It happened many years ago… I was having an out of body experience one morning when I came face to face with a demonic looking woman. I started to back up, scared out of my mind, when a small voice inside me said “face her.” So, I put my hands on my hips, cocked my head to one side and said “Well?” She morphed into a coyote, then laughed at me and trotted off.
I had just come face to face with a trickster.
From the thievery of Crow to the mischief of Loki, stories of the trickster spirit, and the chaos they can cause, are widely found in every culture.
Tricksters are notorious shape-shifters. Pooka, the Celtic trickster spirit, frequently shape-shifts into a wild looking little pony, who may trample your garden or fling mud on clean laundry hung out to dry. Yehl, a North Pacific trickster spirit, will generally appear as a raven, and is known for not only playing pranks on the native people, but also for dispensing gifts and skills.
Tricksters are frequently presented as buffoons and clowns. I had the opportunity to witness this firsthand one day as I watched a crow tease a cat on the roof of a neighboring house. The crow stood in the middle of the roof pretending not to notice the cat crouching down at the other end. I’m sure the cat felt he was being very sneaky as he stealthily made his way across the roof toward the crow. Then the crow spied the cat and started to hop toward the other end of the roof. It was then I realized that the crow seemed to be injured. I started to worry, as the cat got closer, that this would be the end of crow. But just as the cat leaped toward his prey, crow, who was very much not injured, flew into the air and the very surprised cat lost his footing and hung precariously onto a rain-gutter before managing to get safely to the ground. Out of nowhere more crows appeared, all cawing in unison (which sounded suspiciously like laughter) as the cat tried to creep away, unnoticed.
This can be a very important lesson for us. Trickster spirits can see the humor in everything, and never take themselves too seriously. Unfortunately, they don’t want anyone else to take themselves too seriously either, so they show up in our lives to topple us in the mud or cause us to balance precariously on dangerous footing.
So how do we deal with this trickster energy? Well, if we want to avoid ending up in the mud, we bravely face him, grinning all the while. And we do this by seeing the humor in our own lives and learning to take ourselves lightly.
Tricksters, along with being the fool and the jokester, are also known for blessing us with gifts of knowledge. They act as the catalyst for growth, always reminding us that life is supposed to be fun, and we are supposed to enjoy it.