|Question: How can you tell if you are possessed by foxes?
Answer: Hallucinations, dementia, increased sexual activity, loss of appetite, cold hands, breathing fire from your rear end...
Notes: Until the middle of the 20th Century, fox possession was considered to be a real problem in Japan, and may still be considered to be in effect in rural areas today. Fox spirits are known as kitsune and there are 13 types of foxes, each with special bewitching abilities. They have been associated with bewitching of people and households for over 1,000 years in Japan.
If they're not actually possessing someone, kitsune are usually said to appear in the shape of a beautiful woman, a pretty young girl, or an old man (but almost never an elderly woman) and make their hosts do things that would otherwise seem out of character. They can take the form of lovers, tricksters or guides, and they usually enter the body through the fingernails or breasts. Because foxes are so intelligent, illiterate victims are often immediately rendered literate.
The form of treatment for abnormal or unsettling individuals was very similar to the witch-hunting traditions in Europe. Victims of fox possession - kitsunetsuki - were often treated cruelly in hopes of forcing the fox to leave. It was not unusual for them to be beaten or badly burned, or have their houses destroyed. On some occasions, entire families were ostracized by their communities after a member of the family was believed to be possessed. Their houses could no longer be sold or lived in thereafter.
The most notable measurement of a kitsune's power is the number of tails it has: either one (for beginner), five (for powerful) or nine (for masterful). When the kitsune is caught off guard - when drunk, for example, the best way to get it to unmask itself is to confront it with an angry dog. The fox spirit will then rush away in fear.
Other treatments for the possession involve chanting special Sanskrit verses at the victim to summon the ancient Buddhist deities. (Much of Buddhism can be traced back to Indian Sanskrit writings.)
|...n the case of the [i]kitsune-mochi, the fox and its powers was possessed by the entire family and, furthermore, it was believed to be both contagious and hereditary in the female line. The fox families were stigmatised, and few wanted dealings with them. It was believed that any kind of business dealings, visits to the house, money-borrowing, or anything else that brought one in close contact with these families was to risk aquiring the stigma. Needless to say, marrying one's daughter off to one of these families was also avoided.
In the Edo period, strict punishments would often be dealt out to these families. For example, the family might be banished from the fief. In one instance in 1747, the house of a fox family was burned down in addition to banishment.
Last edited by Gray on Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:09 am; edited 1 time in total