Magical Flight of the Fox

Last night I had a Dream on the land where I live and a pretty Fox came to visit me, she was flying all over the land and it was a joy to see, her coat was very bright and shiny in the classic orange-red and white colors! So I was searching for flying Foxes in Ancient Folklore and found a few stories, the most common are from Japanese folklore, but also Persian and the Samoans …

Flying Foxes by Goro Fujita remixed


In pre-Islamic Iran, the fox was considered as one of the ten varieties of dog (in the Avesta), created against a demon called Xabag Dēw. It was considered an evil deed to eat a fox’s flesh. Foxes are occasionally described in a manner reminiscent of flying squirrels and sometimes in a way that implies a variety of large fruit bat. Thus, some ancient classical sources claim that Foxes could once fly because of this confusing of the species.

Although consuming fox flesh is forbidden medicinal use of various parts of the fox’s body is allowed for treatment of a variety of conditions. Even its droppings were used to prepare an aphrodisiac, while Fox Folk practices in Khorasan still prescribes that a bridegroom who is unable to consummate his marriage should leave the wedding party for the desert in the hope of hearing a Fox howl. Once he hears the call of the fox, he can return to try again. Not only is the fox medicinally useful, but it is also possessed of a fair amount of medical knowledge. It can, for instance, cure its own illnesses by feeding on certain roots and bulbs.
Flying Fox by Renee Nault, Ink & watercolor

In classical Arabic and Persian literature the Fox is a symbol of craftiness like most folklore around the world and deceit as well as cowardice. These characteristics of the fox have been directly reflected in folklore and folk-belief. Although most types of folk tales in which the fox appears portray the animal as crafty and cunning, it figures as the helper or donor figure in some stories.

Those who believe in physiognomy interpret a fox-like visage as an indication of an evil and deceitful personality while dream interpretation texts consider the fox to be a symbol of a cunning and immoral man or a mendacious woman. Thus, the man who dreams of playing with a fox should be aware that either a woman is in love with him or that he will soon find a lovely mistress, while he who dreams of a fox jumping in his shoes should expect that someone will seduce his wife in the near future.
Quint Buchholz
& The Tree of Life

A Samoan woman named Leutogitupaitea who was the daughter of Muliagalapaitagata and Pouliofata married the King of Tonga. The King had another wife who was a Tongan, and by her he had a child. The Samoan wife failed to conceive. One day the Tongan wife wished to go to the sea for a bath and the Samoan wife promised to look after the infant. She was jealous of this child and whilst the mother bathed she broke off a tooth of her hair comb and drove it into the skull of the baby who died. The mother of the child thought at first that the cause of death was a sickness, but she later on discovered the piece of the comb in the childs head.

The King on being informed of the happening ordered the people to gather firewood and to burn the woman who had killed his child. He ordered her to be placed in the fork of a Fetau tree and the wood to be piled high round the tree. This was done and the fire lighted. The flames ascended and the woman was about to be consumed when thousands of flying foxes flew over the fire and urinating on it extinguished the flames. The King then decided that the woman’s life would be spared and he said “this tree shall be called the Fork of Life, for a woman’s life was saved on it.” I give back the woman her life, but she shall be taken to a desert Island and left there.”

This was done and Leutogi was taken to the Island of Nuutuufua. Whilst she slept one night a number of pieces of wood and some fruit were dropped on the Island by some mysterious agency and she was enabled to make an over and cook some food. Tuioua paid a visit to this Island and took Leutogi to wife. She bore two sons who were Tonumaipea and Tauiliili.

Dan Newcomb Photography

By Frank Russell, Myths
of the Jicarilla Apaches,

As Fox was going along he met a Deer with two spotted fawns beside her. ” What have you done,” said he, “to make your children spotted like that?” “I made a big fire of cedar wood and placed them before it. The sparks thrown off burned the spots which you see,” answered the Deer. Fox was pleased with the color of the fawns, so he went home and told his children to gather cedar wood for a large fire. When the fire was burning well, he put the young foxes in a row before the fire, as he supposed the Deer had done.

fox and deer

When he found that they did not change color, he pushed them into the fire and covered them with ashes, thinking he had not applied sufficient heat at first. As the fire went out, he saw their white teeth gleaming where the skin had shriveled away and exposed them. “Ah, you will be very pretty now,” said he. Fox pulled his offspring from the ashes, expecting to find them much changed in color, and so they were – black, shriveled, and dead.

