Bats Omens, Spiritual Meaning and Symbols

Omens and the spiritual meaning associated with bats—there are so many folktales and beliefs associated with bats, that it can be challenging to discern any messages or omens from their presence. However, if you feel like you have received a significant visitation from a bat, then follow your instincts. It could very well be an important message. Next, how to decipher the message? Well, read on and (again) let your intuition guide you. Plus, consider your own context—what is going on in your life at this moment, the moment the bat has presented itself to you. Furthermore, in what way did the bat present itself to you? In the depths of night? Dusk? Dawn? Invading your house? Consider these questions.

Bats and Senses Beyond Sight

Looking beyond what you can see, this is a powerful and general message from bats. This message stems from the fact that bats hunt without focusing on their sight. Instead, they use echolocation. This means they send out a sound, and listen intently for the sound bouncing back from prey—often moths!

So, what can we learn from this message? Well, don’t worry too much about what your eyes are telling you. Instead consider the challenges facing you in life at the moment. Consider those challenges and what they appear to be. Now, try to shed your already formed image of the problem and imagine it from a fresh perspective. Furthermore, consider sending out sounds—i.e. talking, communicating—and seeing what comes back. Just like a bat’s sounds come back to it telling it where its next meal is, any requests you send out into the universe (both the corporeal world and the spiritual world) might bring back a simple and effective solution.

Bats and Being Upside Down

Building on the previous point, consider that the bat hangs upside down. While humans tend to see hanging upside down as a bit of a bummer—like, you know, we’re trapped in a tough situation. However, you can flip this belief on its head (pun intended) and consider the positives of being stuck upside down, i.e. looking at things from a new, less common and quite unusual perspective. Consider the similar meaning associated with the Hangman tarot card.

bats being upside down is symbolic, but not all bats are upside all the time
By Larisa Bishop-Boros – Own work,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32046949

Like using echolocation to figure out new ways to find solutions, you can also use hanging upside down as a way of finding a new perspective on a particular challenge in your life. If you’re trying to find a new home, well consider getting out of your comfort zone and moving to places you hadn’t considered before. Having problems at work? Eh, maybe switch fields? Relationship troubles? Well, try ditching the baggage you’ve brought to the table and viewing how things are from a third party’s perspective. It might bring some clarity.

Bats, Twilight, and Rebirth!

Nature is filled with symbols of rebirth—from the daffodils of spring to the thawing of the snows. And, while you might not associate the bat with new life, it is, nevertheless, a powerful symbol of rebirth. This is because, across many cultures, dawn and dusk are connected to the transition between the world’s. Specifically, the Overworld and the Underworld. Also, this could be seen as life and afterlife.

So, when bats emerge at dusk, they are showing us that as life (i.e. the day) ends, that a new life begins during the night.

this bat is upside down
By Sardaka – Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65173878

However, don’t take this omen too literally. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about life and death. Consider the Death card from the tarot deck, it doesn’t often mean an actual death. Rather, it means the end (death) of a particular thing. Consider that the thing could be anything. It could be the end of a work problem, the end of a toxic cycle in a relationship, the end of your time living in a particular place. It really could mean the end of anything.

But, it’s important to remember that ends are often good! Because, as the bat symbolizes, they open space for something good to come in the place of something old.

Bats and Vampires—Really?

The link between vampires and bats is so old that its origins are not fully known. However, an early example of the association between bats and vampires is the ancient Romanian belief that when a bat flies over a corpse, that the dead person will come back to life as a vampire. Of course, it didn’t help when the Spanish arrived in Central America and what did they find? Vampire bats! So, the association between bloodsucking people and bloodsucking bats was well and truly cemented in the human psyche.

A Symbol For Transformation

And, thinking of the bat’s association with vampires, this brings into focus another topic: transformation. Yes, of course vampires are known to transform into bats. But, this isn’t the extent of the association. This is because bats are so evidently an example of transformation. Even our early ancestors could see and understand that bats were like mice that had, somehow, transformed and become able to fly.

bats evolved from rodent-like animals like this
By Stephen Temple from Cape Town, South Africa – IMG_4705.jpg,
CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74548672

As such, consider the bat as a messenger of one of two things. Either, first, the potential need for transformation. Or, rather, a harbinger of incoming transformation.

