Rabbits in Dreams and the Rabbit as a Dream Symbol
When we think of rabbits we typically think of adorable little bits of fluff ideal for a child's first pet or as timid creatures destined for a prey bird's talons.
As dream symbols, rabbits may indeed represent ideas such as gentleness and timidity, but if you are a person well acquainted with rabbits, you may be familiar with the fact that rabbits are not even remotely as timid as they seem. Rabbits can hiss, bite, growl, stamp their feet, and even scream!
Being prey animals, rabbits depend on their intelligence, intuition and sensing abilities; their lives depend on them. Rabbits can out think and out-maneuver those creatures looking to make a meal of them.
Many of rabbits waking life traits make it into their dream symbolism. For example, in dreams rabbits can symbolize:
- Mental Agility
- Emotional Imbalance
- Destructive tendencies
Ancient cultures recognized the rabbit's hidden traits and they appear in many mythologies--far more than one might surmise. In mythology, the rabbit is a complex symbol with meanings ranging from fear to creativity to vulnerability to resurrection and rebirth.
So what do these waking life associations and ancient mythological symbolic rabbit representations have to do with the dream rabbit's meaning?
Read on and see just how deep the dream rabbit hole goes.
The Rabbit of Seville
Rabbit Dreams - Quick Thinking and Intuition
Outside of its powerful, quick legs and fleet feet, the rabbit's ears are probably thought of as its best defense against predators as those long perky ears allow rabbits the ability to hear trouble long before its arrival.
However, a rabbit's foot is useful for more than running. Pads in its soles allow the rabbit to sense dangerous vibrations that might be too subtle for its ears to receive.
Rabbits do not wait to analyze the information their bodies perceive. Once danger is sense, the rabbit takes immediate action.
By the same token, if a rabbit ends up missing danger signs and ends up being pursued, it acts solely on intuition.
A rabbit's feet move before thinking--that is, the rabbit is guiding by intuition, not analysis.
A pursued rabbit does not develop strategies or plots or plans, it intuits the best way to move, the best way to dodge, and even the best time to keep completely still.
In dreams, rabbits can symbolize quick thinking, ingenuity, or intuition.
A rabbit dream may indicate that the dreamer herself has an agile mind or is capable of outwitting enemies or those who may wish to see her fail.
Rabbit dreams may also indicate that the dreamer's intuitive abilities are in overdrive and he needs to stop over analyzing the information receiving and simply act on it, trusting that it is guiding him to the exact spot using the exact action he needs to accomplish his goals.
Rabbits Dreams as Symbols of Resurrection
Rabbits, unlike hares, live in underground communities called warrens. Rabbits dig these nests from which their young will eventually emerge and go out into life to make their way in the world.
Resurrection is similar symbolically--one plunges to the underworld of the psyche or encounters the depths of the most depressing events that seem to bury the soul underground.
But while encountering those hidden elements, something causes the soul not only to revive, but to come into its own, to be freed from limits, to reach a point where the death itself is destroyed.
Rabbits in dreams can symbolize resurrection, a new life that is born after the death of an old way of life or mode of living.
Resurrection can also occur after the painful crucifixion of the limiting ego, a crucifixion which, while excruciating, may have opened the dreamer's limited waking life up to possibilities never before imagined.
How did the rabbit become associated with immortality and resurrection?
One way was via folklore involving the "Moon Rabbit"--a rabbit who either lives on the moon or whose image was embedded in the moon due to acts of valiance and self-sacrifice.
The Chinese belief that there is a rabbit who actually lives on the moon wherein it uses the moon's materials to create powders for the immortals which give them their supposed longevity.
Buddhist mythology tells of an old man who appeared to various animals begging for food and each animal took turns attempting to find sustenance in their various ways to feed the starving beggar.
The rabbit, realizing it had nothing but grass to offer, sacrificed itself by throwing its body into the beggar's fire.
The beggar turned out to the be Buddha who honored the rabbit's sacrifice by drawing the image of a rabbit on the moon so his honor would be witness for all time.
Aztec legend has a similar story with Quetzalcoatl being the entity who preserved the rabbit's image on the moon.
While these tales might explain how the rabbit became associated with immortality, they do not exactly explain how the rabbit became associated with resurrection.
The leap is fairly simple: since the image of the rabbit was seen on the moon and since the moon wanes until is appears to disappear, this means that the rabbit itself vanishes for a period of time--three days, time to be exact.
