Meet the Gods: Tricksters
Given the tradition of April Fool’s jokes, this month’s column is about tricksters – those who play tricks on others, pay no heed to rules or authority, and care not for conventional behavior. They are generally smart or possess knowledge others don’t. They can be playful or harsh – either way, they are disruptive. Some can change their appearance.
Tricksters are often characters in stories and myths originating in many cultures, including Coyote, Raven, Crow, Rabbit, Spider, Bear and Raccoon. They often serve as messengers between the earth plane and other realms.
Some of them, however, are gods.
Loki is one of the most notable. In Norse mythology, he is a shapeshifter, appearing as a falcon and as a mare who gives birth to Odin’s shamanic horse with eight legs, Sleipnir. Originally a friend of the gods, they grew to dislike him and his tricks.
In the Polynesian culture, M?ui’s exploits and trickery are famous – among them, pulling up islands from the ocean floor with his magical fish hook, rising the sky and making the sun shine longer.
Hermes, a god of transitions and boundaries, plays the trickster in some Greek myths. He is cunning, invented lying and is the patron of travelers and thieves. As a child, it’s said he was able to steal cattle from Apollo by putting tree bark on their hooves to disguise their tracks. Hermes moves easily between men and gods, so he is also the one who escorts the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
(This image appears in the lid of a wooden box I bought at a tag sale.)
In some Native American cultures, Kokopelli not only represents the spirit of music and dance, as a fertility god, he rules over agriculture and presides over childbirth. The hunched-over flute player is known for his mischief. One story tells of him playing his flute while everyone in the village sang and danced all night; then, in the morning, every maiden was pregnant.
For help shifting your reality, try calling on a trickster god. He can help change the thoughts and words in the story you tell so that you create something that has been eluding you.
Tricksters can be great teachers – one lesson might be that laughter can defuse a tense situation.
And, if you believe it takes a thief to catch a thief, a trickster might make a good ally if someone is stealing from you.
Merry part. And merry meet again.