And –before I begin– a memo to myself for courage:
“ In out-of-the-way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”
~ John O’ Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us ~
I am a 77 year old woman. For the last 15 years or more I’ve been haunted by the Trickster Spirit as he appears in cultures around the world. I’ve studied him diligently in anthropology texts and read volume upon volume analyzing his tales. But Trickster doesn’t live in categories or theories. He doesn’t dwell on the printed page. Trickster — like Life itself — is present only in movement, relationship, and change. If, in a story, he is cut into pieces, he puts himself back together and goes on his way. No one can truly capture his essence, but storytellers, poets, and artists do invite you to glimpse and participate in his many facets. Trickster is Change & he changes the world.
When I attempted to analyze or describe Trickster in approved academic fashion, to pin him down like a specimen in a museum, he just slipped off the page and, laughing, danced off to other adventures. Finally I realized that all the time I’d been trying to “understand” him, he’d been trying to invite me to play, to explore my own transformation, to engage with the world in all its guises.
Trickster Spirit is a paradox. Whatever you can say about him, the opposite is also true. For example, among the Akan-Ashanti of West Africa, the Trickster (Anansi, the Spider) not only scattered the world’s Wisdom among the people but also, in other stories, brought the people Disease and Death. Among the Diné of the American Southwest, Trickster (Ma’i, Coyote) is a source of both healing and witchcraft.
So, is he a culture hero? Yes. Or the source of trouble? Yes. Or a character in instructive morality tales? Yes. On & on… The only things I might dare say about Trickster are that he is insatiably hungry, insatiably curious, and an inveterate boundary-crosser and transformer. In many of his stories, Trickster brings things out of hiding or tricks others into giving them to him. Then, most often (as in next week’s story), Trickster inadvertently spills his cherished hoard out into the world.
Hence, this blog. For far too long, I’ve kept my weavings of words, fiber, and ideas safely hidden in closed boxes. Now, in response to Trickster’s prodding , I’ll open some of those boxes, spill out the contents, and see what happens.
It is my hope that we will all enjoy this attempt to join the Trickster’s dance — though it is certain to include stubbed toes and awkward tumbles as I learn along the way. Trickster is a Transformer — and who knows? Maybe as we dance, we will — like Trickster — stumble onto new thresholds, thin places through which Enlivenment enters the world. Maybe we too shall be transformed.
With best wishes and lots of curiosity about where this journey might go,
P.S. I’ll start by posting once a week on Fridays. Then we’ll see whether Trickster has something else in mind.
“It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”
— Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
RAVEN'S SONNET for Claude Levi-Strauss The old myths have been collected and catalogued by those whose way was to catch recalcitrant words and pen them flat in dense packed tomes or pin the slippery story lines onto sterilized dissecting trays that students might strip contingent flesh and study scientific bones. So tellings of Raven's derring-do dim beneath dust of dissertation, grow flaccid and disparate with misuse. Unhinged from tribe and firelight, they slowly compost into academic argument or curiosities that merely amuse. Yet That One with hair iridescent black gathers up his severed limbs from dusty pages, from display case plucks desiccated skin. Preening his feathers he chuckles, remembers how once just for fun he slipped into the womb of Old Man’s daughter and stole away the Sun. He always returns, That One. Splattering ink he leaps from our cage, riding tenuous rhymes to the end of the page and out into this luminous laughing world