Bats. I have dreamed of bats. Bats flying up out of the raised right sleeve of my black wooly coat as I hugged in close to the huge ogre who was protecting me from my fears. I have rescued them too. The one seeking refuge and drink from the toilet bowl next door. My husband’s urgent call to come over right now! Meeting me at the door whispering of its presence, urging me to please get it out quickly and quietly. There was a patient in the treatment room he did not want to frighten with the tiny mammal’s presence. It hurt me that I startled it as I reached my gloved hand around its body. Soaking wet when I caught him as gently as possible I carried him out to the winter air. At least that day was of a bright sunshine. I worried about it and another which I at least thought to release into a bottomless birdhouse standing in a protected area of the garden. In survival mode that one tried to bite me getting only the tip of the leather glove that held him. So nervous I was tentatively reaching for that birdhouse in the spring. Afraid to find its dead body. But it was gone, having either found its way to the warmth of a hibernation place or death somewhere else.
They get in the house somehow. I go through periods of various theories of how they do so. The whole house fan is popular in my mind. Not rightly installed its louvres sit ajar when the fan is not in use. I have sat on the couch watching TV, most other lights in the house off, my attention drawn to the hall door where something came into the room toward me, quickly spun and left again. My husband and a friend laying on the floor under the flight path were also engrossed in the program playing across the room. It took about two beats for both the friend and I to sit up straight, stare at each other yelling, “what was that?!” “A bat!” brought all of us to our feet scrambling around the house, turning on lights everywhere but the kitchen where the back door was propped open. Sure enough out it flew within minutes. That was the largest brown bat I have encountered.
I became aware of another not too many weeks ago initially thinking it was a moth off in my peripheral vision. I was alone in the house but for the cats and dog and the scene that I created would make for a successful comedic break in a movie. Me running through the house yelling, “Bat! Bat!” turning all the lights off. My brain clicked with the “something is wrong with this picture” thought and I ran for the phone. Speed dialing a friend whose very old house is regularly visited by bats I silently blessed her for answering on the first ring. I was already yelling before her hello was finished. “Lights on or off for a bat?” She started laughing. I, standing in a dark hallway hopping from one foot to the other and ducking my head in rhythm with my feet though the bat was two rooms away and not within eyesight. She mentions that it is August and dry, bats come in seeking water. Not that I cared why it was there at the moment. I just wanted him out. It was night. I wanted to go to bed. I was creeped out. “All lights on but for the kitchen, get the back door open”, which it already was. That I had thought to do though I wondered at the wisdom of letting more in. Again, within a few seconds, it flew right through the kitchen and out the door to its freedom and mine.
There is a picture somewhere of the group that were my friends when I was first moving into the world of independence. They arrived at my first apartment in their get ups of brightly colored winter pom-pom hats, ball caps, goggles, gloves, a couple brooms and a tennis racket. They climbed the steps announcing themselves as The Bat Patrol here to rescue me in my plight. I stood outside my door, the groceries I had brought home were flung on the floor inside as it was all I could think to do when the door swung wide to find the bat flying in circles around my sparsely furnished living room. The full company of us, braver together, we made our way cautiously through the spilled bag and its contents our heads all rotating in different directions, eyes searching. Eventually the bat darted out of a closet, was swatted to the ground and caught in an emptied shoe box. Bob, the tallest and therefore bravest of the Patrol, with great pomp and accompanied by hoots and hollers, marched the box to the front window. He flung the entire thing out into the evening sky. My apartment was two floors up. The box went out a ways from the building and began falling. The lid and bottom fell away from each other and the bat flew up and out, disappearing among the leafy backdrop of the trees across the street.
That was my first encounter with a bat. Though we lived in one big old house for a few years, and my grandparents always did, I do not recall any experiences with bats in any of them.
I believe the bat is one of my animal totems. I think of the world in those kind of terms. In the realm of Animal Medicine the bat is associated with Key 12 of Tarot’s Major Arcana, the Hanged Man. They both hang upside down in the symbology of reversal. “…a symbol of promise amidst the sometimes chaotic energies of change.” The symbology of the blessings in change and transformation. The facing of fears; the security of cosmic connection. I am engaged in the practice of being watchful. Of paying attention. When bat shows up I heighten my awareness of the unknown things that are behind what I perceive as real. I relax my busy brain from striving toward the why’s to rest in a knowledge that there is more than I see, and the energy that moves within everything is moving within me, whether I realize it or not. I am perpetually growing. As is the Universe. I am a part of it and it is a part of me. That is the understanding bat brings to me; reminds me of when I get caught up in forgetting.
Yet, last night laying in the dark, in the middle wake period of my night’s rest, I could only think of the open hole in the chimney in the basement. The hole the boiler’s vent pipe usually fills. The rusted out vent pipe now at the heating and A/C Company’s office to be used as a template for a replacement. The dream image from three years of nights ago prompting a reversed story my mind vividly created for me. As I lay there. In the dark. The basement two flights of stairs and a houseful of dark rooms below my bed. Bats flying down the flue like flying down into the caverns of caves to find the hole and coming out in their search for water. It has been very hot and very dry for two weeks now. I thought of getting up, going down and down to stuff a discarded towel into the hole. But I could not. As much as I love them, they make me nervous. Instead I made it to the bathroom, on the lookout for their presence. Then made it back to bed and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
This morning that hole is filled.