Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Bat (Part two).

And now a few stories for those who are young at heart.


The Bat. Part Two.

These are a some stories that I’ve adapted from various traditions.  I tell them to children and they seem to enjoy them and all adults are just grown up children. You know you’re never too old for a story.

Why the Bat has no friends.

Once upon a time long, long ago, there was a big fight between the birds of the air and the animals with teeth that lived on the ground. The bat said to himself:

“I’ve got wings and I can fly so I think I’ll be on the bird’s side”

Early on in the fight the birds were losing so the bat crept away and hid under a log.  He stayed there until the fighting stopped for a while. 

All the creatures wanted to go home for lunch. As the animals of the ground were passing by the bats hiding place he slipped out and joined them.

“Hold on”, Shouted one of the animals looking closely at the bat,

“Aren’t you one of those who fought against us, what are you doing here, you should be with the birds”

“Me” said the bat, “Oh no not me, I’m one of you. I don’t belong to the bird people. Just look in my mouth. Have you ever seen a bird with teeth like mine? No, I’m one of you people, my teeth are like yours”

The animals of the ground looked at each other and nothing more was said and bat stayed with them.

After lunch the animals and the birds went back to fighting again but this time the birds won and the bat sneaked off and hid under his log again. Soon it was dinner time and everyone went home for something to eat. As the birds flew by the bat crawled out from under his log and slipped in among them.

“What are you doing here” said one of the birds, “You are one of the animals of the ground, and we saw you fighting for them”

“Who me” said the bat, “Oh no I’m one of you, I don’t belong to the animals of the ground. Look at me; have you ever seen one of the animals of the ground with wings like mine? No I’m one of you people, I’m like you”

 The birds looked at each other and nothing more was said and bat stayed with them.

This went on day after day and the bat always joined the winning side when the fighting stopped but soon the animals and the birds said,

 “This is silly, we shouldn’t be fighting all the time” so they decided to make friends. But what should they do about the bat?

The King of the animals and the King of the birds had a meeting to decide whether the bat belonged to the birds of the air or the animals of the ground.  They decided that because the bat had teeth he was an animal but he also had wings so he must be a bird. However, because he was naughty always joining the winning side he couldn’t be trusted so they said:

“Bat will fly like the birds but he will do so only at night when the animals are hunting, he will be alone and will never have any friends among those who fly or those who walk, and so it has been ever since.


But do you know why the bat fly’s at night?

Once upon a time, long, long ago when the world was first made it was never dark or cold. The sun shone bright and yellow all day and all the animals were lovely and warm and it was always light.

 At night time the moon shone bright and silvery, in fact it was nearly as bright as day time. 

One day Mother Nature asked the bat if he could be trusted to go on a mysterious journey for her. She wanted the bat to carry a basket up to the moon as he had wings to fly and strong teeth to hold onto the handle of the basket. Inside the basket was all the black darkness in the world, but of course the bat didn’t know this.

Bat flew off carrying the basket between his teeth but it soon became too heavy and he thought to himself:

“Oh dear this basket is very heavy and I’m tired and hungry”

So the bat flew down and went to find some food and have a little sleep (lazy thing).  As he hung upside down in a nearby tree two weasels came walking along and saw the basket.

They thought someone had lost it.

“That’s a large basket” said the first weasel, “I wonder if it’s full of nice things to eat?”

“Let’s open it and have a look” said the other weasel.

Just as they were peeking under the lid the bat came back.

“Hey, what are you doing to my basket” shouted the bat

The weasels dropped the basket in shock, bat tried to catch it but it was too late, it hit the ground and the lid fell off. All the darkness escaped.

Ever since that time the bat sleeps during the day and gets plenty of rest so he is ready to fly when the sun goes to bed and the moon comes out. When night time comes and it gets dark you will see him rushing about everywhere. 

Do you know why?

Well, he is trying to catch all the pieces of black darkness to put them back in the basket so he can take them to the moon before Mother Nature finds out.


Another story that suggests why the bat only comes out at night.

Once upon a time there was a rat called Michael who had a friend called Brendan the bat. They always ate their meals together but the bat didn’t really like Michael the rat because he thought he was very noisy.

One day it was the bats turn to cook the meal so he decided to make some soup. When they were sat eating Michael the rat said,

“How do you make such lovely soup, it’s always so tasty?”

