Myth and folklore connecting the moon to the Hare appears all across the world: in Africa, China, Europe, India, Japan, Mexico, and North America: with many a moon goddess associated with – or at least accompanied by – a hare. So what is the relationship between this wild and mysterious creature and the moon?
Well, even though it’s not out of place to see a hare in broad daylight sitting quietly in its ‘form’, (a shallow depression in the earth), they are fundamentally nocturnal, and are a lot more active when the moon takes the place of the sun. But night time was once a very dangerous place to go ‘haring’ around, as the moon was once believed to actually cause madness, (hence luna / lunacy), and it was even believed that sleeping under the moonlight invited madness. So knowing that the hare regularly went about its business under a mania inducing moon, it was thought that this was the cause for their excitable episodes during spring, where males and females, (Jacks & Jills), are seen to uncharacteristically gather in droves, frantically chasing and boxing one another. The mad March hare was indeed seen as ‘moon-struck’.
‘I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sigh and (probably) mental torment.’
(Translation of a ritual rhyme by Scottish witches, describing the psychological undertakings when taking on the spirit of a hare.)
But to a more visual connection, where the hare can actually be seen living on the moon! We are all aware that when the moon is full you can see the shape of the ‘man in the moon’, but next time the luna one is beaming away in the fullness of its phase, try and make out the side profile of a hare in the darkened patches. But don’t stare at it too long… ’cause you’ll go mad!
Take a look at this and other Woodland animal designs at The DM Collection
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It seems that wherever man has been, and a cat of some sort, you’ll find tales of people shapeshifting into felines. In fact the only places on earth where it’s safe from the werecat are Australia and Antartica; two continents which don't have a native cat - I hear they have their hands full with werekangeroo’s and werepenguine’s as it is!