Tricksters defy duality: they are both light and dark, heroic and villainous, foolish and wise, benign and malicious. At the same time, they’re lovable; they’re also hateful. At the same time, they’re friendly; they’re also fearsome. If you feel drawn to, or repulsed by, the archetypal Trickster. This is a clear sign that you need to explore the hidden parts of your nature more. Mythology portrays Tricksters as jokers, pranksters, clowns, rule-breakers, alchemists, magicians, truth-tellers, and wise-fools. In psychology, Tricksters are the mischievous archetypes of the collective unconscious that shatter old paradigms. And gleefully poke sticks at our sanctimonious beliefs and stiff pretensions.
Nowadays, archetypal Trickster still appears in our cultural myths and dialogues. Tricksters continue to incarnate as characters such as Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Beetlejuice (Tim Burton classic). Also, The Mask, Cheshire Cat (Alice in Wonderland), the Mad Hatter, Jack Sparrow, The Joker (from Batman), and Rumplestiltskin. In our own lives, we represent Tricksters by the class clowns, the anarchists, the comedians, and the rule-breaking harlequins. That defy all worldly decrees and decorum.
In a sense, Tricksters are the ultimate pot-stirrers and “trolls” of life. As destroyers of duality, archetypal Trickster archetypes expose illusions, challenge worldly rules, and celebrate holy madness. For every likable trait within them, there is an equally disturbing trait. For every form of provocation, there is a hidden lesson.
Archetypal Trickster and Their Crazy Wisdom
My first ever Shamanic encounter in the spirit world was with an archetypal Trickster. Tricksters, like any archetype in life, are powerful spirit guides and facilitators of conscious expansion.
As you focus on the ever-changing nature of his face. I was guided more profoundly and deeper into my inner Underworld, my own hidden Shadow. Since then, Pan has remained my primary spirit guide. Reminding me of the importance of embracing my inner archetypal Trickster and multi-faceted nature.
Archetypal Trickster isn’t just limited to Ancient Greek mythology, however. They entertain a place in almost every civilization known to man. Tricksters are both man and anthropomorphized animals, half-man-half-beast, worldly and spiritual, god and goddess. They bring with them the gifts of illumination, playfulness, revelation, truth, and balance.
11 most common Archetypal Trickster:
- Loki: The trickster deity breaks the gods’ rules or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually with positive effects. Often, rule-breaking takes the form of tricks or thievery.
- Anansi: In African folklore, he was the sneaky, sly, but ultimately benign spider god of mayhem
- Kitsune: In Japanese mythology, these are trickster-spirits that often appear as intelligent and mischievous foxes
- Eshu: In the Nigerian tale, he is the sneaky god of uncertainty and change.
- Krishna: Hindu god portrayed as seductive, entertaining Supreme Being.
- Saci: Brazilian folklore portrays him as a one-legged malevolent prankster dwarf.
- Hermes: In Greek myth, he was the cunning and thieving messenger of the gods.
- Coyote: As seen in Native American mythology
- Rabbit: Like “Br’er Rabbit,” who features in African-American folklore
- Fox: Like “Kuma Lisa” in Bulgarian folklore
- Raven: Famous among the Native Americans
Coming across multiple Tricksters on your path through life is inevitable. But while the self-serving, deceptive shadow side of every Trickster is hugely apparent, it’s also important to be receptive to their lessons – to their crazy wisdom. The truth is that we all have a hidden Trickster inside whether we are conscious of it or not. That is perhaps why we’re so enamored and intrigued by figures such as The Joker or Mad Hatter.
What does archetypal Trickster teach us?
Deep down, our inner Trickster craves to break taboos, revel in the destruction of the known, and shatter decrepit ideologies. If there is anything Trickster archetypes teach us, it is to “lighten up” about life and not take ourselves so seriously. However, when we deny the crazy wisdom of the Trickster both within and without ourselves, we find ourselves becoming rigid, bull-headed, narrow-minded, and humorless. The cracks in our perfect facades begin to shine. When we intentionally take a nasty kind of pleasure in others’ pain and failure.
When we fail to embrace the archetypal Trickster archetype lessons. We deny ourselves frivolity and the capacity to experience our Shadows. And, when we are lost in superficial appearances. The Trickster holds a mirror to our faces. When we are stranded in the ignorance of egotism. The Trickster, through his antics, lays out our faults on a platter with a smile.
According to some ancient stories, Krishna secretly stole all the clothing from a few milk maidens bathing. When they realized what happened, they begged for their clothes back. Krishna reprimanded them for breaking the vow about cleaning the nude. Then, he made them ascend from the water naked to find their clothes. In this way, we interpret that Krishna forced women to abandon their sense of shame or ego (clothing). Krishna made them realize their ultimate divine union with Krishna. This story, like many others, represents the powerful unpredictability of the archetypal Trickster.
The power of the Trickster is in his (or her) ability to help us question life, embrace uncertainty. And become receptive to seeing everything just as it is.
It can be so easy to fall into dogmatic traps and small-minded ideologies on our paths of soulful expansion. When a Trickster comes into your life, shaking up all the pretensions, lies, and illusions that you cling to. Pay attention! Your anger, sanctimony, and exasperation can alchemize into humor, acceptance, and even curiosity if you let it.
The trickster can be an ally or companion of the hero or may work for the villain. In some instances, the trickster may even be the hero or villain. In any role, the trickster usually represents the force of cunning and pits against stronger or more powerful opponents.
The Trickster lives inside and outside of time. He is of our world, yet not of our world, so our laws will not always apply. Other symbols associated with him include keys, clock, masks, and infinity. Among other mythological images, Trickster is a creator, a joker, a truth-teller, a storyteller, a transformer linked to the spiritual frequency changes humanity is experiencing at this time.