Saturday, March 14, 2015

With a Hatful of Tricks

Spring unfurls her
blossomed cape
dances the grass green again
Nibbling at forest's edge
Vibrant, bright eyed
appears a shape

Over stalk and stone
Beneath life-giving Sun or
Moon, white as bone.
You will hear the answer.
I, with my hat of many tricks,
will teach you to elude even the
crafty Fox!
the briar patch
"Everything has it’s proper span.
Fear neither Death on her silent wings,
nor Time in his hallowed halls,
nor the follies of fellow Man!
I sing of Beginnings,
Riddles and
For I am but a Messenger from
Ancestors and
the Wise
I Am
Humble wizard of the
singing lessons on how
to live in abundance
hone your perceptions
harmonize community
get creative

For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing today? Congrats to Jaguarwombyn and Sharonlee for naming this Teacher!

“All the world will be your enemy, Prince With a Thousand Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first, they must catch you – digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.” Lord Frith from Watership Down

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. Charles Dickens

“The other day when I was walking through the woods, I saw a rabbit standing in front of a candle making shadows of people on a tree.” Stephen Wright

Humble Rabbit didn’t just hop out of the magicians hat yesterday. She’s been associated with magic and magical deities for centuries! Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of the moon, midwifery and weaving, is shown in Mexican panels of 600-900 AD giving birth to and suckling a rabbit, and another shows the rabbit representing phases of the moon. The Egyptians called the hare Un, which means open, to open, and the opener. A Scottish superstition suggested that eating rabbit was equivalent to eating one’s grandmother.

The Sanskrit word, cacadharas also means both moon, and “that which carries the hare.” The Algonquin trickster rabbit is thought to embody all life-giving energy. Hectate, Hera, Freya, Ostara goddess of Spring, Indra god of the storm from Buddhist legend, Tacciztécatl who became the Moon in Aztec lore, Thoth, Osiris, Isis, Diana/Artemis, Unut (or Wenet), Aphrodite the goddess of Love, Holda who leads the Wild Hunt in Teutonic myth, Cerridwen and Gwion, Lugh Lamfada and Brigid (Bride), and Jesus, the Son of God, have all been associated with this clever Teacher who has rolled through the years to transform himself into the Easter Bunny so many children know and love today.

Renewal and rebirth, paradox; innocence and wisdom, life and death, pride and humility. These are all Rabbit lessons from this bright-eyed Trickster. A Rabbit person may be an example of any of these qualities, or a blending. Most likely, they are trying to find their balance like anyone else. Brer Rabbit and Bugs Bunny of Looney Tune fame shows us Rabbit’s playful sense of adversity, resourcefulness, cleverness and wit quite well. Perhaps not as mad as the March Hare or White Rabbit of Wonderland infamy, they never the less run full tilt at Life, zig, zag, and bluff their way through outrageous situations. Dancing on the rim of the coin of Fate, lucky Rabbit is a wonderful friend to have! Perhaps more than any other cultural reference, it is the rabbits from Richard Adams’ Watership Down that have taught me the most about this wonderful Creature Teacher. Anyone who has not read this work and is drawn by Rabbit should do so immediately!

There are fine differences between Rabbit and Hare, but for the most part these Teachers carry similar lessons. While I will discuss Rabbit here, both should be studied if you are drawn by this Creature Teacher. Snowshoe Hare, for example, is particularly adept at dealing with deep drifts and icy conditions. Likewise, such people would most likely be quite adept at evoking or traversing profound philosophies, emotional situations, and socially “slippery” conditions. Likewise all those animals that feed upon Rabbit…Fox, Owl, Hawk, Lynx, etc. should be examined to better understand all aspects and how they touch our lives.

