I have a fear of bats. Not the bats that fly at a safe distant munching on ‘squitos at dusk or silhouetted against a full moon. No, I’m afraid of the bats that show up in my dreams, and then find their way into my home threatening myself and my children with their rabid bites.
At a distance, bats are romantic and seductive, luring unwary women into vampire fantasies and superheroes in black cowl and cape, saving Gotham with Robin at his side. There is something irresistible about the tall, dark, potentially dangerous stranger who will sweep us off to their cave and ravage us through forbidden pleasures. But fantasy and reality collide when a girl in the neighboring town is bit by a rabid bat and suffers the horrors of treatment and escapes within an inch of her life, but is stricken by irreversible damage because of a vagrant “flying fox.”
My intimate relationship and growing unease around bats started seventeen years ago after a misdirected bat found its way into our home while my infant daughter blissfully dozed unaware. Between my husband (at the time) and myself, there was screaming, and scrambling about while I ducked under the covers and the bat performed acrobatic maneuvers over my head. I came up with the butterfly net and album cover plan and the bat was safely extradited from our home. The hole through which it came was securely nailed shut, but the pattern had been set.
From that point on, bats haunted my dreams. They came more frequently and more ominously as a dying marriage approached its death throes and accompanied me almost monthly as I found my way through the labyrinth of life after divorce. Then, two years ago, bats found their way into the new home I had made with my children, one in which I had previously felt safe. Not anymore. There was not an evening that I wasn’t checking window trim, behind mirrors and headboards, along the tops of doorways for a glimpse of their tell-tale dragon-wings and claws. I searched every flat surface for traces of guano. But even after thorough inspection, I would be awakened in the middle of the night by the crash, thud and screeching wail of bats in peril – trapped in a home that was not their own. I eventually learned these were migratory bats and to expect them at first thaw and first frost as they were respectively departing and returning to the hibernation colony they had established somewhere in the walls of our home. To say we soon became experts at catch and release (again, album covers and butterfly nets) would be an understatement. SIGH!
After the seventh bat in three seasons, I’d had enough. A generous and resourceful neighbor determined where they were likely coming in and sealed up the hole. We haven’t seen a bat since. I never go to bed, however, without first checking for evidence of their return and bats continue to haunt my dreams. The most recent was of a bat fluttering on the window trim beside my bed and thousands of bats crowding the space between window and storm trying to find their way in. YIKES!
“Enough is enough,” I said, and decided it was time for me to face down this fear and make friends with the bat. Now, this would not be the first conversation I have had with bat. In fact, this would be one among many. In the past two years, I have come to understand the spiritual significance of the bat and that its presence (according to Native American and Mayan mythology) heralds a shamanic call. I have accepted this to be true for myself and for two clients whose visits were preceded respectively by a bat appearance then a bat dream. I wasn’t sure what else the bat might have to say to me. Well, the bat, in fact, had a LOT to say. Mostly about the value of befriending our fears because hidden within our deepest and darkest fears lies our greatest power.
In conversing with bat, I turned to my friend Ted Andrews and his book Animal Speak – a must have for those serious about self-discovery and the journey of self-actualization. I had turned to Ted before when exploring bat’s significance in my life and the message it might have for me. I read through the qualities of “bat medicine” for the umpteenth time and it suddenly hit me…….
Bat is showing up with its medicine because this is MY medicine. The only reason I’m afraid of bat is because I am afraid of my own power!
So here are the powers of bat medicine that bat has been trying for 17 years to get me to understand are my powers and to willingly embrace them:
- An intimate connection with the process of initiation as embodied in the 7-step process.
- The knowledge that in every death resides the promise of new life.
- The ability to face and move through fear.
- The willingness and courage to release what is no longer life-giving to make room for the new.
- Willingness to embrace change.
- The ability to use my own inner resources to move through challenges, fears and change.
- Hope in the promise of new life.
- Trusting my own inner promptings and guidance system.
- Learning empowerment comes through facing fear.
- The ability to fly – rising above challenge and conflict, seeing life through a broader perspective.
- The acquisition of higher wisdom gained from a wider perspective.
- Openness to new truths and the willingness to let go of outmoded “truths”.
- Great auditory perception – the ability to hear the truth beyond the words.
- Great visual perception – the ability to see the truth beyond the veil.
- Perfect navigation system.
- Being a channel through which others are awakened to their own unhealed wounds and fears.
And as I’ve already mentioned – the presence of a shamanic call.
All this time, what I feared was not the bat itself, but my own powers that bat was reflecting back to me. And in support of befriending my fear and embracing the powers that bat has been reflecting back to me, I found the cutest, most cuddly picture of a bat I could find and I now have it hanging in front of my laptop and on the desk beside me so that I will learn to love bat and the powers that it came to help me acknowledge and embrace. Thank you Bat! I’m not (entirely) afraid of you anymore…..but for the record….you can stay outside ok!?
Copyright 2015 Lauri Ann Lumby