To understand the modern day trickster we need to understand what makes a trickster. Tricksters in mythology represent the chaotic nature and the unpredictability of life. The role the trickster in myths and stories is a catalyst for change. Without change, we would remain in parity. They are necessary characters in our world because they upset the balance between two characters, or generate an imbalance in a community or world that demands rectification by humans or the gods. In parity we cease to evolve, mature, or improve. Tricksters give rise to situations wherein we may find new ways of thinking, acting or problem solving. Trickster are amoral with a titch of chaos. Additionally they often appear in modern culture as the anti-hero.
According to Hynes and Doty, in “Mythical Trickster Figures” (1993) state that every trickster has several of the following six traits: [Hynes, William J. and William G. Doty. (1993). “Mythical Trickster Figures,” (pp. 34-42). Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.]
- fundamentally ambiguous and anomalous
- deceiver and trick-player
- messenger and imitator of the gods
- sacred and lewd bricoleur (construction)
Here we have above the perfect ingredients for a character set to upend our world! How can we spot a modern day trickster? We can look back into our myths and tales to find tracks and traces left by our Ancestors and Story Keepers of Old. But, what about today?? Instead of attempting to meet an ideal, the modern trickster encourages us to reject the societal ideal and instead embrace the flaws and scars that make us unique.
We are expressing our modern day tricksters in our cartoons, movies and stories. “But who are they?” you might ask. What about Wile E Coyote. Now there is a trickster if we ever met one. He is a deceiver, definitely has worn a costume or two, and I believe he worships the God(dess) Acme. Acme delivers perfect solutions to his problems, but, much like every trickster, it back fires! He often sends out prayers in the form of signs “Help”, “In Heavens name…what am I doing?” & “That’s all Folks”.
Deadpool, a Marvel Comic figure has the power to heal, everlasting life, but is mentally unstable and quite amusing. As with many tricksters they operate with mostly the best of intentions towards humans. However, along the way to helping, Deadpool often finds himself in precarious positions, relying on his wit to save his own skin. Deadpool certainly does deceive with situation inverting scenarios. To me he is the perfect Antihero. He does not have our best interests at heart, but try as he will to be devious and incorrigible, we root for him. We see past his disfigurement, cheer on his disruptions and want him to find justice in a world which has thrown him away and taken all he held dear. He shifted from a perfect man, to a disfigured hooded trickster with guns and explosives.
Doctor Who is certainly a trickster, seemingly immortal with many tools at their disposal to find solutions and save the day!! Doctor Who travels in Tardis, small on the outside and a most deliberate hidden space on the inside, a cloaked time travel machine. Not all situations are innocent, nor does Doctor Who always play with the highest intent or most favourable outcome for those who encounter this being.
If we peer with a mature eye into our society we can see the trickster playing in politics, science and notably the entertainment industry. We often witness our politicians using sleight of hand, in order to gain our favor, all the while acting fundamentally ambiguous and anomalous. Trickster ways are employed in our advertising, believe this, buy this but please ignore this. Bathroom tissue ads depicting bears, shape shifted by employing human personalities enjoying the softness of a product. We are deceived (albeit in a thinly veiled way) into believing bears would be happy to use a product derived from the destruction of their habitat.
This person writing this might just wink and say, “ya know the Pope could be one of the biggest tricksters of all”. I may just walk away and ask you to ponder how such a notion could be. I may ask which of the six above noted traits does the Catholic Church employ to gain our trust, all the while… playing those trickster games.
Other resources you may enjoy:
- For more on the Medicine Wheel.
- Free shamanic music and drumming.
- Or if you’re new to journey work and wish to develop your own relationship with spirit, get started with journey work here.
- Our Meditations home page.
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