Fox Spirit Animal Symbolism & Meaning

Written by Luxia Le
Updated: June 20, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Indigenous and First Nations peoples have a longstanding respect for the natural world as they heavily depended on their environment for survival (many Indigenous tribes still do). One way that they connect to and pay respects to nature is through Spirit Animals.

It’s essential to recognize how sacred Spirit Animals are to the First Nations peoples. This concept is not a novelty; it’s a pillar of Indigenous and First Nations spirituality. Therefore, we should give spirit animals the same respect and reverence as other religions and belief systems.

fox scream at night - red fox in field

The exact meaning of the fox spirit differs between tribes. Some tribes have positive opinions of the fox, while others have negative opinions.

©iStock.com/Rejean Bedard

Disclaimer

A-Z Animals wants to take the time to properly acknowledge Indigenous and First Nations peoples whose cultural and spiritual practices we are exploring in the following article. Please note that the writer of this article is not an Indigenous or First Nations person. A-Z Animals is committed to including as many Indigenous and First Nations sources as possible.

This article is solely meant for educational and entertainment purposes. It does not represent an authoritative source regarding Indigenous affairs and First Nations cultures.

To further respect the past and present, A-Z Animals recommends that non-Indigenous persons refrain from using the term “Spirit Animal.”

What Is a Spirit Animal? What Do They Mean to Indigenous People?

Spirit Animals are guides or messengers that appear to a person as an animal of the spirit’s choice. Indigenous and First Nations peoples do not view their Spirit Animals as a portent of what kind of person they will be. Instead, they view their Spirit Animals as messengers, teachers, and support systems for life.

Spirit Animals choose to be one’s friend and companion. You don’t choose or determine your Spirit Animal by acting; your Spirit Animal chooses you throughout your life. To find your Spirit Animal, Indigenous and First Nations people recommend you merely ask your Spirit Animal to reveal itself.

Tribal Trade Co. gives tips for finding your Spirit Animal and reminds us that we are not limited to just one Spirit Animal. Various Spirit Animals might come and go throughout your life depending on various factors.

Tribal Trade Co recommends reflecting on if you have a particular affinity for a certain animal or if a certain animal often shows up in your life. If you dream of certain animals often, they say this is a good indicator of a Spirit Animal’s presence.

While Spirit Animals have associated meanings, the true meaning of your Spirit Animal is determined by your individual interactions with your Spirit Animal.

Spirit Animal vs. Birth Totem: What’s the Difference?

Aside from Spirit Animals, there are other ways that animals interact with First Nations cultures. For example, animals are featured in Indigenous cultures through Birth Totems. Birth Totems align with what most people erroneously believe Spirt Animals symbolize.

Spirit Animals are teachers, and a Birth Totem is who you ‘are’ inside. Typically your Birth Totem is decided by your date of birth. Please note that the intricacies of the Birth Totem vary between tribes.

Spirit Animal vs. Power Animal

Another significant animal in Indigenous and First Nations cultures is the Power Animal. Your Power Animal is a spirit that lends you its power often in times of need. Like Spirit Animals, a person isn’t limited to just one Power Animal throughout life. Instead, they may be visited by as many Power Animals as necessary to complete their purposes in life.

Power Animals can also be associated with large groups of people, namely tribes or families. In these cases, the collective may worship their designated guardian Power Animal.

What Does the Fox Spirit Symbolize?

The exact meaning of the fox spirit differs between tribes. Some tribes have positive opinions of the fox, while others have negative opinions. Again, suppose your Spirit Animal is a fox. In that case, you and your interactions with it will define the meaning of this spirit rather than an overreaching mythological meaning.

Southwestern and Mexican Indigenous tribes view the fox as an irreverent trickster and treat the fox with trepidation. However, in most Northern American tribes, this role is typically played by the coyote.

Many Northern Californian tribes have very positive opinions of the fox and worship the Silver Fox as one of their gods. We’ve compiled a few fox-related beliefs by some of the more prominent tribes in America. However, these are by and far not the only meanings that the fox represents, and many smaller tribes that receive less attention have unique beliefs and symbolism relating to the fox.

Lakota Tribe

The Lakota believe the fox to be a medicinal animal that can lead them to the herbs they need to handle any ailment. Therefore, the medicine men of the Lakota tribe revere the fox and follow its teachings in every aspect of their lives.

The Lakota have what’s known as the Kit Fox Society, which polices the home territory and helps keep order in the community. In addition, they have a Wolf Society, which deals with threats from abroad. So it’s safe to say that the fox spirit holds a powerful positive weight to the Lakota culture.

Navajo Tribe

Like the Lakota tribe, the Navajo tribe also views the fox spirit positively. They also believe the fox to be a powerful medicinal animal, especially the red fox, which is native to the Navajo land. Both Grey and Red Foxes are seen on Navajo land. They are revered by medicine men who wield their power during winter ceremonies.

The full moon or supermoon rises over Monument Valley on Navajo Tribal Land on the Utah/Arizona border.

Navajo Tribal Land on the Utah/Arizona border.

©Michael Andrew Just/Shutterstock.com

Cree Tribe

The Cree tribe has many stories about fox spirits. Notably, the Fox Woman, a spirit of great wisdom. She plays an integral part in the tale of Ayas, a Cree folk hero guided by a Fox Woman who adopts and guides him through his adventures.

Final Thoughts

Spirit Animals have gained a lot of notoriety outside of the Indigenous and First Nations communities lately, for better or worse. Learning about other cultures and respecting the traditions of those who came before us is essential. Doing so can help us better understand the world around us.

Once again, this article is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. We discourage the appropriation of Spirit Animals by people outside the First Nations and Indigenous communities. We ask that our readers treat these customs with the same reverence they’d treat any other cultural custom.

Let’s all work towards being more respectful towards First Nations and Indigenous communities.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com


Sources

  1. Akta Lakota, Available here: https://aktalakota.stjo.org/lakota_spirit_animal/fox-sungila/
  2. Tribal Trade Co, Available here: https://us.tribaltradeco.com/blogs/teachings/what-is-a-spirit-animal
  3. Legends of America, Available here: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-totems/
  4. Native American Jewelery, Available here: https://www.nativeamericanjewelry.com/native-american-birth-totems/
  5. Warpaths 2 Peace Pipes, Available here: https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/native-american-culture/power-animals.htm
  6. Native Languages, Available here: http://www.native-languages.org/legends-wolf.htm
  7. Navajo Zoo, Available here: https://navajozoo.org/red-fox/
Share on:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do Spirit Animals define who you are?

No. Spirit Animals are guides, teachers, and messengers. They do not define who you ‘are’ like a Zodiac sign.

How do I find my Spirit Animal?

In most First Nations or Indigenous cultures, finding your Spirit Animal is as simple as asking your Spirit Animal to reveal itself to you.

What does the Fox Spirit symbolize?

Communities are a bit split on what the fox spirit symbolizes. Many tribes believe the fox to be an irreverent trickster. Still, an equal number view the fox as a powerful medicinal elder.

Where do Spirit Animals come from?

Many cultures have concepts similar to Spirit Animals. However, the tradition is most widely seen in First Nations and Indigenous cultures.

What are Spirit Animals?

Spirit Animals are friends, guides, teachers, and messengers that visit people throughout their lives in the form of animals. They provide essential support to their human companions to help them tackle the events in their lives.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.