Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nobody Tricks a Trickster

{Author's Note:  I thought the concept of the Trickster needed some more time lent to it.  This is due to its prevalence in multiple cultures.  I did my best.}

The Trickster is one of the most universal of magickal archetypal figures.  The Trickster exemplifies the use of cunning and trickery over force.  The Trickster is also seen as the fool, the jester and the Joker.  He makes fun at the problems of society.  His role is to show society what is wrong so that it can be solved.  The Trickster is found in one form or another in most cultures around the world.  The Trickster rarely takes things too seriously or is rarely seen as serious.  However the Trickster can be serious when needed.

The Trickster always has his own agenda, which does not always fit with the plans of those around him.  Due to this, the Trickster is seen as chaotic, unpredictable and self serving.  Many times the Trickster has the greater good in mind, but since he is unconventional, his methods are always in question.  Not all forms or Aspects of the Trickster are benevolent, some are very malevolent.  In many ways the Trickster is the true neutral, and when viewed the standards of mainstream society he seems malevolent. 

The Trickster tends not to be one for direct conflict.  Trickster uses his mind and fights through trickery and cunning.  Sometimes though the Trickster tricks and fools himself into trouble.  The Trickster has a big ego, he knows he is cunning and thinks he can outsmart anyone.  That however is not always true. 

The Following are various Trickster Totems.


Coyote

Grandfather Coyote is known as the Trickster in the Southwest, Great Plains and parts of the Pacific Northwest in North America.  He has been shown in the modern character of Wyle E. Coyote.  He was the one who gave fire to the Native Peoples; he was the schemer, whose schemes sometimes blew up in his face.  Coyote still had to try.  Coyote many times did the wrong things for all the right reasons and the right things for all the wrong reasons.  Coyote is definitely more of the Jester form of the Trickster.


Raven/Crow/Magpie/Rook/Blue Jay

Raven and his Corvid cousins, Crow, Magpie and Rook, are the more mysterious and enigmatic of the Trickster totems.  Raven is found in Celtic, Norse, Aleut, Inuit, Pacific Northwest, and other Northern cultures.  Crow is found in most cultures around the world.  They are seen as unpredictable, less jester, more cunning.  Modern examples are Heckle and Jeckle.  Raven and his cousins’ agendas are shrouded in mystery.  Sometimes through their actions they seem to be evil or malevolent, especially Raven.  Raven and the other corvids are operating through a bigger picture. 


Hare/Rabbit

Hare and/or Rabbit are the Tricksters to the Southeast North America, British Isles and Scandinavia.  Rabbit is a symbol or sexuality and madness.  Hare is more non-confrontational.  Hare sneaks his way out of trouble.  He is seen as the jester and joker.  However Hare rarely has things blow up in his face.  Hare comes off as harmless and many underestimate his power.  Bugs Bunny and Brer Rabbit are examples of Hare as Trickster


Fox

Fox Trickster is found mostly in Europe and Asia.  He is cunning, sly and intelligent.  Fox also has a dark side; he does not take defeat well.  In Asia he is seen as malevolent and evil.  Fox overestimates his own abilities since his is very overconfident and arrogant.  Fox prefers to use his mind than brute force.  He is less comical and more shrewd.


Spider (Anansi)

Spider is Trickster to many African, Southwest and Great Plains tribes.  Spider is more mysterious and shrouded in shadow.  Spider is seen with motives beyond what anyone could ever understand.  In African and Afro-Caribbean cultures Spider is the male Anansi. To the plains tribes she was Inktomi. To the Pueblo tribes she was Spider Woman, To the Kiowa she is Spider Grandmother.  The spider was also the symbol of the Fates of Greece.  She is the great weaver and trapper of others.  She tricks her prey into entering her web.


Monkey

Monkey is Trickster in the Amazon, Africa, Central America and Asia.  In China he is the Monkey King who removed his people from the book of mortality in the Celestial Court.  Monkey is both hero and jester.  He is very similar to Coyote in that his schemes sometimes backfire and blow up in his face.  Monkey uses is mind, but is also a fighter. In Asia there is a Monkey style of Kung Fu.  Monkey like all tricksters prefers cunning to brute force.


Loki

Loki was the Norse God of Mischief. Loki was the malevolent trickster.  Loki was the Father of Lies.  Loki used his abilities to cause confusion, chaos, death and destruction.  Loki was a troublemaker; he was always scheming to best one god or another.  Loki is either the Adversary or the Trickster Idols.  His Followers more often than not are toxic.


