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                               THE RIDDLE OF THE TRICKSTER
                                a cross-cultural overview
                               Thunderspud of Dragonfhain 
          Who  is  this trickster  archetype, the  one  who inspires  such mixed
          feelings   and  brouhaha?    Trickster  has  been  with  us  from  the
          beginning.   Trickster will  be there at  the ending. (If  there is an
          ending,  Trickster will probably trigger it).  Trickster is a creator,
          a transformer, a joker, a truth teller, a destroyer.
          Whoever has created a  dance, a song, written a ritual,  tailor-made a
          job, birthed a  child or invented a game has  partaken of a controlled
          Trickster  energy.     After  all,  in  Northwest   Native  and  Inuit
          tradition, Raven  created the world; Loki  is known to the  Norse as a
          co creator (and the bringer of Ragnarok); Anansi  the spider-trickster
          among  the Ashanti  of  Ghana and  Nareau  the spider  in  Micronesia;
          Coyote  among the Southwest Natives --these are the creator aspects of
          this  wild and  uncontrolled energy.   Trickster  often begins  in the
          void, desiring  to bring Order  out of Chaos;  once Order is  imposed,
          however, Trickster represents the breaking free of negative power 
          from the Universal Order of things.
          As a  shape-shifter, Trickster is  all things  to all  people, at  one
          time or another,  and often simultaneously.  Of  course Trickster is a
          creator  and a  destroyer.   Sure he's  a family  man and  a vagabond.
          Naturally he gives fire  to humans and then  steals their food  before
          they  can  cook  it.    This  is  his  style;  when  he  acts  out  of
          selfishness,  everyone benefits --  Maui of the  Thousand Tricks might
          snare the Sun to slow it  down, making life easier for humans,  but he
          did it so his  mother would have more time  to cook for him.   When he
          acts  out of altruism, there's most always a negative effect --Marawa,
          a Lou Costello prototype  from Banks Island carved human  figures from
          wood and put  them in the  ground so  they would grow  and be  strong;
          however,  they merely rotted and death  came into the world of humans.
          This  shape- shifter  not only  moves  from shape  to shape,  but from
          world to world.  Number Eleven suffered at the hands  of death to free
          his  brothers; his  brothers  then took  his  lifeless body  away  and
          revived him.   In the Winnebago cycle, Trickster dies  three times and
          returns to  life  three times.    In  just one  collection  of  Coyote
          stories, Giving Birth  to Thunder, Sleeping With  His Daughter, Coyote
          dies of  a snake bite, a  gunshot, an arrow  wound, a broken  heart, a
          rock-fall and a drowning; this resembles nothing so much as a 
          Roadrunner cartoon.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


          Trickster fuzzes  the lines between  Male and Female,  between cunning
          and  stupidity (in  one  story Coyote  steals a  horse, in  another he
          almost  drowns  trying to  eat some  berries  reflected in  a stream),
          between wisdom  and stupidity.  Trickster tells us the truth about our
          selves,  showing us with truth and wit the sides of our nature that we
          may be more comfortable not acknowledging;  he's the one who points at
          the Emperor's nakedness, he's Lenny Bruce and Ashleigh  Brilliant, Ken
          Kesey  and Uncle Remus, Opus,  Geech, Tom Robbins,  Abbie Hoffman, Don
          Becker,  Weird Al Yankovich and  David Letterman, holding  up a skewed
          mirror of reality  for us to look into.  Among  the Aztecs, as serious
          a culture  as this continent  has ever  seen, Ueuecoyotl, a  funny and
          outrageously unacceptable  clown figure; in the  Southwest, at serious
          rituals,  he's the  Koshare speeding  around the circle  with tickling
          feathers and rattle, being ignored completely by the priest.
          Trickster shines on as  a culture bringer: Prometheus steals  fire for
          his poor stunted creations, and pays  a terrible and eternal price for
          his  philanthropy.  Loki  also steals fire  for humans,  as do Anansi,
          Raven,  Coyote,  Maui; so  far  I have  found  no less  than seventeen
          stories  from  different  cultures  on  this  theme.   Anansi  tricked
          Nyankopon the Sky-God out of his stories and gave them to the humans. 
          Clat, from Banks Island, taught humans how to sleep.
          In the stories of the Ashanti, Anansi invented the tar-baby  as a ruse
          to  trap  an elemental  spirit, but  in  the Native  American stories,
          Coyote  is trapped  by a  tar-baby set  up by  a farmer.  Actually the
          farmer  had caught  a rabbit  with his  tar-baby, but  Coyote happened
          along and asked  Rabbit what he was doing there.  "The farmer who owns
          this  field got mad  at me because  I wouldn't  eat his melons,  so he
          stuck me  here and  said  he'd come  back and  make  me eat  chicken."
          Rabbit  replies, "But I told him I wouldn't do it."  Of course, greedy
          Coyote extricates Rabbit  and wraps himself around  the tar-baby where
          he still his when the farmer comes out and shoots him.
          So this is the Trickster,  the energy that  allows us to  break out of
          our  stereotypes,  whether  they've  been imposed  by  ourselves,  our
          families, our  culture.  This  is the energy  that opens the  world of
          limitless possibilities and it  behooves us all to work with it before
          it destroys us, to touch the Trickster as he touches us.
                              ...........from RMPJ, Oct.'86   

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


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