Lady Pancakes the Rabbit and related Spring Metaphors… Between metaphors and reality: suggestions for Seasonal Inquiry

Sara Jolena Wolcott, M.Div.
9 min readMar 30, 2024

I know more and more people who recognize the need to re-connect with the cycle of the seasons as part of reconnecting with Earth as part of trying to get to the spiritual and cultural roots of the disillusions of colonization and the myriad theories of separation. There are initiatves like the 8 Fires that Dark Mountain led.. There are more Christian initiatives such as the Wild Church Network. And a whole host of womens circles and pagans and eco-spiritual groups. I myself have been offering practices — both processes and rituals — to bring people out of linear time and back into circular/spiral time for years now.

Let me give you an Spring Example from my own life. That of Lady Pancakes, the Rabbit.

Before I can give you the example I have to give you some back story. Which is quite entertaining, so don’t worry, just keep reading.

Now, Lady Pancakes the Rabbit — that is her current full name and title, though I dare say it might be amended as she continues to live with us — is a real creature, for all that one might imagine that she belongs in a children’s story. And maybe that will happen someday. But for now, she is just what she sounds like: a very regal and quite large rabbit who has the same golden-brown and white coloring as a stack of pancakes.

None of us were looking to become the caretakers of a rabbit.

She quite literally hopped into our life one bright morning in late August. I was staying with my mother, Diane, at the time, who had only two months earlier been released from a long stay at the hospital after a painful fall. I was up early, preparing for a busy day, when a flash of white from the corner of my eye made me look twice. There, laying underneath my mother’s 20 year old volvo stationwagon, was a very large domesticated rabbit. She was obviously exhausted.

She let me pick her up, and, after assessing that she did not belong to any of the immediate neighbors, put her in an old rabbit cage that was (from thirty years ago) that for some reason had never been thrown away. We searched but never found her owners. After some time, she moved from the small cage to a dog kennel, and from the dog kennel to what was once the main bathroom, which has now become her room in my mother’s house.

My partner’s two daughters (both professional women in their late 20s, succeeding in highly respected jobs) named the rabbit Pancakes. Let’s say that was due to her carmel and white coloring — you know, like a stack of pancakes. My mother added title, “Lady”, for her regalness. To avoid confusion, I like to ensure she is known as The Rabbit. Thus: Lady Pancakes the Rabbit.

(This is not the place for me to get into the internal family debates about the appropriateness of using an aristocratic title. What would be her ‘estate’? Do we want to replicate histories of aristocracy? Names — and titles — can bring in much contention.)

Lady Pancakes the Rabbit might be one of the most beautiful creatures I have known. She is a regality and a dignity that I have not encountered very often. When a friend of mine, who is a meditation teacher, visited, I was not surprised that she was captivated by this rabbit — her capacity for stillness, deep interority, for elegance, for self-containment, for unbound curiosity.

Lady Pancakes the Rabbit also has no interest in being cuddled, greatly despises being picked up, and only after several months seems to accept being petted. Her preference is to be ignored by humans and to explore on her own. We suspect something happened to her, but we don’t know what. She likes the green tips of carrots, strawberries, and kale. Strawberries are not particularly good for rabbits (high sugar content). My mother gives her deluxe kale salads. When the rabbit wants more kale, she bangs her bowl.

In other words, she is very much an individual rabbit with a very strong and rather unique character. Really, I’ve never met anyone quite like her.

Now we can get back to ways of engaging with eco-spirituality, especially in the spring, and around Equinox and Easter, which are filled with images of rabbits.

Cute, adorable rabbits. Symbols of fertility, gentleness, good luck, and spring.

Somehow, the rabbit’s poop is always left out of the hallmark cards.

A healthy rabbit poops between 200–300 pellets a day. Every day.

Fortunately, rabbits are easy to potty train, and this one adapted to her litter box very quickly.

She also chews on everything (including wires, if given the opportunity). She digs whenever she gets a chance. She bites when she doesn’t want to be picked up (which is most of the time), scratches, kicks, and is superb at running away. Running away is one of her strongest characteristics. She is, afterall, prey. Most predators love rabbits: fox, coyote, hawk, eagle, sometimes snakes. So she better be skilled at running and hiding.

Having chased her around the house many times, I know she is excellent at these core survival skills.

Most of the symbols and images of rabbits — and so many other things — are not very connected to the actual living creatures.

So if people are invited to think about those creatures as symbols, they go to the stereotype. Rabbits symbolize fertility.

True. And for good reason!

But something is missing here.

That something is when the symbol or metaphor is not just a metaphor. It’s also a real live creature. Who is messy, can be irritable (and irritating!) and, well, complicated.

So what do we miss by focusing on overly simplistic metaphors?

A lot.

There is so much metaphorical/symbolic richness in engaging with the “real creature” itself, and not just the hallmark version of that being.