“In the faint starlight they both saw a rabbit as real as themselves: a rabbit in the last stages of exhaustion, its back legs trailing behind its flattened rump as though paralyzed: a rabbit that stared, wide-eyed, from one side to the other, seeing nothing, yet finding no respite from its fear and then fell to licking wretchedly at one ripped and bloody ear that drooped across its face: a rabbit that suddenly cried and wailed as though entreating the Thousand to come from every quarter to rid it of a misery too terrible to be borne.” ~ Richard Adams Watership Down

“Now, as you all know, the Black Rabbit of Inle is fear and everlasting darkness. He is a rabbit, but he is that cold bad dream from which we can only entreat Lord Frith to save us today and tomorrow….Some say that the Black Rabbit hates us and wants our destruction. But the truth is- or so they taught me- that he, too, serves Lord Frith and does no more than his appointed task- to bring about what must be.” ~ Dandelion from Watership Down

“I’ve come to ask if you’d like to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you, and I know you’d like it. You’ve been feeling tired, haven’t you? If you’re ready, we might go along now.” Elahrairah “the Prince with a Thousand Enemies” from Watership Down

Fear of Death is probably the most universal fear held by most living beings, and Rabbit is as closely linked with Death as he is with Life. Rabbit speaks most often about Fear itself though; how to recognize it, meet it and pass through it. Each of the rabbits in Watership Down, like people, deal with fear in their own way. Bigwig gets too aggressive and assertive. Smaller more timid rabbits like Pipkin can go “tharn” a word from the book used to describe the state of becoming frozen and unresponsive out of fear or extreme depression. True leaders, like Hazelrah, and visionaries like Fiver see or sense the cause of the fear, look and work for creative solutions, and most often pass right through to come out the other side wiser, if perhaps a bit sadder and more removed from those who don’t see and understand so clearly.

More, they inspire others around them to move through the same fearful situation in the best possible way. Everyone reacts to fear triggers differently, but Rabbit people in particular should make every effort to be aware of how they respond to Fear. No one should ever let simple emotion rule how you live or how you react. The most well balanced Rabbit people can have an amazing effect on the people around them by calming others simply by their presence during fear-inducing situations, and these are usually the people who are directing others during these tense moments. Rabbit people should keep in mind that they can so easily transmit their own emotional state during such times in order to avoid spreading nervousness, panic, and fear.

“Maybe that’s what Hell is. You go mad and all your demons come and get you as fast as you think them up.” Anne Rice

“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears—of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words “Some Assembly Required.” Dave Barry

“What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope.” Publilius Syrus

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Herbert, Dune …the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

“Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.” ~ R. D. Laing

“A person needs a little madness, or else they will never dare cut the rope and be free.” Nikos Kazantzakis

“Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.” Unknown

Rabbit people, like Pooh Bear’s good friend, are often worriers, full of nervous energy and a need to feel in control of things. Rabbit people should be wary of giving in to the impulse to daydream about bad situations though. Even in idle moments of contemplation, concentrating too much of your energy and time on worrying about potential illnesses, tragedies, or other disasters is all too likely to draw these things into your life! For a simple example, my husband was walking home from his second job recently. As he walked through this predominantly white suburban area he began to ponder how he would see things if he were African American. He wondered what he would do in that situation or how he would feel if someone were to drive by and call him a Nigger. Don’t you know, not three minutes later a car drove by and that very same slur was shouted at him, a Caucasian male over 6’ tall!

Now, while this illustrates the point I am trying to make quite nicely, it is by no means a dire example. It is certainly food for thought though, as it is easy to see how this sort of thing could get you into serious trouble. I’m sure most of us though would rather not learn Rabbit’s valuable lessons in this way! My husband assure me that he finally understands what I meant whenever I talked about this and that he has learned that he is simply “one of those people” who shouldn’t contemplate negative situations. If you daydream, a perfectly healthy occupation, try to keep it positive. If Rabbit has made a sudden appearance into your life he may be telling you that you need to stop worrying, get rid of your fears, your negative feelings and barriers, to be more humble, or to re-evaluate where you are and where you want to be.

Good humor and compassion seem to have a strong links to this Teacher as well. Often times, being able to laugh in the face of our greatest fears is really the only way we can get through them. Simply being of good cheer and keeping optimistic during difficult times can be just as crucial as, say, not letting a fear of death rule how you live your life. “Don’t take life too seriously.” Bugs Bunny reminds us, “You’ll never get out alive.” Which is a key Rabbit lesson. Of course, there is a rather fine line between optimism and foolish bravado.

