The Surprising Symbolism of Bats - Symbol Sage (2022)

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As the only mammals who can fly, bats have been largely misunderstood and sometimes feared since the earliest of times. They are often a significant feature in vampire and ghost stories, where they are seen as dwellers of haunted places. However, in some cultures bats are revered, put on a pedestal, and even treated like Gods.

So, which is it? Are bats symbols of evil or are they good luck omens? Let’s find out.

The Surprising Symbolism of Bats - Symbol Sage (3)

Bat Symbolism – An Overview

Bat symbolism varies depending on the context it’s viewed within. To some, bats represent rebirth and regeneration. This is because bats arise when the sun sets and day melts into the night. Hence, the implication here is that a new life (night) begins at the end of the day.

This association also implies letting go of the old and ushering in the new, transition, transformation, change, and new beginnings.

In Chinese culture, bats are seen as harbingers of good luck and prosperity. Lucky bat symbols have been a part of Chinese history for centuries. They believe that if five bats are seen together, they bring five blessings or “Wu Fu”:

  1. Love of virtue
  2. Dying naturally at a ripe old age
  3. Longevity
  4. Wealth
  5. Health

In Japan, bats are seen as good luck symbols, because the word for bat (komori) is similar to that of the word for ‘a lot of happiness’.

In other cultures, however, the appearance of bats is not considered to be a good omen. Bats are sometimes viewed as harbingers of trouble such as blindness and insanity.

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What Bats Symbolize

1- Fear

For most people, bats symbolize fear and negativity. These associations likely stem from the fact that bats are typically painted in a negative light. Bats are also associated with several frightening mythical figures, such as vampires and witches.

2- Navigation

Say what you will, bats are extremely intelligent creatures and excellent navigators. They use echolocation to find their way around, much like dolphins. This gives them the ability to move easily and safely in the dark. Contrary to popular belief, bats aren’t blind. But they don’t need the vision that humans have.

3- Intuition

Bats can move around intuitively, even in the pitch dark. They don’t crash into other bats when flying and are able to find their way around. In this way, bats represent the ability to understand something even when it’s not clear.

4- Communication

Bats tend to communicate with each other using high frequency sounds. They chirp, sing and screech to get their message across. While human ears often can’t pick out these sounds, except those that are within the wave frequency range, this doesn’t mean that they don’t ‘speak’ with each other.

5- Community

Bats are social animals that live in colonies. This associates them with community and togetherness.

6- Longevity

As mammals that live to from 16 to up to 30 years, bats are symbols of longevity. This is a long lifespan for a bat, based on their body size. According to a study, quoted in ARS Technica, “Nineteen species of mammals live longer than humans, given their body size, of which 18 are bats”.

7- Supernatural powers

Associated with the night, witches, vampires, and all things supernatural, it’s no wonder that bats represent supernatural powers.

8- Invisibility

Bats represent invisibility because these creatures are great at hiding out in areas that humans normally don’t see them, like within dark caves. Their ability to fly around at night also connect them to invisibility.

9- Survival and adaptability

Bats are great at adapting to their environment, finding ways to survive harsh conditions. Their ability to live for a long time is also an indication of their skills at survival. Bats are also known to survive terrible diseases, the study of which has been extremely helpful in our understanding of how to deal with contagion.

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10- Death and rebirth

Bats represent letting go of the past and the old. They are symbolic of transition from one state to another, and of ushering the new. In this way, they represent both the past and the future, the end and the beginning, death and rebirth.

Folklore Surrounding Bats

The Surprising Symbolism of Bats - Symbol Sage (4)

Europe

In Europe, bats were considered to be the sidekicks of devils and witches. Some people also believed that bat bites never healed. There was a widespread belief among Europeans that if a bat got entangled in the long hair of a woman, the hair would have to be cut in order to get the bat out.

Bats have been associated with vampires in Western culture for decades. The association is assumed to have come about due to the European obsession and fear of vampires. When America was first discovered, many writers wrote accounts of their encounters with vampire bats. These stories involved the vampire bats devouring large amounts of blood.

In Greek mythology, the bat is associated with Persephone and Hades, as they were the rulers of the underworld. She initially hated Hades, but soon he grew on her.

