There are many animal images that are popular with tattoo enthusiasts however one of the rarer choices has to involve a rabbit tattoo, but there is actually much more to this creature than most people give it credit. Going back to ancient times, the rabbit has long been associated with lust, sexuality, fertility and abundance. Even in the modern world, those with a rampant sexual appetite are referred to as ‘breeding like rabbits’ while American and African folklore often portrays the rabbit as a wily trickster. In those tales the rabbit can also be the hero of the story who is both amoral and loveable at the same time. According to Japanese mythology, the arrogance of the white rabbit often lead him to an unfortunate end as he was often too clever for his own good. When it comes to the Chinese Zodiac, the rabbit is one of the twelve animals representing each sign and in this context is believed to be the kindest, most obliging, affectionate and popular of them all. The rabbit’s close cousin, the hare, is symbolic of long time for the Chinese too. Ancient Aztecs also worshiped rabbit related deities, in particular a group known as the ‘400 rabbits’

Going back to ancient times, Bodiccea who was Queen of the Britons when the Romans were attempting to colonize England believed the rabbit had magical powers and also symbolized intuition. Pagans also revered the hare as it accompanied their goddess of spring according to their beliefs so to them the rabbit was also synonymous with spring time, fertility and renewal. As Christianity spread, the rabbit also had connotations for early Christians who associated it with the holy season of Easter. As body art its natural timidity, speed and vigilant nature make it ideal to express character traits like humility and vigilance however from a religious point of view it could be used as a reminder to withdraw from sin or temptation.

Many Native American tribes also used the rabbit as a symbol of fertility; however as an animal spirit guide it is used to counsel the physically vulnerable as a reminder that they can overcome obstacles and seek safety in numbers under threat. As a rabbit freezes at the first sign of an approaching predator – like the phrase ‘ a rabbit caught in the headlights’ – it also serves as a reminder to remain calm in perilous times. Again, in some stories the rabbit is often a tricky character whose conceit generally leads to its downfall and Sioxu and Cherokee folklore in particular enhances this.

More recently, a rabbit tattoo may involve a cartoon version of this popular character thanks to Warner Bros. Studios’ Bugs Bunny creation and his Looney Tunes gang. This was the adult equivalent of children’s favorite Peter Rabbit however Bugs was much more unruly and always getting into trouble. However, he always managed to bounce back from whatever disastrous situation he found himself in with a witty one liner and his laid back attitude. While Bugs Bunny may have been for the teenager trapped within, the Playboy Bunny was definitely for adults only as the logo for Hugo Heffner’s adult magazine. This logo is also used frequently as a tattoo design to express everything from sexual liberation to the pursuit of pleasure or hedonism.

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