Rabbit mother, give me life. Spring is coming, and the earth is awakening. It’s spring and the sap is rising in the plants and the animals and humans around here, building toward climax. Rabbit mother, I thought I knew you from your soft fur and your long ears, the familiarity of your image on cards about spring and the easter bunny and all that. But I find that I don’t know you at all, and I am longing for you.
My journey to Rabbit Mother
About a year ago, in February, I was doing some shamanic journeying for my spiritual practice, and I encountered a brown rabbit. She had a magnetic and quieting presence. I pet her fur and sat with her, feeling a growing excitement and happiness in my heart. Without much warning, her form changed, and in front of me was a fierce and powerful woman/goddess. She had two long braids down her back and stood erect. I could feel strength and vitality radiating from her. I looked around and saw a multitude of rabbits coming to be near her. The scene reminded me of time I went to see the wonderful Indian spiritual leader, Amma. The room was full of surprisingly quiet reverence and there was a pulse of awe and excitement from her devotees and admirers. So too, with the Rabbit Mother, gathering her rabbit tribe around her.
To be honest, I didn’t give her much thought throughout the following months. But then, this year, right around Candlemas/Imbolc, the holiday that marks the turning of the seeds below the ground, I saw her again in my journey practice. This time, I knew I needed to follow the thread and get to know her better.
Goddesses of Spring Awakening
When I started doing research on “rabbit goddesses” I found some exciting archetypes with themes that echo across time and geography. The narrative threads explore fertility, fecundity, new beginnings, spring and the rising sun. Here’s a bit of what I found:
Wenet - Hare Goddess of Ancient Egypt
Wenet, or Unut, “the Swift One”, is depicted with the body of a woman and the head of a hare. Evidence of her worship is dated to the Early Dynastic period of Egypt, 3100 BC until about 2686 BC. The central place of her worship was the ancient city of Khmun (later Hermopolis), located in the province of Wenet, which was named after her. She has a male counterpart, Thoth, who is depicted with the head of Baboon.
Wenet is associated with life-giving water, with death and rebirth. She is a guardian of the underworld with the title “Lady of the Hour.” The primordial mound of creation first appeared in the Lake of Wenet. The Mound of Wenet is a sacred source of creative energy. The ability of a hare to evade destruction graces those who are blessed by her. She is the goddess of the dawn, and greets the rising sun shining with brilliant renewal each day. To read more, go here.
Ixchel - Mayan Goddess of the Moon
Ixchel (pronounced ee-shell) is the Mayan goddess of water, the moon, fertility, medicine and childbirth. Her name dates to the 16th century, though it is certain that she was honored for centuries prior. Her temple on Isla Mujeres was a sacred pilgrimage site, and Mayan women sought to travel there at least once in their lifetimes to pay homage to the great goddess in all her forms.
Image by Thalia Took
Ixchel is depicted as triple goddess, and has representation as maiden, mother and crone. In her form as the maiden goddess of the waxing crescent moon, Ix Chel holds a rabbit totem. Together, they represent sexuality, happiness, fertility and new growth. Ixchel is an amazing archetype - her stories are fierce and exciting. We will definitely have to revisit her for more. In the meantime, this blog gives a little taste.
Eostre - Germanic Goddess of Springtime
Eostre is an early Germanic fertility goddess. Her name is the root of the word “Easter,” though until recently there was some scholarly debate about whether or not she really existed (...I mean, not whether she was a literal embodied being, but whether or not she was honored as a goddess by a significant number of pre-Christian germanic-language-speaking people). Her name was recorded by the British historian, Bede (673-745 CE) in his documentation of the names of the months of the year:
“Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated "Paschal month", and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” - Bede
Other than this reference, there was little evidence of Eostre archaeologically or linguistically to support the claims of her existence. And you can bet that a whole lot of people did not want to associate the Christian holiday of Easter with a pre-existing goddess of spring renewal. However, in recent decades, new evidence was uncovered linking Eostre to place names from Germany to Great Britain, as well as votives with inscriptions that indicate her worship was widespread. This is exciting news for modern pagan/witchy/earth based people, and we can confidently continue to claim that Eostre/Ostara is the earth based parallel for the Christian Easter, which was grafted onto a pre-existing celebration that honored the return of the spring. But beyond the metaphor of Christ rising/ spring returning, we also have the evidence of European traditions far and wide that incorporated rabbits, eggs and flowers, all symbols of Eostre and spring renewal.
Loving Rabbit Mother
When I first started learning about Goddesses as a teenager, I wanted to adopt each one as a part of my growing enthusiasm for the many faces of the divine female. Each story wakes up a part of my longing for a culture and way of life that holds these archetypes in a sacred, central place. Now, when I do research of this nature, I let the learning wash over me, reminding me in a cellular way that reverence for The Great Mother has deep roots on this planet, and is rising again in our time.
After all the researching, I went to “visit” Rabbit Mother again in my journey. There she was in human form, peaceful and powerful, standing in the center of large gathering of rabbits. She gave a call to action, a reminder to “remember who you are, and the inspiration you are to all of creation.” Very few other creatures have such widespread association with some of our best and favorite parts of life on earth - enthusiastic sexuality, renewal, perseverance, sweetness, peace and hope.
Lessons Learned from Rabbit Mother
This time of year, right around the spring equinox, the rabbits of the world remind all of us of this message and call to action: Remember who you are! Feel the earth herself offering these gifts of spring awakening. Welcome the inspiration of Rabbit Mother in your own life. Get sexy! Express hope! Feel sweetness and renewal. Persevere despite the odds. Remember the way of Peace.