As I begin to write this post, I’m realizing that many of my animal spirit encounters occur when I am walking my two Alaskan Malamutes. As you have probably guessed, animals are very important to me, and for me, they have been important teachers in my life. Maybe they know what messages are coming and lead me to walk in a certain direction or point out what I may have missed on my own. This is what happened one morning earlier this week. The pups pointed out a strange-looking object on the ground below a tree, but they seemed uninterested in it. As I looked closer, at first it looked like a shriveled up frog, but then upon close inspection I could clearly see that it was a mummified bat.
Seeing a dead animal may terrify many, but as mentioned in Animal Spirits: The Mouse/Rat, “Death is a transition, and it signifies a time of a new cycle, new beginnings, and evolution.” Bats, too, are terrifying to many, partly because of their connection to vampires, and partly because, being the only mammal that can fly, they seem like something unnatural or supernatural.
Bats, indeed, are extra-ordinary creatures. Besides being able to fly, they have a very strong sense of smell and hearing, including the ability to use echolocation, and some use ultraviolet detection to maneuver in the dark. Bats are creatures of the night, able to move about unseen yet see the unseen. They symbolize being able to see through illusions, to see past lives, dreams, and beyond the ego.
Most bats live in caves, deep in the womb of Mother Earth, so they also symbolize the Underworld and death and rebirth, especially the death of the ego so that the soul can fully express itself in our lives. Because they represent this process of journeying to the Underworld and the death of the ego, they symbolize initiation and journeying, both the shaman’s journey and the hero’s journey.
I wasn’t grossed out by seeing this mummified bat first thing in the morning. Honestly I felt a feeling of freedom. The last few years have been quite a deep journey within, and I feel ready to take off in flight, though that next step has been on hold or suspended, waiting for things to fall into place, aka divine timing. Mummification is a means to suspend decay, to suspend death and rebirth, and seeing this bat now free from the tree it must have been suspended in and able to return its old body to the Earth for new life, brought into my mind the Hanged Man from The Wild Unknown Tarot deck. The Hanged Man symbolizes suspension, but also acceptance of the current situation. Through letting go, I release and open the way for new beginnings.
Affirmation came the next day when I pulled my daily card from the Animal Wisdom Tarot deck. As I am sure you can guess, I pulled The Bat: Master of Suspension. Not only is it the card I pulled, but it had also popped out while shuffling! Release, Letting go, Acceptance, Patience.
The Bat symbolizes:
- Seeing past Illusions & Seeing the Invisible
- Awareness of the Spirit Realm & Dreams
- Shamanic Journey and Initiation
- Hero’s Journey
- Death and Rebirth
- Exploring the Underworld/Depths of the Psyche