Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The one-stop shop for all your Trickster needs!

It is the 3rd Wednesday of the month already, and as promised, the Storytelling Series continues. With Tricksters!
Tricksters are all the rage these days. They are unkillable, unforgettable, and we can't help but love them. From an author's point of view, they are extremely hard to write, and even harder to write well. But when they are done the way they should be, they. Rock. The. World.
I have recently posted on my blog StorySpotting about Tricksters done right in contemporary movies and TV shows - you can find the list here. Today, for inspiration, I'll introduce you to some of the stars in traditional Tricksterdom. They are the storyteller's best friend; there is no audience, however old, young, tired, unwilling, or hopped up on candy, that does not love a good Trickster tale. They saved my bacon countless times, on and off the stage.
Let's see some of the big guns:

The Spider. Originally from West Africa (Akan and Ashante folklore), he made his way over to the Caribbean and the Americas. According to legend, owns all the stories in the world. Constantly hungry, not above stealing and cheating, endowed with serious balls. The latter is not a metaphor. Married to Aso, who is pretty much the only person who can out-smart him. Find stories here. Also, check out Neil Gaiman's The Anansi Boys.

Sun Wukong
Better known in English as the Monkey King; the undisputed main hero of the Chinese epic Journey to the West. Immortal, invulnerable, invincible, still a monkey. Crossed his name out of the Book of Death, stole the Peaches of Immortality from Heaven, scared the stuffing out of the Dragon Kings. Deity of Blunt Force Trauma. Turned Buddhist. Stars in Chinese, Japanese and Western movies and TV shows. All. The freaking. Time.

Mouse Deer
Also known as Sang Kancil, the resident Trickster of Indonesia. Tiny, smart, thinks fast on his scrawny little feet. Strong contestant for the title of "weirdest creature" in Tricksterdom. But do not be fooled: Mouse Deer, in my experience, is the uncontested favorite of many audiences (including, surprisingly, teenagers).

Seriously, I'm not going to introduce Loki. Duh. Move along.

One of the greatest Tricksters in the Western hemisphere, Coyote pops up in several American Indian cultures. Unkillable, wily, foolish; known for stealing the fire, among many other things. The original inventor of "dancing with the stars." Find a lovely collection of Coyote tales here. Also, you want to read Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue.

Remember the little guy from Midsummer Night's Dream? Yep, that's a Trickster. Also known as Robin Goodfellow. Half human, half fae. Completely out of control.

The one and only. Hero of hundreds of Appalachian Jack tales, killer of giants, navigator of flying ships, climber of beanstalks, challenger of Death, ravager of other people's property. Young, cheeky, with serious attitude.

And then some...
Believe me, I can go on about Tricksters until someone duct tapes my mouth shut. Raven. Iktomi. Nanabush. Kitsune. Tanuki. Reynard the Fox. Ti Malice. Nasreddin Hodja. Every culture has one. Some of them have more. But if I listed all of them, where would be the fun of discovery?
Go forth, and find your Trickster.

As usual, you can find Csenge at her blogs:
The Multicolored Diary (Adventures in Storytelling)
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...
or on Twitter: @TarkabarkaHolgy
or you can buy her book, Tales of Superhuman Powers, which incidentally also features tricksters. Go figure.


  1. Great post thank you! No mention of Hermes, the archetypal trickster? Where would we be without Hermes?
    Garden of Eden Blog

    1. Hermes definitely goes on the list. So does Prometheus and Momus. Momus is one of my personal favorites :)

  2. Beautiful, fun, inspirational, informational, and a good read - thanks for this blog post! As a storyteller of course I know many of these - and not all of them, so thanks for the info and the links and the etc. Cheers!

  3. We are familiar in our part of the world, with Kancil, the wily mouse-deer! However in all instances Kancil was invoked in stories for children most times with morals as an underlying theme. There are a host of others here given which I've not heard of. Thanks ATH!


    1. I love Kancil! Those stories never fail me. I am glad you found new things in my post! :)

  4. I'm in love with Loki. Was long before the movie came out. Which is the real reason my blog is called Am-Loki -Blogs ;)

    1. Yeah, I picked up on that some time ago :) Loki has been a favorite since I first read Norse mythology. We liked him before he was cool :D
      (Just kidding, Loki has always been cool)

  5. What a neat post! Not being a storyteller, I hadn't thought of the trickster as a mainstay sort of character like a villain, or a hero, but I see it now. Thanks for the education! Keep these coming, they're just great.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!


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