Exploring the symbols, metaphors and archetypal patterns found in myth, pop culture, literature, astrology, religion, psychology, Tarot, art and history--and why they matter.
Rabbit Symbolism in the Tarot
If ever there were a “breeder” card in the Tarot, it would be the Queen of Pentacles.
Of course, The Empress could technically be a breeder, too…but she doesn’t have an important symbol that the Queen of Pentacles card contains: a bunny.
Because female rabbits bear up to five litters a year, each producing three-six bunnies—and with a gestation period of only four weeks and being able to mate again two weeks after birth—these animals are synonymous with fertility.
While the Empress governs creativity, how she expresses her energy in the every day world manifests in the Queens. The Pentacles suit deals with the material realm—body, health, money, property, food, home, environment and so on—so when coupled with the Queen, we have a character who nurtures, supports and connects in the physical world.
Of all the Queens, the Queen of Pentacles is the most physically productive, whether via childbearing, crafting, cooking, baking or “making things”. Thus, it makes sense that Pamela Colman Smith, under the direction of Arthur E. Waite, drew a bunny in the lower right-hand corner of the Queen of Pentacles card for the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.
It’s the Queen of Swords who swoops in with incisive gaze and flashing exacto knife for precision and quality control.
And quantity doesn’t necessarily mean innovative or charismatic.
You’d have the Queen of Wands prancing in with her colorful caftan (or power suit), adding verve and pizzazz to any project.
Lastly, quantity doesn’t necessarily mean soulful or joyful. How many harried moms do you see in the grocery store toting four or more kids? Nah, you’d need the Queen of Cups to infuse patience and gentleness to the situation.
OK, so we get that bunnies symbolize fertility. And that the Queen of Pentacles is the only Rider-Waite Tarot card featuring the rabbit. You can now view this card, and the other Queens, in a fresh, fertile light.
But wait! There’s more to the bunny symbol than meets the eye!
According to The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images by Taschen, the rabbit also connects to:
- Lunar energies
- Life cycles
- Seeing both forward and backward (eyes on the side of the head)
- Ability to run at high speeds with erratic shifts in direction
- Sudden “freezing” as a survival instinct
- Using sharp claws and teeth when cornered
- Emerging in the “soft light” of dusk or dawn (thresholds of transition)
- Unscented baby rabbits (difficult to detect)
- High fat content in mother’s milk (enabling her to be away from her litter for long periods)
- Lively antics (embodiment of alchemy’s Mercurius)
- Soft fur, long ears and pink eyes endear and invite touch
- Sexual cavorting in the moonlight (Playboy bunnies, anyone?)
And let’s not forget about the White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland), Donnie Darko, Harvey and the Easter Bunny! (Well, the Easter Bunny is yet another nod to fertility via the fertility goddess Eostre, especially with that “basket” and all those “eggs”…)
So how might you apply the above rabbit connections to the Queen of Pentacles card? What could it mean in a reading?
And that’s just the Rider-Waite Tarot!
Hundreds of Tarot decks are on the market, and many of them incorporate the bunny. Look through your decks. How many bunnies do you spot? What cards are they on? What do you think the bunny symbol could mean on those cards in light of what you learned in this post?
I’d love to hear what you discover!
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