Trickster Archetype: An Exploration in Writing the Tale

Today’s Guest Blog: ‘Trickster Archetype’  is written by Christian Gerike M.A,  teaching assistant in the Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California, Psychology Department, for the Introduction to Psychology and Myth, Dream, and Symbol courses. Christian has also two other guest blogs  for Mindfunda: How to Remember your Dreams, and Sleeping well, Remembering Dreams.

You can read more about the Trickster on Mindfunda in Trickster Gods: Tricky ways to discover the Self,  and Trickster Tactics: from Archetype to Evolution 

Trickster Archetype

The whimsical and diabolical Trickster is a character found in folk tales and myths around the world.

The Trickster, generally recognized as one of the oldest expressions of mankind, originated in and is the chief mythological character of the paleolithic world.

trickster archetype
Paleolitic Paintings in Lascaux


Found among the simplest to the most complex of indigenous groups, this is a figure and a theme with “. . . a special and permanent appeal and an unusual attraction for mankind from the very beginnings of civilization” (Radin, 1956, p. xxiii).

The Trickster is a strange combination of benevolence, harmless mischief, and destructive malice.

trickster as archetype
Trickster by Bill Lewis

Erdoes and Ortiz, in their 1998 book American Indian Trickster Tales, describe the Trickster as:

“. . . always hungry for another meal swiped from someone else’s kitchen, always ready to lure someone else’s wife to bed, always trying to get something for nothing, shifting shapes (and even sex), getting caught in the act, ever scheming, never remorseful” (p. xiii).

In West Africa we find the Spider, the Tortoise in Nigeria, the Hare among the Bantu people, in Hawaii is the Trickster/Culture Hero Maui, in ancient Greece is androgynous Hermes/Mercury, in Scandinavia shape-shifter Loki lies and steals from the other gods, in Europe is Reynard the Fox, on the Andaman Islands is the Kingfisher, in Turkey it is Nasr-eddin, the hodja (clown-priest).


trickster archetype
Picture: Josh Felice


In traditional and modern Native American cultures, there is Raven in the Pacific Northwest, androgynous and shape-shifting Coyote in California, the Great Hare among northern and eastern woodland tribes, and in the southwest the Hopi have Keshari, the Clown. In looking at Native American traditions we see Coyote the Trickster par excellence.

Trickster Archetype Defined

Trickster is proud to be described as destructive, immature, devious, quick-witted, sly, deceiving, lying, thieving, villainous, cowardly, mischievous, shrewd, cunning, wise, self-centered, ingenious, ambiguous, bi-sexual, fool, lecher, and a cheat.

trickster archetype
An icon of chaos theory – the Lorenz attractor.
By User:Wikimol, User:Dschwen – Own work based on images


“Clever and foolish at the same time, smart-asses who outsmart themselves” (Erdoes & Ortiz, 1998, p xiv).  It is this aspect of the Trickster that has made him such an entertaining character around the world. In manifesting these characteristics, the Trickster represents the chaos principal, the principle of disorder.

Trickster Archetype: Dark vs Light

Jung (1956/1969) sees the dark side of the Trickster as being “. . . a collective shadow figure, a summation of all the inferior traits of characters in individuals . . . subhuman and superhuman, a bestial and divine being, whose chief and most alarming characteristic is his unconscious.”  A ‘cosmic’ being of divine-animal nature, superior to man because of his superhuman qualities; inferior to him because of his reason and unconsciousness (pp. 270, 263, 264).

There is another side to the Trickster.  As the giver of all great boons—the fire-bringer, teacher of mankind—it is common for the Trickster to be a creator figure who created the earth and brings culture and civilization to humans.

In his role of bringing inventions, agriculture, tools, and fire the Trickster is a cultural hero.  For example, the Japanese storm god Susanoo provided humankind with such necessities of life as daylight, fire, and water.

Among the Classical Greeks, Prometheus as creator brought into being all of the world’s animals;

trickster archetype
Prometheus Carrying Fire, 1637
Jan Cossiers


he brought fire, numbers, writing, farming, medicine, divination, metallurgy, and served as protector of humans.

Ikotomi the Spider, the Trickster of the Lakota and Dakota Sioux tribes, created time and space, invented language, gave the animals their names, and, as a prophet, foretold the coming of the white man.

archetypical trickster
Artist Gertrude Spaller’s rendition of Iktomi in the story Iktomi and the Ducks.


