In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays pranks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and norms of behaviour. While the trickster crosses various cultural traditions, there are significant differences between tricksters in the traditions of many Indigenous peoples and those in the Euro-American tradition:
"Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth."
Native tricksters should not be confused with the Euro-American fictional picaro. One of the most important distinctions is that "we can see in the Native American trickster an openness to life's multiplicity and paradoxes largely missing in the modern Euro-American moral tradition".
The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually, albeit unintentionally, with ultimately positive effects. Often, the rule-breaking takes the form of tricks (eg. Eris) or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks. An example of this is the sacred Heyoka, whose role is to play tricks and games and by doing so raises awareness and acts as an equalizer. In many cultures, (as may be seen in Greek, Norse, or Slavic folktales, along with Native American/First Nations lore), the trickster and the culture hero are often combined. To illustrate: Prometheus, in Greek mythology, stole fire from the gods to give to humans. He is more of a culture hero than a trickster. In many Native American and First Nations mythologies, the coyote (Southwestern United States) or raven (Pacific Northwest, coastal British Columbia, Alaska and Russian Far East) stole fire from the gods (stars, moon, and/or sun) and are more tricksters than culture heroes. This is primarily because of other stories involving these spirits: Prometheus was a Titan, whereas the Coyote spirit and Raven spirit are usually seen as jokesters and pranksters. Frequently the Trickster figure exhibits gender and form variability, changing gender roles and engaging in same-sex practices. Such figures appear in Native American and First Nations mythologies, where they are said to have a two-spirit nature. Loki, the Norse trickster, also exhibits gender variability, in one case even becoming pregnant; interestingly, he shares the ability to change genders with Odin, the chief Norse deity who also possesses many characteristics of the Trickster. In the case of Loki's pregnancy, he was forced by the Gods to stop a giant from erecting a wall for them before 7 days passed; he solved the problem by transforming into a mare and drawing the giant's magical horse away from its work. He returned some time later with a child he had given birth to--the eight-legged horse Sleipnir, who served as Odin's steed. In some cultures, there are dualistic myths, featuring two demiurges creating the world, or two culture heroes arranging the world — in a complementary manner. Dualistic cosmologies are present in all inhabited continents and show great diversity: they may feature culture heroes, but also demiurges (exemplifying dualistic cosmogony in the latter case), or other beings; the two heroes may compete or collaborate; they may be conceived as neutral or contrasted as good versus evil; be of the same importance or distinguished as powerful versus weak; be brothers (even twins) or be not relatives at all.
|Started By||Thread Subject||Replies||Last Post|
|DoraNiel||Own tread/profile||7||Apr 14 2011, 4:30 PM EDT by warriorsgirl|