Sunday, 22 March 2015

Divine Canines: Kitsune

This is the first of a series of posts about divine canines, gods and goddesses who are dogs, spirits in dog form and other magical canines. Years ago I did a few posts about wolf goddesses but found in my research too many male canine gods and beasts, or non-wolf canid goddesses that I couldn't include. So I promised to do something on the wider subject of myth and canid species linked to ancient legends, spirits, deities and folklore.

To start with the first is one of my favourites: the Kitsune.  

Kitsune are supernatural foxes in Japanese folklore and mythology. They have special magical powers and divine intelligence that makes them different to regular foxes.

Considered animal spirits or nature spirits (in Japanese this is Yokai). They can turn invisible and communicate with humans both telepathically and through spiritual possession. Their are some types of invisible kitsune called minko that are elementals. Kitsune have the ability to shapeshift into different forms. Often they appear as beautiful young women in order to procreate with human males to start a new bloodline. When they become human, it seems that their powers are limited. They can't completely hide their true physical features, mainly their tails, so they hide their tails under dresses and skirts.

Although the Kitsune resemble foxes, they have other striking different features and this includes their many tails. The Kitsune can have up to nine tails and the more number of tails they have, the older the Kitsune is. A tail can grow every century, noting that a Kitsune can live for hundreds of years and is possibly immortal. Kitsune changes colour with age. Old Kitsune are white and golden furred. The old Kitsunes are both very wise and have great abilities to sense anything in the world. They are almost godlike with such powerful abilities.

Some Kitsune are considered a type of godlike species. They're are those angelic Ianri Kitsune or Zenco, or Kami, associated with the divine Shinto deity Inari Okami, who keeps magical Kitsune as guardians of the world, planets, stars, moon and suns. The holy Kitsune or the Inari Kitsune, frightens off demonic entities, evil and monsters. It might help to keep a symbol or picture of an Inari Kitsune to ward off bad spirits. The Kami type of Kitsune are different to other Kitsune.

But not all Kitsune belong to the gods. Some Kitsune are naughty and even frightening. These bad Kitsune are called Nogitsune or Yako. They've also been considered a type of trickster spirit in the same league as goblins, brownies, boggarts and imps. The mischief making Nogitsune behaves like ghosts. When bad natured Kitsune do their poltergeist-like antics on people, it isn't because of one Nogitsune but a whole bunch of them consisting of their family and friends all working together! However this trait isn't because the Nogistune are evil, but because they're wild and untamed.

How to see them. First of all a very strange feature about a kitsune presense is when tiny lights appear. Usually in fields, forests, by rivers, streams, wells and lakes, over gardens and rocks. These tiny kitsune lights resemble firefly lights, or fiery sparks, or bright glitter. They can look like little balls of light in different colours and hover close to the ground, especially over grass. They look like will-o-the-wisps. They can make stones and rocks glow in the dark. Kitsune can use magic to lighten up the dark.

I don't know if a Kitsune is defined as a cryptid (yet) but it's part of very old folklore and sits with the same category as gods, fairyfolk, nymphs, demons and angels.

Links to the article:

Kitsune the Japanese fox
Kitsune the real and fantastic
Mythical creatures Kitsune
The Kitsune Page

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