Fox Wisdom – Cunning, Camouflage and Persistence by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoFox, as a member of the Canidae family, is related to wolves, jackals and dogs. But unlike these animals who hunt in packs, fox hunts alone.

Fox is intelligent, clever and cunning. While it is persistent, fox is gentler and less aggressive than wolf. Fox is associated with feminine magic, offering the power of the feminine to both men and women.

Fox’s cunning has given rise to its designation as “trickster” in many cultures. Fox often uses silly tactics which camouflage its true intent in dangerous situations. Fox calls you to pay attention to circumstances or people who might be leading you astray. 

Like wolf, fox partners for life. Both the female vixen, and the male dog, are devoted to their young, bearing their pups once a year. The vixen protects the pups with great loyalty, while the dog brings food. Many of fox’s shrewd hunting techniques are used to provide for the young pups and the nursing vixen. Fox calls you to use your own cunning intelligence to serve not only yourself but also your family and community.

Fox is found worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. The red fox is the most common. The color red indicates a connection to vitality, survival and blood-relations. Perhaps this is why many Native Americans see fox as healer and protector of the family.

Though part of the Canidae family fox has a lot in common with cats. Like cat, fox mostly hunts at night and has vertically oriented pupils. And fox’s hunting style mimics that of cat – stalking and pouncing on its prey.

Fox is playful, friendly and curious. Fox loves balls and is often the culprit in theft of balls from golf courses. Fox has been in relationship with humans for a very long time –  4,000 years earlier than humans first bonded with dogs. A grave in a 16,500-year-old cemetery in Jordan was discovered in 2011 which held the remains of a man and his pet fox.

Fox’s long furry tale has many uses, helping with balance when it stands on its hind legs searching for food in tall grass, for communication with other foxes, and as a blanket for warmth in cold weather.

Fox, with its keen intelligence, has the ability to outsmart both predator and prey, often slipping out of difficult situations soundlessly and unseen. Fox offers you the ability to carefully assess any situation, avoiding the error of a rushed decision. Trust your intuition – if something feels wrong, then tread with care. When fox appears to you, know that the solution to a problem is at hand.

Stories and legends from around the world portray fox as a cunning, magical being who moves effortlessly in and out of difficult circumstances. Fox shows the way to solutions that avoid direct confrontation – a gentle approach. When protecting its den, instead of a direct attack, the male fox will lead the predator away. Clever fox guides you in finding the smartest solution to obstacles.

Fox figures strongly in many Native American myths. Some tribes see fox as a creator god. The Apache believe that fox stole fire from heaven and brought it to humankind on its tail. Both the Hopi and the Creek have fox clans.

Fox is a night creature, usually seen at dawn and dusk. These are the liminal moments of each day, lending credence to the Celtic view that fox symbolizes the ability to move with ease between the world of spirit and the earthly plane. In addition fox lives on the borderlands – the edges between forest and open land. And finally fox has such excellent eyesight it can often see movement and objects on the edges of the normal field of vision, adding to its ability to see between the worlds. These talents all give rise to the belief that fox can be a guide into the faerie realm and the world of spirit.

The Japanese deity, Inari, who rules fertility, rice, and money is associated with fox. Many Japanese believe that Inari can become a fox, though the priests insist that fox acts only as her messenger. Of the 32,000 shrines dedicated to Inari, many include a small shrine to fox. Japanese legends are full of reference to fox as being magical and intelligent. Some assert its ability to change into human form – becoming a woman who might seduce a man into marriage.

The Chinese also believed fox could take human form.

Fox is connected to Earth in a very unique way, using Earth’s magnetic field to hunt. Many animals use the magnetic field to help with their migrations but fox is the only animal we know of who uses it to catch prey. In the winter fox can be seen jumping high into the air and then plunging head first into the snow in hopes of capturing its prey. Jaroslav Červený, who spent over two years studying wild, red foxes in the Czech Republic, concluded that they use Earth’s magnetic field to locate that prey. His study found that fox prefers to jump in a north-easterly direction. When fox jumps and dives along this axis it is more likely to obtain its prey, about a 73% success rate.  A southwesterly jump reaches 60% success.  All other directions gain its prey only 18% of the time.

Fox teaches you to find your true north in order to be successful with your endeavors. This requires time and patience as you listen closely to the outer world and your intuition.

Earth is fox’s ally, offering forest, rocks, trees and bushes as protection and camouflage through which fox can disappear into the shadows or other dimensions. Like any great magician, fox remains quiet and unnoticed while using its great powers to achieve its goal. Fox calls you to develop the art of camouflage in order to quietly analyze any situation. Once clear, fox bids you to use your intuition, intelligence and skills to execute your plan.

Fox wisdom offers – cunning, cleverness, observational skills, stealth, camouflage, feminine magic, courage, persistence, gentleness, reliability, swiftness of both thought and action, adaptability, decisiveness and shape-shifting. Following the wisdom of fox will give you peace, knowing you can trust in your intuition and cunning to reach your goals. 