After three days, lunar rabbit, dead to human sight, is resurrected and grows to maturity yet again as the moon waxes to fullness.
Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit
Rabbit Dreams and Paralysis
Waking life rabbits will often remain completely immobile if they become fearful or sense danger.
In rabbit dreams, paralyzed rabbits can indicate that the dreamer is similarly paralyzed but in a symbolic fashion.
It is likely that the frozen rabbit dream is mirroring a situation over which the dreamer feels she has no control and no plan for escape.
The situation might be a needed career change that the dreamer is afraid to make or worse, an abusive relationship the dreamer cannot for which for dream can find no means of escape.
Alternatively, a paralyzed rabbit dream might indicate frozen creativity. The dreamer may be fertile with ideas but feel so overwhelmed that he cannot take the first step toward making his creative dreams a manifest reality.
Rabbit Dreams - Fear and Burrowing
In waking life, rabbits are prey animals and have an instinctual drive to keep themselves safe from predators.
This instinct is still dominant in domesticated rabbits which is why pet rabbits generally do not enjoy being held.
Being held, to a rabbit, triggers a part of the brain that corresponds to being captured after being hunted and means it is soon to be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or supper.
Dream rabbits which are running or hiding can indicate that the dreamer feels that she is running or fleeing from some force or person that symbolically wants to devour her.
Rabbits are also animals which burrow into the earth, living in communal rabbit warrens.
Dream rabbits that are burrowing can indicate that one is attempting to hide from something from which one fears or that one is attempting to hide in the crowd, hoping not to stand out and thereby elude that which one fears.
That which the dreamer might fear could then be his own individuality, his belief that if he loses his timidity, if he shakes off his shyness and stands out in the open, he will be a target for criticism or disdain.
This can also indicate a fear of trusting one's self and one's own intuition.
A positive aspect of a rabbit burrowing in a dream is that the dreamer might be attempting to dig underground into the psyche, to uncover shadow elements hidden there in order to achieve psychic wholeness.
Rabbit With Drum - Royal Academy of the Arts
Rabbits as Fertility Symbols
In the waking world, rabbits are known for being prolific breeders.
Rabbits have no heat cycle and can become pregnant immediately after giving birth. To say that "breeding like rabbits" means a prolific ability to reproduce is an understatement.
But the waking life rabbit's remarkable reproduction ability is not only what makes it such an apt fertility symbol.
Dream rabbits can, therefore symbolize the dreamers own fertility, fertility which may be prominently prolific.
Dream fertility does not simply mean the ability to literally conceive a child. It is, rather, symbolic fertility and may refer to a fertile mind that is ripe for the planting of new ideas or is particularly receptive to the intuition.
Dream fertility can also refer to creative concepts ideas that are gestating in the dreamer and should be nurtured and brought into the waking world when they are completely gestated.
Ravenous Rabbit Wreaking Destruction
While some people see rabbits as adorable bits of fluff, many gardeners see them as obnoxious pests whose sole purpose is to destroy growth and hard work done while toiling the earth.
Dream rabbits may symbolize some power, some force either within or outside the dreamer, eating up that which is important or precious to the dreamer.
It is important to look at what the dream rabbits are eating.
Are they destroying a garden?
Eating wires in the home?
Gnawing on shoes?
What the rabbit is eating will give the dreamer a better handle on what it is that he feels is symbolically being worn away.
Gnawing rabbits may also symbolize emotions that are eating away at the dreamer.
Again, looking at what the rabbits are eating will assist the dreamer in assessing what area of life is creating the emotional imbalance.
Giant Rabbits On the Rise
Which of the following do you believe best symbolizes the rabbit in a dream?
Rabbit dreams offer meanings ranging from fear to resurrection, from rebirth to fear of death and dying.
How to interpret the correct meaning for the rabbit in last night's dream?
The way one always does--by taking the information in this article, using it as a way to stimulate the imagination and gain insight to be used to encourage the intuition to provide guidance toward the message the dream meant to be received.
The Portable Jung by C.G. Jung.
The Mythic Dimension: Selected Essays 1959-1987 by Joseph Campbell.
Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy by C. G. Jung.
Psychology and Alchemy (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.12) by C. G. Jung.
More on Rabbit Mythology
- The Trickster in African American Literature, Freedom's Story, TeacherServe®, National Human
- Tricksters at Americanfolklore.net
- Bugs Bunny as an Archetype
What do a 6th century BC Chinese military general and a 1940s cartoon character have in common?
© 2013 Aisling Ireland