In this case, with the actual rabbit. What does it mean that fertility comes alongside (is made possible by) the capacity to burrow/hide from predators? That cuteness comes with sharp teeth and nails? The kind of mindfulness that a rabbit — a prey animal — has?

That not all bunnies like to be cuddled. Maybe that’s because of childhood trauma. Or some weird socialization. Or maybe that’s just how this individual rabbit is. (I’ve tried asking her but she hasn’t told me in a way I understand.) All of that just might tell us a lot about another kind of animal: humans.

The rich wholeness of the creature actually adds to our capacity to work with metaphors. And often, working with metaphors can give us a deeper appreciation of ourselves… and of those animals.

The Season of Spring and Group Dynamics

So having thought about a particular creature — an amazingly adorable rabbit — I’m going to expand this to thinking about something that most people have some kind of familiarity with: the season of Spring.

But before I do so, let me take a quick moment to remind us about where and how these questions matter.

There are so many places that we use metaphors! They shape how we construct reality itself. Really, we are using them every day, often in far more ways than that of which we are consciously aware.

For now, let’s focus on the use of purposeful metaphors in group dynamics.

People who are leading groups — spiritual leaders, restorative practitioners, facilitators, consultants, team leaders, workshop leaders — use metaphors all the time.

For those who want to also support people re-connecting with the earth/nature, using nature-based metaphors can be a really valuable way of doing so, even if they topic that brings you together is not about “rewilding ourselves” or “getting back to nature”. It might be a check-in after a hectic month, or a conversation about organizational dynamics.

Spring: Lambs and Daffodils or Mud and Thunderstorms?

The most common approach to thinking about the season of spring in metaphors tends to replicate some problematic tendencies that are, in and of themselves, legacies of colonization.

That is a set of interconnected tendencies, including:

  • universalism — missing diversity, particularly, and the nuance of specific places
  • oversimplification
  • metaphors unconnected with reality
  • Unable to to deal with changing realities (in this case, climate change)

Here’s an example.

A “breaking the ice” question: “Spring is all about daffodils. Where are the daffodils in your life?”

That’s definitely a universalist approach, is distinctly oversimplifying, and risks using metaphors that might be unconnected to that person’s reality. Lots of places don’t have daffodils; people might not associate spring with daffodils; and the daffodils might have suffered from a recent ice storm (this happened in our neighborhood right before I wrote this piece).

Here’s an alternative approach:

“Spring is often seen as being about planting seeds, blooming flowers and cute baby animals. But it is also a time of a lot of mud and stormy weather. Not all of the baby animals — or their mothers — make it through the birthing process or the first few months of life. For many reasons, Spring is a time when not all the seeds we have planted or are planning to plant are going to make it. What are you noticing about spring in your local community? Where do you see similar trends in this organization? In this organization/your own life, where are you seeing seeds, where are you seeing a lot of muck, and where are you experiencing storms?”

Note that here, the questions included

  1. Bringing the participant into their own particular experience of their own life with that thing (in this case, the season of Spring)

2. Invites multiple aspects of the thing — flowers and mud and thunderstorms — from which a wide variety of their own internal and collective experiences might find clearer articulation

3. Invites an expansive expression for thinking about the organization. If you are specifically talking about how an organization experiences (metaphorical or real) storms, then those kinds of metaphors are most appropriate.

I did this with an organization I was supporting in a reflection around Circular Time recently, and it was super supportive. Team members were able to talk about a variety of things that they had not known how to talk about before, and in a relatively short meeting, we were able to open up a host of important questions and things to consider.

As you may have found from your own experience, part of working with these kinds of metaphors is realizing when to let them go (when they have stopped working), when they need to switch (from talking about Spring to talking about birds and trees and what does it mean to “land” in a safe tree, for example), and when you need to go deeper into the metaphor to help the participants get somewhere with it, and to enable the imagination to make good use of that kind of time. Any of those might be needed.

But my hope is that you will a) use metaphors that are coming from nature and b) get into the nuance of whatever nature-based metaphors, be they seasons or creatures like rabbits, that you’re using.

Finally: it is so important to not only rely on metaphors!

“Grounding” is not just a metaphor.

It also means literally connecting with the ground.

So if you are using “grounding” metaphors all the time… have you taken your participants outside? Can they actually put their feet on the ground, feel the soil, hold a stone?

That will shift conversations, and it helps people integrate the metaphorical mind that we as humans have with their experiences of social interactions and institutional structures.

Sara Jolena Wolcott offers teachings using the powerful technology of circular calendars, ways of relating with our historical legacies, and other forms of eco-spirituality mixed with decolonization and every day guidance. She is a spiritual director, healer, and hostess of the ReMembering and ReEnchanting podcast. Find out more at Sequoia Samanvya: connecting the disconnected.



Sara Jolena Wolcott, M.Div.

ReMembering and ReEnchanting our world. Retelling Origin Stories and other myths and truths. Entrepreneur, legacy advisor, and unconventional minister. Healing.