We should keep in mind that since these contributions were bestowed upon humanity by Trickster, that there might be a Shadow side to these advances in civilization.

Trickster Archetype: Time

The Trickster is alive and well in mythic time – an era when the world and its inhabitants were very different from they are now, a time when there were animals that walked and talked as human beings do; and Trickster lurks about in historical time, when the earth is no different than today, though there may still be mythical lands where mythical beings interact with humans.


trickster archetype
Time machine concept by oreocactus
©2014-2017 oreocactus


Even in modern times the Trickster abounds, as wide ranging as Charlie Chaplin, Wile E. Coyote, Richard Nixon, and the 3 Stooges.

Trickster Archetype: Gender

The trickster is usually male.  Lewis Hyde, in his 1998 book, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art, explains that

  • Tricksters may belong to patriarchal mythologies, ones in which the prime actors, even oppositional actors, are male.

    trickster archetype
    Cartoon: Azilliondollarcomicsdotcom
  • There may be a problem with the standard itself; female tricksters may simply have been ignored.

    trickster archetype
    Morgan le Fay, female Trickster?
    Art by Sandys, Frederick
  • Perhaps the trickster stories articulate some distinction between men and women and even in a matriarchal setting this figure would be male. (p. 336)


Trickster Archetype: Native North America

Trickster, in its earliest form among North American Indians, is at one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes others and who is always duped himself.

He behaves as he does from impulses over which he has no control, possessing no values, moral or social, he is at the mercy of his passions and appetites. The others in Trickster stories possess similar traits: the animals, the various supernatural beings and monsters, and man.

Paul Radin, in The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology, tells us that

The overwhelming majority of all so-called trickster myths in North America give an account of the creation of the earth, or at least transforming of the world, and have a hero who is always wandering, who is always hungry, who is not guided by normal conceptions of good or evil, who is either playing tricks on people or having them played on him and who is highly sexed.

Almost everywhere he has some divine traits.  These vary from tribe to tribe. In some instances he is regarded as an actual deity, in others as intimately connected with deities, in still others he is at best a generalized animal or human being subject to death. (1956, p. 155)

Trickster Archetype: Coyote

While appearing both in human and animal forms in Native North America, Trickster is generally an animal with human characteristics, such as the hare, raven, spider.

It is Coyote, however, who is the classic Trickster in the Native American myths of North America, if not worldwide.  Barry Lopez (1977, p. xv), informs us that

No other personality is as old, as well known, or as widely distributed among the tribes as Coyote. He was the figure of paleolithic legend among primitive peoples the world over, and though he survives today in Eurasian and African folktales, it is among native Americans, perhaps, that his character achieves its fullest dimension.

Kimberly A. Christen (1998), in Clowns & Tricksters: An Encyclopedia of Tradition and Cultures, describes Coyote as being most recognizable by his flaws: selfish, disrespectful, glutton, at worst a murder and thief.

trickster archetype
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“The coyote shares with other tricksters a total disregard for cultural mores and laws. In order to teach young people the proper way to act, stories about the coyote often focus on greed and wrongheadedness” (p. 33).  We can see Coyote at his finest among the Lakota:

“The Lakota coyote Mica has an unending sexual appetite, he steals, and he is greedy and generally disrespectful. Mica disregards all social mores by being selfish and rude. Mica takes advantage of his friends’ wives, he steals food from his neighbors, and he lies to get whatever he wants, never working at all. Mica outwits other people using lies, tricks, and any other means possible. He challenges people, animals, and other powerful beings to contests he is sure to win; if necessary he cheats to make sure he will be victorious. (Christen, 1998, pp. 32-33)

Trickster Archetype: Its Function 

The animal aspect of the Trickster indicates a close identification with nature. Howard Norman describes the Trickster’s role in explicating the relationship of humans and the natural world:

“These tales enlighten an audience about the sacredness of life. In the naturalness of their form, they turn away from forced conclusions, they animate and enact, they shape and reshape the world” (as quoted by Erdoes & Ortiz, 1998, p. xix).

Barry Lopez (1977, pp. xvi-xvii), in Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with his Daughter: Coyote Builds North America, presents several of the Trickster’s social and psychological roles.

