Sisters of the Burning Branch Goddess Gallery Presents...

Inari & Her Kitsune

By Akasha Kitsune (as is 1st picture!)

Original Art By Akasha KitsuneInari, or Oinari, is said to have roots in ancient Hindu mythology, although longer has been and is revered as a Japanese Shinto kami, or deity. Stories of Inari in Japan have been traced back conclusively to 892 AD and many shrines still exist. Inari is variably depicted as a beautiful young woman riding a white fox or an old man, depending upon the situation and time in history. Every source I found agreed that the history of Inari was complex and changing. In other myths, Inari is actually the name of a collective of three to five kami, or deities, who could better explain the various versions and depictions of Inari over time. Some theorize that the Buddhist influence changed the original goddess’s image into a male. Most modernly the woman figure has become most popular, so I’ll stick with referring to Inari as “her” to avoid confusion. Mainly known as goddess of food and rice, and abundance in general, Inari is very important to the survival of her people. She not only protects and preserves rice harvests, but is patroness of farmers and merchants ranging from general foodstuffs to fisheries.

Shape-shifting fox spirits, or kitsune, act as messengers of Inari and serve as guardians to portals, in this world and otherwise. Usually a pair of kitsune statues flank an image of Inari and it is still not uncommon to see kitsune statues at the gates of cities, shrines and stores. Kitsune appear as foxes, but it is noteworthy that they have more than one tail, up to nine, and the more they have the older and more powerful they are. Inari’s image herself as god or goddess has most recently faded and intermingled with the kitsune once said to serve her. Since they are shape-shifters, the kitsune themselves have been revered as the god/dess and the fox overall is honored since it may be Inari in disguise. Patriarchal systems thus have tried to make the kitsune sinister and even the term vixen has been used derogatorily describing females, but they are merely clever and playfully tricky, often acting so as to test those claiming to worship the goddess. Kitsune modernly are also popular in anime and sci-fi/fantasy games. Since I’d been given that surname years ago, this especially surprised me !


One legend I’ll recap briefly if I can manage it here. A wealthy lord grew tired of the foxes roaming his land so ordered a fox hunt. His wife, a beautiful young woman, tried to persuade him otherwise, that he had enough land to share with other creatures of nature, but the man had become greedy and selfish as his wealth had grown. One morning early his men had declared success, and came home with a dead vixen and crate of five kits. The lord announced a great feast to celebrate, and ordered the kits exterminated. One of his men, however, could not bear to kill the young animals so set them free in the neighbouring lord’s land. Once free, he was astonished to see the kits transform into the lord’s five daughters. Four left in disgust, but the fifth agreed to become his wife, so returned with him to her father’s land. Upon arrival, she declared her father a murderer and then the body of her mother was found carelessly discarded behind the main building. The lord was stripped of all his riches and arrested while his daughter and the rebellious hunter gained power of his lands. When the new lord asked his new wife what had happened, she explained to him that Inari had greatly blessed her father and he betrayed her, killing her daughters the kitsune, so suffered for his selfishness.

Foxes in general, especially white and silver, are sacred to Inari. It was an interesting find that the Cherokee word “inari” means gray fox. Her often sought after prize and symbol is a wish-fulfilling jewel. Sheathes or bags of rice are often seen at her side, and the sickle and a white sword are also often depicted in her grasp. Another of her belongings is a great whip said to be used to lash out and burn crops of those who have crossed her. Her temples are still too numerous to count. People visit them for prosperity, a bountiful harvest, success in business, and safety in crossing the sea. The deep red shrines and arches, called torii, that still cross Japan are sacred to her, as are mountains. Inari sushi is also popular still, named so because, mainly, its triangular and resembling a fox head. The symbol hoshu-no-tama, a pear-shaped emblem surmounted by flames, is also related to her.

Inari Prayer for Blessings & Abundance

(can light white candle & put a few grains of rice on altar, as well as have a figure of a fox or dog)

“Great goddess Inari I thank you for the blessings & abundance already in my life. Let me be mindful daily of your presence & gifts in this world.
Bless me further with growth in <whatever you need here> & let my home be safe, always full of food, fun & reverence. Blessed be!”

By Akasha Kitsune

Above is an Inari shrine found in a cave, age unknown.


Sources: Foxtrot’s Research on Kitsune Lore by Kit Lahaise

The Kitsune Page at

Japanese kami section in my grimoire Terra from my grandmother

Information from my priestess sister Mitoko in Kamakura

This page is the intellectual and creative property of Akasha Kitsune

July 2009