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Three summers ago, I dreamed of a red fox. This was a year where the rabbit population had exploded, and I had to take… measures to keep my flower beds and herb garden from being eaten to the ground. As one of the few properties in the neighborhood without a dog, our back yard was a rabbit haven. So, with reluctance but determination, I began to kill them whenever I had the chance.

After a few months of being in this hunter’s mindset, there were a few less rabbits around, and the others had caught on that there was some sort of predator about, one who slew from a distance without warning. The ones I killed were buried under the bushes or in the perennial beds, that their flesh and bones would fertilize the plants.

A grim business, and it may hurt you to hear of someone doing such a thing, but I must be honest about what went on.

So, one night, I had a dream. It had the peculiar quality of important dreams or ones that involve close contact with the Other, a bell-like clearness that is forever recognizable if one ever experiences it. In this dream, I was standing in my living room, when I heard something at the back door. When I opened the door, there on the porch stood a red fox who looked at me with golden eyes.

I was holding a pellet gun, for I’d been expecting The Enemy. The gun, being (as all firearms are) a slippery live thing, went off in my hand, and the fox slumped to the ground, gravely hurt.

I scooped up the fox and laid him on the couch. He was shot in the side, and was writhing in pain. The dream ended soon afterward, and I never did find out of the messenger lived.

But, the dream remained bright in my memory, a shining example of Something Else Boneheaded I Did While Dealing With The Otherworld. I think, you see, that I hadn’t dreamed of a fox by accident, but rather the Fox had come to me in dream because he knew what I’d been up to with the rabbit-slaying business (or someone did) and it had drawn some interest, for whatever reason, from the other side.

I made offerings to the Fox Spirit that I’d wounded, and profusely apologized. Not that I though it would do any good. I assumed that by screwing up so spectacularly I’d cut off that avenue of communication entirely. A fox was such an unusual creature to see in my dream-scape. I don’t have any particular calling to foxes, and I can’t remember dreaming of one ever before. A lost opportunity.

Then about a month ago (three years after the above events transpired) I dreamed of a fox again.

In this dream I was hanging out with a group of people, and we were at a garden party on someone’s rambling country lawn. I had wandered off by myself, and on the slope of a hill I came across an animal’s den. There was a furry tail sticking out – a bushy ringed tail like a raccoon’s. A though came to me: Whoever is in there is sleeping. This is a golden opportunity to give that tail a good tweaking! And, giggling to myself, I approached.

(This whole’ tweaking the tail’ idea was unlike my usual self. It seemed a very Corvid thing to do, and to be honest I don’t quite remember if I was in human shape when this joke occurred to me. But the whole ‘In Crow’s Form’ business is another tangled matter entirely, one that I’ve let go for know, but will pick up on at a later date, after Further Research.)

I pinched the tail with all my might!

There was a startled snort from the den, and what burst out wasn’t a big raccoon, like I’d expected, but a red fox. He was gaunt, with matted, messy fur. His golden eyes shone mad. He charged me, and bit me viciously on the left forearm.

I remember going back to the party, holding my torn and bleeding arm, and asking someone if they thought I should go to the hospital for a rabies shot. Its too late, someone said. That fox had a disease that will kill you in six hours. (I had been reading about gas gangrene a few days before, and got the impression that the bite had given me this condition). You’ll have to have the arm cut off if you want to live!

Even in the dream, that seemed a little dramatic for me. I must have bandaged up the bite, but I neither went to the hospital nor cut off my arm. It, strangely, didn’t seem like that big of a deal.

When I woke up I realized what had happened. I thought: Ah! Now we’re even. I shot you, and you savaged me. I was relieved that the situation had finally worked itself out, and the Fox, of course, was justified in his revenge. I though that would be the end of it.

A few weeks ago, My boyfriend and I were sitting on the patio in the hour just before dusk. He suddenly said ‘What’s that?! Is that a fox?’ and sure enough, I looked up just in time to see a red fox run across the neighbor’s yard, black boots flashing and tail held behind him like a banner. He nimbly leapt a fence and was gone.

Now, I’m not one to go on about Oh I saw a wild animal it must be an Omen!! That gets on my nerves just a bit. This sighting, however, did seem strangely… portentous and well timed. I had now encountered a Fox thrice, twice in dreams and once in the waking world,* within a reasonable (if a bit Saturnian) span of time.  I was left with the eternal question:

Okay, that’s cool and everything but what does any of this mean?!?

After some divination with my Fellow Witches, I was told that the Fox does have some kind of message for me (which is what I suspected all along) and it has something to do with ancestry or ancestors, or is a message/information from an ancestor? I’ll have to pursue and seek the Fox, however – he’ll give me the message but I have to work for it.

So, something else on the ever growing to do – urgent list. And, look at me, I’ve got to do it the hard way. I’ll seek you, ginger furred and golden eyed, and see what you’ve brought in your teeth from the underworld to show me.

*I have seen Red Foxes in the wild a few times in my life, just never before in dreams, or right in the back yard.