In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d write about poor, misunderstood bats. Don’t get me wrong; bats freak me out a little too. But I do appreciate their symbolism and their place in nature.
Bats represent transition and initiation according to Ted Andrews in Animal-Speak. The Babylonians considered them the souls of the dead; the Mayans thought they were symbols of rebirth.
Symbolic meanings often come from observations of an animal’s traits and habitats. Since bats literally come out of darkness (a cave), we say that they represent death, transition, and rebirth.
Change and death are scary to many of us, and so this association makes bats a source of fear for many. But Andrews has a wonderful way of looking at change:
When the bat comes into your life, you may see some part of your life begin to go from bad to worse. That which worked before may no longer. This is not negative though! And it will only be upsetting to the degree we are emotionally attached to the old way of life or to the degree we focus on the past rather than the infinite possibilities of the future.
Change and transformations are blessings. They are not triggered from without but from within, and the world is our mirror.
Other bat traits include its great auditory perception, its ability to fly (bats are the only flying mammal), and its sociability. Therefore, bats also symbolize clairaudience (clear hearing, or the ability to hear spirit), the ability to move to new heights, and the opportunities we might find in groups.
If bats show up in your life, you can be sure of some great–and perhaps difficult–changes, but you just might be experiencing an initiation into a new way.