Symbol of Nighttime

Bats are inseparably associated with the night. This is because they are nocturnal animals. Along with owls, bats are one of the animal kingdom’s most well-known nocturnal creatures.

As such, if a bat presents itself to you, then you can consider it an omen of the night. Especially if the bat came to you at night rather than dusk or dawn. What a message from the night means to you will depend on your personal context. What do you do at night? Do you have a night life? Do you work nights?

Well, whatever it is that you do at night (or don’t do, as it were), the bat is asking you to consider. While it could be that you are spending too long up at night, this is unlikely because the bat loves the night. So, it could be that you are missing out on social opportunities in the evening hours? Therefore, maybe you should consider dining out in the evening with your friends more often. Who knows, it could bring you a lot of joy?

In Your House!!!

Bats in your home—there are few things as alarming as suddenly realizing that there is a bat (eek!!!) in your house. Since they are such distinctive creatures, with a well-cultured folklore surrounding them, you might be wondering about any specific omens or meanings associated with this flying mammal’s shocking invasion of your home.

a bat in your house has its own specific spiritual meaning
By Kevin Payravi – Own work,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7364581

Sometimes when we feel like we’re receiving omens about the future or messages from the other side, we can hesitate to have faith in them. This can be because, well, it isn’t that out of the ordinary to see a seagull at the beach or a squirrel in a tree. And, while commonness doesn’t exclude meaning, it certainly makes something less attention-grabbing. Therefore, you always have to follow your instincts. If something feels significant to you, then follow that feeling.

However, in the case of an animal entering your home, the omen or message naturally feels more powerful. So, if you have recently encountered a bat in your home, then it could be that it brings an important message for you. It’s true, there aren’t specific extra meanings associated with a bat entering the home. However, significance can be drawn from the animal’s directness—i.e. this really could be an important message for you!

Bats Vs. Birds: Freedom Wins!

Birds are always associated with and strong symbols of freedom. This is because they have the freedom of the skies—they can fly wherever they want! So, naturally we’re envious of their ability to fly. And, remember, flight is a way of bypassing the earth’s troublesome obstacles. But, birds aren’t the only flying animals out there… insects can fly too! And bats, let’s not forget bats.

Because both bats and birds fly they convey a similar message of freedom
Bats or birds – can you tell the difference?

So, how does the symbolism differ between birds and bats? Well, not too much. The ability to fly is an irrefutable emblem of total freedom. But, bats are not as adept at flight as birds. Therefore, we can infer from bats that, yes, we can fly. But, it might take great effort and it might be a little bit cumbersome at times. We can get there though. A bat tells you to never give up on your dreams to find true freedom.

Birds Vs. Bats: Good Vs. Evil?

In times gone by, winged birds and winged bats were assigned teams. Birds: good. Bats: evil. Consider a western notion of angels—all beautiful, pure, white feathered wings. Next, think of their demonic counterparts—often depicted with bat-like wings of bone and skin (i.e. uglier). So, unfortunately, bats can be considered a sign of demons or evil. But, this is a narrow view of their message and, considering their role as messengers of both freedom and rebirth, it would be unfair to pigeonhole them as harbingers of evil.

Bats and Astral Travel

You might know the concept of astral travel by its more fashionable name: astral projection. This is the belief that your soul can travel the world, even the universe, and leave the body behind. Certain animals are associated with astral projection around the world, and the bat is one such animal.

“The Separation of the Spirit Body” from The Secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese handbook on alchemy and meditation

Therefore, if you encounter a bat, it could be time for you to consider astral travel. Have you been having unusual dreams? Perhaps there is a meaning there to reflect upon. And expanding upon reflection, consider meditation and pointed attempts at astral projection.

Dreaming of Bats – What Does It Mean?

Whenever we dream of animals, its typically to do with our underlying instincts. Dreaming of bats is often to do with fear, to do with uncontrollable threats. This is because, whether rightly or wrongly, we associate bats with rabies and see them as a danger. So, if you’re dreaming about bats, if in the dream it is a stressful experience, then it could well be you have an underlying fear of being hurt in outdoor situations.

