April Fool’s Day invites the receiving of pranks, jokes and being the ‘butt’ of others’ playful ways. However, many times we experience such unsuspecting foolery from our own hands. In these situations, where we are at the mercy of our own misdoings and feel that we have ‘bitten ourselves in the butt,’ the archetypal force of the Trickster is present.
The Trickster archetype represents the dualities and polarities that directly confront our desire for clarity, certainty and stability. He is the one who brings chaos, ‘stirs the pot’ and takes the story in an abrupt change of direction. Trickster appears as the fool, the magician, the clown, the jester and often the destroyer.
Jim Carrey’s character in ‘The Mask,’ Lucy Ricardo in ‘I Love Lucy,’ Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ and many of Eddie Murphy and Charlie Chaplin’s characters are examples of Trickster. From myths and fables, Trickster examples include Hermes, medieval Europe’s Reynard the fox, Coyote and Raven from Native American legend, and the Norse rule-breaking god, Loki.
Trickster’s purpose is to show us our shadow. Just when the ego believes it is in control – when we are puffed up and sure – Trickster energy balances this one-sidedness with chaos and uncertainty. As writer Napoleon Hill stated, “Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”
Certainty is the enemy of growth. Trickster, in the form of doubt, breaks us out of old ways in order to free our energy to move into a new form. As an agent of change, Trickster triggers our fear of change and is an uneasy yet essential companion on the path of awareness. As author John Maxwell advised, “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” Trickster forces us to change.
The Trickster is a very important archetype and represents the wise-fool. He points out the flaws, rebels against authority, and pokes fun at our overly serious ego. For example, it was the court jester’s role to ridicule and speak freely about the monarchy and other political situations in order to balance the royal perspective.
Because Trickster disrupts convention, it is commonly viewed in a negative light. However, Trickster is neither strictly positive nor negative – it is both.
It is through the Trickster’s turmoil that we become aware of our one-sidedness. Trickster pokes holes in our rigid boundaries and pushes us to question norms and move beyond known limits. He is the boundary breaker.
Trickster energy serves as a balancing agent, as an equalizing force that challenges us to grow, often bringing discomfort to motivate us to change. Ego may think all is well, but watch out, a balancing situation will soon arrive, grounding us back to reality.
If we are aware enough, or perhaps, have experienced Trickster energy enough, we eventually truly appreciate when it appears, knowing deep down that we need to, in some aspect, change our ways. We may even humbly, laughingly note, “Okay, I get it!”