Sources: Fox Stories, Discover, Mental Floss, Spirit Animal, Japan Talk, What Is My Spirit Animal, Spirit Animal Totems, Shamanism, Fox Medicine, Sacred Vision Center,

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now.  Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawYou can order your deck on Judith’s website – click here. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. In recent years Judith became very interested in the Goddesses of her own ancestors, the Celts. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Guides. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.


Author: Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of her manifestations, which of course includes the flora and fauna of our beautiful Earth. Judith has exhibited her paintings in New York, San Francisco, Mytilene Greece, Athens Greece, New Orleans, Santa Fe NM, Taos NM, Albuquerque NM, Houston TX and Providence RI. She has published two oracle decks - Celtic Goddess Oracle and Animal Wisdom Oracle and is hard at work on an illustrated fairytale - Elena and the Reindeer Goddess.

21 thoughts on “Fox Wisdom – Cunning, Camouflage and Persistence by Judith Shaw”

  1. Hi Susanne and Elise, Loving following you around the globe! Thank you, I sent one of your recent Japan articles to my sister Carole Bleyfus-Richardot Enright, Holyoke grad ‘64 and to my nephew, Andy, who studied in Japan while at Middlebury.

    There are things in this article about fabulous foxes that may be of interest to you! The author’s art work is vibrant and spiritual – cool! Love, Nanri

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 2 people

  2. Enjoyable reading… one of this naturalist’s observations is that people and certain animals seem to share similar traits and that this penchant for similarities is a useful tool when working with others.

    For example, if you are around a coyote person, one who is drawn to coyote – it is important to expect trickster characteristics to be present in that person.

    By the way, most coyotes do hunt alone. They only gather as a small group to bring large ungulates down in late winter or spring.


    1. Sara, That’s an interesting observation about people sharing traits with animals. I often feel that people and their pets share traits and sometimes even physical characteristics.


    1. Karen,
      I was vending at a Renaissance Faire a few weeks ago. At least 4 different people asked if I had a painting of Fox as they browsed through the prints of my work. I knew then that Fox had called me to explore her beauty and strength.

      Glad to hear that you and your circle are using the Celtic Goddess Oracle deck and finding it helpful. Hopefully I can get the next project of animal guides finished more quickly than 5 years.


    1. Elizabeth,
      After spending many years painting trees together with the Celtic Goddess work, I’m finding that delving into the world of animals only deepens my connection to Earth and all her marvelous creatures.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Judith Shaw, for sharing your work here at FAR — your painting of the fox and her offspring is exceedingly, profoundly beautiful. Fascinating also where you say “when protecting its den, instead of a direct attack, the male fox will lead the predator away.” That’s a form of love too, I think, because not only is the fox protecting its den with love, it is simultaneously protecting the predator from harm also.

    In 1870, the great American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) wrote this fox poem and sent it to her sister-in-law, Susan — Dickinson says:

    Distance – is not the Realm of Fox
    Nor by Relay of Bird
    Abated – Distance is
    Until thyself, Beloved.

    The Morgan Library owns Dickinson’s letter & has a photo of it online — see:


    1. Sarah,
      Thanks for sharing Dickinson’s lovely poem and for your kind words about my painting. The further I got into the painting the more strongly I felt Fox’s association with feminine magic, which at its core is love.


  4. I didn’t know all of this about foxes, only the Japanese belief because I edited a book by a woman from Japan. It’s good to learn that Mama Fox takes such good care of her children and that Fox offers us so much wisdom. It’s good to learn about Fox’s connections with Earth and magic. Thanks for posting all this interesting lore!


  5. Great article and painting, Judith. A few years ago I looked out a window to find a gray fox family, parents and 5 kits, eating the sunflower seeds I put out for squirrels and birds. I started putting out dog food for them and enjoyed watching them. One day I was lying on my lawn swing when I saw some kits hiding in the bushes just behind my swing. They started barking at me, trying to get me to put out food, I think. I realized that they were getting too used to humans and to being out in the day, so after that I only put out the food at night. Sadly the father later appeared to have a jaw injury. I think someone may have shot part of his jaw off. The next summer we had an addition built to my home because my mother was moving in with me and the foxes left my yard. A few years later I saw a red fox, but she and her kits were later run over. I haven’t seen a fox here since, but I do have a coyote who visits, as well as a mama raccoon who visits with her babies every summer and fall. By the way, gray foxes are native to the U.S. but red foxes are not. Gray foxes can climb trees, and I saw a kit do that once. Paul Rezendes in “Tracking & the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Signs,” writes that some say the ability of the gray fox to climb trees and escape capture by hounds led fox hunters to import red foxes from England so they could hunt them.


    1. Linda,
      You are certainly blessed to have been visited by fox, coyote and raccoon but sad that your fox friends got injured or killed.

      Here’s what my research shows about red fox in North America “Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are native to boreal and western montane portions of North America but their origins are unknown in many lowland areas of the United States”. Read whole article (it’s short) here


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