On New Year’s Eve day we hiked near Lake Ontario at Durand Eastman Park, winding between frozen ponds dusted with snow. One pond after another was crisscrossed by fox tracks, and I took this as a kind reminder going in to the New Year: the fox is my old friend and highly-valued HSP guru.

We made our acquaintance years ago in a vivid dream. I have a copy on my reference shelf of Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews’ wonderful book about bird and animal totems, so I pulled it out. In the seven pages of fascinating fox information I found there, these lines sprang out at me:

“The legs of the fox are adapted for running. There is a tremendous stamina to them, an ability they can bring to others. Their favorite gait is a trot, and it is believed that they can trot indefinitely without exhaustion or appearance of such. Few animals of similar size can outrun a fox. Learning to establish a trotting pace is essential to those with a fox totem for their overall health and success…”

At that time I was exhausted and desperate to find a lifestyle that worked for me, and I took the above passage very seriously. I experimented to find a sustainable “trotting pace” for myself one at which I could move steadily and cover great distances without getting exhausted. Today I manage a much more complex work life with much less stress than before, thanks to this fox wisdom.

More fox wisdom for HSP’s

I find animal totems a rich resource of self-insight over time. Each time I revisit an animal or bird,  a different aspect will stand out. This time, as I re-read those seven pages, I was struck by the sheer scope of wisdom foxes can offer us as HSP’s.

Foxes are found everywhere (as we are!) They live near the ocean, in the mountains, and in the desert; in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia; and even in the Arctic Circle. They are a big evolutionary success story, but not by brute force. Read and consider the similarities:

  • Foxes have extremely keen eyesight, acute hearing, and a highly discerning sense of smell (sound familiar? )
  • Foxes prefer a single partner, and while they range quite a bit, they like to return to their den. (A wise choice of companion and a settled home life…sounds good to me.)
  • Foxes live alone nearly half the time—5 months out of the year (five months might be a bit much!… but I do enjoy a lot of alone time, as does my partner.)
  • Foxes possess a highly developed survival instinct which has helped them thrive despite environmental challenges and hunting. (Our culture is not conducive to the environment or lifestyle we need as HSP’s. We need to be creative and resourceful to thrive…and like the fox, we are. I love how Ted Andrews frames this: “Some have said [the fox] survived because of its cowardice, but this “cowardice” is nothing more than the fox having learned to avoid potential danger. It will go out of its way to do so.” Please remember this if you catch yourself feeling inadequate because your style is so different from the “extrovert ideal.” Thoughtful prudence is not cowardice.
  • Foxes can are masters of the “feminine” energies of discernment and harmonizing (they can blend in and even become invisible when it serves them): they are symbols of spiritual sensitivity. (These are priceless attributes. What could be more important than spiritual sensitivity?)
  • Foxes use skill, brains, and cunning rather than force to get what they need. For example, they catch prey by playfully leaping about, mesmerizing their victim then pouncing at the most opportune moment. (This  behavior is called ‘charming,” and I think it is indeed a charming metaphor for the strength HSP’s bring to the table: we don’t bowl other people over like rhinos or linebackers. We patiently observe and when the time is right and the risks line up, we pounce with delicacy and precision. Fortunately we also bring our HSP conscience and empathy to the process which saves us from using our charming skills in an unsavory or manipulative way.)

There’s a lot more great stuff about the symbolism of fox fur, paws, tails, tracks, ears, diet…all pertinent and helpful to perceive and nurture your strengths as an HSP. (The book is still in print if you want to get a copy.) You might start the New Year by asking yourself some fox questions: How is my pace of life—daily, weekly, monthly, yearly? How do I feel about coming home? Am I getting enough alone time? Am I using my keen senses to my best advantage? Am I attending to the spiritual signals in my life?

In the meantime, I wish you all the perceptivity, pacing, prudence, and precision of the fox…and the freedom to be loud, take un-calculated risks, and wear conspicuous clothing when the mood strikes. My gratitude to Ted Andrews and to foxes everywhere. Happy New Year!

*Andrews, Ted (2001). Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Publications, 271-277.

©2017 Emily Agnew