Kitsune, fox sister, Abe no Semei 

Hello. I'm glad you could visit.

The other night, I was reading an ancient Japanese tale, The Teapot and The Magic Grain of Rice. This story is about a Kitsune, a fox with supernatural, godlike powers.

It is a beautiful story. Are you ready? Yes? Then away we go...

A long time ago, a beautiful young girl was possessed by a Kitsune. The village knew it, and no one could do anything about it.

One day, a monk passed by. He was asked if he could scare the Kitsune away. He said yes.
When introduced to the girl, he took a scroll and recited an incantation. In an instant, the fox let go of the girl and left. Everyone was reassured!  

But one night, while the monk was sleeping, a fox tried to steal his incantation. Bad luck! The fox was caught red-handed! So, the fox begged to stay alive.

The two talked for a while until they liked each other: the monk offered tea to the Kitsune and showed her a funny picture of a fox doing acrobatics on a tightrope.

The Kitsune twisted herself laughing! Then, after a while, she inadvertently dropped the lid of the teapot, and it broke on the ground.

The monk was sad, and the Kitsune regretted it. Then, the Kitsune pulled a grain of rice from her thick hair and put it in the teapot.

She said, "My friend, forgive me for this unintentional act. I offer you this grain of rice to show you my kindness. If it stays in the teapot, you will no longer need to put water in it. It will fill itself every morning.

The two friends smiled, and the Kitsune left. It is said that this teapot is still in the Jokiin Buddhist temple today.

We could claim, without exaggeration, that our Kitsune friend had the most third-eye-opening teaching, lending its wisdom to a moral. Her message is onefold: the disposition to show kindness and compassion gets rewarded in the end.

According to Japanese fables, the foxes in the tales are often supernatural beings of darkness belonging to the principal Yin. She is a magical creature, both mysterious and fascinating, whose popularity continues to grow year after year in the land of the rising sun as in the rest of the world.

For much of Japanese history, until modern medicine was introduced, mental illnesses were usually blamed on Kitsune. Since 1937, Japanese folklore has invited itself into diagnosing patients in psychology with what is called kitsune-tsuki "fox possession" - a psychotic state that a Kitsune possibly caused. Following that logic, we can all have our excuse ready: It's not my fault; Kitsune possessed me.

During the Edo period (1603–1867), Kitsune was often seen as a 'witch animal' who could not be trusted because of its ability to shapeshift into a beautiful woman to seduce humans.

In one story many centuries ago, a young man would unknowingly marry a kitsune who took the form of a human woman. Many stories tell of fox wives bearing children. When such offspring are human, they possess unique physical or supernatural qualities that often pass to their own children. 

Originally, it is said by the folklorists that when a Kitsune possesses a family, that family becomes rich and fertile. These families were known as kitsune mochi.
Kitsune mochi families would keep their fox spirits for generations, handing down their secrets from parent to child.

A similar story is found in the biography of Feng Shui wizard and astrologer Abe no Semei (921-1005), who was reputed to have inherited extraordinary powers from his mother, a white fox in human form.

Like Merlin, Seimei displayed superior skills in the divining arts, which earned him an unusual amount of trust from the court society. He enjoyed an extremely long life, prayed incantations, and offered thanks with pure sincerity. 

The Yin-Yang diviner sits in front of the shrine in Kyoto, where two Kitsune statues, a male and a female, serve as guardians.

Now... we may ask ourselves this questionWhat is my connection to the fox? 

Actually, let’s put the question another way: how is the archetype of the fox showing up in my life? Do I feel her calling out to me?  

If so, you, my dear friend, are asked to look within and enter the mystical realm where you will be liquified into dream oblivion. 

It would be in vain searching for this fox outside of yourself. After several superfluous turns, you will find her comfortably established by the fireplace of your long and lazy musings. 

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But why does it sound great?

Think about it: when a talking animal archetype shows itself to the main character in fairy tales, the character follows their friend across the threshold. They know by heart that their magical friend will lead them to explore the “reverse side” of the Universe.

Naturally, this story could continue for days. But we will stop here. 

I warmly invite you to, now and then, expose your wondering heart to curious depths beyond logic and reason. That would make the story such as this one thinkable.


***THE END***



Illustration by exceptional talent Lotte Budai. Lotte initially created this illustration for All Saints Day, 1 November. 

The teapot and the magic grain of rice. 

Written by Sanja Kljaic
Animation by Kaja Horvat. The sweet subject of yōkai folklore which says that all foxes can shape-shift into human form, so forcibly affected our minds that we had to dedicate some valuable time to thinking of it. Our curiosity opened up exploration into mysticism and myth, and we thought: Let's get a sniff and a glimpse of this fox before she goes « PUFF » I'm out of here.

Other Musings