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Fox Symbolism & The Spiritual Meanings Of Seeing A Fox

Photo: Ondrej Prosicky / Shutterstock
fox in the woods

The fox is known for being the trickster of animals, but there's more to fox symbolism than that! In fact, the fox can be seen in our dreams, our literature, cultures, and religions around the world.

Foxes are known for their cleverness, slyness, and trickery. So if you have ever crossed paths with a fox in your life, it's probably for a reason.

Fox Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Foxes

Foxes symbolize independence, cleverness, beauty, playfulness, protection, and are omens of good luck and the afterlife, hence why they are popular spirit animals.

The saying "clever as a fox" is a huge compliment, as it indicates your sharp wit and intelligence; because, just like the fox, you have the ability to use your cleverness to outsmart those who work against you.

These very independent creatures are not solitary all the time; in fact, they stick around to raise their pups and care for their mate, groom and play with their fellow foxes, and share a living area.

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Fox Encounters and Omens

Foxes may be mischievous and playful, but when one crosses your path, it is overall considered a good omen. Encountering a fox is a sign of wisdom, and it's your best bet to embrace the changes coming your way.

Many people believe that encountering a fox is a sign that financial wealth and positive change is in your future.

What Foxes of Different Colors Symbolize

Though foxes are often depicted as red or reddish-brown, they actually come in a variety of colors, including white, black, yellow-gray, orange, and light red.

So, whether you encounter a fox in real life or in a dream, there are varying meanings.

White Fox Meaning

The white fox, also known as the arctic fox, is a symbol of purity, clarity, and divinity. A white fox symbolizes a need for clarity and connection to divinity in your life.

Black Fox Meaning

Seeing a black fox has dual meanings; while many say it is a bad omen and a sign that your efforts to achieve a goal in your life are for naught, particularly when it comes to finances, another meaning is that you are bound for good luck!

Red Fox Meaning

A red fox is a symbol of the fire element. Connected to solar energy and the sun, red fox energy will ignite your creativity, passion, and deep emotions, as well as bring radiance and motivation into your life.

Gray or Silver Fox Meaning

The gray fox, or silver fox, is a symbol of neutrality. Therefore, if you're put into a situation where you have to choose sides, the gray fox will encourage you to stay somewhere in the middle. It's also a positive symbol of maturity, and a negative symbol of sadness and indecisiveness.

Golden Fox Meaning

Having a dream about a golden fox indicates that there are "golden" opportunities in your future, but they may spawn from not-so-ideal circumstances. Be wary as you push ahead to achieve your goals, but know that your efforts won't go unrewarded.

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Fox Symbolism in Dreams

When you dream of a fox, it's important to keep in mind how the dream itself made you feel.

A pleasant dream means you're comfortable with who you are and where you're at in life, while a negative dream may indicate anxieties you're experiencing in the waking world.

Dreaming about hunting a fox

Dreaming about hunting a fox indicates that you may be having financial trouble or are struggling with something negative. It's important to take a step back and evaluate your issues, or you will suffer consequences.

Dreaming of a fox attacking you

If a fox attacks you in your dream, it's a warning that the people around you are trying to bring you down in some way, and claim your success as their own. Be sure to trust yourself and remove toxicity from your life.

Dreaming of a fox chasing you

A fox chasing you in a dream indicates that you are running away from something in the waking world, whether it's a person or a situation. If you don't address your problems head-on, they will eventually catch up to you.

Dreaming of playing with a fox

A dream of a fox playing with you means two things: there may be danger, or you may hold yourself in too high of a regard. It's a reminder to come back down to earth, while embracing your powers of ambition and imagination.

Dreaming of a sick fox

A sick fox in your dream symbolizes the people around you not thinking of you the same way or holding you in high regard. People may not be taking you seriously, so to fix this, you need to act.

Dreaming of a fox biting you

If a fox bites you in your dream, it means that you are about to face the things that matter most to you in life, whether it's finances, family, or success. Be sure to remind yourself of your actual priorities, and remove those that don't serve you.

