Supernatural associations were related to the hare during the Middle Ages as it was believed that witches would transform into this animal at will, yet the ancient British saw the hare as sacred taking the movements of the hare for use in divination rituals. See Mystical WWW Eggs & Easter Traditions. Some even believed that if the hare was wounded the same injury would be evident in a witch making detection easier.
Some believed that the associations of the hare with darker forces enabled it to change sex each year, an association probably developed because of the idea of transformation being connected with witchcraft. Curiously a black hare was seen as lucky sight whilst a white one led to disaster, and if one crossed in front of a wedding party the marriage was doomed to failure. The hare was thought at one time to never close its eyes, seen today as a very timid creature but traditionally also as a creature often possessed by the devil or by dark forces. Hence it would never close it’s eyes in case of possession or attack from those wishing to drive out Old Nick.
At one time it was believed that to have a hare run across your path indicated misfortune would follow. In direct contradiction to this though is the story that Queen Boadicea of ancient Britain who believed very much in the power of the hare to indicate success or failure in battle. If one was seen running straight ahead in the direction of the assault it is said that she would always return triumphant from the confrontation.
Having a hare’s foot was thought to be an effective cure for rheumatism bringing relief to the owner. Pregnant women once believed that to see a hare at any stage of the pregnancy indicated that the devil was at play and that the sight of this creature might lead to the infant being born with what was called a ‘hare-lip’, and that the child would lead an unhappy life thereafter.
Isabel Gowdie, confessed to being a witch when accused of transforming into a hare in 1662. It was said that a such a hare could only be killed by shooting with a silver bullet. At her trial she was said to have recited the following lines;
‘I shall go intill a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meikle care;
And I shall go in the Devil’s name,
Ay while I come home again.’
To reverse the effect to take on human form again she continued;
'Hare, hare, God send thee care.
I am in a hare’s likeness now,
But I shall be in a woman’s likeness even now.’