“What’s Up, Doc?”
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
One of my favorite running jokes in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series was the absolute terror that Anya (Anyanka, the Vengeance Demon) had in regard to rabbits. Of course, creator Joss Whedon (Angel; Firefly; Serenity) is a god among writers and as a writer myself, I have him most definitely on my to-meet-him-one-day list.
Lately, like Anya, I’ve been getting a little nervous about all the rabbits crossing my path. Literally. I don’t mean simply spotting one hopping off into the brush. I mean, almost tripping over them or coming really close to wearing one on my car hood.
It’s got to mean something. Because everything means something. Animal totems are highly revered among my Native American ancestry. In a number of religions, they’re a sign of faith, but I guess the faithless would disagree.
I’ve seen rabbits off and on for the past five months, in different towns and many different locations. “Must be a good year for bunnies” is all that I can say. Maybe they’re more prolific this year or maybe their natural predators are fewer, but sheesh, I’m being overrun!
In one week, I saw no less than half a dozen rabbits. I turned down two different dirt roads in one afternoon in Mossy Head, 20 miles away, only to slam on brakes to keep from squishing a quickly moving bunny. I dodged another bunny in a parking lot full of cars at 11:00 at night—in another town, six hours away. At darkfall, I took a power-walk with Shannon and while glimpsing firefly twinkles over the marsh, I nearly tripped over another rabbit.
Heading to the grocery store, I almost stumbled over a black bunny crossing my own driveway before I could get to my car at the cul-de-sac. He sat still long enough for me to circle him, go back inside the house for the camera, and then creep within two feet to take a photo. It wasn’t until the seventh picture before he finally hopped off into the ferns in my front yard and only then because he seemed tired of photo ops.
Finally, on my recent trip to Central Florida, I had to run out to the hotel parking lot to grab a few decks of Tarot cards to share some artwork with a friend. As I walked back to the hotel, I gazed off at the lake and paid no attention to the single man walking about 10 feet ahead of me—until he screeched and jumped about three feet into the air.
“Did you see that?” He turned around, his gaze darting frantically from this bush to that. “It was a snake! He crossed right in front of me!”
But I hadn’t seen a thing. The man was red-cheeked and flustered, but eventually, he went back to his cell phone and the deal he’d been trying to make when he’d been interrupted.
The next morning, between trips from the hotel room to my car to load and go, I rounded the same corner where the snake had been and took a huge step over a bunny that hopped right under my feet as I looked down. I wondered for a minute if he was tame, but then he saw me and eventually sprinted for the tall brush around the lake as if leaving were mandatory and he’d decided reluctantly to comply.
I have a general idea of what rabbits represent as a to- tem animal, but hey, that’s not exactly practical right now and I’m missing half of that particular equation, like the male half.
Let’s assume all these rabbits are a sign of something. But what?
These dangerous bunnies with the “hoppy legs” and “twitchy little noses” are usually associated with timidity and fear, which is why Whedon’s running joke about a vengeance demon, brought to her knees in terror, was so amusing. Yet none of the bunnies I’ve encountered recently have been timid or fearful. Quite the opposite. They’ve seen me approach and leapt in front of me. They’ve allowed me to crouch within an arm’s length of them. Short of waving my arms and trying to run them off, I haven’t had much luck in scaring them away. They just keep coming.
Associated with the Goddesses Aphrodite, Hecate, and Eostre (Easter), they’re also thought to be a sign to listen to your intuition so you know how to spot danger and when to run away. Maybe the bunnies that crossed my path didn’t sense any danger or ill intent from me because they didn’t seem particularly fearful. Or maybe they were listening to their intuition and it told them that I meant them no harm…and that my brakes were good.
Another interpretation of the rabbit as a totem says that rabbits encourage us to make “conscious leaps into new territory” and to keep moving forward in spite of our fears. The rab- bit doesn’t run or walk forward, though. It leaps. That’s the way it moves. Nothing slow or stagnant. Always moving forward and always in leaps.
I like that interpretation. It seems to fit how life is going these days. Leaping forward. Not just little insights but big leaps, and just as often, leaps of faith.
And then there’s that obvious symbolism again: the rabbit represents fertility. All I can say is that my creative ideas have definitely been procreating like bunnies and in the past week, my productivity has shifted into FULL LEAP.