Rabbits, hares and bunnies have appeared in art and folk tales for centuries, often as a symbol of earth, spring or the moon. Rabbit tattoos often have a deeper symbolism that is attached to a literary rabbit character like Peter Rabbit, or as a representation of an idea such as rebirth, fertility or mysticism. Rabbit tattoos are very popular because they are both attractive and symbolic.
Tattoos that are as Mad as a March Hare
The phrase “mad as a March hare” refers to the behavior of rabbits and hares in spring time; the mating season of rabbits. In spring, rabbits and hares go a little crazy and behave erratically. Comparing a person’s behavior to a March hare’s behavior is a way of saying that they’ve gone a little loopy. The phrase was used in Lewis Carroll’s The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, and in Walt Disney’s animated film based on the book the Mad Hatter is accompanied by the March Hare at the Mad Tea Party. See more Alice in Wonderland tattoos.
The Symbolism of Rabbit Tattoos
Rabbits often appear in art as a religious or spiritual symbol. In many religions, rabbits are a symbol of new life and fertility because rabbits breed incredibly quickly. A female rabbit can birth over forty young each year. Because rabbits and hares go wild during the spring mating season, they have become a symbol of spring celebrations and have found their way into religious ceremonies that occur in spring. These playful jumping, running and “bouncing” creatures exhibit a joy of life and are often used in art as a symbol of optimism and liveliness.
Rabbits and hares are also linked to the moon. In German mythology the moon goddess Ēostre was accompanied by a hare. Over time, this hare became known as the Easter bunny. In art, Ēostre’s pet hare is often shown gazing at the moon and is called the “moon gazing hare”. It was believed that seeing a hare gazing at the moon was lucky; a sign that the person who saw the hare would receive abundance and good fortune. in many ancient cultures, rabbits and hares were associated with the moon because they are nocturnal creatures. When depicted with a moon in tattoo art, rabbits and hares symbolize that life will soon change, just as surely as the lunar cycle means that the moon changes.
One of the most well-known magic tricks performed by stage magicians is the “hat-trick”. The magician shows the audience what appears to be an empty top hat. He reaches into the hat and pulls out a live rabbit. Because of this magic trick, rabbits are sometimes associated with magic, trickery and illusion. Illustrations of a rabbit being pulled from hats have become an icon for magicians and illusionists.
Rabbits and hares often play a role in children’s stories and cartoons and many of these rabbits have become world famous. The most popular literary and cartoon characters are Bugs Bunny, Peter Rabbit, the Briar Rabbit and the Velveteen Rabbit. In some children’s stories, the rabbit characters are sweet and kind, while in other stories they are tricky and mischievous.
In 1967 Jefferson Airplane released a track called “White Rabbit”. The song used the story of Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor for drug use. Alice’s imaginative adventures took on an hallucinogenic aspect through the song and the phrase “following the white rabbit” has become a reference to using drugs that cause visions and a warped reality.