The Bat as a Totem
The Bat as a Totem
Because they are creatures of night and like to hang out in dark places like caves, bats are often symbols of the underworld. Demons and the Christian devil are depicted with bat wings. But bats can be an extremely beneficial totem animal for those that like to walk in the spiritual world.
Finnish people believed that during sleep the soul sometimes took the form of a bat, and that if a person were to die a violent death, their soul would be turned into a bat condemned to remain on earth.
The bat is recognized for its ability to navigate in the dark and therefore as a totem they bring the ability and knowledge to avoid obstacles, barriers and troublesome people and situations.
To the Native Americans bats are a totem of initiation and journeying. This is because they are reborn out of the earth every night. As an initiation totem the bat takes you through dark places in order to show you the hard lessons that need to be learnt. However the bat will never leave your side while journeying and in turn you must be committed to the spiritual path.
In the northern regions of NSW in Australia the Aboriginal people have a story they tell about how the flying fox or bat came to hang up side down. In the story the bat was a very cheeky animal and thought that he was a bird.
When the Great Spirit was teaching the birds how to be birds – how to fly like a bird and how to make nests and lay eggs like a bird – the little bat was pestering the Great Spirit to teach him how to be a bird as well. The Great Spirit kept telling him that he is not a bird, he is a bat and he would teach him how to be a bat later. But the bat did not accept this and kept pestering him. So the Great Spirit said to the bat that that was no way to behave so he had to teach him a lesson, so he picked up the little bat by its feet and hung it up side down on a branch. The little bat was so embarrass by this he started twiddling his thumbs and he’d say to anyone who would listen to him that he could hang like that all day and it wouldn’t bother him.
When the Great Spirit returned to teach him how to be a bat he asked the bat if he understood now that he is not a bird. The little bat was so cheeky he told the Great Spirit that it didn’t bother him hanging up side down and he could stay hanging up side down like that all the time if he wanted but he still thought he was a bird. As soon as the Great Spirit heard this, he said to the cheeky bat that if that was the way he was going to be, that was the way he was going to stay and that way he would be reminded that he is a bat and not a bird.
So look to the bat to help you navigate the dark times in your life and remember that he can be cheeky but he will also be a great spiritual guide.
Brad & Saskia