A collection of foxes is apparently called a leash, skulk or troop. A skulk of foxes seems particularly evocative of the idea of the fox as cunning and secretive, hiding in the shadows waiting to capture it’s prey.
Because they’re quick to adapt, foxes are found in a range of habitats from rural areas to city centres. Their habitat and the number of foxes in the area affects their mating habits. In areas with fewer foxes, they tend to display more monogamous behaviour. Unlike a lot of species we’ve looked at, the father stays to look after the babies (called kits), providing food until they leave home.
This makes the fox a (sort of) dependable partner, there for you, meeting the family needs. They can also remain together for several mating seasons making a fox a pretty committed creature.
My own fox story
When I was little, I lived in a house down a country lane with its own wee spot of tree climbing woodland. I would play for hours amongst the horse chestnuts, the oaks, Ash and lime trees. One day, when I was seven or so, I was running through the fallen leaves with my younger sister and we saw a fox. It was laying very very still at the bottom of a tree. Not even moving when we crunched towards it in our wellies. We weren’t naive, we knew it was probably dead. As the older one of us, I stood watch over it whilst my dad was fetched. In that short space of time, the fox, opened its eyes for just a moment. My dad explained it was probably a reflex, a muscle twitch as the body relaxed into death. Whatever it was, that moment has stuck vividly with me for over twenty years.
There are a lot of stories about the fox including one about how the sly fox gave the owls their wisdom. In it, the fox repeatedly tricks the owls into getting food for him and they focus so heavily on that that they neglect themselves and start to starve. The fox reveals his trickery to them and from then on the owls are wiser and the fox continues to be cunning and crafty. This story also highlights other trait, laziness and greed. Whilst we often think of the fox as a hunter, they are opportunist feeders which is helped by the fact they eat pretty much everything.
In other folklore, legends and stories, the fox has been known, in male and female forms, to seduce humans and then harm them, such as in the ballard Reynardine. Japanese folklore depict foxes as intelligent, magical beings who are able to shape shift. Some use this ability to trick people whilst others are faithful, generous friends. Long life appears to be another common feature of foxlore in the eastern world.
One of Aesop’s fable, handily condensed into a few lines by Aphra Behn, brings us the concept of sour grapes and suggests a certain pride in the fox:
The fox who longed for grapes, beholds with pain
The tempting clusters were too high to gain;
Grieved in his heart he forced a careless smile,
And cried, ‘They’re sharp and hardly worth my while
What currently feels like it’s beyond your reach? Are you disparaging it because it isn’t available to you? We do this in relationships, we get angry or frustrated or upset when someone achieves something we want, whether that’s a material want or seeing someone happy or content or excited etc.
Other fables illustrate other aspects of the fox, for example in the fox and the crow we see the fox’s cunning nature, which is reiterated in the fox and the goat which also shows the fox uncaring about using others to his own gain.
Are you hurting someone for your own gain? Are you being hurt for someone else’s gain? Having a cunning nature and intellect can be great but if this is you, look at how you’re using it. Or perhaps you do need a bit of the fox to help you, just be careful of how it will affect other people. Outfoxing someone in a battle of wits is one thing, standing on their back so you can reach the best grapes is quite a different thing.
The seven of swords
Look at this guy, the seven of swords. You may know that I find seven cards challenging but this is one I’m feeling more connected with.
This little fox is a bit wary, a bit cautious and even a bit sly. He isn’t taking people at face value. He is cautious about their intentions, their motives and isn’t going to leap into anything without testing the waters. He’s keeping an eye out, spying on people, ready with the sword he’s hiding. Perhaps the reason he’s feeling like this is because of his own nature – he knows how he tricks people and hurts them for his own gain so he expects it from others.
He could also be acting in self protection, keeping his cards close to his heart, holding onto his secrets. He could be deluding himself or hiding something from himself that he isn’t ready to deal with.
There are times when secrets and not sharing is important to self preservation but there are times when it can also be destructive. What impact are secrets having in your life at the moment?
Compare him to the much more confident looking fox in the animal spirit deck. That guy is literally glowing, he is feeling pretty good about himself by the looks of things, possibly even a bit smug.
I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about when it comes to this handsome fox!
One of the strangest things I read when looking into the fox was that they “are the animal kingdom’s answer to Marmite – you either love them or hate them.” Make of that what you will!