Symbolism of Bat in Literature
Bats are known as creatures of the night and are the only mammals with the ability to fly even in the dark. In literature, bats are usually shown in a negative light, such as a representation of vampires in films and literature such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Hence, they are mostly the subjects of fear and the supernatural in the fictional work. The word bat is derived from the Old Norse language ‘leðrblaka’, which means a leather flapper used to call bats. The word also has roots in Middle English word ‘bakke which was perhaps used early 14th century and related to the ancient Swedish word ‘natbakka’ and the Old Danish word ‘nathbakkæ’.
Bats communicate with each other by making loud frequency sounds due to their reduced visualization in darkness. They pass messages to each other, making a noise like singing and screeching. Additionally, they never hit solid objects in spite of the darkness. Hence, bats are a symbol of good communication and symbol of longevity communication. Native Americans believe the bat is a symbol of communication, making it a highly social creature. In western culture, bats are represented as witches and vampires who communicate with the spirit world. Hindus also believe bats are a symbol of death and can communicate with the dead.
Dreams about bats possess dual meanings, both negative and positive. Bat is one of the most powerful animals. Hence, when a person sees a bat in dreams, he or she has more willpower and the greatest potential. Seeing a black bat in dreams represents personal disasters and bad luck. A white bat in a dream represents the death of a person. Dreaming of a red bat can represent something about guilt or regret. A green bat in dreams is a symbol of hidden feelings or desires. Brown bats symbolize re-evaluating decisions and actions. Also, the grey bat in dreams means the person is facing inner emotional turmoil and disturbance. When a person dreams of a vampire, it symbolizes energy drain, emotionally and physically.
Bat as a symbol of navigation is recognized through its skill of extraordinary navigation skills in the forests and caves at night. Bats’ steering abilities are used for finding food and hunting. Hence, seeing a bat or dreaming of one symbolizes navigation through hard times as well as protection while transitioning. They also have an excellent ability to find food, along with navigating at night. Thus, bats are also symbols of navigation, which means exploring a new place, or career or going on an adventure to an unknown place. As bats are considered the symbolism of navigation, they can help a person move through dark times and unknown futures. In Celtic traditions, bats are known as a spiritual navigators. Ojibwa tribe believes that bats symbolize free spirit or expression.
Happiness and Success
Bats are a symbol of happiness, along with intuition and luck. In the United States, the bat is the symbol of a spirit guide for happiness. The Chinese believe that bats represent good fortune, longevity, and happiness. Also, the red bat represents overall good fortune. According to the Wufu, which means five blessings, in Chinese culture, are represented by five bats; the five blessings include longevity, wealth, health, happiness, and peaceful death. The art is painted in bright red to represent happiness. In Christianity, the bat is a messenger that also represents happiness. Also, in Japan, a bat is considered a lucky animal that can bring more happiness to life.
Bat always live in the dark and symbolize fear. In Romania and pop culture, bats are symbols of vampires and are one of the most feared mythical creatures. In western culture, bat tattoos represent fear or darkness. Dracula and vampire myths are related to bats as a symbol of evil spirits and fear. In southern and central American culture, bats are symbols of death, mystery, and fear. Additionally, a crop of bats represents fear. In Hinduism, bats represent death and fear. Also, if a person sees a bat brings sudden fear and bad luck. In Celtic culture, bats are associated with Halloween or Samhain, and it is believed that bats can connect with the dead. Thus, bats symbolize fear in parts of Scotland and Ireland.
Bats are symbols of supernatural powers in literature and films. Bats represent supernatural abilities like mysterious birth, death, and evolution. Seeing bats in real life is a sign of consciousness about the supernatural world in a person’s surroundings. According to the beliefs in Romania, vampire bats possess supernatural power as they are blood-sucking creatures and attack humans and animals. Hanging upside down with wrapped wings is also considered one of the supernatural abilities of bats. In Hinduism, bats also symbolize one of the forms of the goddess Lakshmi who is worshipped for good fortune and supernatural wealth. The Japanese consider bats as a symbol of protection, known as ‘koumori’ or river protectors.
According to the Native American Navajo tribe, bats have a supernatural connection between people and spirits and believed that they can talk to God. Ancient Greeks also believed that bats have supernatural power over all birds and animals as they keep fighting with each other except the bat. In Christianity, the devil or demons are shown to have bat wings representing evil as well as the supernatural. Camazotz, one of the Mayan gods, is known as ‘death bat’, which also represents supernatural and fear. Camazotz is also a demon who represents destruction.