“Mad as a March hare” is a fairly common descriptive phrase, and Rabbits have often been portrayed as teetering between humorous genius and insanity. Roger Rabbit was clownishly manic. The White Rabbit struggled to maintain timeliness, order, and sensibility in the topsy-turvy Wonderland. Boingo, the Hoodwinked villain, was definitely a mad bunny genius, and Bugs Bunny was definitely a loonatic. Perhaps it is the long association between Rabbit/Hare and the Moon that gives them this mad appearance? Sometimes we need to cut loose, “get a little crazy”, to let off steam and stay sane. Other times we need to drop, sometimes howling dramatically, over the edge of reason to best understand our personal limits.

The world record for the highest rabbit high jump is 1 meter and the long jump is 3 meters (nine feet!), so Rabbit, like the Grasshopper, can help us to safely clear the barriers we meet in life. Rabbit reminds us also that it takes Faith to leap over your obstacles. Hare or Rabbit is quite literally the Man in the Moon who can help us to Wisdom or drive us to Insanity.

My own most recent Rabbit lesson has been about discovering just how far I can take stress. I am still recovering from learning where that emotional line is drawn within myself, still learning how best to set and live within my limits. With time, diligence and patience I’m sure I’ll get my feet more firmly under me once more. However you slice it, there is a rather fine line between being optimistic and being dangerously foolish though. Rabbit and Hare are both known for their speed and agility. Lucky Rabbit people can use these traits to avoid the worst scenarios while learning the difference between the two. Laughter is one of the most healing of all medicines, to my mind, and it is always good advice to find time for a few laughs however you enjoy them most.

From Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit [After Quartermaine’s hairpiece has been sucked up in the bunvac.]

Lord Victor Quartermaine: “I want…toupee.”

Wallace:" Oh, yes, of course. We take cheques or cash."

Lord Quartermaine: “No, you idiot! My hair is in there!”

Wallace: “Oh, no, only rabbits in there. I think you’ll find the hare is a much larger creature.”

Eddie: “You mean you could’ve taken your hands out of those handcuffs the entire time???!!!!”

Roger: “No, Eddie, I couldn’t…I could only do it when it was funny!”

Roger Rabbit and Eddie Valiant from Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Rabbits, like most Tricksters and other Sacred Clowns, often bring their lessons with humor. Most often they seem to point out that while the harshness and challenges in Life can seem overwhelming and ominous, to truly understand, be content, and overcome things like Death and Sacrifice, we need to be willing and ready to Laugh. Carrying a good sense of humor in your pocket can be handier than a Swiss Army knife! Renewal and Rebirth are forms of Healing, and are next to impossible without some sort of sacrifice. Whether it is a literal Death, like that which Christ needed to experience before he could experience Resurrection, or the smaller and more common Death of a given behavior, habit or situation makes very little difference. Sacrifice, Renewal, and Rebirth are inextricably entwined. Foolish Peter Rabbit had to sacrifice his pride, buttons, jacket and shoes in order to escape from his thieving expedition in Mr. Mac Gregor’s garden and learn vital lessons.

In a tale of Indra, Rabbit willingly hops into the pot to feed this hungry Deity. In gratitude Indra placed him in the Moon as an example of generosity, the Hare in the Moon of Eastern traditions that became the Man in the Moon for most Westerners. In Native American tradition, and likely other early hunter/gather groups, Rabbit was most often the first meat proudly brought home by a young boy for his family. Indeed, Rabbit has provided many a meal for Man, Fox, or other Creature of the World! Rabbit reminds us that we must be willing to give up all that we have to achieve our goals, and that most often we must make a sacrifice, not for our own gain, but for the good of the World. After all, when you give to others, you are really giving to yourself as well.

Rabbit’s generosity is, literally, legendary! Balanced Rabbit people tend towards the same selfless behavior, and often love to feed others. Unbalanced people will quite likely exhibit the kind of behavior illustrated by Watership Downs’ General Woundwort or one of his followers; turning fear, worry, insecurity, and doubt into aggression, violence or dictatorial habits, selfishness, timidity, and in certain cases sadistic or masochistic behaviors are all common unbalanced Rabbit traits.

