Trickster: Variations on a Theme

Free writes inspired by the Trickster Archetype during the SfB Mythical Writing Workshop. 


The Coyote Trickster, Dancing ~ He looks so exuberant, lost in the dance, eyes closed ecstasy playing his pipe - to enter the game one loves, to be constantly at work playing. The game is the dance he enters, and if we dare we may enter it with him. To enter though is to make a sacrifice - who has control in this game? It is a power greater than us he wields - a power of confidence, arrogance. To take a bet, to accept a challenge, to say yes to a dare. 

Saying yes to the trickster is scary and exhilarating. Trying to be the trickster is walking on eggshells - for me at least, never sure when I am going to lose control of the game, never sure when it is time to surrender control all together and let the tide carry me. The trickster is resourceful, adaptable, always one step ahead - a place I am never sure I can be. Time to draw back, recalculate, approach it afresh. 

For yes, I do perform a gentle manipulation, subtle in the way I move, sometimes unseen or unnoticed.  Plotting, yes, but not so much as planning, imagining, envisioning what comes next. Clearing the slate and starting all over again. Not so much in knowing when I've been had - because even the trickster gets tricked, has the game turned back on him - but knowing when it's time to gracefully retreat and change the game.

The trickster is the outsider, the one on the edge, playing his song. Then again, what is a trickster without someone to trick? Is he seeking someone to play the game? Is he looking for trouble? Yes - I imagine so. Am I? I know I'm attracted to the arrogant rogue holding the upper hand. I'm also tired of playing games. But of telling stories? No - I haven't exhausted myself of that. By telling stories I can embody that energy and not have to go wandering off into the woods following the path of any old fox promising me sweets and a rose-covered place to rest. 

Shape shifting - polytropos - the man of many ways. The one who draws you in, weaving stories around you the same way the coyote lures you in by playing his song. I learn to sing a song - to incant a story - that others will listen to. A story of a girl in the woods riding the subway amongst the densely packed human trunks and the foliage of their bodies, of following the signs pointing in every confusing direction. Of picking myself up and turning myself around for a time when I was lost and boldly saying "I meant to do that"; to now, where I am more wary, keeping my composure while thinking "Oh shit, how do I get out of here?"

The trickster must learn to blend and change shape. As a white girl in leather boots and a linen button-down walking through the Bronx, there is only so much I can do to change my shape - my color and my palpable unease and my unwillingness to make eye contact no doubt gives me away. I am an unexpected element - the one who looks like she doesn't belong here - but I do. I work at that school. I'm the one teaching your kids how to read. I'm the one who lives in a hood not much different than this one, and yes, I stand out there too. 

Learning how to become more comfortable with the attention I draw, that I will most likely always draw as long as I'm working in these neighborhoods. The trickster is an outsider. But what can the trickster do if not change the game? I can chuckle or raise my eyebrows, I can smile and say thank you when a door gets opened for me, I can walk with purpose because I know where I'm going and I know where I belong - at least for that day.  

I journey; I quest - I go to places that make other people uncomfortable, like Hermes passing through the underworld, and while it is not exactly comfortable for me either, at least I am brave enough to accept the challenge.