Bats and Folklore

Across the globe, many cultures have stories centering on bats. Some tales, like those of the Apache Native Americans, explain why bats hang upside down. Whereas others, like a folktale coming out of Nigeria, explain why bats fly during the night rather than the day.

A Nigerian Bat Story!

Let’s start with some folklore from Nigeria.

nigeria
Nigeria.

Our story begins with Oyot, who was a little African bush rat. Oyot was close friends with a bat named Emiong. Every day, Oyot and Emiong would eat lunch together. Each day, they would take turns preparing the meal. Emiong, the bat, always made the tastier meal.

While they ate, naturally, the two friends would chat. Oyot would often complain about his wife. Emiong found his ratty friend’s complaining quite unpleasant. After all, thought Emiong, Oyot’s wife was quite lovely. How could he be so cruel with his words? Emiong grew jealous, as he had no wife.

So, when Oyot asked Emiong to show him how to cook a delicious meal, the bat decided to play a trick on the bush rat. He lied and said that the reason his soup is always so tasty is because he sits in the broth himself, and that his own bat flesh is so sweet that it makes the soup delicious.

Naturally, Oyot rushed home to make a soup using his own body to sweeten the recipe—just like Emiong had suggested. Oyot sent his wife off to gather vegetables for the soup. While she was away in the garden, Emiong snuck up on her and explained his plan to get rid of Oyot. While the bush rat was quite cruel to his wife, she loved him nevertheless. Therefore, she was horrified by the bat’s trick.

Oyot’s wife dashed back to the house to stop her husband from boiling himself in the broth. It was too late. The foolish bush rat had boiled himself alive…

Of course, Oyot’s wife was brokenhearted. She immediately ran to the king, to tell him of this heinous crime.

So, from that day on, the bat Emiong the bat—and all bats for that matter—live as fugitives. They only come out at night.

Bats and Celtic Beliefs

Meanwhile, in Ireland, there’s an old belief concerning bats getting tangled in a woman’s hair.

Croaghaun; cliffs on Achill Island, County Mayo.

Specifically, if a bat manages to get itself caught in a woman’s hair then it will try to make away with a strand or two of the woman’s hair. If the bat succeeds in stealing some of the lady’s hair then she will experience extreme bad luck, and be destined for eternal damnation.

Additionally, some Irish believe that when a bat comes into the house, that it is a surefire omen that there will soon be a death in the family.

The Cherokee of North Carolina

The Cherokee of North Carolina have a famous story concerning bats—”The Bat and the Ball Game”.

In this story, it is told that they used to hold a dance the night before a competitive ball game. During this event there was singing, dancing and drumming. Then, before the game, the players would ask for the help of two animals. Both of those were web-winged flying mammals—first of all, the bat, and also the flying squirrel. To engender the luck of these animals, the players tied a piece of their wing to the bat with which they would strike the ball. Logic being that these animals would help the ball fly!

The origin of this game goes back many years. It goes back to the day the land animals challenged the birds to a ball game. Responding to the land animal’s provocation, the birds insisted they would easily defeat the land animals in this ball game.

So, birds and ground animals gathered together to play the game.

The ground animals team consisted of the bear, the deer and the turtle. The bear, though, was so heavy that he outweighed all the bird team combined! The deer was such a fast runner, it could outrun any of the other animals. While the turtle, well, his shell was so thick and so tough—he was very well protected. Considering their assets, the ground team felt quite confident.

Chief Standing Deer of the North Carolina Cherokee
By Boston Public Library – Chief Standing Deer – Cherokee Indian Reservation, North Carolina, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36063233

But, so did the birds. Their team was made up of the eagle, hawk, and raven. It goes without saying that all three were swift flyers. Furthermore, all three possessed excellent sight. Additionally, all three birds were equipped with sharp beaks and claws, capable of tearing flesh.

The birds waited in the trees, watching their opponents from above. Then, suddenly, two little rodents clambered up next to the birds. The little mammals wanted to play so much, they wanted to have fun too. So they asked the birds, “can we join your team?”

