I didn't blog about it but last week Saturday (a week ago yesterday) I once again saw the young red fox that I saw a few weeks prior on my deck one evening munching on peanuts I'd put out earlier for the squirrels but which they hadn't fetched away!
This new fox sighting was in broad daylight; it was about 2:30 or so in the afternoon and I was on my way back from the supermarket (mile there and mile back, a stretch of the legs for an often otherwise computer-bound femme). I was walking west on Leroy Avenue and about 2 blocks from my house, just coming up on 81st Street (I live on 83rd) and there trotting across my view from left to right was the fox. Not running but not dawdling either. Someone in the cul de sac that is 81st Street at that point was cutting their grass and perhaps that disturbed the fox. The fox trotted from the cul de sac across Leroy Avenue and disappeared behind one of the houses on my right, toward the north.
I was amazed to see it under such circumstances. It sure was pretty - looks healthy, young and sleek, full-furred. I love the colors of its fur.
So now that the fox sighting on my deck awhile back has been confirmed to not be a one-off occurrence, I got to wondering about why I'm seeing the fox. I'm not normally a superstitious sort, but I did take seeing that fox as an omen of sorts, just not one I can fathom. Seeing the fox again last week did remind me, though, about something I had tucked away in my research archives some years ago from a National Geographic - about the Dogon and fox divination. So - I'm wondering if the fox is trying to tell me something and, if so, what the hell it's trying to tell me! Ach! Here's some info on the Dogon and fox divination:
First - check out this great photograph by John Fletcher of a Dogon Diviner examining fox tracks made on a divination "board" drawn into the sand the night before.
From the National Geographic article:
One evening, as the sun began to set, a Dogon priest called a "diviner" traced an intricate drawing in the ochre sands that lie at the foot of Bandiagara Cliffs. A series of six connected squares and an elaborate set of symbols were drawn in a pattern that represent the potential futures of the family, the village, regional peace and harmony, life and death, and the wishes of God.
The diviner next placed tiny sticks in the sand panels, representing God and the family. Several "I"-shaped tracings symbolized peace and death. Small heaps of sand with minute holes represented other concerns: harmony within the village, illness, next season's harvest, even one's own mortality.
As the diviner priest drew the patterns into the sand, he chanted to invoke the sacred fox to come weave a path of prophecy for his village across his creation:
"Fox, tell me please
is there something?
Will there be shame next year?
Fox, speak clearly.
Let the people coming to the field
stand eye to eye.
Throw your traces.
Give me your nails to mark the sand.
Be clear. Whatever you see, tell me
Give me your footprints."
The Dogon priest finished his chant as the last light of the day lingered in the western sky and then disappeared. The priest returned to his village. Nightfall invited the fox to visit the sacred Dogon markings.
At dawn the following day, sunlight traced the shadows of the fox path across the sand drawing. Indeed, the fox had visited in the night during our trip and with its tracings had foretold the future of the village of Yougou Piri. With these fortuitous markings, the fox had symbolically acted out the ritual of an oracle, a Dogon tradition that keeps life in balance for yet another year.
Dogon People of Bandiangara
A description of the fox divination ceremony from mapsofworld.com:
Mali divination ceremony is an ethnic ritual practiced by the Dogon tribe in the country. The Dogons inhabiting the Bandiagara Cliffs in southern Mali claim themselves to be the channel between earth and heaven. There are about 300,000 Dogons spread across 700 villages in the Bandiagara region.
The Dogons practice many mysterious and intriguing rituals, which attract anthropologists, historians, scholars, and social scientists to their villages. Fox divination is one such ceremony. Fox divination ceremony is undertaken to foresee the future of the Dogon tribesmen and Dogon villages. This divination ceremony of Mali is performed by the ‘diviner’ or Dogon priest.
The Dogon divination ceremony begins just before sundown in the evening. The ‘diviner’ begins the ritual by drawing six interconnected squares in the sands at the foothills of the Bandiagara Cliffs. Together with the squares an intricate pattern of symbol is drawn that represent God's wishes, life and death, regional harmony and peace, and future of the families and the village.
Subsequently, ‘l’ shaped drawings representing peace and death are traced. Then, the Dogan priest places tiny sticks representing God and family in the sand panels. Thereafter minutely holed small sand mounds representing next harvest, village harmony, sickness, individual mortality are made.
All along while drawing sand patterns, the priest chants prayers appealing to the fox to come and foretell the future. The prayers finish just before darkness and everybody returns to the village.
The following morning all villagers gather at the site of the ceremony to discover footprints of the fox across the sand drawings made by the 'diviner'. The path of the fox foretells the future of the village for the forthcoming year.