Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bat Lore

Guardian of the night, cleaner

Latin Name - various
Folkname - Fledermaus
Planet - Moon
Polarity - Feminine
Deities - Persephone, Camazotz, Fu Hsing

Weather Lore
The indigenous Americans regard the bat as a bringer of rain.

Folklore
In a Chinese folk-tale, the bat did not go to the phoenix's (Feng-huang) birthday party because it claimed to be a quadruped; later on it did not go to the unicorn's(Ky-lin) birthday party, claiming to be a bird. Both the unicorn and the phoenix had to admire it's cunning. Western belief has always linked the bat to vampires - undead spirits which prey on the blood of the living. In the Middle Ages in Europe, people thought bats sucked blood from sleeping children. A vampire bat has four razor sharp canine teeth with which it collects the blood of other animals, usually horses, and shares it with other bats. Bats starve very quickly, so this food sharing saves their lives.
If a bat should fly near you it was thought that someone would betray you, or even worse affect your daily life with either a curse or enchantment. A bat flying around the outside of a house or into a room was thought to indicate that a period of misfortune would befall someone known by the family. Bats on the wing were seen to have different meanings. If many were seen before twilight then fair weather would ensue, and for perhaps obvious reasons, to see one actually hit a building whilst on the wing was a sure sign of rain.
Some beliefs also originate in Africa, Australia and many are universally known. Often thought of as an extremely lucky animal, many would traditionally carry a bat bone to provide protection and encourage prosperity. In fact, although often associated with the darker aspects of what some may call witchcraft, the opportunity to become invisible at will was thought possible by carrying a right eye in the pocket. To kill one would shorten the life of a man according to folklore in Africa and Australia as the life of a bat was seen to parallel that of man, and if you ever found one entangled in your hair, be careful not to hurt the animal but get ready for a change of hairstyle as it was thought to encourage bad luck to head your way if the bat was not released by cutting the hair.

Mythology
The bat is an attribute of Persephone as Queen of the Underworld; it is a symbol of Fu Hsing, the Chinese god of happiness; and among the Quiche tribe of Guatemala the bat is a god, Camazotz (the equivalent of the Mayan deity Zotzilaha Chimalman). In the mythos of the Kulin and Wotjobaluk tribes of S.E. Australia, Balayang the Bat discovers the two ancestors of women, Kunnawara (Black Swan) and Kururuk (Native Companion) in the river and takes them to the creator god Bunjil, who gives them life, and says ' Man is not complete without you, nor will you be complete without him.' The bat is also the totem animal of the men of the Wotjobaluk tribe.

Symbolism

In Africa, the bat is ambivalent, symbolising perspicacity as well as darkness and obscurity. To the alchemists, it represented the androgyne, as being of dual nature (both bird and mouse). In Buddhism, it signifies a darkened understanding. In Chinese symbolism, the bat is yin because it is nocturnal. The word for bat, 'fu', is a homophone of the word for happiness, implying good luck, wealth, longevity and peace. Two bats indicate good wishes and are an emblem of Shou-hsing, god of longevity. Five bats symbolise the Five Blessings (health, wealth, long life, peace, happiness). A white bat symbolises longevity, referring to a story of a 1000-year-old bat hanging head downwards from a bough. A red bat symbolises good fortune (red being the Chinese lucky colour). In Christianity the bat is 'the bird of the Devil', and incarnation of the prince of darkness (Satan is depicted with bat's wings) As a supposed hybrid of a bird and rat, it is a symbol of duplicity and hypocrisy; as haunting ruins and lonely places, it symbolises melancholy. In European folklore the bat represents black magic, witchcraft, cunning, wisdom and revenge.

To the Hebrews, the bat denoted impurity and idolatry. In Japanese symbolism, it is unhappy restlessness, a chaotic state. As bats lived in caves, which were seen as entrances to the next world, they were thought to be immortal and so became symbols of immortality. In parts of Africa, Australia, Bosnia, Tonga, and England, the bat was sacred because it was believed to represent the soul of the dead. Some people even believed that if you touched a bat, your soul would be able to travel at night. Bat symbolizes Rebirth. Shaman initiates undergo a ritual death in which they face their fears and are reborn without their old identities. Bat medicine teaches us to release fear and any pattern which no longer fits in with our pattern of growth.

Bat's Wisdom Includes:

Shamanic death and rebirth
Pollination of new ideas
Transition
Initiation
Viewing past lives
Understanding grief
The use of vibrational sound
Camouflage
Invisibility
Ability to observe unseen