Rabbits, Fear & Our Heart’s Desire

One minute I was Mr. McGregor.  The next minute I was Peter Rabbit… 

I have a garden that is fenced to keep out the deer, and one day recently I left the gate open all night, and a rabbit got in.   We have lots of rabbits in our yard, and they sniff around the edges of the fenced garden all the time but had never gotten in – that I knew of.    This poor rabbit was SO scared when I came into the garden – I had a mental flash of me as Mr. McGregor from the rabbit’s perspective, and then I was empathizing with this poor terrified rabbit and I was Peter Rabbit for a moment.

My grandmother read the story of Peter Rabbit to me a lot when I was little, so my first memory of Peter Rabbit is being held in my grandmother’s lap.  But the story is really about how Peter learned to be afraid because he didn’t listen to his mother who told him he would end up in a stew like his dad if he didn’t stay out of the garden, and he almost did.  “Scared as a rabbit” is a common saying because they are mostly defenseless and are pursued by predators such as hawks, coyotes, and foxes daily. We think of rabbits as full of fear, and they are – but are we much different? 

We may no longer have to worry about being eaten by a mountain lion, but modern physical fears, as well as daily mental fears such as what other people think, how they might shame us, reflexive fears from ingrained stories and traumas, are just as real as the rabbit’s fear.  And when rabbits come into our life, often it is to help us realize deep fears that we are covering up. 

For me lately these include fears of stepping fully into my creativity, my heart’s desire and being vulnerable.  What will be asked of me when I do?  What will I show to the world?  Will I be shamed, dismissed, my words twisted, thought a little crazy, called a witch or idol worshipper?  What might I be asked to give up, to let go of, to step into?  What is at the root of these fears?

I recently found a rabbit pelvis bone by a creek, the day after the rabbit was in my garden.  Clean as a whistle, just sitting there for me to find.  It felt rather prophetic or at least like a message of some sort.  And I realized that Rabbit had been showing up a lot in my life lately. Several rabbits have come into my paintings this past year, and I have two works of art in my house I purchased from other artists of rabbits recently, and there is also my favorite rabbit fur hat.  And lastly, two (or maybe more) baby rabbits had been nesting in my garden unbeknownst to me. Rabbit is clearly everywhere in my life lately and wanting to speak to me.  Or another way of looking at it is that our Earth Mother, is giving me messages through the rabbits. 

When I first found the rabbit pelvis, the message I sensed was around her womb, the fertility of the rabbits, the abundance, and the joy of their hopping mating dance.  Rabbits are given great fertility, fecundity, passion, and ability to bring forth life with relative ease in return for being so vulnerable to their predators. Their cycles are deeply tied to the moon cycles.  Their babies gestate for about 28 days and then they are tended in the nest for another 28 days – two moon cycles – just like my prayer novenas, where I gestate my hearts desire for 28 days and then tend it with gratitude for another 28 days.

But while I was enjoying these ties of the rabbit’s fertility, the shadow side of Rabbit started to nudge me and resonated deeply.  This quote from a Google search sums it up well…

“Rabbits are guides into the shadow world, where our personal fears lie. When the rabbit shows up it is time to examine those deep reflexive fears that hold you back from growing. Do you keep bounding for the safety of your old patterns every time something new or challenging presents itself? If the answer is yes, the rabbit asks you to face your fears with compassion for yourself.” — Ina Woolcott

Rabbit messages may feel like a paradox, but really, they are not.  Although fertility, abundance, and creativity may be the opposite side of the coin from fear, when I faced my fear and stepped THROUGH it, rather than bouncing around like a rabbit in my old patterns of avoidance, the erotic abundant fertility of my creativity began to fully gestate. My soul is singing more often and once I acknowledged my big fear and put all my options on the table and stepped into them, I realized I was no longer giving my power away to the fear like I had in the past. I opened the door of possibility, and soon I found myself held in the warm womb of creativity, nurtured by Mama Rabbit, another name for our Great Mother of course.  To step in, lean in, and see THROUGH our fears to what we want, our hearts desire, is like when a karate student learns to break a board.  They are taught to see THROUGH the board to what is on the other side, to not see the board as a barrier. 

Now I can allow myself to consider some tough questions that I might have avoided in the past. What do I really want?  What am I afraid to ask for?  Will that desire ask too much of me?  Am I afraid of not getting it?  Or afraid that I will?  If it breaks open my world what will that mean? 

Images:  1) Peter Rabbit running from Mr. McGregor, 2) “Rabbit” by Robin Quinlivan, 3) Rabbit pelvis found by the creek, 4) Rabbit painting by Mary Kerns

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