Fox next thought of revenge upon the Deer, which he found in a grove of cottonwoods. He built a fire around them, but they ran through it and escaped. Fox was so disappointed that he set up a cry of woe, a means of expression which he has retained from that day to this.


In Japanese and Korean folklore the Kitsune is an intelligent and magical being. The creature’s strength increases with age, wisdom, and life experience. Kitsune is a fox and have the ability to assume a human form and are great tricksters. A kitsune may take human form when it reaches a certain age and generally beautiful woman, a young maiden have a fox for their animist soul, so generally they have the ability to shape shift into a kitsune fox. Kitsune also have a fear do not like dogs. They can also willingly manifest themselves into people’s dreams and create illusions so elaborate that they are perceived as reality. The kitsune can fly which is one of its unusual gifts, they are also know to become invisible, and often times generate a small fire or even lightning. In some regions of the world, they are time benders and can drive people mad.

The Nine Tailed Fox 九尾狐

Kumiho is a creature that appears in the oral tales and legends of Korea. According to those tales, a fox that lives a thousand years turns into a Kumiho, as it can freely transform from female to fox, among other things and eat one’s liver, which symbolically would be a healing technique for detoxing unhealthy living.

There are numerous tales in which the kumiho appears, several of which can be found in the Compendium of Korean Oral Literature (한국 구비문학 대계). A Nine-tailed Fox, from the Qing edition of the Shan Hai Jing). – Originating in Chinese myths dating back centuries before being introduced to Korean mythology, the Korean kumiho shares many similarities to the Chinese hull jing, and the Japanese kitsune.

All explain fox souls as being the result of great longevity or the accumulation of energy, with kumiho said to be foxes who have lived for a thousand years and give them the power of shape-shifting, usually appearing in the guise of a woman. However, while huli jing and kitsune are often depicted with ambiguous moral compasses, possibly good or bad, the kumiho is almost always treated as a malignant figure.

It is unclear at which point in time Koreans began viewing the kumiho as a shadow creature, since many ancient texts mention benevolent kumiho assisting humans (and even make mentions of wicked humans tricking kind but naïve kumiho). In later literature, kumiho were often depicted as bloodthirsty half-fox, half-human creatures that wandered cemeteries at night, digging human hearts out from graves.

fox maidenThe Fox Sisters

A man had three sons and no daughter. He prayed for a daughter, even if she was a fox. His wife gave birth to a daughter, but when the girl was six, one of their cows died every night. He set his oldest son to watch. The boy watched, and told him that his sister did it, by pulling the liver out of the cow and eating it. His father accused him of having fallen asleep and having a nightmare. He threw his son out. The second son was set to watch over the cows, and nothing happened until the moon was full again, but then the sister struck, and the second son was also thrown out. When the youngest son was set to watch, and claimed that their sister had gone to the outhouse, he claimed that the cows must have died from seeing the moon.
The older brothers wandered until they met a Buddhist monk, who sent them back with three magical bottles. They found their sister living alone; she told them their parents and brother had died, and implored them to stay. Finally, she persuaded them to stay the night and somehow made a rich meal for them. In the night, the older brother was woken by the sounds of chewing. He rolled over, saw the meal, and realized that they had been eating corpses.

The sister stood over his dead brother, eating his liver. She told him that she needed only one more to become a human. He fled, throwing the white bottle behind him, and it became a thicket of thorns. As a fox, she made her way through it. He threw the blue bottle behind him, and trapped her in a river, but as a fox, she swam ashore. He threw the red bottle behind, and she was trapped in fire. It burned her until she was no more than a mosquito.

