Trickster Times

A fascinating interpretation from Sharon Blackie

“Right now, we’re living in Trickster Times. Because when civilisations start to become moribund; when social, economic and political systems stagnate, and empires become degenerate and unresponsive to the needs of the people, in walks Trickster to shake it all up. Trickster is the catalyst, the disruptor who sparks off the tearing down of the old order. In the story we’re living through today, Trickster is the one who undermines the élitist establishment which refuses to be held accountable to the people it’s supposed to serve. Lewis Hyde, in his wonderful book Trickster Makes the World, argued that Trickster is the archetypal disruptive intelligence which all cultures need if they are to remain lively, flexible, and open to change. But that change is always an alarming process, and one in which there are no guarantees: what follows might not be better.”

She goes on to describe the various characters involved in the Brexit scenario – and Trump – as familiar characters from myth and fable, Coyote, Brer Rabbit, and Loki – Farage as Loki “the amoral, often malevolent Trickster of Norse mythology, who wants nothing less than Ragnarök, the downfall of the gods and the end of the world as we know it. Think then of Nigel Farrage, all hail-fellow-well-met joviality, a message of hate lurking behind the painted-on benign grin and the promise of victory for ‘ordinary, decent people’.”

She goes on “I believe that the Trickster we get is often, in Jungian terms, a reflection of the cultural Shadow. ‘The shadow is anything we are sure we are not; it is part of us we do not know, sometimes do not want to know, most times do not want to know. We can hardly bear to look.’ So writes Jungian analyst Marion Woodman”

“Facing and integrating the Shadow is a necessary part of what Jung called individuation: the lifelong process of psychological integration, as the individual strives to become whole.

As for the person, so for the culture. Identify the contemporary Trickster(s), and you’ll discover the nature of the contemporary cultural Shadow. It’s anger, hate, alienation, xenophobia, a retreat into insularity, a buttressing of the barricades. We all see it, and we all fear it. The state of affairs faced now by the people of the UK (and also in the USA, with the emergence of Trickster Trump) is a consequence of generations of politicians refusing to listen to and respond to the concerns of the people they’re supposed to represent. What isn’t acknowledged goes underground, becomes Shadow.

But here’s the thing about the Shadow, and it’s critical to understand this if you want what follows to be better than what came before: it’s no good berating the Shadow, shouting it down, calling it names, telling it it’s bad. The cultural Shadow is part of who we are, and we all have to take responsibility for it. You can’t do moral high ground with the Shadow. The Shadow is ourselves. Refuse the Shadow, and you’ll never be whole.

The beginning of the long, hard work of integrating the Shadow is listening to it, not abusing it. Lash out at the Shadow, as waves of so-called ‘progressives’ are now doing throughout the UK; refuse its right to have a voice – and it will turn round and bite you in the throat. You can’t kill the Shadow. The Shadow is you.

We might not have chosen these particular Tricksters, but now we have them. What follows from their particular brand of disruption might not be better than what came before – but it might be. It’s all down to us. It’s all down to the way we respond to and integrate that cultural Shadow.”


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