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The Trickster Archetype

An archetype is ôan original model on which something is patterned or basedö (Archetype 2004, 1). As used by Carl Jung, an archetype is a prototype for ideas which are useful in interpreting observed phenomena. Archetypes includes such symbols as the ôheroö, the ôsupermanö, the ôwise old manö, and the ôtrickster.ö It is the trickster archetype that is the focus of this research. In the history of mankind, the trickster is a significant archetype in nearly all cultures, from African and Hispanic to Native American and Christian mythology. As one anthropologist maintains (2004), ôAs an archetype, the trickster, the boundary dweller, finds expression through human imagination and experienceö (Trickster 1 2004, 1).

The trickster is often an important mythological being of significant importance in creation stories as well as other stories that help to define observed phenomena for various cultures. The trickster is not a solitary entity but rather a part of each individual that exists in each of us and shows itself on occasion. The trickster in all cultures is endowed with supernatural powers that help him (or her) perform a number of tricks: ôHe lives, dies, comes back, shapeshiftsùall sorts of magic as our reality is nothing more than an illusionö (Trickster 1, 2004, 2). This discussion will provide an analysis of the trickster and its role in three cultures: Native American; African; and Christian.

While one anthropologist contends that the trickster is so flexible across cultures that his ôbelonging to individual societiesàis so culture-specific that no two of them articulate similar messagesö (Trickster 2, 2004, 1). Despite the culture-specific nature of the trickster archetype, there do appear to be a number of similarities among cultures with respect to his being. In the North American Native American culture, the definitive definition of the trickster is one that is a balance of good and bad...

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The Trickster Archetype. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:10, May 24, 2020, from