Monday, October 17, 2011

On Bats

I’ve already commented on Halloween being the source for all things scary. That’s pretty much the only reason that bats are associated with the holiday. In actuality bats are seriously cool creatures that do all sorts of incredibly useful things that help out us humans (like eating insects and pollinating plants). But, they still earn mention in my month of all things Halloween.

Bats, by their very nature, are kind-of creepy. They’re nocturnal and that by itself earns them ranking in the list of things that have historically frightened people. They are also weird-looking with their spiny wings, giant ears, snouts and fur. They live in caves and hang around upside down. They tend to travel in swarms. They can spread disease and therefore death. And, as if all that weren’t enough, some of them even drink blood (granted it’s only three breeds out of over twelve hundred, but still). All of that combined was enough to make prehistoric people scarred of them.

Because of this fear, there are a number of superstitions, stories and traditions associated with bats coming from different cultures all over the globe. They are said to be omens of death. They’ve been used as symbols of destruction and decay. They became associated with witches and witchcraft and were used in supposed black magic. It was said that witches could turn into bats, used their blood and bodies in black magic and even drank their blood to gain some of their powers. They became associated with vampires who were also said to have the ability to turn into bats and fly.

Perhaps it’s because they’re so associated with witches that they gained such a firm spot in the Halloween lineup. Perhaps it’s just cause they’re kind-of scary and have long been associated with death, night, darkness and all things of that nature. Whatever the reason, bats are part of the holiday and earn a shout out. Yay bats!

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