Human beings have a long history of considering certain objects ‘lucky‘. Almost everyone in the Western World has heard that a four leaf clover is a charm that can confer luck on the person who has one in their possession. But there are other charms that are less well know, raccoon penis bones, the lucky penny – but when it comes to one of the most well known the lucky rabbits foot has stood the test of time.
But how did a rabbits foot come to be considered a lucky charm.
In many cultures for many different reasons having a lucky rabbit’s foot has been believed to confer luck. In China for instance the rabbit (for obvious reasons) is a symbol of fertility. Legend has it that the Celts venerated the rabbit due to its habit of burrowing meaning that it was closer to the spirits of the Earth.
But it was not until the 19th century that the first recognized mention of the luck associated with the rabbit’s foot comes to light according to a book called ‘Lucifer Ascending’which was written by Bill Ellis.
The belief in the power of the rabbit’s foot seems to have had its origins and West Africa and found its way to America due to the slave trade.
Of course the ‘rabbit’ that the belief was based on was not the type found in the United Sates. it was the Savannah hare. the hare is revered in West Africa for its bravery, wit and independence. It was often seen as thumbing its nose at those in authority – these traits endeared it to those who were under the yoke of slavery.
Strangely enough the rabbits foot is what is called a ‘backward elements’. In order to enjoy bad luck the user of the foot must first court bad luck. The rabbits foot should be ideally the back foot from the left side of the rabbit. Both recognized as being ‘unlucky’. The rabbit should be captured by someone with red hair (bad luck) and in a cemetery during a full moon.By resisting the influence of this ill luck and actually capturing a rabbit the person who holds the rabbit’s foot becomes by default the possessor of good luck.
The origins of the lucky rabbit’s foot are obscure and much of the knowledge is hearsay. However the story of the rabbit’s foot in North America seems more grounded than most others lost in the mists of antiquity.