Folklore of the Fox

[Thomas, N. W.  The Fox.  In: Hastings, J. (ed), Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol 1 (1908)].

Dionysus = surname – Bassareus. Not because of his worship coalesced with that of an earlier deity.

But – because as lord of the vine – he protects vineyards against little foxes. A fox god was known in America. Among Chiriquanos it seems to be a soul animal.

In Europe – one of the forms in which the corn-spirit appears (see Golden Bough, 11, 283). It is also burnt in some annual fires. A fox tabu is found in Inishkea (Proceedings. Royal. Irish. Academy. 111, 631).

At the Roman Ceralia – foxes were set on fire and hunted about the circus – but probable – originally driven across the fields (Fowler, Roman Festivals, 77). There is a similarity between this and an incident in the Samson story.

In China + among Inuits – the fox is a were-animal appearing in the shape of a beautiful woman, and seduces the youths (Arch. Anth. 135, v). Some belief in exists in Japan – where some families are noted for their ownership of foxes, where others refuse to intermarry with them on the grounds of their magical powers. The fox is the hero of a number of Japanese tales.

In Schleswig-Holstein a procession with a fox in a basket takes place in summer, and presents are collected. To the fox is sometimes attributed the production of Easter eggs. The name of the fox is sometimes tabu (Golden Bough. 1, 454).

As an ominous animal the Lithuanians regard it as inconspicuous. In Masuren and Siebenburgen the opposite view is taken. For folktales and myths of the fox see – de Gumernan’s Zool Myth. 11, 121-42.

 

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