Naturally the birds were completely confused. They looked at the little rodents and explained that since they had four legs they should be on the team with the bear, the deer, and the turtle. But, explained the little mammals, their larger counterparts had rejected their advances, arrogantly feeling that such little critters had nothing to offer their team.

Taking pity on the rodents, the birds decided to allow the rodents to join their team. But, they mused, how can we let them on our team when they cannot fly? So, the birds decided to make wings for the little rodents. The birds used the skin of the drum to create wings. When they attached the skin to the rodent’s arms and legs they created the first bat. Meanwhile, for the other little critter, they decided to stretch his skin, thereby creating the first ever flying squirrel.

As the game played out, the birds were able to win thanks to the flying of the bat, who used his newfound flying ability to avoid the ground mammals and score the winning goal.

Apaches Know Why Bats Hang Upside Down

The Cherokee aren’t the only Native American nation with stories about bats. The Apaches also have an interesting piece of folklore concerning bats.

A long time ago, the coyote wanted a wife. But, he could not make up his mind. He was not happy with any of the potential wives available. So, his friend the bat said, “Why don’t you marry the wife of Hawk Chief?”

Apache warrior Geronimo (right) and his warriors from left to right: Yanozha (Geronimos´s brother-in-law), Chappo (Geronimo´s son of 2nd wife) and Fun (Yanozha´s half brother) in 1886
Apache warrior Geronimo (right) and his warriors from left to right: Yanozha (Geronimos’s brother-in-law), Chappo (Geronimo’s son of 2nd wife) and Fun (Yanozha’s half brother) in 1886

The reason the bat suggested this is because Hawk Chief was missing, and had been missing for a long time. The bat assumed that Hawk Chief was not going to return.

However, a few days later, Hawk Chief finally returned! Naturally, he was angry with the bat. In a fit of rage, the hawk picked up the bat and flung him into a nearby juniper tree. There, the bat was stuck hanging upside down.

So, from that day forward, all bats were destined to hang upside down.

A Sudanese Alternative

According to Sudanese creation beliefs, the Creator explained to the animals that the world was a varied and wonderful place. As such, each animal should go out and find a part of the world it would like to live in.

So, at first, all the land animals just decided to live together in one place. Meanwhile, the birds wanted to live together in a different place.

The land animals wanted to celebrate having chosen their home. They decided to throw a big party. The bat, like all the other animals, was naturally excited to go to the party—he cleaned up his fur and made his wings very shiny. When the bat arrived, he flapped over to a tree branch and looked down at the party. All the animals were having a whale of a time.

The bat went down to the party. He wanted to share in the delicious food and drink available at the party. But, the zebra stopped him. Even though the bat was a mammal, the zebra explained that he did not belong with the land animals because he had wings.

By mametsaru – Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63835852

So, crestfallen, the bat watched from afar while his comrades feasted. The bat, sadly, began to cry. The bat’s tears wetted his feet, causing him to slip. He slipped so far that he was, eventually, hung upside down from the branch. Because he was so sad, he stayed, hanging upside down—he just didn’t care, he was so sad.

The next night, having been inspired by the land animals, the birds decided to throw their own party. The bat, having been told by the zebra that he didn’t belong because he had wings, decided he would join in with the birds instead.

But, when he went to celebrate with the birds, a vulture stopped him. The bat explained to the vulture that he must be a bird, after all, he has two wings. But, the vulture was having none of it—he countered the bats argument by explaining that he had fur and teeth which meant that the bat was not a bird at all.

Again, the poor bat watched the bird’s celebrate from afar. And, again, the sad little bat began to cry. Just as before, the tears slicked his feet and he slipped from the branch and dangled upside down. He was so very sad that he just didn’t care.

And, from that day on, all bats hung upside down.

Central American Bat Beliefs

It’s important to remember that Mexico, the home of the Mexica people, is also home to the vampire bat. As such, it is to be expected that the bat is associated with blood sacrifices and death. While Mayan beliefs include Camazotz—a bat god. The name Camazotz means “death bat”.

Further Reading

By David Dennis – Flickr: Bat in a Cave,
CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26595903
Modified from original photo