Dreaming of a pack of foxes

Dreaming of a pack of foxes is a warning that people in your life may seek to take you down and hinder your career or personal life. Stay vigilant and cautious of those around you.

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Fox Spirit or Totem Animal

A spirit animal is a guide meant to point you in the right direction, teaching you lessons along the way; similarly, a totem animal is also a spirit guide, but is one you invoke when you need their help. Both spirit and totem animals protect, guard, and help to find your higher purpose.

You'll know if a fox is your spirit animal if you have had a profound experience around one or resonate with the creature somehow. Keep in mind that you cannot choose your spirit animal; they choose you.

Fox spirit animals offer wisdom and guidance, and are an omen of protection, nobility, and good luck. The fox spirit animal encourages you to take quick and swift moves when taking action. In this way, you can let the fox show you your adaptability and how to avoid obstacles and resistance.

This spirit animal encourages you and gives you the strength to sharpen your physical alertness and responsiveness. They help you when you need more protection in life.

A fox totem animal is all about representing the fox's protective powers and is a helpful symbol when you want to manifest good luck, protection, fun, or beauty. Fox animal totems guide you in the right direction when strategizing so you can reach your fullest potential.

If you harness the power of the fox totem animal, you will be unstoppable, always on your toes, and know when and how to make the right decisions. You'll be able to avoid problems and trust your totem.

Spiritual Meaning of Foxes in Christianity and the Bible

In Christianity and in the Bible, foxes are often negative metaphors or have negative connotations like wolves. They encourage mistrust, abuse, and exploitation.

In the Song of Solomon 2:15, it talks about catching foxes for ruining vineyards that are in bloom. In that same verse, foxes are interpreted as sins of the spirit, including pride, jealousy, and gossip.

Meaning of Foxes in Literature

In Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and even in works of William Shakespeare, the cunningness of the fox was a similar theme. In old fables and mythologies, the fox represents the villain; however, foxes also offer wisdom, advice, and powerful messages.

Foxes portrayed in literature dates back to 4 BC, in Aesop's Fables. The tale, "The Fox and the Grapes," depicts the fox as a neutral figure who tries to eat grapes but cannot reach the vine. Instead of admitting defeat, the fox instead says the grapes are too sour, which created the term "sour grapes."

A second of Aesop's Fables includes "The Fox and the Crow," where the fox is portrayed as clever while attempting to convince a crow to give him a piece of cheese by flattering the crow. In its flattery, the fox tells the crow it has a lovely voice, and when the crow opens its mouth to sing, the cheese falls out, letting the fox eat it.

Foxes were depicted as cunning in "The Adventures of Pinocchio," where a fox and cat pretend to be disabled, only to rob Pinocchio and attempt to murder him; however, in "The Little Prince," the fox desires to be tamed by the prince, turning an ordinary occurrence into something unique, and showing the fox to be wise and a true friend.

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Fox Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Featured heavily in European and East Asian cultures, foxes have been portrayed as cunning animals who use trickery to get their way. However, there are some cultures who view foxes as divine messengers.

For instance, in ancient Mesopotamia, the fox was a sacred being, serving as a messenger for the ancient Earth and fertility goddess, Ninhursag.

In what is now modern-day Peru, the Moche people thought of the fox also as a sacred animal, depicting the creature in artwork as a warrior who only used his mind to fight battles and would never actually engage in physical warfare.

Native American Fox Symbolism

Foxes are very sacred animals in Native American cultures. One thing all Native American tribes have in common is that they revere animals and the natural world.

In many tribes, the fox was a clan animal, and members of the clan would wear fox skins as spiritual regalia used in dances and ceremonies. Some tribes saw the fox as a spirit that was powerful and known for being a god that brought wisdom and benevolence.

Warrior tribes used fox skins and bones as a way to show they were part of the Kit Fox Society or Swift Fox Warriors. In order to join this society, you had to prove you could be brave and of good repute.

However, not all tribes saw the fox as a godly figure; rather, they saw a fox as a thief or scoundrel and an overall bad omen. In many of the legends, the fox and the coyote share a connection or can be seen as interchangeable.

