Dealing With Tricksters

It’s not always obvious to people that I work with Tricksters all that much. People who know me personally pick up on it, but other than that, it doesn’t occur to people immediately.

Yet the domains I relate to the most belong to Tricksters, whoever else they may belong to. Messengers, Sexuality, Life and Death, Dreaming, and to some degree, Mysticism itself. Why? Well, they’re the areas where we’re very stuck with the reality that Shit Happens and we’re really not in control of all that much.

Meanwhile I watch other people go half-crazy trying to cope with the Tricksters around them, and can’t help but think, “Dude, chill!” I admit, that’s not entirely fair of me – I’ve had my share of crazymaking Trickster lessons. ~cough~Coyote~cough~

Alas, nobody ever seems to ask for my sage advice on how to cope with Tricksters, but I’m going to give it to you anyway:

1: Pay Attention

The entire purpose of a Trickster, as far as I can tell, is to make you pay attention to the things you’d rather not look at too closely.

Railing against it is a way of not looking, and only serves to feed the Trickster more energy with which to insist on your attention.

Pointedly ignoring is obviously a way of not looking as well, and only provokes the Trickster to try even harder to make you see.

It’s kind of like babysitting a toddler – You don’t have to give them what they’re asking for directly, but until you acknowledge them, they’re not going to stop demanding your attention. Look at what the Trickster is doing. Calmly acknowledge it. Don’t look away until They calm down.

Yes, it’s also kind of like a game of chicken, but there’s not really much danger of a crash. If you race against the Trickster, sure. If you fight, sure. If you walk backwards singing “La La La I can’t hear you” sure, but if you pay attention, you shouldn’t be falling.

Another aspect of paying attention is to hear what They’re actually saying, not what you’re afraid (or hoping) to hear. Tricksters mislead, but many of Them only ever lie by telling the truth. Granted, telling it creatively. Telling you something you can easily misinterpret if you’re not careful. But that’s the point – forcing you to stop making assumptions, and pay attention.

Self-Control is the key here. Does that seem ironic? Tricksters are all about contrasting with our self-control, teaching us where we need it most, and how to let it go when it’s appropriate to do so.

2: Don’t obsess

Spending all your time obsessed with avoiding Tricksters is arguably worse than just dealing with Their shenanigans. Tricksters represent something the world has whether you’re comfortable with it or not – Disorder.

That missing puzzle piece, that hair that just won’t stay in place, that traffic jam just where you can’t avoid it, those belong to the Trickster.

Yes, to some degree, so does injury. Sometimes that traffic jam involves a grisly car accident. But so does laughter. Sometimes you spend many grumpy minutes waiting for a train to cross tracks, only to finally watch a tiny little push car go by. Either way, how does getting all worked up about it help?

The point of a Trickster isn’t to harm you, or even actually to amuse you. The point of a Trickster is to make space in the world for that which has no designated space, or can not fit into the space it is given. The more orderly your world, the more ways a Trickster can disrupt it. The more unnecessary lines you draw in the sand, the more lines you are inviting  Tricksters to cross.

Does this mean Tricksters have no respect for boundaries? Well, some of Them really don’t, especially if They also represent natural forces like hurricanes and landslides. Other Tricksters do care about human boundaries, but They draw sharp distinctions between boundaries of temporary offense and boundaries of long-term harm, often using obnoxious humor to point out the difference. Yet others care about boundaries quite a bit, and spend Their time as object lessons in why those boundaries matter so much by crossing them for us so we can learn the consequences without having to try it ourselves.

3: Give what is due

The fastest way to piss off and invite negative attention from a Trickster is to exclude Them from Their traditional place. If a Trickster represents that which does not fit inside the box it has, do you really think removing the box entirely is going to help?

The Thirteenth (or Eighth, or Fourth) Fairy, in Sleeping Beauty is a perfect example.

Some versions of the story have it that the last Fairy was left out because the King didn’t have enough golden plates to serve them all. A poor excuse – better to serve them all on ordinary wooden plates than to leave one out.

Other versions have it that the King didn’t like the Trickster reputation of that last Fairy as much as the others, and didn’t trust it with blessing his child. This is understandable, but since he lacks the ability to prevent the Trickster Fairy from paying attention to his child, the exclusion only draws attention to his fear – and gravely insults the Trickster. This is not only a rude excuse, it’s an impractical one.

4: Don’t blame Them

I’m not saying Tricksters aren’t responsible for what They do. They certainly are. But Tricksters are not the cause of every annoying thing in your life. To spend all your time counting the ways in which disorder is disruptive, and blaming the nearest Trickster for it all is just winding yourself up.

It’s also focusing on blame, when blame is one of the least useful concepts in the world. Responsibility, yes. Power, yes. Authority, yes. But blame is just a way of dodging all of those by handing our power and responsibility over to some scapegoat.

