Trickster Times

Hello, dear ones. My body has been out of balance all week, so I’m officially giving myself a “leave of absence” for this week. [Can bloggers do that???] However, I do want to share the words of others that have been rattling insistently around in me.

The first is a beloved statement by Ben Okri that I’ve shared before:

“The earliest storytellers were magi, seers, bards, griots, shamans. They were, it would seem, as old as time, and as terrifying to gaze upon as the mysteries with which they wrestled. They wrestled with mysteries and transformed them into myths which coded the world and helped the community to live through one more darkness, with eyes wide open and hearts set alight.”

”And I think that now, in our age, in the mid-ocean of our days, with certainties collapsing around us, and with no beliefs by which to steer our way through the dark descending nights ahead — I think that now we need those fictional old bards and fearless storytellers, those seers. We need their magic, their courage, their love, and their fire more than ever before. It is precisely in a fractured, broken age that we need mystery and a reawoken sense of wonder. We need them to be whole again.”

– Ben Okri

The next quotes are from Sharon Blackie’s remarkable new book Hagitude (pp. 188-189 & pp.193-196), which I am currently in the midst of reading. (I expect more references to this book will come along — She has much to say about the Old Woman in myth & story, including Trickster aspects & the role of the fiber arts in old stories.)

Writing about the work of René Guénon (Symbols of Sacred Science, 1962), Dr. Blackie says Guénon

“… argued that we now live in ‘degenerate times,’ at the end of a long era during which important spiritual truths have been forgotten, the ancient centres of wisdom have been destroyed, and the guardians of that wisdom are long gone. However, he suggested, the safest repository for such old truths has always been folklore. He believed that knowledge which is in danger of being lost can be translated into the symbolic code of a folk tale, and then passed on through the storytelling tradition. [….] Then, in better times, people might once again appear who understand the code, and who will penetrate the symbolic disguise and uncover the wider meaning behind. … It’s incumbent on us to tell the old stories — and to use those stories, when necessary, to hold the culture to acount.”

Later, Dr. Blackie describes Trickster beautifully:

“…Trickster is above all a disruptor of the established order, upsetting it so that necessary change might come about. Trickster happens along when something urgently needs to shift, sweeping out the old, arid and useless to make way for the new.”

“…Trickster holds up a mirror to all that is dysfunctional, hypocritical and perverse in us or in our culture, and challenges our deepest assumptions about our own nature, or the nature of the world around us.”

“The Trickster, then, in all her [or his] diverse forms, is the character who breezes in and breaks something in an attempt to wake us up, revealing to us the shakier truth which underlies a seemingly stable situation. And so Trickster can also be thought of as an archetype of the apocalypse — in the original sense of that Greek word, which means revelation: [quoting Richard Goswiller] ‘an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling’.”

“What follows after Trickster’s intervention, of course, depends on many things — among them, the specific qualities of the Trickster who happens along in the story we are living through. And although we don’t always get the Trickster we imagine we might want, we mostly get the Trickster we deserve….”

It seems to me that we are really in the midst of major Trickster times on a global scale. Certainly we’re having to face “all that is dysfunctional, hypocritical and perverse in us or in our culture” & are being fiercely challenged on some of our “deepest assumptions about our own nature, or the nature of the world around us.” What do you & I see when we look in Trickster’s Mirror? And how & which of the old Stories can be of help? What & how am I (are we) telling stories? …These aren’t just “rhetorical questions.” I’m really pondering all this, thinking of my actions.

Anyway, I have to smile as I frequently repeat to myself what the Hunter’s Horse said in the story posted Sept. 23 : “Fear not — the worst is yet to come.” Don’t fear, don’t weep, the Horse says again & again. Step into the next part of the Story & deal with what you find. You might be surprised!

And, of course, we’re not alone. The Earth community in all its embodied forms is speaking to us all the time. Nowadays birds & deer are bringing me Stories. The Old Tree behind our house (or, I should say — in front of which our house has been planted) teaches me & shares her Stories every day. Who else is telling the Stories I/we need to hear? What are the Stories that need to be shared — in language and in a myriad of other ways? How does my fiber work speak? Much to contemplate…. and then to embody, to enact as a participant in this on-going story.

The Old One –10/13/2022

3 thoughts on “Trickster Times

  1. When we moved to this rental in New Mexico, I was delighted to see an old, gnarly apple tree, located in the center of our “yard”, not far from our front door. Moving in spring, we were treated to a glorious display of apple blossoms and birds flying about, singing in joy and later, feasting on the tiny apples. These apples, were tart and sweet at the same time, I do not know what kind but they were also no larger than about 2″ wide. A labor of love to peel them and make applesauce and apple crisp but I did. Neighbors across the way came and asked if they could have some and so it went. But the apple tree had been neglected, limbs twisted and looking ready to fall. Landlord was told of the state of the tree. I no longer have any large pruning tools so could not help the tree. Winter came, snow covered the bare branches and the tree looked quite forlorn as most trees do in winter even though they still give us a melancholy beauty.

    This year, the tree again gave us apple blossoms but very few apples. The twisted limbs seem to hang lower and a few neighbor kids had run ins with the branches as did I when I was weeding my little garden patch. Birds seemed to be few and far between, some of course did come but did not stay. I could feel a sense of abandonment and anguish from the tree so again, contacted the landlord who came this Wednesday with his large electric saw. It pained me to see the saw and I shuddered at the sound of the saw cutting away limbs so did not watch. I will admit to feeling that I had done the wrong thing in contacting the landlord, maybe it would have been better to leave things alone, to let nature do whatever it needed to do regarding the apple tree.

    The next morning, yesterday, I sat outside with my cup of tea and spoke to the tree of my sorrow at what had occurred yesterday, in essence, asking forgiveness for the pain of the cutting. A soft breeze was moving among the branches of the tree. As I kept looking, my mind played tricks for it looked as if the tree stood taller, fuller in a totally healthy way, even with the scars of cutting…as if to say, I have been neglected and ill but now, my strength is returning and I will go on…and it has for the birds have returned just in time to honor this tree as it readies itself for the deep sleep of winter.

    Why is this a parable of our times: We face so many devastating and demoralizing issues at all levels of society, at all levels of our beloved Earth. At times we acknowledge them and rise to action but many times, the overwhelming sense of it all freezes us to inaction. Still, we return, again and again to the issues, until one day, we know we need to act, we need to remove, as best we can, what “ails” us and so our SAW becomes the BALLOT BOX and with hope and courage, we move to bring back to life, our deepest beliefs in fairness, freedom, stewardship, caring and democracy for all and we do so in one of the most important and significant actions that we can undertake- we VOTE. May our actions, bear “fruit!”


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