Lopez states that while “Coyote stories were told all over north America . . . with much laughter and guffawing and with exclamations of surprise and awe . . . the storytelling was never simply just a way to pass time.” Coyote stories

  • Detailed tribal origins;
  • emphasized a world view thought to be a correct one;
  • dramatized the value of proper behavior;
  • participating in the stories by listening to them renewed one’s sense of tribal identity;
  • the stories were a reminder of the right way to do things—so often, of course, not Coyote’s way;
  • telling Coyote stories relieved social tensions. Listeners could release anxieties through laughter, vicariously enjoying Coyote’s proscribed and irreverent behavior; and
  • Coyote’s antics thus compare with the deliberately profane behavior of Indian clowns in certain religious ceremonies. In a healthy social order, the irreverence of both clown and Coyote only serve, by contrast, to reinforce the existent moral structure.

trickster archetype

With the Trickster we experience paradoxes, if not outright contradictions, of being human.  “Coyote, part human and part animal, taking whichever shape he pleases, combines in his nature the sacredness and sinfulness, grand gestures and pettiness, strength and weakness, joy and misery, heroism and cowardice that together form the human character” (Erdoes & Ortiz, 1998, p. xiv).

trickster archetype

It is in the Trickster these combinations of qualities are recognized as being in the world, and from the Trickster we learn existential lessons as to the consequences of letting our darker side rule our lives.

Through the Trickster we can see that “Individuals have the power to recognize their shadows and in doing so, choose the better part” (Lundquist, 1991, p. 29).


Jung (1956/1969) sees the Trickster as “. . . simply the reflection of an earlier, rudimentary stage of consciousness . . .” (p. 261).

The Trickster symbol, however is not static and changes through time, with Coyote now right alongside Charlie Chaplin.

trickster archetype
Charlie Chaplin

The Trickster lets us know that there is no clear differentiation of the divine and the ordinary; that, in fact, the divine can have less than stellar qualities.

Paul Radin (1956) concludes that the Trickster

. . . became and remained everything to every man—god, animal, human being, hero, buffoon, he who was before good and evil, denier, affirmer, destroyer and creator. If we laugh at him, he grins at us. What happens to him happens to us. (p. 169)

The Trickster carries an enormous number of opposites and many of the adventures could be seen as arising from the tension that is found between these opposites.

Trickster dwells in the realm of the Shadow, but perhaps that is for our salvation. C.G. Jung (1956/1969), at the end of his essay On the Psychology of the Trickster-figure, states:

“As in its collective mythological form, so also the individual shadow contains within it the seed of an enantiodromia, of a conversion into its opposite” (p. 272).  Let the Trickster inhabit the darker side of life, while we use that force, through his stories, to bring us to the good side of life. Let us have balance by leaving evil in the realm of the gods and keeping good in the realm of humanity.



Bastian, D.E. & Mitchell, J.K. (2004), Handbook of Native American mythology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Bierhorst, J, (1985). The mythology of North America. New York, NY: William Morrow.

Bright, W. (1993). A Coyote reader. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Campbell, J. (1969). The masks of god: Primitive mythology. New York, NY: Penguin Compass.

Christen, K. A. (1998). Clowns & tricksters: An encyclopedia of tradition and culture. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Erdoes, R. & Ortiz, A. (Eds.).  (1998). American Indian trickster tales. New York, NY: Viking.

Hyde, L. (1998). Trickster makes this world: Mischief, myth and art. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Jung, C. G. (1969). On the psychology of the trickster figure. In Read, H., Fordham, M., Adler, G., & McGuire, W. (Eds.) (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.), The collected works of C. G. Jung: Vol. 9, part 1. The archetype and the collective unconscious (2nd ed., pp. 255-272). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1956)

Kirk, G.S. (1970). Myth: Its meaning & functions in ancient & other cultures. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Laffert, J.V. (Ed.) (2008). Essential visual history of world mythology. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

Leeming, D.A. (1990). The world of mythology: An anthology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Lopez, B. (1977). Giving birth to Thunder, sleeping with his daughter: Coyote builds America. New York, NY: Avon Books.

Lundquist, S. E. (1991). The Trickster: A transformation archetype. Distinguished Dissertations Series 11. San Francisco, CA: Mellen Research University Press.

Radin, P. (1956). The Trickster: A study in American Indian mythology.  New York, NY: Schocken Books.

Shipley, W. (Ed., Trans). (1991). The Maidu Indian myths and stories of Hanc’ibyjim. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books.

