Symbolism and Meaning of the Bat

I’ve always adored Halloween. That and St. Patrick’s Day have always been my favorite holidays. I know, I’m weird. I’m accustomed to getting that response. :)

My “wicked” business theme was launched back on October 31st, 2002. And, even though I have changed the business name, I managed to retain the “wicked.” I like it.  I like the double entendre of bad and good. I like that it was “born” in October. Despite the warnings I received on selecting that theme, it has served me well and continues to do so. So, even with my business I celebrate the Halloween holiday.

I’ve never really been into jack-o-lanterns or ghosts or most of the more traditional Halloween imagery… except for witches and bats. I think the witchy imagery is fun and bats… well, I find them to be intriguing animals.

This year, for Halloween, my son gave me a sterling silver bat charm. I collect sterling silver charms. (He knows I love them.) This one is amazing. It’s not a tiny little thing — it’s a full two inches long! It feels like it weighs a pound! It’s solid and three dimensional. (I’ve never liked those one-sided flat charms, I like cool ones — and this one is awesome.)

It’s in the sleeping position, all snugly wrapped up in wings and hanging upside down, shaped like a bullet. He picked it up at a Renaissance festival this summer. I’m currently wearing it on a long chain and I’m enjoying it more with each passing day.

Today, I starting wondering what attracted me to bats and decided to do a little research on symbolism. I thought I’d share my findings with you (just in case anyone else out there likes bats and isn’t sure why).

Holiday Symbolism

Bats are a common image because when this season’s bonfires are lit, it attracts the insects that, in turn, attract the bats for a feeding frenzy. Since this happens in the fall, bats are seen as a symbol of transition and change — in the season and in the human experience.

Bats represent: Social relationships, communication, motherhood

It is a symbol of communication. Native Americans observed bats to be highly social creatures with strong family ties. They are nurturing, exhibiting verbal communication, touching, and sensitivity to members of their group. Bats are sensitive to their surroundings and are seen as intuitive, with the ability to see through illusion and discern truth. Devotion of the Bat totem will never fade, encouraging the journey to achieve the highest possible potential from an individual. (Information paraphrased from this page on Animal Totems)

Since bats are the only winged creatures to suckle their young, they are also a symbol of motherhood (and by association… fertility and sexuality… which is also supported by the dwelling in caverns in the “womb” of mother earth.)

East vs. West: Symbolism of the Bat

Westerners hold a more negative view of this creature, possibly because of the dual nature of winged and mammal, or because it’s nocturnal.

Eastern cultures view the bat as a symbol of wealth, longevity, peace, good health and a good death. In China, the symbol for bat is “fu” — which is also the symbol for “good luck.”

“Sometimes four bats are shown surrounding a fifth bat or five bats circulate around a stylized symbol for longevity.  In both cases, the five bats stand for the Five Happinesses:  wealth, long life, peace, cultivation of virtue (or sometimes good health), and a good death… a Chinese bat (or simply the character for fu) will sometimes be placed upside down.  That orientation derives from the fact that the words for “upside down” and “to arrive” also sound the same in Chinese (dao), such that the upside down bat means that good luck has arrived.” (taken from this page on tattoo symbolism)

The Maya culture of Central America considers the bat a type of guardian god — a god of fire. Images of bats were used to decorate pottery and funerary urns.

A Mis-match of other interpretations of bats:

Bats are symbolic of rebirth and can mean (in dreams) that you need to release the outmoded ways of doing things to permit a new, better way to enter your life because your old habits no longer suit your new opportunities. They also demonstrate that sight with eyes is only one way to know the world.

Personally, I relate to the fact that it is naturally nocturnal and is adept at finding its way — even when things seem completely dark (and foreboding). So after a little research, the idea of rebirth, changing outmoded views, being intuitive and maternal, focusing on communication and the five happinesses — it all makes me much more happy with my fascination with these little creatures.

Other interpretations may be more “dark” and negative – but these fit my world view and the classic, traditional interpretation of bats and bat symbols make me happy. And I love my charm (thanks, sweetie!)

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