Native American

Apaches, a group of native American tribes, have a different myth about bats. Accordingly, Jonayaiyin, who human hero fought for the benefit of mankind, once killed some eagles and gave their feathers to a bat which had helped him in battle. The bat kept losing these feathers and kept coming to Jonayaiyin for more, until he got fed up and refused to give it more.

For the Native American Zunni people, bats are associated with cleansing and rainfall. Instead of shunning bats for ill will and devilry, the Zunni believe that bats are guardians of night.

Central and South America

According to the mythology of the Oaxacan people of Mexico, bats were jealous of pretty birds and kept complaining about them. Due to their ungratefulness, they were given dark coloring and forced to lead a solitary life in the dark.

In Mayan culture Camazotz, the bat god, was considered to be the god of death, night and sacrifice. He is depicted with the face of a bat, but the torso of a man.

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Christianity

In Christianity, bats appear three times in the Bible, but in all three verses, they’re associated with negativity and darkness. The Old Testament forbids the eating of bats, while in Isaiah 2:20, bats are mentioned together with moles (another negative creature in Christianity). These associations come from the bat’s connection to the night and to darkness.

Bat as A Spirit Animal

If a bat is the spirit animal of a person, it is believed that the bat will follow this person around and will not leave them in time of need. Bats also help to uncover secrets about themselves and help reduce the burdens of past.

Individuals who have bats as their spirit animal have an elevated sense of awareness and are sensitive to even minor changes in their surroundings. With bat as their spirit animal, such individuals are family people and believe in keeping the ties strong with their family members.

People whose power animal is a bat, often have dreams that come true. Such people are often very perceptive and have the willpower to reach their greatest potential. Additionally, they’re also active listeners and good communicators.

If a bat is your spirit animals, you may have conquered the fear of death.

Bats and Dreams

Seeing a bat in a dream can signify several things, depending on the details of the dream. However, a general interpretation could represent the following factors:

  • The person has bad habits that they need to get rid of. This comes from the association of bats as an unclean creature that is associated with negativity.
  • Seeing a bat flying in your dream is an indication of problems that are expected to occur in your future.
  • Catching a bat and killing it in your dream indicates that you will successfully get rid of certain problems in your life.
  • If you see a bat attacking someone else in your dream, it indicates that person is likely to face problems in the future.
  • Dreaming that a bat has built a nest in your house may indicate that problems will grow within your house.
  • Dreaming that a bat has left its excrement in your house implies that you are involved in an illegal or unfavorable activity, and you may be making illegal gains from this.

As bats are commonly associated with darkness, dreams about bats tend to be negative.

Facts About Bats

  • Bats are the only mammals capable of a stable and sustained flight.
  • Bats are generally insectivorous with the exception of a few species which feed on flowers.
  • Bats have a very clear day time vision.
  • While bats have few predators, a many of them are killed each year due to diseases.
  • Bats clean themselves and spend time self-grooming.
  • Bats can live for more than 30 years.
  • Bats find their food in total darkness using a mechanism called echolocation.
  • Baby bats are known as pups.
  • A large number of bat species has been reported to be in decline in recent years.
  • Bat droppings can be used to make gun powder.

Conclusion

Bats are creatures of the night, and this association has linked them to death, evil, negativity, and witches. However, while the Western world sees bats in this negative light, in many Eastern and South American cultures, bats are associated with rebirth and wisdom. The symbolism of bats, therefore, depends on who you ask, as there is no consensus on whether these creatures are positive or negative symbols.

FAQs

What does the bat symbol symbolize? ›

Bats often represent death in the sense of letting go of the old, and bringing in the new. They are symbols of transition, of initiation, and the start of a new beginning.

What is a bat spiritually? ›

Bat Spirit Animal

If your spirit animal is a bat, then you might be someone who is often misunderstood. Kind and outgoing, people with the bat spirit animal do things in their own unique way and may struggle with making good first impressions.

What do bats symbols represent in Feng Shui? ›

1. Bat. An ancient symbol of wealth, the word 'bat' means prosperity in Chinese. It should be placed in the Southeast section of your home as it is known to be a symbol of wealth and wellness.