Vizenor, G. (1993). Trickster discourse: Comic and tragic themes in native American literature. In Lindquist, M.A. & Zanger, M. (Eds.), Buried roots and indestructible seeds: The survival of American Indian life in story, history, and spirit (pp. 67-83).  Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Asian Journals: the Allegory of American Mythologist Joseph Campbell

This Mindfunda Book review is written by Misa Tsuruta, Ph.D.

CampbellI have asked Misa, a Japanese psychologist,to write this review as she is very familiar with Western ways of thinking.Joseph Campbell, a Western man, was very familiar with the Eastern way of thinking. Usually we associate Campbell with the hero myth, but he was very aware of the differences in mythological world perspective between East and West. As a native Japanese inhabitant, Misa provides us with a unique perspective on Campbell's book.
Susanne van Doorn MSc, founder of


Campbell: Asian Journals, India and Japan

Click here to buy the book and support the good work of Mindfunda

Joseph Campbell, renowned for his mythological works, did not have a chance to visit any part of Asia until his 40s, despite his strong, continuing interests in and attraction to Asian religions and cultures. Culture is a hard substance to grasp, whether it is an attempt by the insider (native) or by the outsider (foreigner).

Asian Journals: India and Japan is an edited version of his travel logs.  It was in 1954 that he finally embarked on this journey around the world.  Before, between and after his main destinations India and Japan, he also spent short time in the Middle East, South East Asia, Hawaii and California.



Like any journey you are exposed to new cultures his was not entirely an easy one either; although he had previously idealized Indian culture through its religions and spirituality, he was so disillusioned with its anti-Americanism and “Baksheesh complex” as he called it that he sustained some sort of mental injuries for a while – until somehow they were cured in Japan.

Campbell’s Journey to Mythology

As a Japanese, I can be complimented by his implying that Japanese culture had such curative power – but to me it appears that one reason was that he finally finished working on Zimmer’s work that he grappled on for a good dozen of years.  Heinrich Zimmer was the scholar who influenced him most.  In short, he was freer in Japan.  His observation was that Japan was more open to westernization and that ancient Asian cultures were somehow better-preserved in this country.  He was rejoiced with both.

While in Japan he played with geisha, attended numerous theatrical performances (Noh, Kabuki, Bunraku, Takarazuka, among others), visited famous temples and shrines, met friends, scholars, and priests, and fiercely studied the Japanese language.

Art: Shimura Tatsumi


Perhaps thanks to his wife Jean Erdman, dancer/choreographer/professor, he had a deep perception of theatrical works.  Jean shared parts of his travel.

Joseph Campbell and Jean Erdman

In this volume you can encounter Campbell as a prolific writer/scholar and experience how he generated his ideas and organized them.  While reading you will discover many seeds for his later works.
In fact, it was through this indispensable journey that he was able to transform from a professor in comparative religion to a mythologist.

Campbell and Manto-e

One of the culminations of this journey was the visit to Todai-ji Temple in Nara, renowned for its Great Buddha of 54-foot height (Daibutsu).  Luckily he hit the very date of Manto-e, or Ten Thousand Lights Festival.

Higashi Otani Manto-e Festival (Kyoto, Japan)
Photo copyright by

Then a centennial event, according to Campbell, this festival takes place every year in our time, but not in April when he attended but in August.  I could imagine how otherworldly awe-inspiring the Great Buddha was among numerous quivering lights.

It is these unforgetable moments that make people long for coming back to the same place, or leaving for another travel… He also joined Aoi-matsuri (Aoi Festival) in Kyoto and even engaged in a fire-walking on the occasion of Shinran’s (the founder of Shinshu sect) birthday celebration.

Campbell: Asian Journals conclusion

Like many Japanese I like to hear what foreigners think of our culture and country.  In that sense I was very satisfied with his voice from some 60 years ago.

But the world he depicted was a bit foreign to me as well – the travel from Tokyo to Kyoto which takes less than 3 hours now took him some 7 hours and 20 minutes (before the advent of our bullet train Shinkansen), and he strolled in towns where streetcars were running (this method of transportation disappeared around the time I was born).

Magically cultures and traditions survive even though they somewhat change, and I am thankful that this great man of culture and spirituality had a chance or two to visit my country.

