Animal symbolism: foxes

Discussions of the arcane symbols of Tarot and other decks
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Symbols appear on each and every tarot card - visual signs that convey meaning. Some of them are highly individual and personal, others time-honored and traditional. Some are easy to understand, others difficult and multivalent. In this forum, we want to study symbols from different decks, traditions and cultures together using books, websites, lwbs and our own intuition.
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Nemia
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Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Nemia » 11 Nov 2017, 10:06

Animal symbolism is central to a number of newer tarot decks. One of the popular animals that appear in different tarot decks is the fox.

In the Shadowscapes tarot, foxes play a central role as symbolic animal of the suit of Wands. Their red coat and high energy levels make them a natural choice for wands.

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Foxes as symbolic animal in the Cups suit struck me at first as unusual choice. Nakisha van der Hoeven, creator of the Badgers Forest Tarot, explained her choice on AT, look for BlueDogRose, and I want to quote what she wrote:
For me the animals their respective suits was more of a personal thing, based on my own experiences with animals rather than folklore or common assumptions. Badgers are fierce and active animals- action and effort are always something I associate with sword cards. Foxes are emotional beings, and kind of mysterious, sometimes hard to read, they also play hard and are cunning, passionate, things I associate with some cup cards. Rabbits might be a bit harder to fathom, but I've always thought them as surprisingly intelligent and dynamic individuals, and crows are clever but they also can be territorial and have their own inner workings, social structures etc.

As an artist my work is from my own experiences, and the tarot decks evolved as an expression of that. Rather than trying to capture the exact definition of the cards I took a more intuitive approach and perhaps more emotional one, while trying to still honor the tradition and history of tarot. Hope that helps!
I loved that explanation. I'm glad Nakisha didn't go with convention or first association but tried to see the deeper character of the animals she chose.

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The picture btw is taken from Benebell Wen's beautiful review of the deck.

In the Wild Unknown, a fox appears on the Seven of Swords.

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That's a clever little guy; the last sword is lurking beneath his fur.

So each artist went for a different angle. The Wild Unknown connected to the fox' reputation for slyness. The Shadowscapes sees them as red arrows of energy and assertiveness, jumping and running through the forest. And the Badgers Forest depicts them as mysterious, passionate beings.

I'm sure there are more foxes in tarot!

(And we didn't even delve into Lenormand territory where the Fox card is mostly the traditional German Meister Reineke or Schlaufuchs, the sly fox - but that's actually a topic for the Lenormand boards...).

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Nemia » 17 Nov 2017, 23:18

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In the Dürer Tarot (which I don't have, unfortunately), the fox appears on the Eight of Swords. It's a cruel image, and many people will find it disturbing. (I know it's only a picture but I find it disturbing, too). These swords are not symbolical, they really hurt, and the fox is dying. Why so many swords for one small animal? I think of fox hunting, a horde of dogs and people on horses ... and they're all chasing a fox. First, we humans disturb the ecological balance, then we kill for fun the animals who don't fit into our plans? I don't know what the artist intended here - the whole point of the RWS 8 of Swords is that the woman only feels entrapped but can actually free herself once she realizes that - and this fox won't have another chance. I take this is as departure from the RWS scheme and see here a card that tells us to beware of hybris, and not to blame others for the consequences of our own actions.

Very interesting that the fox, a predator and ancient symbol of cunning, has turned into a symbolic victim thanks to the invention of the fox hunt as aristocratic sport...

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Nemia » 19 Nov 2017, 15:40

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One of the additional cards in the Shapeshifter Tarot (which make some reviewers doubt its tarot credentials) is nr. 21, the Double. I don't have the book, only the lwb, which tells us:
Discernment, subtlety, cunning. Learn to be cunning by exercising discipline and using power in a positive way, and prosperity will be yours. Carefully discern those people and things that benefit your pattern. Beware of those who seek to disrupt your life, control you, or take way your energy and power. Beware of the trickster, the inner trickster of self-sabotage and the outer trickster appearing in others who seek to deceive you.
(excerpt, source)

Actually, the card tells us to trick other tricksters by becoming a trickster ourselves. Quite a tricky message!

Now I know we're not in the Lenormand forum here, but nevertheless, this calls for a comparison with the beautiful Dreaming Way Lenormand Fox.

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Here, the lady wears the fox - it's like a disguise. In the Shapeshifter Tarot, the woman becomes the Fox, she internalizes its characteristics.

