Bats symbolize death and rebirth. Sometimes, they are known as the "Guardian of the Night." It is largely misunderstood and so therefore many of its symbolic meanings are inappropriately fear-based. The bat is a symbol of rebirth and death because it is a creature that lives in the belly of the Mother (Earth). From the womb-like caves it emerges every evening at dusk. And so - from the womb it is reborn every evening.
It is also a symbol of communication because the Native Americans observed the bat to be a highly social creature. Indeed, the bat has strong family ties. They are very nurturing, exhibiting verbal communication, touching, and sensitivity to members of their group.
The bat is also associated with medicine. Bat medicine teaches us to release fear and any pattern which no longer fits in with our pattern of growth. A new beginning, trusting one's instincts, the bat is powerful medicine.
Much folklore around the world has cast the bat in a bad role. Perhaps the most familiar of this folklore to we in Western culture are the medieval witchcraft texts that described bats as familiars for witches and the old European lore which associated bats with vampires. Curiously, the old European association of bats to vampires occurred long before Europeans discovered the existence of the less common species of vampire bats in South America (the only continent where vampire bats are found). Also, note that the bat's "evil" reputation from those medieval texts clung to it far into the modern day, while cats, who got the same bad reputation in those texts, have since been redeemed and thrown in the "cute" category (going by popular generalizations, that is.) So, how did bats come to be seen as so "evil?" The prevailing theory seems to be that since bats are mostly nocturnal animals and would stay away from people, people simply were not familiar with these creatures, and often what is unfamiliar is misunderstood.
Bats are not always portrayed as evil in world mythologies. In Chinese folklore, for example, bats are a symbol of good fortune and luck. The Chinese for bat (fu 蝠) sounds identical to the word for good fortune(fu 福) making bats a popular Chinese rebuses. Five bats together represent the ‘Five Blessings’ (wufu 五福): long life, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death.
Folklore from Samoa, ancient Greece, the Kono peoples of Sierra Leone, and the Apache and Cherokee tribes all portray bats in a more favorable light.
Here is a quick-list of bat animal symbolism
- Inner Depth
- happiness and joy (China)
References B A T S (essay)