Hares, Mythology and Weathervanes

I opened the front door last night to let our Border Collie Bryn out before bed. Right there in front of me was a Leveret, and needless to say both took off at great speed across the garden. He escaped through a gap in the fence into the field next door, and thankfully Bryn had the sense not to try and follow! We've been seeing a lot of the young Hare lately, there's a patch of clover in the middle of our lawn that he finds particularly tasty.

Having grown up in a city, until we moved here a year ago I'd have had no idea of the difference between a Rabbit and a Hare but after watching this young Leveret nearly every day this summer, they are unmistakeable. It's also sparked my interest and I've been doing some reading into Hares and mythology; I've seen various bits of artwork featuring Hares gazing at the moon and wondered is that something they do? Why are they so often linked with witchcraft? We produced a set of laser cut murals serveral years ago that at the request of our customer featured a moon gazing Hare, so it's even in my own artwork and I still don't actually know why!

The association with fetility and springtime is clear; females Hares can produce serveral litters per year, and can even concieve one litter while still pregnant with the last. Everyone has heard the phrase 'mad as a March Hare'; this comes from the Hare's courtship ritual whereby the stronger, larger female tests the speed and stamina of her male counterparts.. not something I've seen myself but it's meant to be quite a spectacle. Given the number of Hares around this part of the Scottish Borders, I'll certainly be looking out for it next Spring.

Through the medieval period it was believed that witches could shapeshift into Hares. Perhaps it is this dominance and strength in the female character, combined with the Hare's speed and agility meaning that they can almost literally dissapear in front of your eyes, that perpetuated this myth?

Hare Weathervane Hare running weathervane

There are a couple of different Hare weathervanes available on our website, one sitting in long grass, and the other running. And we also created a bespoke weathervane featuring a Hare and crescent moon:

Hare Weathervane

Which brings me back to the whole Hares gazing at the moon thing... if you do a google image search, it brings up plenty of beautiful paintings and drawings, but no actual photographs of this occuring. These animals are most active at dusk when the moon is coming out but other than this I can see no evidence for the association, so it's still pretty unclear to me whether or not Hares have ever gazed at the moon!