What do bats symbolize in Celtic mythology? ›

Celtic mythology saw the bat as an omen of death, misfortune, and trickery, and often, they were symbols of shapeshifters, ghosts, and fairies. Some beliefs suggested they were related to witches; if they came too close to a person, they marked them for 'eternal damnation.

What deity is associated with bats? ›

In Greek mythology, bats are associated with the underworld- Persephone and Hades.

What does the Bible say about bats? ›

The Bible categorizes the Bat among the "BIRDS" in the list of unclean animals. According to these verses, Bat is a "BIRD" that should be "DETESTED" and "abominated" and it is a symbol of darkness, desolation or ruin.

Are bats an omen? ›

Bats in buildings have also been seen as omens of lesser evils than death. Various myths relate that bats in houses may bring bad luck, or portend that someone in the house will go insane, become blind, be missing the next day, that a letter with bad news will arrive, or that the people in the house will move.

What are bats attracted to? ›

Bats are attracted to an area if it meets their need for food, water, and shelter. The presence of a fairly large source of fresh water, especially a stream, river, or lake, is one of the key indicators of good bat habitat. These areas provide not only fresh water, but also an excellent supply of insects.

How do I know what my spirit animal is? ›

A few techniques for discovering your spirit animal:
  1. Learn about the animal connections in your own lineage. ...
  2. Pay attention to your dreams. ...
  3. Think about your past connections to certain animals. ...
  4. Journal about the animals that you feel drawn to. ...
  5. Take a quiz. ...
  6. Bear. ...
  7. Butterfly. ...
  8. Cat.
23 Nov 2021

Do bats bring good luck? ›

As symbols of good luck and happiness, bats have few rivals in Chinese culture, and their admiration for bats is ancient. The Chinese word for bat is 'fu,' pronounced the same as the word for good fortune.

What does a bat symbolize in Chinese culture? ›

Chinese artists have long used five bats to represent the five blessings: health, long life, prosperity, love of virtue, and a tranquil, natural death. The bats often are bright red— the color of joy. Sometimes they encircle a stylized caligraph known as the prosperity symbol.

What does Islam say about bats? ›

In Shi'a hadith, bats are praised as a miracle of nature. Birds are commonly revered in Islamic literature, especially in the Sufi tradition, where they are a metaphor for the soul's divine journey to God (e.g. in The Conference of the Birds).

What does a bat mean in Native American culture? ›

For the Navajo, the bat holds a special significance— For the traditional Navajo Indian in the deserts of the American Southwest, the bat is an intermediary to the divine, bridging the supernatural distance between men and gods. Bat serves as mentor of the night, as Big Fly does by day.

Are bats intuitive? ›

While bats have excellent communication skills they also heavily rely on their intuition. Their natural instincts are second to none, that's why they have become a symbol for intuition. Bats rely heavily on their communication with one another, but they also rely a lot on their natural intuition.

What do bats symbolize in dreams? ›

Most of the dreams about bats may bring negativity, but not all the time. Sometimes, bat dreams also mean rebirth or a new beginning. Since bats are alive and active at night, your dream could also be a sign that you still have a chance to recover amidst the problems you are going through.

Why is Persephone associated with bats? ›

The ancient Greeks associated bats with the underworld and were considered sacred by Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and wife of Hades. Similarly, in the New World, the Maya believed that one passed through the bat house region (Zotzilaha) of the underworld on the way to the depths of the earth.

What are signs of Persephone? ›

Persephone however had consumed some pomegranate seeds while in the underworld, and having eaten food from Hades' realm she could not leave.
...
Persephone
SymbolPomegranate, seeds of grain, torch, flowers, and deer
Personal information
ParentsZeus and Demeter Zeus and Rhea (Orphic)
7 more rows

Were there bats in ancient Egypt? ›

It is an aerial insectivore, foraging in open space. Based on individuals captured in Ethiopia, it is thought to feed predominantly on Lepidoptera, but is also known to feed on Isoptera, Coleoptera and Orthoptera.
...
Egyptian tomb bat
Order:Chiroptera
Family:Emballonuridae
Genus:Taphozous
Species:T. perforatus
14 more rows

Why are bats part of Halloween? ›

It's Samhain

Others say that bats have been associated with Halloween for hundreds of years, thanks to Samhain, a Celtic harvest festival. Celebrations involve lighting bonfires, which attract bugs — which, in turn, attract bug-munching bats.

