Symbols - What does heaven look like
The Trickster was a magician, generally speaking they were also jesters and could be gods. Now that I have probably completely confused you, we can turn to the Wikipedia definition, which is accurate as far as it goes, but does not quite tell the whole story. Remembering that shape shifting was one key ability of many shamans, the so called 'anthropomorphic animals' were more than likely to have been shamans.....
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior.
The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually, albeit unintentionally, with ultimately positive effects. Often, the rule-breaking takes the form of tricks (e.g. Eris) or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks.
To illustrate: Prometheus, in Greek mythology, stole fire from the gods to give to humans. In many Native American and First Nations mythologies, the coyote (Southwestern United States) or raven (Pacific Northwest, coastal British Columbia, Alaska and Russian Far East) stole fire from the gods (stars, moon, and/or sun) and are tricksters.
Tricksters in various cultures
In the table below, I have extracted information from Wikipedia that lists tricksters from myth and legend.
Overall, there is the tendency these days to regard these stories as myths devised by a superstitious set of people who believed in gods and goddesses and other spiritual creatures, in an age when they ‘didn’t know any better’ , but I think we can see from the observations that some of these gods and goddesses may have been legendary shamans with a unique ability to enter the spiritual word and discover the secrets.
We need to remember that most shamans can ‘shape change’ and favourite shapes amongst indigenous peoples are ravens, foxes, bears, wolves, coyotes and so on, thus these stories may have their origins in real people and their spiritual journeys.
To a people craving some form of security and knowledge they would have seemed like gods – superheroes.
The centuries come and go, literary fashions pass, but the magician reappears before us: shifting his shape and changing his name, now mocking, now awe-inspiring, but essentially the same character whose fame flew over all Europe eight centuries ago. Trickster, illusionist, philosopher and sorcerer, he represents the one to which the race turns for guidance and protection
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- Degas - Harlequin and Colombina #007531
- Mayan - Madrid Codex - The Trickster #011674
- Norse - Jelling #017136
- Norse - Loki and Heimdall’s fight over the singing stone #006516
- Norse - Tricksters and ravens #017135
- Rops, Félicien - La répétition #010548
- Tlingit and Haida - Native American Indians - Raven #011570
- Xam bushmen - The moon that was once his shoe #011340