“A picture in bright reds and yellows is of a smiling twinkle-eyed Harlequin with his typical gold-stuccoed, triangular hat,” is how artist Tammo de Jongh described his Joker archetype, commonly known as the Trickster.
Archetypes are multivalent fields of information that exist in tandem in the human psyche and the Collective Unconscious. They count upon reflexivity to acquire meaning. This is to say they reflect nuanced attributes and values to whomever mirrors them. Archetypes are psychological chameleons. Getting your head around the Trickster archetype, for example, can be like fumbling your way through a hall of mirrors. The Trickster is elusive, cunning, deceitful, wise and bizarre.
Trickster, joker and jester archetypes are known as liminal figures; they exist in the margins, the numerous betwixt and betweens experienced in life. It’s the Trickster’s role to jump boundaries and expose inconvenient truths in hope of changing perspective. He is the pin that pricks the bloated balloons of ignorance and delusion, thereby advancing understanding, individually and collectively, and evolving consciousness; awakening new truths.
It ain’t often pretty. Take the recent U.S. election for example, which has Trickster markings all over it. Manifestations of the Trickster, “generate ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty; they provoke feelings of unease, worry, and even paranoia,” noted George P. Hanson in his book, The Trickster and the Paranormal. Hanson is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
There are other familiar examples of the Trickster in history. Quick-witted Will Sommers, who was King Henry VIII’s personal fool or court jester, said outrageous things to the king that no other members of the court would dare say and expect to keep their heads. The trickster has a knack for imparting wisdom and challenging the status quo. He is the quintessential agent of change.
We recently celebrated Guy Fawkes Day. You recall: “Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and plot. I can think of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” The phenomenal Guy Fawkes’ mask art (above) is by Alex Grey. Fawkes indirectly inspired the movie V for Vendetta as well as the Occupy and Anonymous movements that challenged government tyranny.
Many believe the gunpowder plot to blow up parliament was a false flag operation, and that Fawkes along with his co-conspirators were mere patsies. Tricksters often blur distinction between good guy and bad guy. Eventually, history chooses a narrative – the narrative intended by the trickster all along.
Chrysalis is filled with trickster magic. It is imbued in cards such as the Ravens, The Corsair, Kali, Three of Mirrors, The Illusionist and, of course, Merlin and Morgan Le Fay. As I wrote in the Chrysalis companion book, “When the world needs to change, the world turns to tricksters. We could no more excise tricksters from magic than trees from forests or stars from heaven.”
The trick to understanding the unseemly messes made by tricksters is to elevate your perspective (The Acrobat) and discern the bigger picture. As the Somali pirate said in the film Captain Phillips, “Everything gonna be okay.”
(This blog is the 7th of a series inspired by artist Tammo de Jongh’s, “The 12 Faces of Humanity.” See the “Recent Posts” list below for our previous blogs.)
© Toney Brooks