Friday, April 19, 2013

Folklore Friday: the lunar hare

A few in my collection
Easter may have come and gone - but rabbits and hares are here for the season. Not a day goes by when I don't see a flash of white fluff tail as it bounds across the back yard - escaping before the dogs are loosed to sniff and roam.

Anyone who knows me  knows I have a personal interest in hares. Not so much the cutesy bunnies, but rabbits and hares. These animals show up in mythologies around the world - from China to Aztec Mexico, Celtic myth, Buddhist lore...  And while I could wax poetic about hares and myth for a while ( Easter/spring/eggs - a whole other post!) I wanted to introduce you to the lunar hare...

Reproduction netsuke. Future pendants. 

The Hare in the Moon is a common thread in folklore from the China, Celtic Britain, Mayan Mexico... which is interesting in and of itself. Where Western folklore teaches us to look for the "Man in the Moon amidst the craters and lunar landscape - in the East its the hare in moon. He is often seen with a mortar and pestle, grinding the ingredients to create the elixir of immortality. He is associated with Chang'O a Chinese moon goddess - concocting the elixir for her... Symbolically the hare represents longevity, fertility and the feminine power if Yin. 

The Mayan goddess Ixchel was the goddess of the moon, childbirth, weaving... Her consort was a hare.   There was a temple to Ixchel in Cozumel Mexico. 

One tale I find the most intriguing - because of its commonality in so may diverse mythos is this: 
Lord Buddha was traveling, incognito, and met a fellow traveller, a hare. The hare, recognizing the Buddha, was ashamed he had no food to offer. He jumped in the stew pot, sacrificing himself, to feed the Buddha. The Buddha in thanks for this offering, placed the hare in the moon for recognition of his gift, and for eternal  safekeeping. Versions of this myth alternately place the Hindu god Indra and the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl in the tale. The common threads of an archetype - across cultures - is so inspiring to me!

Thanks to Terri Windling for her article "Symbolism of Rabbits and Hares" for bringing so many threads of inspiration together. Its a great article if you are interested in reading more. Here are a few images and aTreasury for your viewing pleasure and inspiration. 
An Etsy Treasury of hares in many mediums. 

My lunar hare mixing with raven and hare totem pendants. 

My mixed media piece: copper, enamel, faux bone, gems.

Thanks for tuning in to Folklore Friday! Until next time... 


  1. I just love the folklore you tell! That is fascinating. I have a wee little rabbit pendant in my shop that is the Bunny Scout we concocted when our son was young. I have one that lives in the bushes in my yard and we love to watch him munch around. Thank you for sharing! Enjoy the day. Erin

  2. I enjoy reading your folklore articles!

  3. I love your lunar hare pendants...and your folklore posts! Thanks, Jenny!

  4. I love your lunar hare tiles too! And visiting your house, the hare bathroom is one of my favorite rooms :)

  5. WOW I knew the hare was important but not of its sacrifice. Awesome knowledge!

  6. I always liked your luna hare pendants, but I didn't know the story behind them. This was a fascinating post. Thank you!


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