People tend to hide within rituals which then become hollow acts. It is Trickster's job to keep the people sincere, rituals vitale, and all focused on the real predicament at hand. He is a channel-changer when the drama of life becomes too heavy for us to bear (i.e. we are taking ourselves or life to seriously). It is then that Trickster asks: "is it a tragedy or a comedy? Given a choice between living the roles of victim or fool, which would you choose? If your life is a tragedy, why not change the channel? We are all mere fools in the face of the Great Mystery and our predicament. He is a spiritual touchstone: If not for the bad times, by what standard would we measure those that are good? A dichotomous continuum cannot exist without its two poles.
Trickster is not bounded by any rules whatsoever. He has Trickster License which exempts him from all rules of ettiquette and laws. The Sacred Clowns are often seen going among the people urinating on them, masturbating, hunching, eating feces, even killing and maiming if the spirit dictates it. Certainly no one would try to censor or restrain one of Trickster's followers. Trickster is such an important facet of Native American spirituality that such a price was deemed a bargain in the Great Giveaway. Trickster teaches us tolerance, and continually points out that "one does as much damage to the Harmony by taking offense, as by giving it." To the dominant society which has purged the Tricky one from their spirituality, this is all too blasphemous to tolerate. It is easier to label Indians as ignorant savages with vile rites. (but then the church turning its head to priest pedophiles...)
In fact Trickster has five principle charges. They are:
1. Turba excitare (to stir things up & make people think)
2. Permulti prospectus (to walk around things/view them from all sides for multiple perspectives)
3. Civilis improbus (to be politically incorrect, mock traditions and official viewpoints)
4. Advocati diabolus (to provide a counterpoint/devil's advocate role)
5. Speculum mentis (to hold up a mirror, to get people to reflect on themselves and their predicament and keep them sincere)
I have here chosen the Latin to specify these roles, because Trixie thought it gave him a touch of scholarly class. The cultural footprint of Trickster is large, and has left us with clowns, court jesters, apostates, agnostics, doubting Thomases, Murphy's laws, comic relief, hysterical laughter, koans, puns, comedy of every sort (especially satire), absurdity, and of course devil's advocacy in science. Trickster is involved with humor, because in taking ourselves too seriously, we have enough sorrow in our lives. Humor is the grease which lubricates the lessons, and allows Trickster to slide them through the chinks of our armor. In walling out the hurts and terror we feel towards life, we have assembled a coat of armor. It protects us but poorly from the misery, but it makes growth extremely difficult. Every insect (esp. Butterflies), and snakes, etc know one must shed their shells to grow -- remember the snake in the Garden.
However, while we have retained Trickster in our secular lives, we have tended to allow the priestly class to expel him from the Sacred. Their reasons naturally bristle with self-interest ("Mock us, how disrespectful to God's earthly representatives"). If ever a group was in need of mocking, the priesthood/clergy is ripe for the picking. If Trickster ever gets around to giving these folks an enema, the church will be up to its rafters in the B.S.
The tumidity of us all, to think we could even begin to fathom the nature of the Great Mystery -- let alone take our mere musings seriously. Trickster's job is to prick such arrogance, and to let all the hot air out of it. "The only thing [in this life] that is certain, is that nothing is certain." Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of SHIT. How then are we to find any security in this tempestous sea of chaos? I submit that it is not by creating a false sense of secure refuge -- an imaginary rock. It is instead by allowing Trickster to lead us back to our lost hearts where we can find that
If I cannot tell you exactly how things are, or are not, how is it that I can help you learn about our predicament? While we cannot paint the world into stark relief of black and white understanding, we can learn something of its working. We can discover its tendencies, which aren't necessarily the same for each of us. We live in similar worlds, but our worlds do not seem to be exactly the same. We, as Einstein has delineated for physics, live in a relativistic Universe. We can understand something only in relation to something else, but not absolutely, as there is no absolute reference point. As in quantum mechanics, observer and observed are one -- we ARE the Great Mystery, and each of us exists only relative to each other. We are cut from the same fabric -- cells of the same awesome body. WE ARE ALL RELATED and one.
How can I speak of the unspeakable, or put into words what is ineffable? Yet, with my words, I can upon occasion, initiate a thought process that ineffect transfers an ineffable idea via the Sacred Wind. Then just briefly with an overwhelming feeling of oneness, the awesomeness of the Great Mystery comes into view. Words cannot capture, what is beyond our mentation. It can only be felt at our centers, and the heart knows what the mind can never know -- our real relationship to the Great Mystery is as near as we will allow it.
Trickster is the guardian at the gates to the Great Mystery. We have placed him there, and given him the key. We can have him bar the gate, or ferry us through. It is all matter of sincerity of purpose, and it is indeed a frightening journey that someday must be made. Trickster awaits, but he is not a patient servant, nor a kind master. He does, however, offer an abiding love, though tough it be.
...But then again, who the hell knows what Trickster is all about anyway?
A Message from Professor Coyote
***For another introduction to the god with a thousand disguises see Paul Radin's THE TRICKSTER, ISBN 0-8052-0351-6, For a modern intrepretation see Combs & Holland's SYNCHRONICITY: Science, Myth & the Trickster, ISBN 1-55778-304-7. For a cultural profile, see Beck and Walters' THE SACRED: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life, ISBN 0-912586-24-9. For an introduction to the Adventurer Path (Trickster's path as opposed to the warrior path) see Serge King's URBAN SHAMAN, ISBN 0-671-68307-1.
We are all related and are ONE, --Woktela