Pan/Puck

Pan was the Greek God of Fertility and the Wild.  Pan was an impish deity who enjoyed having fun with others.  Pan did not care about the consequences. Pan was also seen according d to some  as the Fairy being of Puck or Robin Goodfellow.  Puck is well known from the Shakespearean play Midsummer Night's Dream.   Puck is sometimes seen like pan with the legs of a goat.  Both are masters of mischief, but though they can be malevolent at times they are generally seen as benign.  Pan is represented by the Horned Man Idol.


Dionysus/Bacchus

Dionysus was the Greek God of Fertility, Frivolity and Wine.  Dionysus was at times seen as a God of divine madness.  Although not the stereotypical Trickster, he was known for being cunning and sly.  Plus like many Tricksters he could be benevolent one minute and malevolent the next. Dionysus is represented by the Wild Huntsman or Bacchus Idols.


Hermes/Mercury

Hermes was the Greek God of Mischief, Travelers, Thieves, Luck and the Messenger of the Gods.  Hermes was known for his notorious practical jokes.  Hermes was also very magickal and seen as the master magician.  Hermes was a benign form of the Trickster. When he wronged a god with his trick, he compensated the offended god with a gift or favor.  Hermes was a quick wit and stout friend. Hermes is represented by the Magician or Trickster Idols.


Others


Other Trickster possibilities are Badger (Japan), Maui (Trickster, Polynesian), Susanoo (Trickster, Adversary, Japan), Krishna (Trickster, Dragonslayer, India), and Legba (Voodoo).  These are the most common ones.  One thing to remember Tricksters are always an enigma, because they seem to be up to something.  Others around them are always guessing what comes next.  What neat trick will the trickster come up to save their bacon, what joke will backfire, or are they the victims of the next scheme?  Trickster Shamans are much like their totems and idols.  They have very few allegiances, but to themselves.  Those around a Trickster types are going to wonder if the Trickster is just using them.   So, members of the same team of a Trickster Shaman are going to be suspicious of the shaman's schemes, plans and motives.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tree & Plant Shamans

{Author's Note:  This Originally was half of an Article on Tree and Plant Totems.  Since I am not re-posting the Totems I thought I would put the section on the concept here.  This did include three possibly controversial Totems, Marijuana, Tobacco and Peyote.  I included them because of their meaning among certain cultures. I included a disclaimer that I did not condone the use or abuse of these substances and I included them because of major cultural and spiritual impact.}

Tree and Plant Shamans have a different approach than the conventional Animal Shaman.  One is the use of plant matter.  A Tree or Plant Shaman or Druid will use a preponderance of plant matter for Foci and Fetishes.  They are known to use Stones and Metals too, however they never use animal products such as furs or bones.  The use of plant materials includes the practice of herbalism both magickal and medicinal.  Examples of foci used are like wooden staves, wands or woodwork amulet and the like.

Another difference is Sacred Ground instead of Medicine Lodges.  These areas are consecrated by the individual Shaman.  The Materials to do so are the same in cost as materials fro a Medicine Lodge.  The Sacred Ground can be a Sacred Grove, Field, Garden, or Orchard.  The Sacred Ground must always be in the favored environment of the Totem and include example of the Totem plant or tree.  A Tree or Plant Druid though has another option in Sacred Ground in a circle of standing stones or any other typical Druid Sacred ground.  The Druidic Sacred Ground does not need to be of the same environment as the Totem.

Another difference in approach is how Spirits present themselves to the Tree or Plant Shaman or Druid.  The Spirits rarely take human form.  They look like the elements, plant or animals.  For example a Mountain Spirit would look like a Mound of rock and earth with a semi-humanoid form or a Forest Spirits would look like a Human looking tree or a Field Spirits would look like a plow horse.  Although accumulatively these differences are mostly subtle, they need to be realized.

Another difference between Tree or Plant Shamans or Druids and standard Shamans is that all plant shamans can summon Manitous, otherwise known as Spirit of Wood.  They gain this ability at the expense of one class of Nature spirits, usually either spirits of MAN or of the LAND.  This difference allows the Tree or Plant Shaman or Druid to summon Spirits that are connected to the greenery of nature.  Even a Cactus can summon a Manitou since even the desert has vast vegetation (tumble weeds, brush, cacti and etc.).  Shamans of Cultivated Plants, although no longer as strongly connected to the Land, can still summon Manitous.  This shows that though these Plants have a stronger connection to Man, they are still inexorably connected to the circle of all vegetation.