A Trickster, within many mythologies, and in the study of folklore and religion, is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior, undermining the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously but usually, albeit unintentionally, with ultimately positive or complexly mysterious or magical effects, the consequences of which are often difficult to assess. Some trickster figures are skilled in allowing the malicious, deceitful, or even the naïvely innocent to torment or burden them in extreme ways which they easily or casually surmount, to then become frightening or terrifying figures as they request or demand just recompense for burdens borne, to the detriment, doom or extreme humiliation of others. Outside of mythologies, the term trickster is used for anyone who often tricks others, in either good-humored or malicious ways.
- I can't help liking old Sunday. No, it's not an admiration of force, or any silly thing like that. There is a kind of gaiety in the thing, as if he were bursting with some good news. Haven't you sometimes felt it on a spring day? You know Nature plays tricks, but somehow that day proves they are good-natured tricks. I never read the Bible myself, but that part they laugh at is literal truth, 'Why leap ye, ye high hills?' The hills do leap — at least, they try to.... Why do I like Sunday?... how can I tell you?... because he's such a Bounder."
- G. K. Chesterton, writing of God as a trickster promoting anarchist plots in The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), Ch. XIV : The Six Philosophers
- The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army is looking for fools and rebels, radicals and rascals, tricksters and traitors, mutineers and malcontents to join its ranks.
You could be part of a fighting force armed with ruthless love and fully trained in the ancient art of clowning and non-violent direct action. You could learn ingeniously stupid tactics that baffle the powerful. You could uncover your inner clown and discover the subversive freedom of fooling.
You don't need to like clowns or soldiers, you just need to love life and laughter as much as rebellion.
- CIRCA aims to make clowning dangerous again, to bring it back to the street, restore its disobedience and give it back the social function it once had: its ability to disrupt, critique and heal society. Since the beginning of time tricksters (the mythological origin of all clowns) have embraced life's paradoxes, creating coherence through confusion — adding disorder to the world in order to expose its lies and speak the truth.
- CIRCA site page : Rebel Clowning : What is it?
- "To which god must I sacrifice in order to heal?" To which of the warring serpents should I turn with the problem that now faces me?
It is easy, and tempting, to choose the god of Science. Now I would not for a moment have you suppose that I am one of those idiots who scorns Science, merely because it is always twisting and turning, and sometimes shedding its skin, like the serpent that is its symbol. It is a powerful god indeed but it is what the students of ancient gods called a shape-shifter, and sometimes a trickster.
- Robertson Davies, in Can a Doctor Be a Humanist? (1984)
- Parting your soup is not a miracle, Bruce, it's a magic trick. A single mom who's working two jobs, and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice, that's a miracle. A teenager who says no to drugs and yes to an education, that's a miracle. People want Me to do everything for them, but what they don't realize is, they have the power. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.
- Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, and Steve Oedekerk, in lines written for God as a trickster, in Bruce Almighty (2003)
- Leary was different things to different people. He was reviled. He was revered. He was a prophet. He was a phony. He was a brilliant, innovative thinker. He was a fool. He captured the irreverent, rebellious spirit of the sixties. He was a fame-seeking, manipulative con artist. Who was he? Perhaps The Trickster said it best when he quipped, “You get the Timothy Leary you deserve.”
- Don Lattin, The Harvard Psychedelic Club (2010), p. 204
- With a flourish, she completed the latest sentence she had been working on. He tilted his head and sidled closer in order to decipher the glyphs she had inscribed. They read: The trickster, the riddler, the keeper of balance, he of the many faces who finds life in death and who fears no evil; he who walks through doors.
- Christopher Paolini, in Brisingr (2008)
- They're all the same, really, these groups — they prey on the most lonely, vulnerable people they can find, cage you with your own mind through guilt and fear, cut you off from everyone you knew before, and when they're done doing that, they don't need armed guards to keep you. You're afraid that if you leave, your parents will die, you will die, your life will be ruined. Flim-flam men, pimps, sharpsters — that's what they are. Liars. Tricksters. It's been the same ever since Eve got the apple, and I doubt it will ever change. A real religion is truthful, you can come or go from it if you wish. And most importantly, there is no one leader claiming he is a god. Big, big difference.
- The Trickster represents the quality of randomness and chance in the universe, without which there could be no freedom. In the Craft the Goddess is not omnipotent. The cosmos is interesting rather than perfect, and everything is not part of some greater plan, nor is all necessarily under control. Understanding this keeps us humble, able to admit that we cannot know or control or define everything.
- Starhawk, in The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess (1979), p. 231
- As technology became more important, the Trickster underwent a shift in character and became the god of crafts — of technology, if you will — while retaining the underlying roguish qualities. So we have the Sumerian Enki, the Greek Prometheus and Hermes, Norse Loki, and so on.
- Neal Stephenson, in The Diamond Age (1995), Part the First
- The critics seem like the legendary blind philosophers who each touching the creature in a different place, bring back conflicting reports of what an elephant is. … I would like to suggest, with no pretensions to being any less blind than the others, that a key to these contradictions may be found in what appears to be the image in terms which Farmer most often presents himself as an artist, the trickster god. … Farmer seems to have a special affinity for Trickster.
- Thomas Lee Wymer, on interpreters of Philip José Farmer 's works, in "Philip José Farmer : The Trickster as Artist", in Voices for the Future, Vol. 2 (1979), edited by Thomas D. Clareson, p. 35
- My faith in human dignity consists in the belief that man is the greatest scamp on earth. Human dignity must be associated with the idea of a scamp and not with that of an obedient, disciplined and regimented soldier.
- Lin Yutang, in The Importance of Living (1937), Ch. I : The Awakening
- I am doing my best to glorify the scamp or vagabond. I hope I shall succeed. For things are not so simple as they sometimes seem. In this present age of threats to democracy and individual liberty, probably only the scamp and the spirit of the scamp alone will save us from being lost in serially numbered units in the masses of disciplined, obedient, regimented and uniformed coolies. The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships. He will be the champion of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered. All modern civilization depends entirely upon him.
- Lin Yutang, in The Importance of Living (1937), Ch. I : The Awakening
- How The Leopard Got His Spots - a trickster tale appropriated by Rudyard Kipling
- Joel Chandler Harris and the Uncle Remus Collection