The Trickster – Disrupter of Programming

Learning to identify different archetypes of my being has helped me embrace and share aspects of my personality that otherwise could lay dormant. This is especially true when they are characteristics that are not well received by the dominant culture, or even people I chose to surround myself with. I can feel these qualities yearning to be expressed, and I know expression to be the antidote for depression. I would rather voice my truth and have it be rejected by others, than depress it into my body and carry around that heaviness, hardness and eventual anger.

One quality or archetype I find myself resonating with is the playful, rule-bending Trickster. Even now as I write this I can feel a devilish grin on my face and a tingly excitement move from the back of my heart, down my outer arms to my hands. Unfortunately, as the disruptor of programming, the Trickster is often not quickly embraced by family, religion or society.

The Trickster is cunning. He disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior, sometimes maliciously, but usually with positive effects. He changes size, morphs and wears masks to demonstrate that things are not as they appear. He has various expressions depending on the cultural container. In Native American traditions the Coyote who is repeatedly trying to fly and fails (like Wile E Coyote), the Raven and the trickery of the Hare (much like Bugs Bunny & Roger Rabbit) deliver this medicine. There is Loki the Norse god, and the Greek god Hermes as well as Mercury, the Roman adaptation. Pan, also a Greek god, was the inspiration for Peter Pan, the pied piper, and many other playful characters of flute trickery. The goat-like face of this devilish deity eventually became correlated with the image of Satan. Lord Krishna was an infamous trickster both in his youth and as an adult, as was the shape shifting monkey god Hanuman. Charlie Chaplin, the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Robin Hood and Willie Wonka all embody elements of the beloved Trickster, as do comedians, mimes and clowns.

Several years ago I was given the name Jackal Lantern, by two playa brothers. The Jackal, like his cousin the coyote, brings trickster medicine. In Egyptian mythology the golden jackal god Anubis guides souls to the afterlife and weighs their heart against Truth. He is a kind and generous deity whose preference is to send souls to heaven. The Lantern represents a light amidst dark places, because where else does one need light?

The trickster seems to be a comedy of opposites. For every good aspect of his persona there is an equal and opposite aspect. In religious stories his role is very diverse. He is the breaker of taboos. He provides comic relief to a religious myth. And he will pull off elaborate schemes to teach a moral lesson or expose the folly of men.” -School Work Helper. It would seem that the good, the bad and the ugly are one. 

The Taoist Master is often portrayed as unkept and laughing to himself in the wilderness, and in the Zen tradition masters offer mind-bending word puzzles, like the Zen koan to shift ones current experience, or their thinking about the nature of reality. This is trickery in its purest form, as wisdom. This approach can be seen in the way Master Jedi’s, like Yoda, interact with their pupils.

The Creator/Creatrix then is the ultimate Trickster who created prakriti, or nature, so well that we often believe it to be ultimate reality. How many times a day do we think of ourselves as our bodies with all the sense data we receive, and how much have we suffered because we identified with our thinking mind. I know I experience these false identities everyday, and the Trickster has the power to overthrow this programming. When a god comes down and destroys everything, or maybe everything in your life falls apart, this gives way for rebirth and regeneration which to me is where liberation is possible.

“It’s a great puzzler . . . to come across the trickster-hero, because he’s both a kind of devil, and fool, and the creator of the world. He even beaks through the notion of what a deity ought to be” -Joseph Campbell

It often seems acceptable for a god to behave so crazily and wild, but for a human it seems inappropriate and unacceptable. I challenge this notion, and say that we have created gods to inspire us to be our most true selves. I see the wisdom and grace that paradigm shifting trickery can do to old programming and stories that cause us to suffer.

I challenge myself, and I challenge YOU to stay true to yourself. Next time you interact with another, rather than fall into the conventional normal way of responding, add a little flair of the trickster, or an archetype, or quality, you may be prone to hide. Be it silly, goofy, aberrant, or in any way unconventional. Be willing to make a fool out of yourself next time you are in a store, just to express authenticity and to not be attached to the outcome, or the opinions of others. There is no inherit harm in throwing someone a curve ball, and you may just bring them into the present moment. I have a friend who says, “What do you have to gain, what do you have to lose.”

I have learned that I cannot control others response or action. I can stay in my truth and integrity. So I am loyal and dedicated to myself, and my self love. Self-abandonment is the worst experience to me. It is like being gutted, or having ones belly scooped out. I stay loyal to my expression, even to the point of madness. I am not afraid to lose my mind because I trust that I will follow my heart.

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