What food is forbidden in Christianity? ›

The only dietary restrictions specified for Christians in the New Testament are to "abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals" (Acts 15:29), teachings that the early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, preached for believers to follow.

Why did bats evolve to hang upside down? ›

Because of their unique physical abilities, bats can safely roost in places where predators cannot get them. To sleep, bats hang themselves upside down in a cave or hollow tree, with their wings draped around their bodies like cloaks. They hang upside down to hibernate and even upon death.

What happens when a bat touches you? ›

Anyone who touched or had contact with the bat or its saliva could be at risk of getting rabies, which is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. Fortunately, rabies can be prevented if treatment is given before symptoms appear, so quickly identifying anyone who has had contact is important.

Why are bats helpful to humans? ›

Bats play an essential role in pest control, pollinating plants and dispersing seeds. Recent studies estimate that bats eat enough pests to save more than $1 billion per year in crop damage and pesticide costs in the United States corn industry alone.

What does it mean to see a bat during the day? ›

Separated From Mother. It is fairly common that bats are found during the daytime because they have been separated from their mother. Baby bats will generally wait for their mother to find them, however, when it's dusk, the risk of fallen to a bigger predator might entice them to fly aimlessly to find their mother.

Are bats good to have around your house? ›

As mentioned before, bats are a great source of natural pest control to help control mosquito and other insect populations on your property. There is a lot of fear surrounding bats and their bites.

What happens if a bat touches your hair? ›

Humans, however, have their own unique species of head louse (and a pubic louse, also). It would seem if a bat were to get into a person's hair, the bat would be the one far more likely to catch lice from the human! Other consequences of a bat getting in your hair are thought to be bad luck or insanity.

Do bats like humans? ›

Bats always try to avoid contact with humans and other animals. A bat found outside may be injured, grounded by a storm or pesticides, or ill. In these cases, a bat rehabilitator or wildlife rehabilitator should be contacted for help.

Which spirit animal is the best? ›

The tiger is one of the most popular spirit animals, and it's not hard to see why. The tiger is a powerful animal that embodies strength, courage, and determination. As your spirit animal, the tiger can guide you through times of challenge and help you find your inner strength.

What is a power animal? ›

Power animals can appear in meditations, visions, dreams, shamanic journeys, or on the earth in their physical form. They can be mammals, birds, or reptiles; and even so-called mythical creatures such as unicorns or dragons can be power animals, although they have no physical representations in the material world.

What are the Native American spirit animals? ›

Lakota Spirit Animals
  • Badger.
  • Bear.
  • Buffalo.
  • Coyote.
  • Deer.
  • Eagle.
  • Elk.
  • Fox.

What is the luckiest animal? ›

Bulls are known for bringing luck to a variety of cultures. Greek, Celtic, Egyptian and East Indian people all see the animal as a powerful force. The bull is said to be a sign of positive things from good health to wealth. The Greeks looked upon the bull as a master of love and fertility.

How can I bring luck to my house? ›

Want to lift the energy in your home? We've got everything you need to keep your house bright and your fortune brighter
  • Burn incense. ...
  • Adopt a fish (or nine) ...
  • Bring in bamboo. ...
  • Burn sage. ...
  • Fill your fruit bowl. ...
  • Scatter acorns. ...
  • Hang a dream catcher. ...
  • Be clever with paint.
5 Sept 2019

What are the 5 blessings of life? ›

Chinese culture: five blessings, also known as the "Five Happiness" or "Five Good Fortunes", which refer to longevity, wealth, health and composure, love of virtue, and the desire to die a natural death in old age (or timely death).

What are the five Happinesses? ›

According to traditional Chinese thought, the most important goals in life are the five happinesses – good luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness and wealth.

When bats fly in your house? ›

If you can, isolate the bat in one room, she said. Open windows and doors leading to the outside. Keep outdoor lights on because insects will be drawn to them, which, in turn, will lure the bat outside. If it does not leave on its own, try using a box, a container or net to capture it.

Are bats haram? ›

Bat meat is haram (prohibited) in Islam.

