The musician Maddy Prior and Ian Anderson headed to out shoot something, perhaps hares.
Hares, and rabbits to a lesser extent, have traditionally been associated with Witchcraft, fertility, and goddesses. The most famous hare of them all is of course the Easter Bunny, which was originally Eostre’s Hare (whose mistress may or may not have been a worshiped goddess).
Hares? Rabbits? Isn’t that like the same difference? Hares and rabbits are two different creatures. Despite the common American misconception, hares are not simply English rabbits.
This website, http://www.diffen.com/difference/Hare_vs_Rabbit, explains in laymen’s terms the main differences between the two animals. And America does have hares–we call them Jackrabbits.
In cultures all over the world, hares and rabbits have been associated with goddesses and the supernatural. A popular hare magical symbol is the Tinner Rabbits, reminiscent of the Pagan triskele that often is used to symbolize the different triplet natures of Pagan deities.
In some cultures there is the “Hare in the moon,” and in April’s full moon is known as the “Hare Moon”. Hmmm, Hares+Moon=Goddess (Fertility+Rebirth). Based on this formula, the ancients often saw hares and rabbits as acting as messengers between the divine and humans.
Where did the fertility and rebirth idea come from for the hare? Rabbits and hares are a renewable resource, if managed correctly and not over hunted. Cottontail rabbits typically have 4 to 5 litters a year with an average of 8 kits per litter (by the way, kit is short for kitten–what rabbit people call bunnies). Hares also produce large frequent litters and have the ability to superfetate, or conceive while pregnant. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2010/09/hares-can-get-pregnant-while-pregnant/
Hares also like to engage in some rough foreplay prior to copulation–hence all the stories of crazy March Hares.
The hare’s supernatural status rose, especially in the Celtic lands, with the belief that they were not only messengers but could travel in both the human and the Otherworlds because they burrowed underground. Druids and later “witches” were thought to shapeshift into hares for magical work. Because of this belief, according to Julius Cesar (since we all know his works on the Celts are just so very reliable), it was considered taboo amongst the Celts to eat hare in case you were eating someone who was just shifting.
Despite this belief, many cultures eat hares and rabbits. As was stated above, if populations are managed correctly, they are a wonderful renewable resource that is fairly easy to hunt. They can be hunted with weapons, traps (live or kill), sight or scent hounds, and even hawks and other birds of prey.
They die fairly quickly (and they can literally die of fright), and they can be skinned with your bare hands–no knife required. Hares and rabbits are also just the right portion size so there is little waste due to uneaten food. For more information on eating rabbits, check out
Hares and rabbits lend themselves well to ritual. In ancient times live rabbits and hares were used in divination based on how they ran away from a person once they were released, which can still be performed by modern practitioners. The rabbits’/hares’ job as messenger can be used as well, with the participants telling the animal what messages they need carried to the Goddess. After all the messages have been conveyed, the animal would be released to do its job.
Rabbits and hares can also be used in death and rebirth rituals. Since rabbits are quick and easy to kill and butcher, they can easily be dispatched in circle (to much dramatic effect), their entrails read for guidance, and then their flesh cooked on a spit on the ritual fire for cakes and ale. In death, the animal gives us life, and a connection to our deities and the Otherworlds. Some people may even take this one step further and incorporate a similar ritual into their shamanic practices.
For more information on hare lore, check out this great online resource: http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/rrRabbits.html
These folks like to stomp rabbits:
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