Trickster tactics: from archetype to evolution

The minute the builders of the Titanic announced that it was “unsinkable” the Trickster yawned and stretched and looked around for an iceberg
Jeremy Taylor

The Living Labyrinth
Jeremy Taylor
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The Trickster is well known in stories and dreams. In his book “The Living Labyrinth” Jeremy Taylor explaines that the Trickster is an archetypical energy.
“The primary symptom of the negative (Shadow) aspect of the archetypical Trickster is the failure of imagination” he goes on the write. So when you find yourself in a situation in which you are treated with arrogance, in a condenscending way you know there is a Trickster aspect emerging.
It could be your own aragonce and condenscending behavior as well. Many times in dreams as in waking live you are your own Trickster. Jeremy explaines that “the failure of imagination, the onset of Murphy’s law” are two examples of Trickster energy manifesting in society. With the Titanic expamle as significant example.

You useally feel humiliated in a dream where you meet the Trickster. He might be an animal like the raven, rabbit, spider, or the snake are famous manifestations of the Trickster energy in your dream. I remember in a dream I was being bitten by the spider, rather hard. It was really aching in my ear. It was like the Trickster energy needed to pull me back into the animal form of being that I am. To ensure that I remember that I am just a human being. A hairless ape.

David Williams in his book The Trickster Brain goes beyond the archetypical motive that Jeremy Taylor and others attribute to the Trickster. He states that the Trickster rises out of our evolutionary past making his way continually into the language of our lives because we are wired that way.

The Trickster brain
David Williams
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Each time in a situation that we are not completely aware of facts this pattern gets engraved in our brains. This path becomes hereditary because the genes of the people who live long enough to procreate survive.

Neuroscientist Robert Kurzban in Why everyone (Else) is a hypocrite: Evolution and the modular mind says: ” In normal brains different modules might or might not be hooked up to one another, and when they are not, information doesn’t move from one module to another”. So that explains in part why you feel so ignorant in your life and dreams while you experience a Trickster situation. Your brain actually has no clue how to access information to solve this problem. And remember how a great part of dreaming is dedicated to finding new solutions to problems? (for example the research  by Sara Mednick).

It is even worse than that. The brain, according to David Linden of John Hopkins is “a robbed-together mess… quirky, inefficient, and bizarre… not an optimized, generic problem solving machine but rather a weird agglomeration of ad hoc solutions that accumulated throughout millions of years of evolutionary history. But THIS is the point where the spark gets lightened. In languages, argues Williams, Memes, the elements of culture such as words, stories and ideas also change over time like genes do. Stories of value are of paramount importance to our species, and Trickster stories always concern themselves with values and ethics.

The Trickster as sexual being, the Trickster in music: the musician as seducer, mythology, religion, there is a lot of valuable information in The Trickster Brain from David Williams. A word of criticism might be that the neurological component of the book is very lightweight. No chapter is dedicated to the brain, to explaining what part of the brain can be attributed to a typical Trickster behavior. But I  became wiser after reading it. The trickster is imminent when you do not know. And in that moment of ignorance and despair lies creativity. Like in the story of Inside Out I talked about yesterday: Joy needs Shadow. Trickster needs consciousness. So whenever you encounter such a situation: search for the light you can shine on the situation and don’t be affraid to laugh about yourself.

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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.

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