Trickster as an archetype can be animal or human, male or female, and is found throughout the mythology and folklore of all cultures. From the Native American coyote to the court jester and clown, from Kokopelli, Loki, Tezcatlipoca, Saci, Edshu to and others, the trickster across cultures share similar characteristics. He’s playful but sometimes mean, sympathetic, outrageous and humorous because he does things outside of the boundaries of what society considers accepted behavior.
“Tricksters relish the disruption of the status quo, turning the ordinary world into chaos with their quick turns of phrase and physical antics,” wrote Joseph Campbell. “Although they may not change during the course of their journeys, their world and its inhabitants are transformed by their antics. The Trickster uses laughter to make characters see the absurdity of the situation, and perhaps force a change.”
An inner trickster essentially does the same thing. And we’ve all got one.
It lurks in the shadows of our lives, urging us to try the outrageous, to do the totally insane thing that terrifies us, to embrace anything and everything outside our comfort zones. This inner trickster is the irritating voice that speaks to us as we wake up, as we fall asleep, as we dream and enter the timeless archetypal realm where we are confronted with our genuine selves – even if we don’t recognize that self as genuine.
In recent memory, my inner trickster had a field day on a trip to Costa Rica. Rob, Megan and I had decided to go zip lining and drove to a spot recommended by the manager of the place where we were staying. As soon as I saw the arrangement of lines, the harness I would wear, and how the pulleys would connect to my harness, I had second thoughts. I would be 30 feet or more above the ground, facing the ground, and zipping along at a swift clip. It seemed like an invitation to vertigo, nausea, and crippling fear. So I decided not to do it.
Rob and Megan went ahead and I spent three hours talking to a pregnant woman from Spain. It was a great conversation and I got to practice my Spanish, but… I went out to the “landing” area where Megan and Rob eventually coasted in and they looked so excited and thrilled to have zip lined that I regretted my decision. My inner trickster kept laughing that I had backed out. Who in their right mind would pass up an opportunity for a zip lining adventure in Costa Rica? When did you become such a chickenshit? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, a lot of things. Like, the lines could break and I would plummet to my death. Stuff like that.
My inner trickster got a big kick out of that. Yeah, sure, it might happen. You might also get bitten by a rabid monkey when you traipse around in the forests here.
Okay, okay. The trickster had made her point. Two days later, we returned to the zip lining place. This time, I put on a harness and a helmet, made sure I didn’t have to face the ground, and off I went, flying above landscape so stunningly beautiful and dramatic that parts of the experience were almost dreamlike. And at the end, my inner trickster applauded. That’s me in the photo above. Proof!
Sometimes, this inner trickster assumes the role of a muse, nudging me to try writing something different than what I’ve done before. When I shake my head and hurl up resistance – essentially arguing for my limitations (fear) – I get laughed out of my office. The trickster/muse keeps bugging me, tossing synchronicities in my path until I can’t ignore the signs anymore. That’s what happened with Skin Shifters.
After our trip to Cuba in February, I sat down one morning and wrote a brief synopsis of the book: The discovery of an alien body on the island of Tango Key, Florida ultimately reveals that a planetary invasion is underway. The aliens have a unique weapon: they’re morphing people into beings like themselves and assuming their physical forms.
The final scenes in Skin Shifters take place on this tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba.
The manuscript has been submitted to several publishers. Here’s the prologue.
So, I’ve grown to like my inner trickster. She encourages me to take risks, to explore new creative areas, to confront my fears- and banish them.