Can Muslims own dogs? ›

It is a fundamental tenet of Islam that everything is permissible, except those things that have been explicitly banned. Based on this, most Muslims would agree that it is permissible to have a dog for the purpose of security, hunting, farming, or service to the disabled.

Can Muslims pet dogs? ›

Many scholars think it is clean and, therefore, petting is okay. But fierce debate ensues if the fur is wet. The Koran itself says little about dogs. Scholars claim that the Prophet prayed among canines.

What do bat tattoos mean? ›

Today, it is also known as The Dark Knight or The Caped Crusader. In China, the bat is a symbol of happiness, longevity, and good luck. An image of five bats represents long life, wealth, good luck, happiness, and prosperity. Two bats seen in a tattoo design means double happiness. A red bat means vast fortune.

What does a bat mean in Native American culture? ›

For the Navajo, the bat holds a special significance— For the traditional Navajo Indian in the deserts of the American Southwest, the bat is an intermediary to the divine, bridging the supernatural distance between men and gods. Bat serves as mentor of the night, as Big Fly does by day.

Do bats bring good luck? ›

As symbols of good luck and happiness, bats have few rivals in Chinese culture, and their admiration for bats is ancient. The Chinese word for bat is 'fu,' pronounced the same as the word for good fortune.

What does a bat symbolize in Chinese culture? ›

Chinese artists have long used five bats to represent the five blessings: health, long life, prosperity, love of virtue, and a tranquil, natural death. The bats often are bright red— the color of joy. Sometimes they encircle a stylized caligraph known as the prosperity symbol.

Why do people get ghost tattoos? ›

Ghost tattoos may symbolize a guide or a teacher, as well as a spiritual healer that was sent from another dimension to protect you. You can also show and talk about rebirth with your ghost tattoo and represent how it has made an impact on your life, lifestyle, or your surrounding.

What does a barbed wire tattoo mean? ›

The barbed wire tattoo can represent a lot of different things to the wearer, but they commonly represent strength, power, and authority or hardship and struggles. You may have gone through a lot in your life and you want to represent the battle you fought to get where you are.

What does a dragon tattoo mean on a woman? ›

The eastern dragons, especially Chinese dragons, are a symbol of power or royalty. Both Chinese and Japanese believe dragons bring fortune, wealth, and protection.

Are bats good omens? ›

Bats in buildings have also been seen as omens of lesser evils than death. Various myths relate that bats in houses may bring bad luck, or portend that someone in the house will go insane, become blind, be missing the next day, that a letter with bad news will arrive, or that the people in the house will move.

What does it mean when bats keep coming in your house? ›

Bats frequently finding their way into your house may indicate that you have bats roosting in your property. Bats entering the living spaces of a home on a regular basis is not a normal part of having a roost, and there is help and advice available.

How do I know my spirit animal? ›

A few techniques for discovering your spirit animal:
  1. Learn about the animal connections in your own lineage. ...
  2. Pay attention to your dreams. ...
  3. Think about your past connections to certain animals. ...
  4. Journal about the animals that you feel drawn to. ...
  5. Take a quiz. ...
  6. Bear. ...
  7. Butterfly. ...
  8. Cat.
23 Nov 2021

What is the luckiest animal? ›

Bulls are known for bringing luck to a variety of cultures. Greek, Celtic, Egyptian and East Indian people all see the animal as a powerful force. The bull is said to be a sign of positive things from good health to wealth. The Greeks looked upon the bull as a master of love and fertility.

What does Islam say about bats? ›

In Shi'a hadith, bats are praised as a miracle of nature. Birds are commonly revered in Islamic literature, especially in the Sufi tradition, where they are a metaphor for the soul's divine journey to God (e.g. in The Conference of the Birds).

What are the 5 blessings of life? ›

Chinese culture: five blessings, also known as the "Five Happiness" or "Five Good Fortunes", which refer to longevity, wealth, health and composure, love of virtue, and the desire to die a natural death in old age (or timely death).

What are the five Happinesses? ›

According to traditional Chinese thought, the most important goals in life are the five happinesses – good luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness and wealth.

Is there a bat yokai? ›

In Japanese folklore there are several different yokai connected to bats, the nobusuma, the yamachichi and the nodeppo. Nobusuma (also known as Tobikura) are bats that live to very old age and then transform into yokai.

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