The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil

Author:  Al Ridenour
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Feral House (October 4, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1627310347
ISBN-13: 978-1627310345
Price $16.50
Reviewer:  Catherine Poloynis



Buy the book using this link and support Mindfunda

Continue reading The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil

How to Remember your Dreams

christianderikejpgToday’s Guest Blog: Remembering Dreams  is written by Christian Gerike M.A, who teaches The Psychology of Dreams  at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California.
It is Part II of a two Part series about Sleeping and Dreaming. By clicking the link you can read Part I: Sleep Well, Remembering Dream.

Continue reading How to Remember your Dreams

The Redeeming Dark

In the month of December Mindfunda will publish a series of blogs about the descent. Today’s Guest blog, written by Elaine Mansfield, is about The Redeeming Dark.

  1. The first one was about depression as descent.
  2. In the second Guest blog, Jean Raffa explored Inanna’s descent as a personal myth.
  3. The third blog will focused on the common themes found the Descent Myth of Inanna and Sleeping Beauty.
  4. This last Guest blog, written by Elaine Mansfield, will talk about Redeeming the dark.
Elaine Mansfield

Elaine Mansfield’s memoir Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief (2014) won the 2015 Gold Medal IPPY Award (Independent Publisher’s Book Awards) in the category Aging, Death, and Dying. Elaine has been a student of Carl Jung since 1970 and has studied mythology for thirty years. She writes for hospice, facilitates bereavement support groups, and gives workshops and presentations. She gave a TEDx talk called “Good Grief! What I Learned from Loss.” She also writes a weekly blog about the adventures and lessons of life and loss. To learn more about Elaine’s work, please visit her website. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Listening in the dark

“From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below.” 1

The descent of the Goddess begins with listening. Inanna, the Listener, is the Great Goddess of Heaven and Earth (~3500 – 2500 BC, Sumeria/Mesopotamia). Her story is the oldest written goddess myth, and what a goddess she is: Erotic, wise, powerful, conniving, loving, fierce, courageous, and ruthless.

Inanna, Burney Relief (Flicker—creative commons photo) 1800 BC, British Museum

In the Sumerian language, the word for ear also means wisdom. Inanna is called to listen to the Great Below because, despite her many powers, she lacks something. Without knowledge of mortality and unconscious realms, she is not whole. Without some relationship with inner depths and darkness, we are helpless when faced with forces beyond our ego’s control.

When my husband Vic was diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2006, I knew I had to listen. I bought a new notebook and recorded our experiences from medical to psychological, from hope to anguish, from spiritual peaks to deep despair. As Vic neared the threshold, I wrote and reflected at his bedside. I wanted to remember. I wanted meaning. It was my job to remain in the Day World or the Great Above. Vic needed me to be conscious and competent, just as Inanna needed her trusted female advisor Ninshubur to witness her descent and call for help.

After Vic’s death, exhausted and filled with disbelief, I faced a new descent. Grief, Death’s companion, became my new teacher.

In the descent myth, Inanna tells the gatekeeper to the Great Below or Underworld that she wishes to attend the funeral of the Great Bull of Heaven, Ereshkigal’s husband. Ereshkigal is the Underworld Death Goddess and Inanna’s Dark Sister. Inanna intends to witness a death, not face her own. That was my plan, too…

Inanna arrives in full queenly regalia at the gates of the Great Below. I had arrived in the oncologist’s office with my notebook, my numbered list of questions, my suggestions, and my fierce resolve. My mission to save my husband succeeded—until it failed. When Death won, my personal descent began.

As Inanna passes through each of the seven gates on her way to the Great Below, she is stripped of a garment symbolic of her power. For example:

When she (Inanna) entered the first gate,

From her head, … the crown of the steppe, was removed.

Inanna asked: “What is this?”

She was told: “Be quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect. They may not be questioned.” 2

Hadn’t I given up enough? I thought when the stripping began. Apparently not. As long as my husband lived, I retained position in the world and community. I had a job to do.

Inanna worship/ Bringing Gifts to Inanna, c. 3100-2899 B.C., Hirmer Verlag, Munich (Wolkstein/Kramer, p. 105)

With his death, I lost my role as wife and partner in a deeply satisfying relationship. I was demoted to widow, a social label for the scorned and abandoned feminine. I had been a women’s health counselor, but lost my own motivation. My erotic life disappeared—not only sexual, but daily intimacy with someone I loved. I lost my sense of proportion and could no longer measure where I was in life. My notebook felt useless. My ego and persona crumbled. I was stuck in grief. Like Inanna, I was “naked and laid low.”

