits, rabbits everywhere – that’s what it seems like in spring, anyway, when litters of young bunnies grow large enough to hop out of their nests and go bouncing like popcorn out of the hedges. Rabbits are legendary for their reproductive abilities. A Miami University staff member once estimated that at average rates of reproduction and without disease or predation, a single mother rabbit and her female babies could theoretically produce over 187 billion offspring in just seven years. This, of course, makes Rabbit an awesome ally when we are working towards improving Abundance in our lives. Bunnies also represent creative abundance and have much to offer as a power animal for creativity.
Rabbits have good reason to multiply, since in the real world nearly everything eats them. In Richard Adams’ epic tale about rabbits, Watership Down, the rabbits’ mythical hero El-Ahrairah was called “The Prince with a Thousand Enemies” for this very reason. This brings us to three more of Rabbit’s spiritual associations: Sensitivity, Fear, and the Trickster.
The Sensitive Rabbit
Because Rabbits must always be on the lookout for danger, they are highly sensitive. Their big ears are always swiveling around, picking up the slightest sounds. Their eyes, too, are large, and placed on the sides of their heads so they can see virtually all the way around without even turning their heads. And their little noses? Continually twitching to catch scents on the wind. Rabbits tolerate cold well, but are highly sensitive to heat, noise and commotion.
Rabbit people, too, tend to be highly sensitive. If you have Rabbit spirit animal energy, you may be especially perceptive, intuitive, and/or empathic. You may also be highly artistic or musical. If this is so, you will be most productive and creative in peaceful, quiet surroundings – or at least you should have access to a quiet place to retreat to when you do your work, just as the mother Rabbit digs herself a burrow to bear her young.
Sometimes being a sensitive person can get a bit overwhelming, leading to anxiety. It can also sometimes show up as physical or environmental sensitivity, or even allergies. If this happens to you, consider that your sensitive nature is actually a blessing. Like Rabbit, you have built-in warning systems that let you know when you’ve entered a situation that may not be in your best interests. When Rabbit feels endangered, she takes refuge in her burrow. Sensitive people often find solace in Mother Earth. Spending time in nature or doing activities like gardening or working with clay may bring you a sense of peace and help you feel more grounded.
Overcoming Fear: Rabbit as Trickster and Warrior
The shadow side of Rabbit energy is to be always living in fear, using avoidance as a protective mechanism by running scared or hiding oneself away. Yes, there are times when fear is justified, and running away from the situation or laying low can save our skins. But if you notice that this type of behavior has become a pattern in your life that is keeping you from your goals or from growing in a positive direction, it’s time to turn that energy around. One way is to call upon Rabbit’s Trickster side.
Wild rabbits, when chased, will run in a confusing, zig-zag pattern. They are also very good at losing their pursuers in the “briar patch.” No wonder so many stories from many parts of the world (including the Brer Rabbit stories of the American South, and even Bugs Bunny), feature Rabbit as Trickster. In these stories, Rabbit uses his wit rather than brute strength to win out against much more powerful antagonists. Note, though, that Rabbit’s wit usually has more to do with psychology than with mental calculations. So Rabbit people do well to use their intuitive understanding of people in their defensive strategies. (In other words, fight smart, not hard.) With Rabbits, strength is in numbers, and territory is important, so use your alliances and your knowledge of the territory to your advantage.
Note, too, that Rabbits can also be fierce fighters. They will kick out with their powerful hind feet, and may bite when cornered. So don’t underestimate a Rabbit person – they will tolerate a lot of crap, but once they’re pushed to their limit, watch out! Rabbit people can call upon this little known Warrior aspect of Rabbit if need be.
Also, see if one of Rabbit’s predators calls to you. Rabbit’s biggest predators include all the Canids (dogs, coyotes, foxes, wolves), the Cat family (including bobcats, lynxes and cougars – even domestic cats will prey on young rabbits), and larger birds of prey such as owls, hawks and eagles. Snakes, too, will often go for young rabbits. If you find yourself especially attracted to or scared by any of these animals, they may have good medicine for you to help you overcome your fears.
Another very important thing to realize about Rabbits is just how strong their survival instincts are. My daughter once had a pet rabbit named Cuddles. Rather than keep her in a cage, we let Cuddles have the run of our enclosed front porch. One day, the mailman left the door ajar and Cuddles got out. She was on her own for months before we were able to catch her. I was amazed at her ability to fend for herself even through the harsh Wisconsin winter. Rabbit teaches us to trust our instincts and our intuition to guide us. This is another area where sensitive Rabbit people shine – they tend to be very intuitive and often connect readily with the spirit world.
The Practical Side of Rabbit Spirit
Finally, Rabbits have a very specialized digestive system. They eat primarily grasses and other high-fiber foods, including bark in the winter. This material actually gets sorted within the Rabbit’s digestive system.
The food that is more easily digested gets processed and turned into waste in the customary way. (If you have a garden you are probably familiar with Rabbit’s little, round hard droppings, which incidentally are one of the few manures that you can safely turn into the garden soil without composting first.) However, the more fibrous, hard-to-digest material makes a side trip into an organ called the cecum, which corresponds to our appendix but is much larger and better developed. Here, a multitude of friendly digestive organisms goes to work on it, and the material gets passed as a special soft type of dropping that the rabbit then eats and digests in the normal way.
Oh, and by the way, unlike some other grazing animals, Rabbits don’t need to eat continuously. They are active in the morning and evening so eat basically two meals a day, and spend the rest of the day relaxing and digesting.
So, Rabbit is thus a wonderful spirit animal for prioritizing and efficiency. And, if Rabbit is your totem, don’t feel you have to be on the go 100% of the time. You may do better by doing your work in highly productive spurts (and you may find you work best in the mornings and evenings), and spending the rest of your time digesting the experience and enjoying life!
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