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Home > Bat Symbolism

Bat Symbolism
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Bat SymbolismBats are symbols of rebirth - the facing of fears and being reborn. Through this we learn to release fear and anything which does not fit with our new growth. Bats have unfortunately developed a lot of negative symbolism.

The Chinese were one of the few exceptions, because to them, the bat symbolized good fortune and great happiness. They also maintained that the bat flies head downwards because of the weight of its brains. In Babylonia, bats were symbols of the dead. Mayans saw them as symbols of initiation and rebirth. The have also been viewed as miniature dragons.

Because it was magically powerful itself, the bat often served as a protective charm or amulet against the powers of evil, and as a luck-bringer. Among the Hessians in Germany it was an accepted belief that the heart of a bat attached to a gambler's arm by a red thread guaranteed him success at cards - a belief common also on the southern United States. In the Austrian Tyrol the possessor of a bat's eye could become invisible.

The bat became not only the totem animal of the men of an aboriginal tribe in New South Wales but also their sex symbol. A similar association of ideas led amorous Central European girls to entice their reluctant lovers into their arms by the discreet addition of a few drops of bats' blood to the loved one's beer.

Bats have occasionally been honored with the status of gods, the supreme deity of some of the Indians of the American Pacific coast being Chamalkan the bat. The mighty bat gods of Samoa invariably took the lead whenever the tribes marched off to war. In the legends of a number of North American Indian tribes the bat is given the unexpected role of hero and chivalrous champion of mankind in distress.

A book called Popol Vuh was discovered in the 17th century. In is is a tale of two brothers who were being tested. One test took them to a labyrinth of huge bats overseen by Camazotz, the god of the bats. He had the body of a human, the head and wings of a bat, and carried a great sword by which he would decapitate unwary wanderers. It is a symbolic story, with imagery that reflects transition. It implies a loss of faculties if someone is unwary of the changes of transition. It also holds the promise of rebirth and coming out of darkness.

The bat is a symbol of the challenge to let go of the old and create the new - death and rebirth. To many this is distressing, thus so much negativity around it. They symbolize the facing of fears - entering the dark on the way to the light.

An old European belief was that human souls take the form of a bat when they leave the body during sleep. This led to the belief that pagan dead might become bats, searching for the means of rebirth or the blood of life (of course, being a link to vampire imagery). European Christian artwork gave demons bat wings, an echo of earlier imagery. A 1350 fresco in Campo Santo in Pisa showed the Death Goddess as a long-haired woman with a scythe flying over the world on bat wings. The description of her was "Old shadow of earth, ancient shade of hell".

Bats as totems represent an ability to discern the hidden messages and implications of other people's words. Listen as much to what is not being said. Trust your instincts. The nose is the organ of discrimination, and with its sonar located in its nose, the bat reflects the ability to discriminate and discern the truth in other people's words.

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