It lets us avoid looking at how we are ourselves responsible in some measure for what goes on in our environment. Sound familiar?

But it also lets us hold on to the idea that aside from our own individual and shared measures of control, the Universe itself is supposed to be an orderly, controlled place. It lets us hold onto the idea that “should be” is a rule somebody else is following on our behalf, that if the Universe continues to be chaotic and out of our control, we are being betrayed.

We’re not. The Universe is, by nature, only orderly enough to maintain its own existence, and otherwise outright chaotic. Social order is, especially, not the Universe’s problem beyond maintaining the basic rule of cause and effect.

Tricksters teach us both how to accept responsibility for what IS within our control, and how to accept our lack of power when control isn’t an option.

Arguably, all the gods teach us this, each in Their own ways. Unless you belong to one, the Trickster is the last line, when nothing else is getting the message through:

There are some things you really are responsible for, and there are many things beyond control. Look at them. See them. Accept them.

One way or another, Tricksters have a way of becoming central to the lives of the people who need Them most, whether it’s in a good way, or a bad way. For the people experiencing chaos all around, a Trickster can help them cope, to navigate, and to help them find the humor in the darkness. For the people trying desperately to avoid disruption, a Trickster tends to demand that they break out of their bubble. Either way, the Trickster is RIGHT THERE, being central, and will continue to do so until the need has passed.

I think the Last Unicorn has the best advice for dealing with Tricksters:

“Never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention.”


About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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57 Responses to Dealing With Tricksters

  1. Someone says:

    Does synchronicity have anything to do with the trickster or is it simply our unconscious trying to get a message across to us? Humble us? Pay attention? Leading us to a different place? I’ve experienced the trickster in various forms and realized trying to go against the trickster is similar to trying to put 2 magnets together which won’t connect, just repel. Mostly they have should up in jobs and relationships, but realized the more angry, upset, rigid I get, the more it will show up in a force I cannot control or win.
    Ex. Eveytime I try and set a time for visitation for the kids with the mother of my children, she will cancel purposely, not show up, or avoid the call. It’s usually when I get worked up that it starts to get worse until I get over it and things get back to normal schedule.
    Work: usually my first few months there I try to be early and have perfect attendance, then suddenly, wam!! I’m being given extra work, being manipulated by the boss, mocked, supplies suddenly missing which can effect work performance, become the scrapgoat until I eventually then burnout level at highest its ever been, attendance and work performance not as good as before, which I eventually quit.
    At times i thought getting back at the supervisor or employee would be a good idea, but since the trickster is always one step ahead, it usual fails and at time backfires.
    If this is the trickster at play, being too serious, rigid and always following the rules and attendance, should I be more relax to avoid the trickster?
    What advice would you recommend?


    • EmberVoices says:

      In my experience, synchronicity is applicable to magical and spirit work in general, not just Tricksters, and yes, a great deal of it is confirmation bias – that is, our subconscious telling us what to pay conscious attention to, for better or worse.

      Tricksters are more about teaching us what we do and do not control. Synchronicity is about perceiving patterns in the world around us, which is a very human brain kind of thing.

      WRT visitation with your kids, that sounds like a certain amount of bad faith on their mother’s part, not spirit interference. That could end up a legal issue if it isn’t resolved? But keeping chill and going with the flow is a good idea, because adding conflict definitely won’t help the kids.

      WRT work, it’s not news that being a proactive worker tends to get one assigned more responsibilities, and that, especially in the current economy, that *doesn’t* always come with greater authority, or income. :/ But the rest, yeah… bad boss, no biscuit. 😦

      If it is Trickster teaching, yes, relaxing a bit would help a lot, but so would pausing to analyze your underlying assumptions. What are you taking for granted is *supposed* to happen? Where are you assigning blame where it doesn’t help? Where are you expecting to have power when you just don’t? Where are your reactions making it harder to navigate the situation?

      What is and is not actually within your control?



  2. true says:

    about a year and a half ago i thought i was a super psychic because i heard words that the tv would end up saying minutes later it happened all day long for months, then i only heard evil words that would show up wether on the tv or from someone talking about anithing that had that word, i thought it was the law of attraction turning on me because i was reading on it and using it alot, i was convinced i had messed up my energy of attraction, and then i heard evil stuff all day long that scared the fuck out of me and so i would say the opposite when i heard something, wich lasted all day wich drained me alot, then in a dream i saw a being with a black “coat” and pants or whatever and a white face,i knew it was a trickster, a month or two ago he stopped telling me evil shit one night and told me to “work on your psychological health rookie” and to be carefull what i wished for, he used to make me think that things where gunna happen that where not good and would get me paranoid every day, my mind was fucked up, but he stopped since then has nicknamed me “suburban lazyass” “suburban rookie” “crybaby” “knuckle head” bue he calls me lazyass more, he spends day and night since i wake up telling me some sarcastic ass stuff about me, people around me and everything, he honestly cracks me up, and when im about to get sad over something hes like “crybaby be strong” or tells me “champion” when i achieve something big, its fucking crazy, like i dont want him with me, but ive came used to just laughing at the shit he says and talking trash to him (wich he does back) that idk what to do, i dont want god to take my responding to his humor as a sin if u believe that, and i dont want to be friends with something possibly dangerous so im lost, idk it might be karma from being so selfish with my past selfishness on magic but i feel like if it was because of that i alredy did my part on changing it, i just dont know


