Some people would call Bunny Michael a "rapper" and a "healer," but nothing is quite that simple with this magical genderqueer artist. Raised in Texas, with artistic roots in the mid-00's New York art rap scene, Bunny is on a mission to shift the culture toward love and peace with one deceptively simple tactic: memes.
Bunny's memes are instantly recognizable, and chances are good that you've come across a few on Instagram. The memes always feature two images of Bunny placed side by side, with one side representing the regular, flawed Bunny and the other side representing their Higher Self. Above, there's a dialogue between the two.
Somehow, these brief dialogues manage to represent many of the deepest, most central conflicts that we all feel within ourselves. For lots of us, though, our two opposing selves feel more like "regular me" and "mean me that berates regular me for not being good enough" — more like the Evil Kermit meme than Bunny Michael's. But we all have a Higher Self, too, Bunny says, and it's important to be in dialogue with them as well.
"I believe [healing is] all of our purpose, we're just at different parts of our journey and we all have a different role. We are awakening to that, but old habits die really hard," Bunny told The Fader in 2016.
"I feel not everybody embraces it, maybe, because they don't realize that they have that power yet. Everybody has the power to heal their own wounds and to help heal the wounds of other people."
By putting a face and words to the loving, gentle aspect of ourselves, Bunny's memes help us tap into our innate ability to heal. Can you say genius?
Born in Texas to Mexican and Samoan parents, Bunny got their start as an artist in New York in the era of MySpace and George W. Bush. Their first project, Bunny Rabbit, was a collaborative rap project about a radical bunny roaming the streets of Brooklyn. After Bunny found some success as a musician, they struggled to keep their ego in check. Amidst the struggle for mass approval, the potential for true peace was lost. That's what led Bunny to seek a higher purpose.
"We've made ego — a.k.a. lovelessness or greed — our god here now," Bunny explained to The Fader. What's really important, they realized, is "not money, not that kind of success, but love and giving and peace."
Healing has been Bunny's ultimate goal ever since, from multimedia art to one-on-one guidance sessions to music. Bunny's latest release, Afterlyfe, is a trippy EP of psychedelic rap or — as Bunny calls it — "surrealist lyricist dance music to the apocalyptical dimensional shift to love consciousness." They're now embarking on a European tour with Fever Ray.
On the internet, Bunny is most recognizable not for their music, but for their Higher Self memes. Drawing from a background in multimedia art, Bunny has been making similar images — which they call "doubles" — for several years. In 2015, they debuted a photography exhibition at Alt Space in Brooklyn titled "The Etheric Double" in which Bunny meets their "spiritual twin" out in nature. In 2016, they were inspired to post a double on Instagram in the form of a video meme. When the popular astrologer Chani Nicholas liked the post, Bunny knew they'd hit upon something golden.
"When I first started doing the doubles, which was years ago, it was a reflection of a huge spiritual transformation I was going through. The struggle between being in this human form and living in this realm, and also knowing that I am actually a spirit moving through this," Bunny said.
"I was going to therapy, and I had a vision of my higher self comforting me and hugging me and being like, 'You're okay, you're doing your job.' And it was such a powerful feeling, embracing my own self. That's when it kind of started."
Bunny told Dazed in March that they "find strength in the Beyond, in God – which for me is another word for Love. I use it as my guide in all my decisions."
"That's why I write the Higher Self memes every day on my Instagram. I want to be in service to people."
Memes might seem like a blunt instrument to use for complex healing, but Bunny's doubles are proof that the medium is more powerful than it looks. Bunny intentionally chose this format because "meme language, or meme thought, is a context that a lot of people can understand already, so you already have that joining force." Their words, carefully chosen, are easy to digest and often use a bit of humor to get the point across. Because memes are, by nature, meant to be easily shared, the message spreads far and wide.
Two years after their first Higher Self meme, Bunny posts one nearly every day, and they've released a book of memes, "Me and My Higher Self," that you can keep on your coffee table.
Regardless of your own spirituality, the idea that humans should orient themselves towards love, rather than fear, is something we can likely all get behind — and if the thousands of likes on each post are any indicator, Bunny's memes are already resonating with tons of young people.
"Where do we find [our inner strength]? We've always had it. It was always there, it has been in us since we were born — the capacity to love ourselves and to love other people, and to see the beauty in people, and to see the beauty of this planet and the beauty within ourselves."