Celtic Fox Symbolism

According to Scottish and Irish folklore, the fox was portrayed in the story of Dia Griene.

Dia was the daughter of the Sun, who was captured by the god of the underworld, and begged for release for so long that she was let go; however, not without a catch, as she could only return to Earth as a fox.

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The fox was also seen in paganism in the Celtic world, but as Christianity took over, foxes were increasingly seen as more sinister figures.

Asian Fox Symbolism

In Asian culture, the fox was revered and seen as a powerful symbol that possessed mystical powers, but was also a mischievous trickster. In both Japanese and Chinese cultures, the fox is a powerful ally that helps drive demons and other evil spirits away.

The Chinese view the fox as more of a trickster. In folklore, the fox could shapeshift into a female temptress, known as a vixen, who would entice men to have extramarital affairs.

The Japanese believe foxes have supernatural powers, like shapeshifting from fox to human. In legends, there is a fox named Kitsune, who, with age, gains more supernatural powers including creating fire, lightning, entering dreams, and bending time and space.

In the volcanic mountains of Nasu, Japan is a stone, also known as "Killing Stone," or Sessho-seki. Japanese mythology says that anyone who comes into contact with the stone will die. This stone is associated with the legend of Tamamo-no-Mae, the legendary fox spirit.

As the tale goes, the nine-tailed fox enchanted a chinese King and ended the Shang dynasty. The fox spirit then fled to ancient India and became a concubine of the prince, causing him to cut off the heads of one-thousand men. Once defeated, the fox possessed a concubine of Chinese King You, eventually being chased away.

Years later, the fox appeared as a woman named Tamamo-no-Mae in Japan, and was a courtesan of Emperor Toba. Tamamo-no-Mae made the Emperor ill and was eventually exposed as a fox spirit.

Tamamo-no-Mae is said to have embedded herself into the Sessho-seki stone. In March 2022, the stone split, possibly releasing the fox spirit and her dark forces.

That or it was just the result of ecological wear and tear. One or the other.

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Ancient Greek Fox Symbolism

Aesop, a popular figure and slave in ancient Greece in the 7th century, was known for his fables about animals and had numerous stories depicting foxes.

In another Greek myth about the Teumessian Fox, the fox is an oversized beast sent by the god Dionysus to eat the children of Thebes as punishment for the people of Thebes' wrongs.

Creon, the head regent of Thebes, sends Laelaps, a magical dog, after the fox, but is stopped by Zeus as he turns both beasts into stone, throwing them into the sky — hence, where the constellations Canis Major (the dog) and Canis Minor (the fox) come from.

African Fox Symbolism

In African culture and folklore, foxes are depicted as creatures of cunning, trickery, patience, agility, and adaptability, and as protectors of the home; a fox's sounds were said to ward off evil spirits and witches.

However, Africans also believed the fox was a bad omen, a sign of bad things about to happen to someone.

The Dogon tribe sees the fox as a messenger and a trickster, known to bring chaos. The Tswana tribe's proverb, "Only the muddy fox lives," is about people putting their all into their work — "getting their hands dirty," if you will — in order to move forward in life.

Norse Mythology Fox Symbolism

In Nordic mythology, the fox is a spirit animal called a "fylgjur," said to accompany people and serve as a guide.

There is also a story of a giant fox called Tulikettu, believed to have had magical powers and was coveted by hunters. Despite this, Tulikettu ran extremely fast and was impossible to hunt.

It was said that Tulikettu ran so fast that his fluffy tail would dust up snow, creating sparkles in the sky that would turn into fire sparks, eventually creating the aurora borealis.

Fox Tattoo Meaning

A fox tattoo is a perfect tattoo if you want a positive symbol on your body that says you know how to use your wits and be a confident person.

A fox tattoo shows others and yourself that you're the type of person who lets their inner radiance and beauty shine, and that you enjoy having fun but are also a little mischievous.

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Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers pop culture, love and relationships, and self-care.

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