In every part of the world, there are long-spoken tales of hares; from Europe to Africa and to the Americas, and even in the far East. In Britain, witches were believed to transform into hares.
Hare mythology is evident in ancient pottery, coins, seals, hieroglyphics and in oral history. In Africa, the hare was considered to be part of the Moon. Seen on a clear night, the full moon might, with a bit of imagination, contain the outline of a hare.
“The moon is a powerful symbol of birth, growth, reproduction, death and rebirth.”
The hare has also been associated with the sun, fertility, the dawn, cunning and bravery. What was it about the hare which led to this mythology?
Hares are notable creatures who have always lived in close proximity to people. Most well-known of their traits are their courtship dances, and their habit of moongazing. The boxing hares that were always thought of as male have recently been discovered as being sexually active females.
“Boxing hares have recently been discovered to be sexually active females – not males.”
Fables have been told across the continent of the cleverness, deceit and triumph of the hare, some of these being turned into the Bre’r Rabbit tales related by Uncle Remus.
In times past, the moon was perhaps the most powerful symbol of birth, growth, reproduction, death and rebirth and the hare was then endowed with similar earth-bound powers. The hare took on a magical persona and become associated with the Goddess. The Norse goddess Freyja had hare attendants, and in Britain the hare was sacred to the moon goddess Andraste and the Celtic goddess of witchcraft and wisdom, Cerridwen.
The Celts believed that the goddess Eostre’s favourite animal and attendant spirit was the hare. It represented love, fertility and growth and was associated with the moon and the dawn. Eostre changed into a hare at the full Moon.