    • EmberVoices says:

      In all honesty, it sounds like there’s more going on there.

      I don’t believe laughter if it as at no one’s expense, is a sin, no. “Sin” refers to errors that pull us away from divinity. Laughter is often a source of healing and joy, which bring us *toward* divinity.

      That said, if you are hearing things from within yourself, or from spirits (discernment is needed there!) that are highly negative and encouraging you to harm, there is a problem there, and it’s not a traditional Trickster teaching you, it’s either a problematic haunting, or a psychological issue, or both (the latter can make us more vulnerable to the former – and there’s no shame in it. If I don’t take my meds, I don’t do well, either!), and should be addressed accordingly.

      I can’t help much directly, but daily cleansing, grounding, etc. can clarify a great deal, at least. I do have a post about the basic spiritual skills we all need for good spiritual hygiene:

      Centering, Grounding/Crowning, Shielding, and Cleansing are all potentially useful to you in this context.


      Liked by 1 person

      • r says:

        i mean isnt the whole trickster experience hardcore? i hear about things moving and being chaotic but i thought tricksters are like hardcore entitys who pray on making u believe something that isnt happening, fooling u, speaking in ur head, ur dreams, then eating on that energy when u go crazy on it, so it can go harder, its not something in me, my mom has seen him laughing at me in her dreams, what if its a trickster god, would he be not this hardcore? he tells me things before they happen everyday sometimes, he never told me to do anything idk why u said that, he would just say, this is gunna happen, i got scared , it never happened, on and on, it would ring everywhere when i ignored him, literally a quick loud ring, until i stopped ignoring him, then i feel him going from my shoulders to my face like a freshness and i ask him what hes doing and he says hes kissing me…. he tells me what people will say before they say it when i need to make a decision, is this not what truly being shadowed by an entity is? how the entity literally talks to u like another person, gives u nicknames, tells u what to do and what not to do, and since hes a trickster, fools u around like a mf until he feels like its enough, and then gives u advice on plural ways, thats what old shamans said happened, maybe im just crazy, or this doesnt happen to anybody and people rarely know about true entity shadowing anymore, but if im crazy and its insanity, then i dont get how other people have seen the white painted face entity that calls me lazyass and wakes me up everyday making fun of things, telling me the future and more. He says this is medieval, maybe no one knows no more.


        • EmberVoices says:

          Uh, no? Chaotic, yes, but preying on you? That’s not the point. That’s conflating two very different kinds of entities, one of which is *malicious*.

          Trickster gods aren’t malicious, they’re *teachers*. The fact that dealing with them is often a rollercoaster is about learning to get past our own assumptions and prejudices, not them having a desire for us to go crazy.

          Honestly, it doesn’t sound like you have a Trickster guide, it sounds like you have a predatory spirit. But I suppose it’s possible that there are lessons for you in there that you are learning, just from angles unfamiliar to me. I don’t know enough about where you started to address it all, but I can see from the way you write and the things you’re saying that something is still wrong there.

          Gods don’t need to feed on us. That’s a red flag.

          Making life complicated so you have to sort your shit out? Yep.

          Teaching you shit you’re not sure what to do with until after the fact, and you learn the patterns over time? Yep.

          Going through paths of madness on the way to wholeness? Sure – though that’s more at our own end. They don’t so much cause it as guide us through it.

          But feeding on us? Eating our energy? Generating chaos, not to teach, but to make us better fodder? NOPE. RED FLAG.

          Something is off here.

          Something I tell my students and the inmates I’ve served: I don’t care nearly so much what you *Call* the entities you’re hearing – Demons, Angels, Ancestors, Fae, Tricksters, Ghosts, whatever. IF they’re treating you well and giving you sound advice, that’s good. If they’re treating you poorly and fucking shit up, that’s bad. If they’re *eating you* that’s BAD.

          A demon that tells you to take good care of yourself, eat your vegetables, and treat others with kindness is fine. An angel who tells you to hurt yourself and others is not okay.

          My suggestion is that you step away from the label, and look at the *Behavior*.


          Liked by 1 person

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