The integrity of the Trickster

I was brought up to be a good boy; eat what I’m given, say the right things and above all do what I’m told. Over the years I’ve realised that there are more of us around than we realise. Good boys, working to a set of rules imposed on us by someone else. Someone who thought that they were doing the right thing by making us good boys because someone had told them to be a good boy or a good girl.

Time passes quicker than one realises and it doesn’t take long to go from being a good boy in a school to becoming a man who has learnt to do as he’s told. One of the things that keeps us on the straight and narrow path is the fear that if you’re not a good boy then you may be banished remain lonely and lost. So for years, we’ll do what we’re told, at first by our parents, then by teachers and others in authority and finally our partners. As that’s what good boys do and are trained to do, what we’re told. However there is something in the background, something that tries to pull us away from the straight and narrow, something that wants us to stop and play in the sun, splash in the puddles or just watch the birds circle and soar. As we’re good boys we don’t; we hurry home as there are books to be red, instruments to be practised, someone to be looked after or some other kind of work. We’ll do this again and again because we’re good boys, until life feels as if it’s something mundane, something to be endured. However I believe that in the heart of every good boy there is a part of us that longs for us to be taken away from the life that we live; away from perfectly combed hair, clean shirts and the prison of being a good boy. I believe that we both long for it and fear it equally. I’d read about the trickster in all his/her forms both in myth and legend and also how the archetype manifests in Jungian and other forms of Psychology. All the stories I’d read had convinced me that the trickster be it in the form of Loki (Norse god of Mischief) or Eris (Greek Goddess of discord) and a whole host of others weren’t people I wanted to cross my path. I’d come to believe that like Jack in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk I’d lose a cow and end up with a handful of beans which I’d throw away, or worse.  Losing both the cow and any profit that I may have gained from it. As a good boy, I’d been happy with this state of affairs, as I’m far too sensible to be taken in by the trickster’s wiles, or so I thought. Perhaps it’s a part of growing up, maybe it’s part of being a writer and needing to understanding someone’s motivation, even if that someone only exists in myths and legends or our subconscious. However I could feel the trickster calling from the shadows and recently I’ve answered his (for me the trickster energy manifests as a man, for you it might not) and what I’ve learnt has surprised me. This may feel like the stuff of fairy tales and myths or depth psychology. I am coming to believe there is a part of ourselves, somewhere deep in our subconscious that rallies and rails at the way we treat ourselves as well as others. That notices each and every time we put other’s needs before ourselves or each and every time we sell ourselves short and keeps score. I believe that this is how the trickster is born into our awareness, all that disappointment and sadness about how we are treating ourselves manifests something in the shadows of our soul. Something that tries to hold up a mirror to show us the life we are living. The trickster’s work starts gently and subtly;  you may forget your keys or wallet, which makes you stop and take a different way to work or miss your usual train to work and things go on from there. Or the trickster interrupt your train of thought in a meeting and tell you that the person you are listening to and you’ve admired for so long isn’t the wise and wonderful person you thought and their persona and finery only exists in their (and possibly your) mind. I think at times like these that the trickster is trying to remind us good boys that there is more to us than the good boy that we’ve become. There is a man who is wise and has experience beyond his acceptance or knowledge. I believe that the internal trickster is trying to remind us that there is more to life and more to us than the place we are in right now; more than a life of service to others at a cost to ourselves, more than a life of constantly working and not stopping to see the wonders of the world around us. At his heart, I believe that the trickster is saying “stop, you’re better than this, worth more than this” and that isn’t always easy to hear. So, the trickster will try again and you forget our keys or forget to grab your wallet so you can’t pay for that oh, so needed latte again and again. Until you begin to wonder what’s going on, what happened to my life, how did I get here and do I want to be here? Like the trickster of legend our trickster wants us to change ourselves, the way we look at the world and our place in it. However it’s not easy for us to do as we’re good boys and good boys don’t rock the boat or do anything crazy or weird, but when we do he cheers and celebrates as he’s a part of us. This is the journey I’ve been on for the past few years; at I was committed to my identity to be a good boy, then I got confused when things started to happen that I couldn’t explain such as misplacing items which when I stopped looking were just where I’d left them, then I started to look at the people around me and realised that some of the people I’d looked up to weren’t as wise or wonderful as I first thought. When all else failed the trickster came into my life through a friend asking me the question “If money was no object what would you be doing?” Each time the trickster seemed to be asking the same questions. Questions that made me to see my existence in a different light and begin a journey that has helped me to change things I believe, for the better. There are still times when I revert into the old ways of wanting to be a good boy and if I seem to be going too far the trickster reminds me of his presence. I’ve now learnt to be patient and look at what’s going on in my life and identify what it is that I need to look at differently. Which leads to the title of this piece. I think the trickster sometimes gets bad press. However for me he has been a very useful part of my makeup. I believe that when he appears in our lives the trickster is asking us the questions – Is this really where you thought you’d be? This thing that is so important to you at the moment, how important is it really? Are you being the man that you want to be? I believe that the integrity of the trickster is that he wants us to be more content and happier. It’s just that as good boys we’re so busy being good that sometimes he needs to take us out of our comfort and that’s not fun for any of us.   by Shaky Shergill

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