For today’s post I would like to take a look at foxes as they appear in folklore and fairytales. This animals are known for their intelligence and ability to maneuver their way into and out of situations. In the Celtic world foxes were seen as spirit guides, as were many of the forest dwelling animals.
In the Celtic world the fox is seen as a guide between the worlds, and a symbol of spirituality, omens, and the afterlife! In other cultures the wily fox is also seen as a trickster, like in the Japanese tales of the kitsune. In fairytales we see foxes as symbols of slyness and cunning. This is a theme also present in Aesop’s Fables.
Positive traits of the fox are charm, cleverness, creativity, passion, guidance, protection, and nobility. Negative traits attributed to the fox are cunning, trickster, demonic, slyness, difficulty, and problems. All of the traits whether positive or negative are connected to the intellect of this animal! The powerful imagery of this particular animal inspired much in the way of both admiration and fear to cultures throughout history.
The Japanese kitsune, or fox spirits have been utilized as both positive, almost god-like and related to the goddess Inari, and in a negative light as demonic tricksters. In The Vampire Diaries novel series by L.J. Smith two twin kitsune characters are introduced in the fifth novel. Shinichi and Misao are the absolutely demonic extreme of the portrayal of the kitsune. They are evil, but behave like children, making them more than simply malevolent, as they are also willing to do whatever they will on a whim! There is much glee taken by these two fox spirits in torturing and playing with humans as if they were toys.
On the other end of the spectrum we see a positive portrayal of the kitsune in the television show Teen Wolf. Kira is a kitsune who becomes part of the team of supernatural teenage heroes in this MTV series! It is great to be able to have two examples in the last twenty years alone of popular culture taking the on the story of the kitsune. I love the integration of world myths and legends into modern fantasy fiction of all sorts!
Whether we see foxes as positive beings who can protect and guide, or as demonic entities and bad omens, they are very much ingrained in the world imagination. I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at the symbolism of foxes. Do you see them as positive or negative? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Special Note: Today is my husband’s birthday, and I would just like to take a moment to say Happy Birthday to the love of my life! It is the first year I get to say Happy Birthday Hubby, and goddess does that sound good!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a fox. I found the image on http://www.news10.com.
- Aesop’s Fables
- The Vampire Diaries: The Return Trilogy (this is the second arc of the series of novels, volumes 5-7) by L.J. Smith
- Teen Wolf (2011-2017)