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Nemia » 26 Nov 2017, 01:45

Of course, I found some more foxes. The Dürer Tarot, mentioned in an earlier post already, seems to use foxes in the whole Swords suit.

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Here, in the Seven of Swords. That's a fox-dense card it seems :-)

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Alchemical Tarot, Seven of Swords. Here we have the sly and cunning fox again. In the book that goes with this deck (and far beyond), Robert Place shows more sides of this card. The cunning can be in self defense, and it can be the action of a trickster.

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In the Fantastical Creatures Tarot, the Seven of Swords is represented by a fox, as well.

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I found another Seven of Swords with a fox but even with reverse Google image search, couldn't find the name of the deck.

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In the Chrysalis Tarot, the fox on the Three of Scrolls (Swords) looks melancholic and sad, in keeping with the traditional meaning of the card.

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In the Wildwood Tarot, the Knight of Bows (Wands) is a fox, dignified, on his guard and ready to move as soon as something doesn't look right.

And there is also the Fox Tarot, where ALL the cards are full of cutified foxes, most of them with Disney eye make up (SO many foxes in Disney movies!), and by having them people all the cards, it robs them imo of the specific fox meaning.

Artistically more interesting (imho) is the unfinished, unpublished tarot art by Skia on Deviantart. Lots of foxes.

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Minchiate Fiorentine - the Fox in the Hen House! He's happy. The hens less. (Source)

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In the Tarot of the Animal Lords, we have a fox as Magician.

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In the Animal Totem Tarot as well.

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And in the Ostara Tarot, the fox is the Page of Wands...

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... and foxes appear on the Page of Coins.

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In the Pagan Cats Tarot, a fox carries the Knight of Wands.

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Nemia » 26 Nov 2017, 02:28

I found another one - and open a new post for it. I know I'm playing here all alone but I don't care - maybe someone will read it and get a better understanding of the fox as symbol.

Look what a beauty. The Queen of Wands in the Animism Tarot.

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Very interesting to read what the creator herself thinks about this fox. Strong and - you saw it coming! cunning. But also a lot of other things.

I see that the fox is often associated with Fire/Wands because of its speed and colour (Shadowscapes), and with Air/Swords because of its association with hunting, as hunter and hunted (Dürer and Alchemical), but it also shows intuition and a connection to the earth (in Badgers Forest and Ostara).

If you're interested in foxes, you'll like to read this blog entry - more tarot foxes :-)

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by BrightEye » 26 Nov 2017, 04:50

Nemia wrote:
26 Nov 2017, 01:45


Artistically more interesting (imho) is the unfinished, unpublished tarot art by Skia on Deviantart. Lots of foxes.

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This is a really cool deck! And I love foxes. They’re my alter ego.

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Seldes Katne » 26 Nov 2017, 19:51

One of the major reasons I purchased the Shadowscapes Tarot was the sheer number of foxes. The Five of Wands, with all those foxes leaping and running, is one of my favorite tarot cards of all.

I found a couple of foxes in the Whimsical Tarot. The first is found on the King of Swords card.

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The human character is, I think, the Huntsman from the Little Red Riding Hood story, and the fox doesn't really play any part, other than to establish that the King is standing in the woods. However, the King of Swords is usually seen as someone who renders judgement, is impartial, and an authority figure, so the fox may play into that somehow.

The second fox is Br'er Fox, from the Uncle Remus stories, and he's the Knight of Swords:

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He's a clever, scheming fellow, and has a plan for catching Br'er Rabbit. The Knight in this case is preparing to correct a wrong (Br'er Fox feels slighted in the original story, if I recall correctly). He's going to do it by outwitting his opponent.

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by katrinka » 26 Nov 2017, 21:04

The unknown Fox is definitely Nigel Jackson's work.

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Probably from The Nigel Jackson Tarot, though he's done others.

The NJT is a deck that I deeply regret missing. At some point I'm going to have to pay entirely too much for a copy, if there is not another print run soon.

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by katrinka » 26 Nov 2017, 21:10

The fox has an interesting application in Feng Shui Third Party Antidote Fox Amulet
Japanese Kitsune also possess an air of trickery and seduction.

It's interesting how widespread the ideas are.

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Re: Animal symbolism: foxes

Post by Nemia » 01 Dec 2017, 09:22

Oh, that's wonderful, now I want a fox amulet! My daughter told me today about a jewelry artist who makes the most wonderful fox, owl, dragon and unicorn rings. Maybe, if I find her site, I'll link it in the marketplace - things of beauty for people who love these animals.

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