are supplied to demystify symbolism (and the artwork in this
Click here to return to the online symbolism dictionary.
Nowadays BAT has become a symbol for vampires
(they're supposed to be able to turn into bats at will), spooky
nights, haunted houses and Halloween (USA). I think the merging
of vampire and bat has to do with the way the South America
bloodsucking bat has caught the imagination of so many people:
bloodsucking bat and bloodsucking vampire, no big stretch
slang/(American) culteral interpretation layer: "Bats
in the belfry" and "Batty" both mean a person
is crazy, "Blind as a bat" is another oft-used modern
phrase for a person with very poor eyesight.
Posted: October 16, 2003.
Revised: April 19, 2004.
links to the (expert) quotes below:
Vollman: The Little Giant Encyclopedia
of Dream Symbols
Biedermann: Dictionary of Symbolism
Campbell: The Power of Myth
Estés: Women Who Run With the Wolves
Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols, p. 55
The symbol for VAMPIRE, sucking out, being sucked dry. Dull,
compulsive, dangerous emotions. On the other hand, this dream
symbol expresses great sensibility, having radar-like skills
and useful instincts.
Posted: January 17, 2004.
of Symbolism, p. 29-31
An animal of multiple symbolic significance, whose dual nature
(as a winged mammal) has attracted attention in many cultures.
In the Occident the bat is an eerie creature, believed to
become entangled in people's HAIR. Reports from South America
of BLOOD-sucking vampire bats have made Europeans view their
own bats (who are harmless except to gnats and the like) as
terrifying creatures. The DEVIL as a fallen ANGEL is portrayed
in art with bat's wings (he, too, flees the LIGHT), and the
same is true for demonic creatures of every sort (e.g., Invidia,
the personification of envy, who dare not show herself by
day). Bats are seldom omitted from paintings of WITCHES' Sabbaths.
And in modern English the creatures appear in derogatory idioms
referring to the mentally ill ("to have bats in one's
belfry," "to be batty") and older women ("an
old bat"). Bats fare better in other cultures. Among
the Maya of Central America the bat (z'otz) is revered
as a tutelary god, especially by the Zotzil tribes. In the
mythology of the Quiché Maya a "beheading bat"
from the underworld appears frequently. In ancient China the
bat was a symbol of good fortune, primarily because of the
homonymy of the words for "bat" and "luck"
(fu). Five bats mean five forms of earthly happiness:
a long life, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural
death; there are many depictions of a kindly magician producing
five bats from an urn. RED bats were considered to be particularly
lucky: their color would frighten away demons. In African
myths the bat was often considered especially intelligent,
since it never collided with anything in flight.
classical antiquity the bat symbolized vigilance, and its
eye was believed to offer protection against drowsiness. At
the same time bats were already being nailed to doors as protection
against night demons and black magic; this practice continues
even today in some rural areas. Drops of bats blood under
a woman's pillow were thought to assure that she would bear
many children, and bats furnished miraculous remedies for
snakebite and plagues of ANTS, LOCUSTS, and caterpillars.
In Greek fable and legend the bat is portrayed as shrewd but
timid. "Bat" (Latin vespertilio, Greek nykertis)
was also a humorous term for a night reveler. In the Odyssey,
the souls of the dead are described as fluttering through
the underworld and emitting cries like those of bats. In medieval
bestiaries the bat is still presented in a positive light:...(more
of this definition can be found in Mr. Biedermann's book :)...
Posted: October 16, 2003.
Want to know more? Go out and pick up a copy of the book(s) quoted and expand your mind :) These are MY teachers, the people who teach me about symbolism :) I hope the supplied definitions help you understand the art found on this site.