An understanding of Bat symbolism can give one an insight into the future, help one decipher past patterns and trends, and even learn from them. A study of the bat symbol could also help in forecasting, predicting, or deciphering the meaning of one’s dreams and could aid in decision making.
In this guide, we will cover different aspects of bat spirit animal, what does a bat symbolize, bat tattoo meaning and also a bat’s representation in the Bible, in mythology and also in cultures across the world.
Table of contents
- Bat Symbolism and meaning
- Bat Native American Symbolism
- Bat Christianity Symbolism
- Bat Celtic Symbolism
- Bat in Dreams
- Bat Encounters and Omens
- Bat’ Mythology and Folklore
- Bat Spirit Animal
- Bat Totem Animal
- Bat Power Animal
- Bat Tattoo Meaning
Bat Symbolism and Meaning
The symbolism of bats takes on different meanings in different cultures. Depending on whom you ask, the bat symbol meaning could be positive or negative. Early Christians believed bats to be evil and representatives of Dracula – a blood-thirsty vampire.
In Japan, the ideographs for ‘bats’ and ‘luck’ have the same pronunciation. However, the Japanese also believe bats to be a symbol of chaos, unrest, and happiness. In Chinese folklore, bats hold a very important place; the Chinese also eat bats since they are believed to promote longevity.
In short: what do bats symbolize is a question that has varied answers. Bat symbolism and meaning varies from culture to culture. So fascinating is the study of bats and its symbolic representation that even literary figures like Shakespeare used them in their plays. (Shakespeare used bats in the hell-brew of the weird Macbeth sisters.)
The bat might have even a combined symbolism of a bird (which represents the soul) and that of the demon (since bats dwell in the darkness and are nocturnal). It is little wonder that the bat can mean anything and everything from a witch, to something/someone familiar, to a ghost, a devil, a vampire, and even a tribal God!
Bat Native American Symbolism
If you search what do bats symbolize in Native American culture, then you will get different representations for nearly every tribe. Most Indians believed bats to be sinister and frightening. They considered the bat meaning to be death and darkness.
Bats are seen in Native American art in the form of wall paintings; several images in caves linked bats to the interconnection between life, water, fertility, and death. The Zuni tribes regarded bats as the harbinger of rains.
Among some Native American tribes, the bat was considered a trickster spirit. Still, others believed that the bat totem animal as a shaman who teaches people to go into the night of inner darkness.
Bat Christianity Symbolism
Early Christians believed bats to be rather similar to rats and even as symbols of the devil or the darkness. Many believed bats to share the sexual lust of the devil and even as representative of Pan- the cloven-footed God who played his pipes in celebration of nature and sexuality.
According to bat symbolism Bible, bats have been mentioned a total of three times in the Holy book. In two of those, bats are categorized as unclean birds or abominations of birds that should not be eaten.
In the passage in Isaiah, bats represent the end of idol worship since they sleep in caves, temples, and other dark places under the earth during the daytime.
Ancient people soon started associating bats with tombs, ruins, desolate places, graves, and, in general, all things dark and morbid. Most people believed bats to be witches and devil. The Hebrew bat meaning is ‘that which flies in the night.’
Bat Celtic Symbolism
Bats have long been associated with Celtic culture and festivals. Halloween and bats have a close relation and bats are seen around Samhain bonfires as revelers dance and feast around them.
The bats feast too- just on the bugs! There is a reason behind bats flying around bonfires. Bats hibernate in winters and they like to build their fat reserves before the onset of winter.
In October, when the Samhain bonfires are lit, bugs are attracted to the fire and warmth and bats come out to feast on the bugs. Thus, much like the ancient Celts, bats also use the bonfire for getting ready by feasting and ‘dancing’ around the fire.
Celts use bat symbols to represent major life changes, courage, and also seeing the unseen. In Celtic folklore and mythological stories, bats are symbolic of witches, ghosts, vampires, dark, evil, and negative omens.
