The Hare in the Moon

Hare boxing watercolour By Daniel MAckie

Image © Daniel Mackie

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.)

hare country- Country side By Harry Miller

Classic hare country. Photo © Harry Miller


One environment where you may struggle to associate this land-dweller with, is the sea, but via the hares connection to the moon, (and the moons effect on the tides), the hare was also tied to the open waters, and fisherman were never to mention the ‘hare’ word at sea for fear it would bring bad luck; and taking a hare onboard a vessel was an almighty ‘no-no’!

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 designs at The DM Collection

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