The fox is one of my favorite animals and is known worldwide as being cunning, shrewd, and witty (hence the term foxiness). Across different cultures, the fox has garnered a wide ranging reputation. During the medieval ages, Catholic Europe considered the fox to be a symbol of the Devil. In the Eastern traditions, like China and Japan, the fox is a symbol of wealth. So while it’s apparent that the fox is a somewhat controversial symbol, nobody can deny its importance, either in the service of good, or evil.
Witty, adaptive and flexible, the fox is known for a sharp mind combined with excellent instincts. The fox signifies our spiritual ability to combine all our abilities to become, just like the animal, clever and crafty.
What is the spiritual significance of foxes
Just like the ying and the yang, the spiritual significance of foxes is one of duality. While the core traits are cleverness and crafitness, the purpose can often change. Some see foxes as an image of evil (or at least ill will), that conjures ideas of thievery of lies. However, it can also be seen as a more positive image, one of wealth and fortune, it all depends on your perspective.
In many cultures, if you see a fox this means that you are about to start the spiritual path, and an invitation to follow this path carefully. Other cultures associate the fox with black magic, and the way of learning magic powers, as in North American native cultures.
Foxes as a spirit animal
As a spirit animal, the fox has the image of the trickster. However, this does not just mean that the fox is a cruel hearted creature that is attempting to hurt or fool us. A better explanation would be that it is a teacher that uses unorthodox means to show everybody the right path, and how to surpass all obstacles. If the fox is your spirit animal, you need to adapt constantly. Your lesson is to be permanently attentive and flexible to successfully adjust to whatever might come.
The fox as a personal totem, means a need to refine and improve mental skills such as:
Foxes as a spirit animal invite you to pay attention to people or even circumstances around you, as they can be deceiving, or they could take you on a path that it’s not in your best interest. This is a great life guide if you know how to follow it and interpret everything. Having the fox by your side, will help you find the best solutions. Your fox spirit animal will take you out of the most difficult situations while also training your own wit and humour.
Foxes appear in many mythologies and legends as a messenger of Gods. They are beings that cross between the human world and the world of the gods. A fox generally symbolizes a communication between the living and the dead. Thus the fox becomes an agile intermediary between the two worlds. It often remains surrounded by the same ambiguity of good and bad.
Furthermore, the fox is actually a neutral symbol. It receives a positive or negative significance depending on the person that interprets it. This is why the fox is a quite tricky symbol. After all, so many traditions call it, the trickster.
In ancient cultures the fox is mainly a symbol of supernatural powers. Many people in these cultures were trying to gain the fox’s favour in order to receive blessings from the gods.
The various gods that took a fox-like shape were characterized by power and cunning. For the pre-Christian cultures the fox was a god of the woods and mountains. People considered the fox to be a symbol of fertility, paying tributes and bringing offerings to the Fox-God to bring them prosperous and abundant blessings on various areas of their lives. Also, it used to be a wise advisor on all the issues, however one could not easily get guidance from the Fox-God.
With time, and especially during the Dark Ages and the influence of Christian beliefs, due to the fox’s predominantly nocturnal hunting activities, this animal became associated with evil, death and darkness of the night.
Foxes Symbolism in Eastern Mythology
In China, there are myths that present the fox as a metamorphic animal that can change shape and color, thus being extremely seductive and dangerous for whomever encounters it. It often appears to test a certain individual, who has to prove his or her utmost wits in order to outrun the fox.
The Chinese traditions mention the Huli Jing, which is a fox with nine tails. This is a She fox that can take the shape of a woman and might eat human hearts or liver, especially from male victims. As she represents the feminine (yin) energy, she requires masculine (yang) energy in order to survive for millennia.
The same legend of a nine tail fox is encountered in Korea, under the name Kumiho, as well as in Japan, under the name of Kitsune. There are, however, slight differences between these legends. Mainly the fox can take the shape of both a male or a female, and its purpose is to feed on human flesh in order to remain an eternity under human shape. They can take the shape of a guardian, a friend, a lover or even a spouse. The greater the number of tails they have, the greater the wisdom and cunning, thus the greater the danger for humans. Japanese Shinto symbolism holds the fox as a messenger from the Rice God. Foxes are also a symbol of inevitable transformation and invitation to collaborate with life’s cycles.
Foxes Symbolism in Eastern Europe
The Eastern European fairy tales often include a fox companion or advisor for the main hero, that is very independent and appears whenever it wants to, brings riddles and tests to solve for the greater good of the story, or to helps the hero by means of tricks in the most difficult situations, when a simple and plain sight solution cannot be found. The fox companion never fully reveals its intentions and is usually to be feared. Luckily, the fox’s interest usually coincides with that of the hero, and only the villain has to fear the fox. One thing is for sure, the fox’s intelligence always exceeds that of the other characters in the legend, even that of the main character.
The Dogons, an ancient civilization from Mali, considered the trickster god of the dessert to be a White Fox, the embodiment of chaos.
The Finnish mythology has a deceitful and skilled fox as the evil trickster. This character always defeats the wolf and the bear, which signifies the victory of intelligence over evil and raw power.
The Moche tribe from Peru adored the fox and they considered it to be the perfect warrior that fought only with its mind.
Dreaming about foxes
Foxes are an important symbol when they appear in dreams, so you should definitely pay them close attention. Generally, a fox in your dreams is a sign of bad to come.
It can signify that you have some enemies close, even though you may not yet be aware of them. You might even lose money, or something important, or be cheated in business or love, or both. Fake friends might betray you.
If you find yourself dreaming about a fox with a thick tail you will deal with an unpleasant person. If you fight a fox in your dream, you will have a confrontation with a cunning enemy.
Bringing a fox with you in a dream may symbolize that you are carrying your worries with you.
If you dream of a black fox it signifies luck, unlike a white fox which announces a disaster. If you dream three foxes, this announces a real big danger coming your way, soon.
If you’re interested in protecting your dreams, check out my post on the best dream catchers here.
Foxes in the Bible
Foxes also appear in the Bible suggesting the same idea of wisdom which may or may not be caused by divine influence.
They are mentioned in the story of Samson who takes some foxes, small ones that are destroying the vineyard, ties their tails and lights a flame between them. This story is a parable about making sure your wits have a focus, otherwise it can sabotage you.
Good or evil, the symbol of the fox stands for wisdom, wits and the power of mind and reason. No matter which forces it serves and no matter if it helps or deceives us, the fox will always be an important spiritual figure. Foxes are a lesson and an invitation to use and improve our minds but it also teaches us something more. Nothing is inherently good or bad, any action or skill can be used as a means to do either good or evil. The choice is ours.