When Inanna reaches the Great Belowshe steps toward her sister’s throne. For this last remnant of pride, she is condemned by the Eye of Death and Eye of Wrath. She is pronounced guilty for refusing to honor a power greater than her own. Then, Inanna is hung on a hook. Dead. In this startling image, day world abilities are useless in the face of the Destructive Dark.

So there they are, stuck in the Great Below. Ereshkigal cries out in rage and pain. Inanna hangs on her hook. All is dark depression and stasis. Nothing moves. There is no hope.

Door to the Underworld, 1600 BC, Louvre (Wolkstein/Kramer, p. 55)

Is there a divine force that can save Inanna and us? Ninshubur, Inanna’s trusted and grieving advisor, sends for help. Enki, the God of Wisdom creates two small mourners from the dirt under his fingernails. These seemingly insignificant mourners have one skill: empathy. They see the suffering of Ereshkigal and mirror her cries.

“Oh! Oh! My inside!” 

“Oh! Oh! Your inside!” 

“Oh! Oh! My outside!” 

“Oh! Oh! Your outside!….” 3

The mourners provide compassionate witnessing in a long call and response. As it does in therapy or close friendship, empathy creates a miracle of transformation. Ask the Dalai Lama what power is equal to Wisdom. He’ll say Compassion.

Ereshkigal, the neglected, unloved, and shunned, grieves for her husband, but we now learn that she is also crying out from the pain of giving birth. Within the deep darkness, something new is being born. Perhaps Inanna. Perhaps you and me.

Ereshkigal asked (the mourners):

Who are you,

Moaning—groaning—sighing with me?

If you are gods, I will bless you.

If you are mortals, I will give you a gift. 4

They don’t want all the riches and resources of the world. They want the corpse which they sprinkle with the water and food of life.

A sliver of light has penetrated the Dark and released new energy. Birth will follow darkness. Seeds quicken after Winter Solstice. Light returns. The Goddess of Heaven and Earth rises and the cycle continues.

As Inanna ascends, there are complications. Aren’t there always? Demons cling to her and demand more sacrifice to appease the judges of the Great Below. We learn that another cyclic round is always waiting in Feminine Realms. There is no end to death and trauma, but there is also no end to compassion and rebirth.

Inanna with date palm, c. 2400 B.C. Staatliche Museum, Berlin (Wolkstein/Kramer, p. ii)


I returned to life, wild and humbled, displaced and dismantled. I wept uncontrollably about my fate, even though I knew loss was everyone’s destiny. My forest, the kind mirroring of those who witnessed me, and a search for meaning were my water and food of life. I bowed to Inanna’s wisdom and Ereshkigal’s necessity knowing that death and destruction fuel a new cycle of life.

We descend, not because we want to, but because we must. Descent is an integral part of the Great Feminine Round of Life and Death. We are mortal. We are vulnerable. We live in a world of catastrophe and chaos, personal loss and social threat. We are thrown down. We are helped up. Miraculously, we find our way to life again.


1. Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth, Harper and Row, 1983, p. 52.

2. Ibid, p. 57.

3. Ibid, p. 65.

4. Ibid, p. 66.


What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.

(Ready for more free Mindfunda content on ‘#MYTHOLOGY‘?

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Healing and Breakthroughs with Archetypes, Art, & Poetry

Several years ago I had a chance to get a tarot reading from Sherry Puricelli. It gave the dream that I discussed with her so much more meaning. It was a dream that bothered me a bit because in my dream I could not get forward. And after Sherry had guided me by asking questions and consulting the tarot I really felt that the message of the dream was something that I needed to hear at that time in my life. Besides being a very good dream coach Sherry also writes moving poems. I am so glad she decided to bring all the goodness she has to offer in this guest blog for Mindfunda.
Sherry Puricelli
Sherry Puricelli, MHA, M.Div. is a Dream Coach and owner of AwakeNDream, LLC. in Madison, Connecticut. She specializes in empowering individuals to recognize and activate archetypal themes to aid in personal healing and breakthroughs. She facilitates specialized retreats, workshops, group and individual sessions. Sherry is the IASD Regional Representative for Connecticut.



Healing: recognizing archetypes

I’ve heard it said that life can break us or we can break through. Well, I’ve found a tool that helps me break through. Being a dreamer, noticing archetypal themes has always come naturally to me. Over time, I began to perceive repetition and overlap between my dreams, my waking life, and my meditations  / contemplations. I observed that archetypal themes seem to weave in and out of my life or I weave in and out of the archetypal themes or perhaps it’s both. At any rate, I can’t imagine my life without the enrichment, healing, and breakthroughs I’ve experienced by recognizing and living deeply profound themes.

