I have heard it called a few different names: gumiho (Korean), huli jing (Chinese), kitsune (Japanese), kyuubi (also Japanese). It is a fox spirit of East Asian origin. Often having nine tails, the gumiho is thought to have originated from a fox that has lived thousands of years and had accumulated lots of energy and thus, became very powerful. Their moral intentions, however, were ambiguous, and thus the gumiho was a creature to be wary of, as they were thought to have the ability to shape-shift into beautiful women in order to seduce men and possibly eat them.
In today’s gumiho stories, often a person has the gumiho spirit within them, either as a separate entity or as a deeper power that can be drawn upon. This person, then, is a person of deep conflict.They want to be accepted by their society, and yet, their society is wary of them. They want to embrace their own inner power, and yet they are fearful of it as well, partly because they know how different it makes them, and partly because they want to be a force for good, not evil.
So, today’s post is for those who feel different, I mean really different, for those who are struggling to embrace themselves as they are and to find their own greatest strength. Yes, to clarify, there is great strength in togetherness, too, and I do not think we should seek to be individualistic and ignore the thoughts of others merely for the sake of standing out or getting attention. At least, this extrensic goal of raising ourselves to new heights at the expense of others will never make us happy. However, being human has nothing whatsoever to do with an ability to blend in, to follow paths that others have taken, or to suppress our own innate differences. There is a lovely quote from one of my favorite gumiho tales, Gu Family Book:
So get out there, my friends. Show your inner “tails” today. Use them for good. Be a powerful, positive force in the world. Your inner gumiho will thank you.
I had originally decided to just do this Creatures and Happiness series leading up to the premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I am having so much fun with it that I’ve decided to make it an ongoing thing. So, if there is a creature you would like to see me cover, the floor is still open.