Don’t worry. I’m not the trickster type. But many spirit animals are!
The Trickster archetype pops up everywhere, from folk tales of the world to our own lives. Often shapeshifters, Trickster characters delight in breaking the rules, creating chaos and generally shaking things up.
In many storytelling traditions, animals take on the Trickster role. Common Trickster animals include Fox (such as Reynard the Fox and the Japanese kitsune), Coyote (a well known Trickster character from Native American folklore), Wolf, Spider (e.g. the traditional African character Anansi the Spider), Rabbit or Hare (think Brer Rabbit and Bugs Bunny), and Raven.
The Trickster operates outside the rules and can really turn life upside down. While Tricksters can be highly entertaining and are often well-loved for their tricks and mischief, they have no boundaries and can be downright malicious at times.
Despite this, the Trickster has an important role to play. Tricksters show up when we become complacent, stuck in a rut, or when we are not operating in alignment with our higher selves. They also remind us that all is not always as it seems.
The chaos they bring helps to break up stuck patterns. At its extreme it can be lethal – especially for those who continue to resist. However, Trickster encounters can actually be extremely positive, even when they are painful. They can serve to shock us out of unhealthy patterns of being, if we are flexible enough to recognize and respond to Trickster energy for what it is. When that happens, the Trickster himself may end up the victim of his own cleverness, as in this tale of Anansi the Spider.
If you find yourself beset with misfortune, or if you feel like every time you start to make progress, something happens to set you back, Trickster may be at play. Trickster energy is exceptionally fluid, and opposites attract, so look for areas of rigid thinking or entrenched beliefs. (Often these will be deeply buried fears.)
In the spirit animal world, our shadow totems can sometimes appear as Trickster animals. If an animal comes into your life that is exceptionally pesky or troublesome, it may represent a part of you that hasn’t been allowed full expression or release.
One of the best antidotes to Trickster energy is to laugh! Laughter reveals the Trickster for what he is and brings his tricks out into the light. It often will also work to dissolve the underlying stuck energy that attracted him in the first place.