Archetypal themes have even more power when I express them artistically. The creative process forces me to slow down so I don’t just skim the surface. Instead, I plunge right in, living and breathing the archetypes. I’ve noticed that each archetypal theme has an inherent challenge, so I attempt to stay with it until I’ve gotten through that challenge, all the way through it, so I can reflect and absorb the insights and lessons learned. I appreciate that each archetypal theme has gifts, lessons, and new awareness.

Healing and poems

As I participate in the creative process, I’m taken to a whole new level. The theme becomes multi-sensory, visceral, and I feel it in my bones. When I create the digital art, I attempt to include at least one photo of an image present when I was experiencing the archetypal theme. I imagine that the energy is real, it’s tangible, living and breathing. If this hypothesis is true, the digital image carries that actual energy, so the person seeing it has the opportunity to experience the energy of the breakthrough and to hold that breakthrough energy in his/her hands.

And what if there’s more? I love poetry. I write poetry for each of the archetypal themes as I’m experiencing it. The magic of poetry is that it helps me deeply feel the emotional content of the archetypal theme. When I write the poetry I attempt to embody each of the predominant emotions I felt as I was experiencing the archetypal theme in my dreams and waking life synchronicities. I ascertain that poetry carries the energy blueprint of the emotional breakthrough.

Used together, with art and poetry, imagine the possibilities. If we’re in need of healing, we hold healing energy in our hands, we work with it, we sleep with it, we dream with it, and we meditate with it as needed until our energy has shifted.

In the meantime, our senses are heightened, we experience life more fully, and we see the many connections and patterns in our lives. This mindset opens us up to choice. We are not victims of circumstance when we recognize and utilize our choices. We’re empowered to boldly engage in the life we make for ourselves. We hold the power to heal. We hold the power to break through.

Enjoy the Healing power of “Mother

copyright Sherry Puricelli

Mother of cycles, 
you are eternal Home to me; 
sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers,
you’re there for me, always – no matter how far away I fly;
Mother Mary, Mother Earth, Mother of Galaxies, 
Mother in my dreams,
you continually cycle back to me…
bringing me home, dancing me home, singing me home, 
with empathy, painted – with colorful drops of Mother.

When I can’t keep up,
or cannot make the climb, you are the charger of my soul;
when I fall,
you bleed, and reveal your scar so I can learn self-healing;
when I lay broken,
you show me flowers that broke open too,
erupting into gardens of inner beauty;
whenever I call,
Mother in my dreams,
you continually cycle back to me…
bringing me home, dancing me home, singing me home,
with empathy, painted – with colorful drops of Gaia.

When my heart is heavy,
you carry my sorrows and you become my rock;
when I’m missing you,
I hear your lullaby in the mourning doves’ cry;
when I am lost,
your evening star twinkles my inspiration trail;
when I lack faith,
you are my monument, my altar, my prayer,
so I can rediscover my inner temple.
Mother in my dreams,
you continually cycle back to me..
bringing me home, dancing me home, singing me home,
with empathy, painted – with colorful drops of Mary.

Mother of cycles,
you are eternal Home to me;
in the theatre of our mutual dream,
I have buried your key;
we’re dancing rainbows
in timeless time,
spaceless space,
and deathless death;
you’ve been with me always,
since before my first lullaby,
and after my last step.

I am Mother in my dreams,
continually cycling back …
bringing me home, dancing me home, singing me home,
with empathy, painted – with colorful drops of Me.

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Must an Artist Struggle?

Today's Mindfunda is written by Brenda Ferrimani. Brenda began her artistic work in the 1980’s. She was President of the Berthoud Arts and Humanities Alliance, an organization dedicated to promote local artists and to provide art in public places. In 2000 she was invited to be the attending artist to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. In 2007 her painting “Fall Into Fear” was awarded a Nancy Richter Briezki Dream Art Award, at the IASD’s conference at Sonoma University, CA. As a successful artist who tapped deep into the creative sources of creation Brenda asks us all today: "Is struggle a good thing?"

Today’s Blogger on Midfunda is succesful artist Brenda Ferrimani.

