Sunday 16th April is Easter Sunday, which is generally taken to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion. Intriguingly, Easter Sunday is not a set date but is calculated according to the Lunar cycle, being the next Sunday after the first Full Moon following the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, so it can move around between 22nd March and 25th April. This points to the celebration being linked to an earlier Pagan celebration, which were all associated with seasons and moon cycles; further corroborative evidence being the name Easter – derived from the Pagan God Eostre; the Easter Egg – reminiscent of the Pagan egg to symbolise fertility and the Easter Bunny – a variation on the Pagan Hare, another ancient symbol of fertility and with a 28 day gestation period very linked to the lunar cycle. In Ancient Egypt the hare is a hieroglyph meaning ‘existence’.
Interestingly, the hare has alleged associations with the alchemical symbol for tin (Jupiter/luck) and is strongly represented in ancient world mythology as having divine qualities. Its elusiveness and erratic behaviour, particularly at night, have reinforced its reputation as a magical creature, with mystical links to the female cycle and to the moon which governed it.
Intriguingly, a famous symbol of three interlocking hares chasing each other around a circle has been found in various parts of the UK, particularly Devon, and indeed all over the world. Known as the hare triscol, only three ears are shown yet, due to clever positioning, they each seem to have two. Looking on the internet for an image to use, I came across this fabulously vibrant version by children's book illustrator Jackie Morris (link to website) who graciously granted permission for me to use it for an article I wrote in 2011 when it was the Chinese New Year of the Glden Hare (or Rabbit). I love the intense blue and the way the moon is represented as both Full and New. Simply stunning! Thanks Jackie. Anyone finding the whole hare triscol concept fascinating, might like to check out the Three Hares Project website.