Renewal and Transformation
Bats are symbols that play a role in the renewal of life. In Hinduism, one of the goddesses, Lakshmi can take the form of a bat, making it a symbol of transformation. In ancient Mesoamerica and South America, bats were considered for renewal along with creatures who could transform into vampires and also rebirth and transformation. Bats are a symbol of transition as they move from one place to another. In Shamanic culture, bats represent the renewal and transition with the ability to see secrets. In Ancient Greek, bats symbolize transformation as Ovid, Alcithoe’s sister, was transformed into a bat by Dionysus. Also, if a person encounters a bat, it is a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
Bats, with very good eyesight, display amazing skills of survival, both individually and in a group. Thus, bats are major symbolism for survival. They usually are seen together for hunting food and flying. Bats can also easily survive in darkness with their navigation ability. Bats are a symbol of survival in New Age and Neo-shamanic as well as Native American and Indigenous cultures. They also use totem animals to use it as reminders and keep them as an emblem at home. According to Southern and Central Americans, vampire bats are a symbol of survival, but in a negative light, as they drink the blood of humans and animals. As per Celtic mythology, bats are also symbol of survival as they can dwell among all birds and animals and remain active at night.
Examples of Bat Symbolism in Literature
Bats By Amanda Jernigan
They billow from a hillside in Cha’am.
Together, they are more than plural:
the planet’s darkest song, a tongue,
a serpent muscling air apart,
a dire banner come unfurled,
a river flowing wholly from
the old, mute mountain’s desperate heart,
the last confession of the world.
Conceive of each one singly, if you can.
In this poem, the author describes a night scene on a hill and a possible bats colony. Here the bats are symbols of mystery, dare, and fear.
Bat Cave By Eleanor Wilner
The cave looked much like any other
from a little distance but
as we approached, came almost
to its mouth, we saw its walls within
that slanted up into a dome
were beating like a wild black lung—
it was plastered and hung with
the pulsing bodies of bats, the organ
music of the body’s deep
interior, alive, the sacred cave
with its ten thousand gleaming eyes
near the clustered rocks
where the sea beat with the leather
wings of its own dark waves.
Similar to the first poem, this example also describes bats as creatures of the night, with eyes open and hanging upside down. Here the bats are symbols of fear and as well as supernatural.
Bats By Hussain Ahmed
What song would you render,
On the eve of another storm?
In a prayer house, bats perched
On the speaker, beside the pulpit.
I believed they could hear us,
And like the old days
We speak in tongues like our ancestors
But I don’t know what God made of it.
In this poem, the author describes bats close to his worship place. Hence, the bats here represent the divine, supernatural, and messengers.
The Bats Fly By Robert Miller
The time forecasts a peopled dark
And voiceless flight
Time for opening disked eyes
In evening it is best to wake,
To stretch our wings,
We of the pointed ears
Some with sharpened toes
Depend from limbs,
Or hang from guanoed rocks
In a dark
The above example is written from the bats’ point of view. Here bats symbolize happiness and freedom.
Bat Attack by J.E. Fison
A bat flies straight towards my face. it gives me a perfect view of possibly one of the ugliest creatures alive. It has long ears and what looks like a piece of salad on the end of its nose. I’m being attacked by Master Yoda with wings!
In the above example, the author describes the bat as an ugly creature who is also intelligent. Here the bat represents fear and knowledge.
The Secret Lives of Bats: My Adventures with the World’s Most Misunderstood Mammals by Merlin Tuttle
It is simply amazing how quickly attitudes improve when people finally understand bats as they really are—sophisticated, beautiful, even cute, quite aside from their crucial roles as primary predators of insects, pollinators of flowers, and dispersers of seeds.
This example is taken from non-fiction with real wide life experience by the speaker. Here the writer is mesmerized by bats’ beauty as well as their contribution to nature alongside bees. Here bats are symbols of knowledge and beauty.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
The streetlight outside my house shines on tonight and I’m watching it like it could give me a vision. James ain’t talked ever and he looks at that streetlight like it was a word and maybe like it was a verb. James wanted to streetlight me and make me bright and beautiful so all the moths and bats would circle me like I was the center of the world and held secrets.
In this example, the author uses bats as a symbol of the supernatural and navigation as he expects the bat to give him the ability to see and move without hurting in the darkness.
Night of the Vampire by Raymond Giles
“He looks to me like he’s turning into a… into a…”
“Into a what?”
“Into a giant bat!”
In the above example, one of the characters is transforming into a bat, indicating that he or she is a vampire. Thus, here bats represent the supernatural and fear.