Controlling behaviors, or Phobias, especially fear of crowds or open spaces, are not uncommon in Rabbit people. In the Chinese zodiac, Rabbits tend to be scholarly, diplomatic, attractive, gentle, graceful, cultured, peaceful, highly intuitive, well-mannered homebodies who can develop physical illnesses from emotional upsets. Typically, Rabbit’s need supportive people in their lives, loved ones who reassure them of their wonderful qualities, and can help to balance them out when they become love-struck, pessimistic, or otherwise carried away by their sensitivities.

“What Robin Hood is to the English and John Henry to the American Negroes, Elil-Hrair-Rah, or El-ahrairah- The Prince with a Thousand Enemies- is to rabbits. Uncle Remus might well have heard of him for some of El-ahrairah’s adventues are those of Brer’ Rabbit. For that matter, Odysseus himself might have borrowed a trick or two from the rabbit hero for he is very old and was never at a loss for a trick to deceive his enemies.” Watership Down

While often depicted as male, this clever and witty Trickster, like the Moon also so often linked to feminine mysteries and powers, is actually a very sensitive feminine energy. Nurturing, gentleness, humility, and a balanced Mother energy are all linked to Rabbit and Hare. It is a little known fact that rabbit does will not produce young in food shortages or overcrowding, stressful situations, but will naturally reabsorb the embryos. Rabbits are perhaps most renowned for their fertility, being capable of producing litters of 4 – 8 "kittens"every 30 days from November to June. The largest recorded litter was a whopping 24 kits! These fascinating facts suggests that Mother Rabbit is actually more concerned that her children have all that they need to beome healthy adults and enter the World in a good environment, than She is with simply procreating. This is an important distinction for Rabbit people.

Too often, people seem to have children for shallow, irresponsible, or downright selfish reasons. Not everyone is meant to bear and raise children, and being wise enough to know that you do not have the qualities necessary to be a good parent is no shameful thing! Children are sacred, but they require a lot of energy from those who raise them. Whatever your situation, it is equally wise to remember that while one may choose to never have children of the body, children of the spirit find ways to connect to our lives. Being willing to share of yourself through Big Brother/Big Sister programs or volunteering with a Youth organization like Girl/Boy Scouts is perhaps more important than having children of our own, and in some of the most important ways, requires less of us.

Wise Rabbit has many entrances and exits from their burrow in preparation for all eventualities. The Mothers, who are the ones who dig the burrows, also line the nest with their own soft chest fur and remove the dirt from the entrances as the digging goes on to keep the doors as inconspicuous as possible. Rabbits have many predators, which has required them to develop quite a bag of tricks to keep themselves going. Through these habits, Rabbit and Hare remind us that Children and Home are sacred and should be maintained in a clean, safe and nurturing way.

“I can feel the danger like a wire round my neck.” ~Fiver from Watership Down

“I know this defies the law of gravity, but I never studied law!” – Bugs Bunny

Rabbits are most active at dusk and dawn, which links them to Fairie energy, much like the Fox who so often feeds upon them. So, there is yet another link to this Teacher and secrets of a magical nature. Rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents which is a common misconception. They are most closely related to hares and pikas. They can see behind them without turning their heads because of how their eyes are placed on their heads, and along with their excellent senses of hearing and smell, this greatly aides them in detecting predators before it’s too late. Rabbits and Hares are so sensitive that they can hear a hawk in flight, and these fine senses indicate that those drawn to this Teacher are likely to be equally sensitive. Rabbit people should pay particular attention to their hunches, dreams, intuitions, and feelings. As mentioned before, it is common for Rabbit people to misunderstand their own sensitivity and develop phobias, obsessive/compulsive or other nervous or potentially destructive habits. Better to be aware and develop these senses, than be unknowing ruled by them.

Rabbits eat small amounts many times throughout the day and feed primarily on grass, leaves, bark, shrub tips, and a wide variety of vegetables or fruits. This reminds us of the importance of these foods in our own diet, but Rabbit people especially may need to turn to an all Vegetarian diet, if only for a period of time, to promote or repair their own health. Looking at the benefits and medicines of these foods can also tell you alot about balancing energies for Rabbit. They have a life expectancy of about 10 years, but have lived up to 19 years as pets. 

