I am a proud Australian, and one who regrets the damage caused to our environment by the ill-considered introduction of unsustainably damaging animals.
Among the animals that have become feral pests in the wild, either by killing unsustainable numbers of native wildlife and driving species to and over the edge of extinction, or by stripping vegetation and starving species to and over the edge of extinction, are, in no particular order:-
Rabbits, cats, foxes, pigs, goats, dogs, cane toads, European mice, Indian Mynahs, camels, pigeons and sparrows (which around here are in the business of competing with the native blue-capped wren for both food and nesting space).
All of these creatures and more, pose a huge problem.
Plants that are a similar menace are things like Salvation Jane/Patterson’s Curse, farmers’ friend, lawn grasses especially Kikuyu and buffalo, privet, lantana, camphor laurel, blackberries (in colder regions), guava species (in warmer regions), bamboo, fireweed, escaped canola and so forth.
I am one of these people who randomly throws secateurs, spades and the like into the car and go on weed-attacks. I will pull out, dig out, chop down or otherwise attack out of control plant species in my area, as and when I have the time.
Relocating twice across the bulk of the continent, each time I became aware of a massive goat problem between Wilcannia and Cobar by the simple dint of spotting over 600 nannies, bucks and kids grazing or suckling brazenly within sight of the road. I remember the last time particularly, I longed for a good, trustworthy gun and time to set up a barbeque, as the kids were so young and tender, still being milk-fed by happy, fat mothers in a season of plenty.
As animal companions, I’ve also had goats, a pig, sheep (one of them named “Hogget”), chickens and so forth. I’ve never had foxes. And despite seeing every named species of weed in the list above in the wild, and every other species of feral animal in the wild also, I have never in nearly five decades seen a wild fox. I’ve often taken it on advisement from better-informed locals in various areas that there was a problem with feral foxes, but I have never ever spotted them myself.
Foxes were originally brought out here by English colonists, who wanted to release them to provide foxes for the Hunt for English gentlemen who had nothing better to do with their time than to gallop round after packs of bloodthirsty hounds and execute some poor bloody fox holed up in an impossible situation somewhere. I don’t think they realised just what a difficult and time-consuming land Australia was to farm if one uses unsuitable European agricultural crops and techniques, and how little time they would have for the hunt. And how it would die out as a sport here.
Little realising that foxes would live well for centuries on the flesh of small, rare marsupials who weren’t used to having natural predators, rabbits were released by the same people, to provide a food-source for the foxes, whom rabbits were clever enough to avoid. Rabbits also eat and breed rather well, stripping ground cover plants so that smaller marsupials had fewer places to hide from predating foxes and so that marsupials of all sizes would find it far easier to starve in regions eaten bare-to-the-ground by rabbits.
With all this as background, I’m stepping into my own inner foxiness now. Having never seen a fox in real life in almost fifty years, less than a month ago I was driving along a suburban main road one night when I saw a massive grey fox trotting by the side of the road, perfectly illuminated by street lighting. It had to be at least the size of a good-sized adult dingo. I was in a car at night with tinted windows and with my headlights on, so I know for sure that all that fox could have seen was a black windscreen. But as I drew up, it paused, and looked at me. Really looked at me, making eye contact.
A short while later that same evening, I was driving along a semi-rural road flanked with thick coastal Australian scrub, a car fifty metres or so ahead of me. It was a perfectly ordinary car, with perfectly ordinary tail-lights. Yet as I watched, the white number-plate lights became a pointy fox-nose, and the red tail-lights became pointy fox-ears. The would-have-been-eyes, unlit, were just areas of black, but still somehow that spiritual facsimile of a fox that I saw in the car again looked right through my windscreen and made direct contact with me. For nearly ten kilometres I paced that car, staying behind it, keeping eye-contact with the fox.
Other fox-stuff happened over the next couple of weeks, none of it quite so significant, except that I am not in the habit of seeing foxes. For a while, those two were the only ones to make eye-contact. Then a Shamanic friend of mine offered me a fox-fur, which immediately wanted to be with me. I’m currently sleeping with it on my pillow (next to, not under, my head), getting to know its energies.
And the same night she did that, I drove someone back from her place to where they had their car parked, and as we talked and drove along the same stretch of road where the tail-lights had turned into a fox’s face, we saw a giant red fox, about the size of the previous grey but matching the fur’s tones that I had been given, run across the road. On the other side, again it paused and met my eyes through the darkened glass. All conversation in the car ceased.
The soul of Fox is calling me. People keep telling me it is advising me to be cunning, but I think it is more complicated than that. My thinking is a bit cloudy sometimes these days, and I think Fox is offering me their own clarity and sharpness to match or make up for my mental cloudiness.
Whatever the case is, I’ll be happy to have foxes trot quietly past me or with me, and to keep my gifted fox-fur not as an item of fashion but as a magickal talisman, a token of the energies working around me at the moment.
I am a wombat-person and a chicken-person and a lizard-person and a cat-person, but I have never been a fox-person. In fact, as a chicken-person, I could be forgiven for seeing foxes as my natural enemies. Yet at the moment they are not – at the moment foxes are my otherworldly companion and escort, trotting alongside me through this stage of my life.
I am eager to see how this benefits my life, those around me, and those I interact with. I’m sure it is a benefit to the whole of my sphere.