What is the Soul? – Part 7 – What the Trickster Can Teach Us about Us

I’ve titled this series “What is the Soul?” but, at heart, the whole series is based on the question, “How does a disembodied existence [the presumed soul] feel about / adjust to / come to terms with an embodied existence?”

In last week’s post, we discussed the Hero and the Trickster as split-personality projections of the soul. We considered that the Hero could be a projection of what the soul wishes for itself out of incarnation and the Trickster could be a projection of how the soul actually feels about dealing with incarnated life.

In this final post of the series, we look at what we can learn at a deep soul-level, by understanding and embracing the character of the Trickster. One day I hope to write a book about the Trickster and the Soul. For now, this series and this post are the distilled version.

Lesson #1 Engage with your dirt

It may seem like a stretch to associate the Trickster with ‘dirt,’ but the Trickster has a close association with the gut and hunger as discussed in the post Trickster Makes this Road.   Lewis Hyde, author of Trickster Makes this World notes that, “‘dirt’ washed from the dishes was ‘food’ not long ago and we sat around putting it in our mouths.” (Loc 3072)

It is an important lesson that the very things that nourish us as food, in excess or not-well maintained can themselves become dirt-like. Old food goes to rot. And yet, dirt, itself, can be tremendously nourishing.

Further, Trickster is associated with hunger, hunting, eating, food, digestion, and also defecation. Is there anything we consider dirtier, really, than poop?

Engaging with our ‘dirt’ on a metaphorical level allows us to see ourselves in a morally complex way. We need to be willing to look at the unsavory parts of our character with a compassionate but unflinching eye. Acknowledging our shortcomings is not a weakness, but a strength. The real value comes from seeing our real dirt which is often not what we think. Finding the deep dirt that gets in our way takes self-reflection, attention, and hard work.

Even more, we need to be able to look at the qualities we think of as strengths for ourselves and be willing to see the dirty aspects of those as well. If I’m honest am I a ‘straight-shooter’ with whom you ‘always know where you stand’ or am I ‘rude’ and opinionated’? If I’m constantly going out of my way to help people am I a ‘selfless, people person’ or a ‘weakness enabler’ secretly seeking to gratify my own inner desire to feel needed?

Only when we can see the negative aspects of what we consider our strengths and positive qualities and recognize that even those qualities may have unintended impacts on those around us – can we transform ourselves into something new.

Lesson #2 Recognize Opportunity

Trickster is associated with the ‘lucky find.’ In the Homeric Hymn of Hermes, Hermes finds a turtle outside his cave and turns it into a lyre with which he charms Apollo. Perhaps any number of others would have let the turtle walk away without seeing what it could become;[1] But Hermes, the Trickster, recognized the opportunity and ‘seized’ it.

We often unintentionally block our own opportunities in life. We may not even recognize opportunities when they walk across our path. Several weeks ago I wrote a post on “allowing,” a concept that applies well here. We can become so attached to a particular outcome or path forward that we close our minds and hearts to other possibilities.

There is an excellent quote from the Alchemist, “..when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” This is true. However, there are two complicating factors; one is that we don’t always know what we really want. Deep down we may want something general (love, fulfillment, self-worth), but we attach it to something specific. Thus, when the Universe shows up with a perfect solution to our heart’s desire – we don’t even see it.

The Trickster encourages us to take a wider view of our situation when we are looking for solutions, opportunities, and answers. We may sometimes need to go in a direction that seems like the opposite of where we want to go to end up where we want to be.

Lesson # 3 – Truth May Not Be Relative, But It Isn’t Absolute Either

It is perhaps his association with lying that earns the Trickster the lion-share of his bad reputation. However, it would be a great misunderstanding to limit the Trickster’s association with communication to lying.

Hermes’ gift of language is to be ‘clever-tongued’ or ‘tricky with the oath’.  Coyote often secures his prey with a ‘trick.’ It is rarely an outright lie, but instead a type of verbal maneuvering that trips up those who aren’t paying attention.

To truly understand the Trickster’s association with communication, let’s reflect on how this aspect of the Trickster relates to our overall discussion of the difference between the embodied and disembodied existence. According to the Newton dialogues, in an energetic ‘soul-state’ communication happens via a type of telepathy. Essentially, in such a state there is no difference between thought and speech.

From one quote, “It is impossible to hide anything” in the disembodied state.

So while in some ways we are less vulnerable in an energetic state – free from fear of death, pain, loss, hunger, strife, etc. In terms of our personal weaknesses we are actually more vulnerable – our soul wounds and flaws are essentially visible for all to see.

Contrast that with the embodied state where we find an incredible amount of complexity between what we think and feel and how we might actually express that in words. If the Newton dialogues are to be believed, lying only becomes possible in the embodied state. Despite all the vulnerabilities of the human body, as humans, we actually are able to hide the vulnerabilities of our soul.

Noting that difference – Trickster’s association with communication (and, yes, lying) aligns very well with the interpretation of Trickster as a divine representation of humanity. And perhaps – if you can allow that that interpretation might be true – it helps you understand Trickster’s association with lying, and by extension our human relationship with communication, with a more heart-felt compassion.

Understanding this about the Trickster and then holding up the mirror to ourselves, the lesson here is to explore our own relationship with communication. Is there a giant gulf between what we feel and what we speak? Do our emotions sneak out in snarky comments or loaded questions?

If we allow it, the Trickster can teach us about both cleverly and effectively crafting our own communication and listening for the truth in others speech.

I had hoped to make this my last post in this series, but the last lesson I want to cover on the blog is simply too big to ‘tack on’ to this post after all I’ve written about the first three, therefore I will cover it in it’s own post next week…which should be the last one.

 

Footnotes

[1] of course, that future was fairly negative as far as the turtle was concerned – but implementing true inspiration often requires transformation and some sortof sacrifice.

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