This is something that came to us as a result of much thought, and we are happy to finally be able to compile this into somesort of coherency. This short essay will be broken down into sections to make for easy comprehension and reading, and it is our hope that a better understanding may come about as to the growth of the kitsune potential.
Nine Tails and the Ladder of the Planets
To us, there seemed to be a similarity between the earning of tails amongst kitsune, and the path of transformation of the soul as explained in transcendental alchemy. As the kitsune develops and learns through life experiences, it gains a tail, and when this count reaches nine it is commonly believed that the kitsune therefore gains immortality and takes on the status of a higher kami. A very similar form of transformation occurs through the practice of alchemy, where the practitioner goes through the seven operations, also known as ascending the ladder of the planets. Below is a breakdown of the operations of alchemy, as described in chemical, planetary and metallic terms:
- Calcination – Lead – Saturn
- Dissolution – Tin – Jupiter
- Separation – Iron – Mars
- Conjunction – Copper – Venus
- Fermentation – Mercury – Mercury
- Distillation – Silver – Moon
- Coagulation – Gold – Sun
Now, there are seven operations in alchemy, or seven planets. The kitsune gains a total of nine tails. How do we resolve this? Lets consider. The kitsune, like all other foxes, is born with one tail. The number one is the monad, the source from which all other numbers spring, and is indivisable. Classically, after living for one-hundred years, the kitsune gains its second tail. The number two is the dyad and has diversity. The second tail of the kitsune separates it from its non-sentient vulpine cousins as a conscious and freethinking being. The same holds true for the bakeneko, and it is believed that if this cat-spirit lost its second tail it would then lose its intelligence and sentience and becomes equivalent to any other garden-variety cat. Now, this is not to say that young kitsune who have not reached their hundredth year are not sentient. The second tail seems to serve as a primary stepping stone of basic mental and spiritual advancement or puberty present in sentient beings with the capability for immortality. Now, if we separate two from nine we are left with seven, and that would mean seven remaining tails towards the attainment of godhood or immortality. To the alchemist, it is the attainment of the Stone, or in far-Eastern practices the Golden Elixir of Immortality. Attainment of either of these would denote that the alchemist has achieved a level similar to that of the gods.
Transformation and Symbolism
It is said that once the kitsune achives nine tails, its fur turns golden. Color-change plays a very important role in alchemy, and indeed the last rung on the planetary ladder in the Sun, which is represented by the metal gold, which can be interchangeable with the Stone. Now the final tranformation of the kitsune is complete, having made the transition from base leaden consciousness to the golden exalted state of the kami. But the symbolism doesn’t end there. A comparison could also be drawn between the kitsune messengers of the kami, the myobu, and the swift-footed messenger god Hermes, considered by many alchemists to be the patron god of alchemy and synonymous with Thoth.
Spirit-Energy and the Stone
Throughout history the Stone has been portrayed in different ways. Even in our so-called modern age the Stone takes on interesting meanings and properties. In one popular anime, it can only be created through the immense and devastating loss of life along the scale of genocide, the souls transmuted to create the Stone. Two alchemists in the anime could only maintain their immortality by jumping from body-to-body, and as their souls sapped the energy of the body, it would begin to deteriorate and they would need to find a new one. We notice that this is strangely reminiscent of the tale of Tamomo no Mae, a ninetail, who instigated the mass slaughter of thousands of people in order to feed off of their energy. In addition, one of the classic signs of kitsune possession is the deterioration of the host-body and loss of energy.
Well, its good to get thoughts down in writing this. We’re hoping this’ll possibly bring to light the interesting parallels that may arise and see if they have any merit. We seem to think this one does, and its certainly something we haven’t really seen discussed along these levels. Hopefully this’ll open up greater avenues of understanding.