Bat in Dreams
Dark and scary, nocturnal, always found in dreary, dark, and desolate places, flapping eerily overhead, potentially blood-sucking; most people fear bats. Bat dream meaning typically represents fear. Since bats are blind, a dream about bats could also mean potential vision-related issues or even blindness.
We all have fears and bat dream meaning could represent those fears in our waking lives. A person attacked or bitten by a bat could also fear bats and have nightmares about them. Dreaming of bats in a cave could mean you are keeping your fears hidden from others but that they also exist.
A ‘dream about bats flying overhead’ means that your fears still exist, but they are not directly impacting your life currently. A dream about vampire bats could represent a person who is depleting you of your self-confidence.
Mystically speaking, bats also represent death and dying. These universally loathed creatures are a portent of disaster. Owing to their blindness, a dream of bats could warn the dreamer about potential blindness or a danger to the eyes.
Bat Encounters and Omens
Bats are remarkable and mystical creatures, the only mammals that can fly. They use a sophisticated echolocation system to orient themselves. They have excellent hearing skills and perceive their surroundings with their ears.
Bats hide in dark and desolate places during the day. They sleep hanging upside down and that is also how their young ones are born. Encounters with bats can leave people unsettled and disturbed, even scared.
Mostly you’d see bats in caves, ruins, tombs, and other dark and dingy places. Their ghostly appearance, usually at twilight when they flap overhead, can be scary. Their love for deserted houses and ruins has given bats a bad reputation.
If you encounter a bat, it is a sign or an omen of letting something die. The bat is trying to tell you that that part of your life is done and you should allow its rebirth and not obstruct it –it is one of the important symbols of rebirth.
The thoughts you have during your encounter with a bat can also be very important in its bat spiritual meaning. Maybe, consciously or unconsciously, you have been thinking about birth or rebirth. The symbolic representation of a bat entering a cave to die (sleep) only to reappear at twilight indicates rebirth and the necessity of birth for bringing something new.
A bat may also come in your view when the Universe is trying to tell you to let go of old thoughts and beliefs. It may represent the fact of letting new ideas, kindness, generosity, collective good, and even freedom and other positive things to be reborn.
If you encounter bats often, it could be the omen that you are steadily moving forward in your evolution. You may be the person that cannot be fooled by anything. It is wonderful to find the rhythm, let go of old ideas, beliefs, and traditions, and welcome the birth of new thoughts.
In the modern Western world, people believe that overhead flapping bats could collide with someone’s head. This is not true since bats use echolocation – an advanced orienting system that keeps them from colliding. This scientific discovery has done little to quell the myth.
In parts of England and the USA, a bat circling someone’s house three times is considered as impending death. However, a bat flying ‘playfully’ could mean a good omen bringing fair weather.
A bat bone kept in the pocket ensures that no harm is brought to you. In the past, in Europe, people carried a bat’s right eye in their pockets to make themselves invisible.
A bat in house omen is, unfortunately, a bad one. It is an unlucky omen, so people often catch and hang them over the door. Killing a bat is also unlucky in many parts of the world; one would die soon if they did that.
Bat Mythology and Folklore
In Western mythology and folklore, the bat started getting tied with vampires not just after Bram Stoker’s Dracula; but right from Aesop’s fables.
Early observers of bats also saw similarities between bats and humans – particularly their tendency to suckle their young ones at their nipples just like in humans. However, owing to their nocturnal nature, bats came to be associated, just like owls, with the supernatural.
In Greek mythology, bats were sacred to the wife of Pluto – the God of the Underworld.
In South American folklore, the indigenous tribes incorporated the vampire bats into their mythology and folklore. Some ethnologists, who studied the people and plants of Guinea, even formally designated one of the plants as Bat’s Bane – since the juice of the leaves, when applied to one’s toes, seemed to kill attacking bats.
Mesoamericans and South Americans viewed bats as the symbol of the underworld and rebirth or return to life. The small blood-imbibing bats that were native to South and Central America became associated with the mysteries of death and the eternal cycles of renewal as well as terrors of vampires.