Brenda Ferrimani

She has an intruiging question to ask: Is struggle a good thing? All of us strive to happiness. We teach ourselves to cope with the difficulties of life by acceptence, compromise and coping. But what if you dive into your sruggles and let them lead you to creativity? Brenda explaines:

“Artists struggle for integrity”, “Artists struggle for success”, “Artists struggle to be original”, “Artist struggle to transcend pain” – All quotes I found when I googled “Artists struggle.” – Yes! ARTISTS DO STRUGGLE! My life and work as a Dream Artist is a testament to this painful but glorious truth. Sometimes when people ask me how my life is I often remark, “It’s the Agony and the Ecstasy!” (You may remember the famous movie staring Charleton Heston, as Michelangelo, with the same title.) As your guest blogger, I would like to initiate a discussion around the question, “Is struggle a good thing?”

I believe inner demons, and outer antagonists are sometimes just what we need to overcome complacency, and to transcend self imposed limits toward new heights and new realities.
The subject has been in front of my mind recently, inspired by watching the independent film “Whiplash,” at the behest of my musician son, which opened an intense discussion at my house. This film is about a young musician who encounters brutal opposition from one of his admired professors in music school. The film was hard to watch, at times, because I resonated so much with the pain of the young artist, so eager to please his abusive mentor, and and so wanting to be perfect (click here to see the film).


The movie is very dream like, especially the surprise ending, where the young hero finds himself in a nightmare, on stage in front of hundreds of critics, and his music sheets can not be found. The band had been cued up to play music he was not prepared to play. Just when he’s about to give up in total humiliation, he seems to become lucid. He reverses the dreaded outcome by turning and facing his abuser. He has a breakthrough on stage, a triumphant moment of courage and innovation, giving a brilliant performance (click here to see the film) at last!

While the movie made me abhor ego filled, demon driven people of authority, who always think they are being tough on you to help you succeed, it also made me reflect on my own past with a new feeling of gratefulness. Perhaps my strict, and often cruel father, the religious cult I was part of, the endless conditioning to suppress my creativity, all ignited in me a life-changing, life-affirming push toward self expression! Naturally my dream life has reflected my struggles and the artwork I have created thus far, seems to chronicle this.

My first dream painting, “Expansion” (painted in 1997- my first dream painting), marks a period in my life where I felt a great “inner struggle” to be free to express my visions. It is a composite of many nightmares about flying and being pulled down.

Brenda Ferrimani
Followed by the painting “Beauty’s Challenge” (2001). At this time my psyche was giving me a “kick in the pants” to stop living inside myself, being too safe and comfortable. I had a series of dreams about women inside beautiful houses who were being forced out. 
Beauty’s Challenge Brenda Ferrimani
“Soul Tree” expresses a soul contract for growth, with all the pushing that requires, and life lessons leading to the fullest expression of what was contained in the seed at birth:
Soul Tree
Brenda Ferrimani
In my self portrait, “Dark Night” the struggle of the artist is visible. You can see how the outer antagonists of my life have become inner voices to torment me:
Dark Night
Brenda Ferrimani
“I am Salmon” retells a dream where in Spirit renames me and says to me directly, “You are Salmon because you try so hard and through your struggles new creation is born”.
This new name connects me to all other struggling artists who have to fight their way upstream to give birth to their creations:
I Am Salmon
Brenda Ferrimani
And here is “Whale Speaks” where the huge explorer of the depths delivers a speech on camera, for Earth’s inhabitants, and says he’s “been pushing against Christianity” in order to bring his message. The painting reflects a painful journey, a struggle to understand and share something relevant to being human on one planet, that could heal the destruction caused by religious supremacy, and conflict:
Whale Speaks
Brenda Ferrimani
As an artist I have been aided by purely instinctual forces inside me, that are keen on survival. I know deeply the struggle that birthing anything authentic, soulful, and revolutionary brings. But that’s the beauty of it!  I leave you with these lyrics, I love from, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”… “But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight — Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.” (Bruce Cockburn)”

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What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Spirifunda:
psychology for everyday with a spiritual layer of meaning, searching for the soul. Our brains are wired for believe in magic. In a world filled with rationality, you sometimes need a little magic, a little “I wonder why”. Synchronicity, the insights of Carl Jung, the mythology used by Freud, the archetypical layers in the Tarot, the wisdom of the I Tjing, Shamanism, the oldest religion of humanity, all that information gets published in the Spirifunda section of Mindfunda.

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