Most legends state that while a kumiho was capable of changing its appearance, there is still something persistently fox-like about it (i.e. a fox-like face, a set of ears, or the tell-tale nine tails) or a magical way of forcing; its countenance changes, but its nature does not. In Transformation of the Kumiho (구미호의 변신), a kumiho transforms into an identical likeness of a Bride at a wedding and is only discovered when her clothes are removed.

Bakh Mun-su and the Kumiho (박문수와 구미호) records an encounter that Pak Munsu has with a girl, living alone in the woods, that has a fox-like appearance. In The Maiden who Discovered a Kumiho through a Chinese Poem (한시로 구미호를 알아낸 처녀), the kumiho is ultimately revealed when a hunting dog catches the scent of a fox and attacks. Although they have the ability to change forms, the true identity of a kumiho was said to be zealously guarded by the kumiho themselves.

In Kumiho, Tale of the Fox’s Child, it say that akumiho can become human if the man who sees her true nature keeps it a secret for ten years. Much like werewolves or vampires in Western lore, there are always variations on the myth depending on the liberties that each story takes with the legend. One version of the mythology, however, holds that with enough will, a kumiho could further ascend from its yokwe (monster) state and become permanently human and lose its evil character. Explanations of how this could be achieved vary, but sometimes include aspects such as refraining from killing or tasting meat for a thousand days, or obtaining a cintamani making sure that the Yeoiju saw the full moon at least every month during the ordeal. Unlike Yeoiju-wielding dragons, kumiho were not thought to be capable of omnipotence or creation at will, since they were lesser creatures.

Fox women by Bertha Lum - kitsune as women


Inari Ōkami the Fox Goddess is said to appear to a warrior accompanied by a Kitsune, this portrayal of fox folklore shows the influence of Dakiniten from Buddhism.  Kitsune is the Japanese word for Fox and Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, Kitsune refers to them in this context as stories which depict them as intelligent female beings which possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yokai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shape shift into women and sometimes men, while some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others — as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and human beings lived close together in ancient Japan; this shamanic and animism companionship meant and means still today that the Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, the Shinto Kami (spirit) and serve as its messengers especially when they come into your dreams.

This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural or spirit fox significance. Kitsune is from an older, wiser, and more powerful ancient times, and the more tails the wiser and more powerful, some people make offerings to them as a deity. Religious men then demoted their importance and called them “witch animals” in a derogatory way, especially during the superstitious Edo period of (1603–1867 ce), and were goblins who could not be trusted (similar to some badgers and cats) also shamanic feminine animals.

Screen shot 2015-10-21 at 12.13.21 PM


The procession of lamp-lights is not only a wide spread phenomenon in Japan; it is worldwide. Japanese kitsune-bi is different from Foxfire in Western legends, which comes from a phosphorescent fungus. It is more akin to the Will-o’-the-wisp, also known as ignis fatuus or “Fool’s Fire.” The most common explanation is that these fires are the oxidation of the chemical phosphine caused by decaying organic matter, such as can be found in old growth forests. The foxfire procession kind of Kitsune Bi of Yomeiri are rarely seen today.

%22Kitsunebi on New Year's Night under the Enoki Tree near Ōji%22 in the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by Hiroshige. Each fox has a kitsunebi floating close to their face.This is most likely due to the 1950s deforestation of Japan’s native forests and replanting with fast-growing industrial cedar. Whatever magic of the forests that produced the foxfire lights, it is now gone, sacrificed by men and their industries of pollution and consumption.

Artists – Flying Foxes by Goro Fujita remixed – Flying Fox by Renee Nault, Ink & watercolor – Foxes & Bird Illustration by Quint Buchholz – Dan Newcomb Photography – Mirage Fox by Noxypia – Fox women by Bertha Lum – kitsune as women – “Kitsunebi on New Year’s Night under the Enoki Tree near Ōji” in the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by Hiroshige. Each fox has a kitsunebi floating close to their face.

Sources  – Phoenix’ Writings, Wiki,

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