Thursday, April 9, 2015

Killer Rabbits

Medieval documentation of the animals in revolt!

Useful details as to why
As Christianity took hold in western Europe, hares and rabbits, so firmly associated with the Goddess, came to be seen in a less favorable light — viewed suspiciously as the familiars of witches, or as witches themselves in animal form. Numerous folk tales tell of men led astray by hares who are really witches in disguise, or of old women revealed as witches when they are wounded in their animal shape. In one well–known story from Dartmoor, a mighty hunter named Bowerman disturbed a coven of witches practicing their rites, and so one young witch determined to take revenge upon the man. She shape–shifted into a hare, led Bowerman through a deadly bog, then turned the hunter and his hounds into piles of stones, which can still be seen today. (The stone formations are known by the names Hound Tor and Bowerman’s Nose.)

From the 11th to the 13th Centuries, rabbits became reviled for their pagan connections to sexuality, easy fertility, and as the important women's religious symbol: the moon. A carved stone, southern portal of Chartres Cathedral shows a lewd, laughing rabbit-man tempting and carrying off a chaste young woman. An 11th century Latin text catalogues ominous and frightening sights including a sea dragon, a Viking ship, and a rabbit.