The bat replied, “I always boil myself in the water and my flesh is so sweet and juicy it always makes the soup taste fantastic”

He then offered to show the rat how it was done. He got a pot of warm water which he told the rat was boiling water, and in he jumped, after a few minutes the bat climbed out. Now the bat had already prepared a bowl of boiling hot soup which he brought to the rat, it tasted fantastic and the rat gobbled it all up.

The rat then said goodbye to his friend the bat and went home. When he got there he told his wife that he was going to make some sweet, tasty soup that would taste just as good as the bats as he had learned his secret. He told her to boil up a big pot of water which she did and when she wasn’t looking he jumped straight into the pot of boiling water and was dead within seconds.

As soon as the rats wife looked into the pot and saw the dead body of her husband she hit the roof. She went straight to the king of all the animals and angrily reported what the bat had done. The King straight away ordered the arrest of the bat and everyone rushed around trying to catch him. However, the bat had a feeling that he might get into trouble for tricking the rat so he went into hiding.  All day the animals and birds looked for the bat but they couldn’t find him. The bat decided that it would be much better for him if he changed his habits so he began to come out to feed only at night when it was dark so no one would see him. So that is why the bat flies at night and that is the story of the bat.

The Bat (Part one).

As we are getting near to Halloween I thought I’d tell you a little about one of the creatures of the night and how it is viewed in folklore.

The Bat. Part One.

Feared as creatures of the night associated with death, sickness and witchcraft. Made famous as the familiars of vampires by the cinema.  Revulsion against them, however, is far from universal, and their quizzical faces have often inspired affection. There were no glass windows in the ancient world, and so people had little choice but to share their homes with bats.
They sleep hanging upside down by their feet. They live in shelters such as caves or hollow trees, but they also take advantage of human structures. Like most small animals that are drawn to human habitations, bats have often been identified in folk belief with the souls of the dead. As a result, in cultures that venerate ancestral spirits, bats are often considered sacred or beloved. When spirits are expected to pass on rather than return, bats appear as demons or, at best, souls unable to find peace. They are often thought of as the embodiment of evil and an indicator that a house is haunted or even worse.
Traditionally bats have been seen as witch familiars so whenever you see a lone bat it might be a witch in disguise. The devil and dragons are often depicted with bat like wings and in some cultures witch doctors wear bat amulets and make potions with parts of bat bodies. In the middle ages, anyone who had bats, known as witches birds living in their house were accused of being a witch and could have been burned at the stake.
In Central America the bat is seen as the god of death and bat motifs decorate burial urns and graves. Some North American tribal folklore suggests that the long eared bat, which has an arrow shaped growth on its nose, eats volcanic rock and spews out fire arrows. In China bats are a symbol of good luck, long life and happiness and at one time Chinese mothers would sew small jade buttons in the shape of a bat on the caps of their babies.  Some Australian Aboriginal tribal folklore regards the bat as a luck totem and in Turkey; some people still carry a bat bone as a love charm.
In Ancient Egypt physicians prescribed parts of the bat in the treatment of asthma, rheumatism, baldness, bad eyesight, toothache, and fever. They also believed that if you hung the body of a bat over the doorway of a home then it would prevent the entry of demons that carried these diseases.
In India, the skin of a large fruit eating bat (known as flying foxes) is still applied to cure lumbago and rheumatism.
Other superstitions about bats include,
If a bat flies into the kitchen and at once hangs on to the ceiling, it’s lucky, but if it circles around twice before settling down, then it’s seen as a sign of bad luck. If it circles around your head three times then get yourself measured for a box because it means death is coming visiting.  
If when trying to drive a bat out of the room, it fly’s against a light or candle and puts it out, then that is a very bad omen.
In Ireland if a bat was seen near the house it was taken as a sign of an impending death for a member of the household. However, we have bats in our roof space (they came in last winter). We are quite happy with them and they cause us no problems whatsoever. When bats are seen acting in a playful manner it is a sign that good weather is about to come, probably because there are more insects around on warm dry evenings so that means more food for the bats.
A common bat seen in and around hedgerows at dusk is the Pipistrelle Bat. Their Irish name is Laltog Fheascrach which means ‘bat of the evening’.