In Turkey, bats were eaten since the Testament called them an abomination. In Chinese mythology, bats were considered a good omen, and good luck. Two bats together are the symbol of Sho-Hsing – the God of Longevity. Four bats represented health, wealth, long life, and peace.
The phrase blind as a bat is actually wrong because bats have good vision. Also, only three species of bats have been known to drink blood and they have no connection to the vampire folklore.
In India, mentioning a bat after nightfall is an ill-omen. People who do that may lose their property.
In Scotland, if one sees a bat in flying, rises, and then descends eastward – it is considered ill-luck and one should not leave one’s home after that. In Belgium, a bat in the chimney is a sign of misfortune coming.
Bat Spirit Animal
If your spirit animal is a bat, then it means you have conquered man’s greatest fear, the fear of death. Since bats live in caves and only come out at night, it also represents our consciousness.
A bat as a spirit animal indicates a person who is aware of his/her own states of consciousness, inner awareness. That is why; such a person is capable of understanding the darkness of night, death, and even the world of dreams.
A person with the bat as a spirit animal is the Guardian of the Night.
In Native American cultures, the bat spirit guide symbolizes intuition, dreams, and visions. People with bat totem animal are intuitive and visionary.
Bat Totem Animal
Bat totem animal represents letting go of fear and being free from them. As per bat symbology, bat totem animal unlocks your deepest fears and sets you free. When a bat comes, it is the death of fears and rebirth of someone who is going to live a life free from fears.
Some fears can be deep-rooted, so they chain us up, and we actually become comfortable living with them. You are so used to you have become living with those fears and phobias that you get blinded (just like bats are supposed to be!) by those fears.
Even if you try to heal and overcome the fear, something causes you to revert back to it. You make a bit of progress only to turn back to the security blanket of that fear.
Seeing a bat is an indication that there is going to be a shift in your evolution. A bat totem animal is like a light that will show you the way through those deep-rooted fears.
A bat encourages you to explore your deep-seated fears and core issues and deal with them one step at a time. The bat will lift you higher and no matter what comes your way, you are lifted, safe, supported, and healthy.
Bat Power Animal
Power animals represent our sources of help and strength. Their characteristics help power us up and support us. One can have more than one power animal, but only one is revealed at a time.
If a bat is your power animal, then you are blessed! A bat power animal and the bat symbol represent adaptability, strength, conquering one’s fears, rebirth, and also overcoming obstacles.
Just like a bat uses echolocation to avoid hitting objects and finding the things it wants to eat, a bat power animal will empower you to overcome challenges and obstacles.
It will help you take stock of your current circumstances and surroundings and pick the best way around obstacles to find your target and reach your goals – whatever they may be. A bat knows how to go up and that is the direction you will also go in!
Bat Tattoo Meaning
A bat tattoo can mean different things in different regions and cultures. It could mean ‘reborn,’ happiness, or luck. It could also mean chaos (the Japanese meaning) or death or evil in the West. Two bats sketched on the wrapping of a gift convey prosperity in China.
A tattoo with five bats means five great virtues: health, wealth, happiness, long-life, and natural death. The tattoo of a bat circling a stylized glyph tells us that the person’s prosperity is owing to her/his virtues.
In the west, bats are generally considered spooky and typically bat tattoos represent ‘vampires that have a lust for blood and eternal life that is destructive in nature.’
In Japan, bat tattoos are considered lucky sometimes and the characters used for representing ‘bats’ also represent ‘fuku,’ which means good luck. In Central America, bat tattoo represents ‘a guardian.’
As can be seen, bat symbolism can take on different meanings and connotations. It is certainly one of the birds and animals associated with death. The spiritual meaning of bats in your house is generally a negative one, although some experts believe that it is a sign of letting one’s fears go only to be reborn with renewed vigor and strength. We hope you can find your own ‘bat meaning’ that bring out the strengths and virtues inside you.