The largest recorded rabbit weighed in a whopping 115 lbs! There is also a purely domesticated breed known as German Giant which stands about 17" high, weighs in around 22 lbs, and is currently being raised in certain countries to alleviate hunger issues. Domesticated and wild, there are about 150 different rabbit coat colors but only about five different eye colors, and as always, color associations should be examined by those drawn to this Teacher. Brown is earthy and well grounded, white indicates blessings, etc.

Rabbits have provided us with food, warmth, and wise examples for countless years. At one time, it was common practice to release rabbits on deserted islands to provide a food source for potential shipwreck survivors! Rabbit reminds us that what may appear to be madness at first glance may actually be the intricate workings of the Universe, and one should never muck about with those lightly nor take them too seriously! 

Riddle loving Rabbit encourages us to pay attention to and develop our own sensitive natures to cultivate true Wisdom. Highly intuitive, generously endowed with psychic or magical abilities, potent with the power of procreation, swift, lucky and agile it is no wonder that clever Rabbit has so much to teach us. This gentle Singer teaches us a great deal about recognizing, facing and moving past our fears, making an excellent, if unexpected, Shadow Teacher. How does Rabbit appear in your life?

“Never trust a rabbit. They may look like a child’s toy, but they eat your crops.” Hungarian proverb

“Without an understanding of myth or religion, without an understanding of the relationship between destruction and creation, death and rebirth, the individual suffers the mysteries of life as meaningless mayhem alone.” Marion Woodman

“The fish trap exists because of fish. Once you’ve gotten fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?” Chuang Tzu

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Eden Phillpotts

Key Concepts: Natural Magic, Shape-shifting, Transcending Fear/Worry/Nervousness, Fortune, Fate, Dreams/Visions/Visioning and Dreamtime, Spontaneity, Fertility, New Growth, Intuition, Lunar and Solar energies, Cleverness/Madness, Innovation, Agility, Overcoming Obstacles, Abundance, Life/Death/Rebirth cycle, Interconnectedness/Wheel of Life, Feminine energy/power, Sacrifice, Shamanic journeys/lessons, Duality, Innocence, Gentleness, Paradox/Riddle and Puzzle solving, Travel/Transition, Between Places/Crossroads, Shadow self/work, Past lives, Humor, Heyoka energy

Associated with: Sun, Moon, Earth, Stones like Fluorite, South, Faeries, Merlin, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, B’rer Rabbit, Kalulu, Hecate, Selene, Lugh Lamfada, Bridhid, Diana, Ometochli, Macuiltochli, Ix Chel, Unut, Wenet, Frey/Frigga, Isis, Eostre.Ostara, Boudicca, Centzon Totochtin, Gluskap, Soma/Chandra, Chang-o, Ishtar, Dagda, Bel, Bellenos, Veles, Hittavainen, Kaltes, Cerridwen, Gwion, Rhiannon, Hera, Thoth, Hulda/Holda, Aphrodite/Venus, Ceres/Demeter, Tacciztécatl, Inanna, Jesus Christ

Potential Balancing energies: Fox ,Wolf , Dog , Coyote , Cats from domestic to Cougar or even Lion , Bat , Owl , Hawk , Eagle , Earthworm , Lepidoptera in all their stages (Monarch ), Trees like Oak , Willow ,Apple , Pine , Cacao , Rowan/Mt Ash , Cottonwood , Cherry, Sequoia, Frog/Toad , Snake , Cricket/Grasshopper, Dragonfly , Bees , Flies , Spiders , Ants and other insects, Plants like Greater or Lesser Plantain, Raspberry/Blackberry , Roses , Dandelion , Violet, Comfrey, Sunflower or Asclepias , Birds like Crow/Raven , Sparrow , Robin , Chickadee , or Blue Jay , Bear , Turtle , Deer , Bison/Buffalo , Horse , Cow/Cattle, Fungi

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