How to Interpret the Meaning of Rabbits in Dreams
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 bird of prey'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're likely 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!
Many of rabbits' waking life traits make it into their dream symbolism. For example, in dreams rabbits can symbolize:
- Quick thinking and intuition
- Emotional paralysis
- Emotional instability and 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
Quick Thinking and Intuition
A rabbit's entire body is basically an early alert warning system. Its long, perky ears give it the ability to hear trouble coming, the pads in its soles let it sense any dangerous vibrations its ears might miss, and its powerful legs and fleet feet allow it the chance to beat a hasty retreat before danger actually arrives.
Rabbits do not wait to analyze the information their bodies perceive. Once a rabbit senses danger, it takes immediate action. 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 the same quick thinking, ingenuity, and intuition that waking life rabbits possess. 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 functioning properly and all the dreamer needs to do is allow the information to flow, stop over-analyzing, and simply act, trusting that he is being guiding to the exact spot using the exact action he needs to accomplish his goals.
Symbols of Resurrection
Rabbits live in vast 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.
Rabbits do a sort of "dance of joy" when they're really happy. The dance is the bunny's spin on "The Twist" but rabbits call their happy dance "binky."
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.
Rabbits in Mythology and Folklore
Hare of Inaba
Trickster hare who convinces sharks to line up in a row so he can use them as a bridge between the Island of Oki and Cape Keta.
Familiar created by witches from human hair and fingernails who sucked milk from cows and brought it home to their witch. It was important to find and bury a witch's milk rabbit with her when she died, else she would leave her grave to fetch it herself.
Korean, Japanese, Chinese
A lunar pareidolia depicting a rabbit, rather than a man, on the moon. In Chinese mythology, the moon rabbit mixes out an elixir or life in a mortar and pestle, while in Korean and Japanese mythologies the moon rabbit simply makes the ingredients for rice cakes.
A circular design and visual puzzle featuring three rabbits sharing ears. A German riddle reads: "Three hares share three ears, yet each one has two."
Three Hares Symbolizing the Trinity
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.
Rabbits as Symbols of Destructive Tendencies
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.
Just as waking life rabbits can be forces of destruction, dream rabbits can symbolize destructive tendencies—either those of a self-destructive nature or some outside influence eating up what we hold dear.
If you are dreaming of rabbits eating away at something, look at what they are eating in the dream. For example, are they destroying a garden? Eating wires in the home? Gnawing on shoes?
Rabbits destroying gardens can symbolize something that is destroying that which is meant to bring peace and tranquility to life. Rabbits destroying wires can indicate problems with communication. Gnawing rabbits might symbolize something that is emotionally eating away at the dreamer.
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 gestation is complete.
When Giant Rabbits Attack
A curious portion of rabbit mythology involves the association of rabbits with the moon, immortality, and resurrection.
The Moon Rabbit is 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 be the 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.
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.
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.
Which of the following do you believe best symbolizes the rabbit in a dream?
More on Rabbit Mythology
- 11 Trickster Archetypes That Provoke and Heighten Your Consciousness
As destroyers of duality, Trickster archetypes expose illusions, challenge worldly rules, and celebrate holy madness. Read on to find out more about this fascinating archetype.
- Bugs Bunny: The Trickster, American Style : NPR
In this installment of NPR's In Character series, JJ Sutherland asks what makes Bugs Bugs — and decides that the bunny's mercurial nature is essential to his appeal.
- Myth & Moor: "Into the Woods" Series, 43: The Folklore of Rabbits & Hares
Wonderful article exploring the folklore and mythology of rabbits and hares.
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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Aisling Ireland