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Transcript of Tricksters
the Monkey King
The Trickster archetype embodies the energies of mischief
and desire for change. All the characters in stories who
are primarily clowns or comical sidekicks express this archetype.
Tricksters serve several important psychological functions. They cut big egos down to
size, and bring heroes and audiences down to earth. By provoking healthy laughter they help us realize our common bonds, and they point out folly and hypocrisy. Above all, they bring about healthy change and transformation, often by drawing attention to
the imbalance or absurdity of a stagnant psychological situation.
They are the natural enemies of the status quo. Trickster energy can express itself through impish accidents or slips of the tongue that alert us to the need for change. When we are taking ourselves too seriously, the Trickster part of our personalities may pop up to bring back needed perspective.
Trickster Heroes have bred like rabbits in the folktales and fairy tales of the
world. Indeed, some of the most popular Tricksters are rabbit heroes: the Br'er
Rabbit of the American South, the Hare of African tales, the many rabbit heroes
from Southeast Asia, Persia, India, etc. These stories pit the defenseless but
quick-thinking rabbit against much larger and more dangerous enemies: folktale
Shadow figures like wolves, hunters, tigers, and bears. Somehow the tiny rabbit
always manages to outwit his hungry opponent, who usually suffers painfully
from dealing with a Trickster Hero.
The modern version of the rabbit Trickster is of course Bugs Bunny. The
Warner Brothers animators made use of folktale plots to pit Bugs against hunters and predators who didn't stand a chance against his quick wits. Other cartoon Tricksters of this type include Warner s Daffy Duck, Speedy Gonzales, the Roadrunner, and Tweety Bird; Walter Lantz's Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy the penguin; and MGM's ubiquitous dog Droopy, who always outwits the befuddled Wolf Mickey Mouse started as an ideal animal Trickster, although he has matured into a sober master of ceremonies and corporate spokesman.
Tricksters are often catalyst characters, who affect the lives of others but are
unchanged themselves. Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop displays Trickster energy as he stirs up the existing system without changing much himself.
The heroes of comedy, from Charlie Chaplin to the Marx Brothers to the cast
of "In Living Color," are Tricksters who subvert the status quo and make us laugh at ourselves. Heroes of other genres must often put on the Trickster mask in order to outwit a Shadow or get around a Threshold Guardian.
Christopher Vogler's THE WRITER'S JOURNEY, pp. 77-79
Journey to the West
Xuanzang (Sansc. Tripitaka)
A central character in the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en. The character is based on the historical Buddhist monk Xuanzang.
In the novel, Xuanzang is a Chinese Buddhist monk who had renounced his family to join the Sangha from childhood. He is actually a reincarnation of Golden Cicada, a disciple of the Buddha. He is sent on a mission to Tianzhu (an ancient Chinese name for India) to fetch a set of Buddhist scriptures back to China for the purpose of spreading Buddhism in his native land.
Xuanzang is helpless in defending himself and his two escorts are killed during his first encounter with demons after his departure from Chang'an. The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin) helps Xuanzang find three powerful supernatural beings - Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing - to aid and protect him on his journey. The three become Xuanzang's disciples and will receive enlightenment and redemption for their past sins once the pilgrimage is complete. Along the journey, Xuanzang is constantly terrorised by monsters and demons because of a legend which says that one can attain immortality by consuming his flesh because he is a reincarnation of a holy being.
Zhu Bajie, also named Zhu Wuneng, is one of the three helpers of Xuanzang and a major character of the novel Journey to the West. He is called "Pigsy" or "Pig" in many English versions of the story.
Zhu Bajie is a complex and developed character in the novel. He looks like a terrible monster, part human and part pig, who often gets himself and his companions into trouble through his laziness, gluttony, and propensity for lusting after pretty women. He is jealous of Sun Wukong and always tries to bring him down.
Zhu Bajie originally held the title of the commander-in-chief of 80,000 Heavenly Navy Soldiers. He was later banished, however, for misbehaviour. At a party organized for all the significant figures in Heaven, Bajie saw the Goddess of the Moon for the first time and was captivated by her beauty. Following a drunken attempt to sexually harass her, she reported this to the Jade Emperor and thus he was banished to Earth. In popular retellings, Zhu Bajie was sentenced to a thousand lives where each life would end in a love tragedy. In some retellings of the story, his banishment is linked to Sun Wukong's downfall. In any case, he was exiled from Heaven and sent to be reincarnated on Earth, where he fell into a pig well and was reborn as a man-eating pig-monster.
Shā Wùjìng is one of the three disciples of Xuánzàng.
In the novels, his background is the least developed of the pilgrims and he contributes the least to their efforts. He is called Sand or Sandy and is known as a "water buffalo" for his seemingly less developed intelligence in many English versions of the story.
His Buddhist name "Sha Wujing", given by Bodhisattva Guanyin, means "sand aware of purity".
Wujing was originally a general in Heaven. In a fit of rage, he destroyed a valuable vase. Other sources mention that he did this unintentionally, and in the Journey to the West series, it was an accident. Nevertheless, he was punished by the Jade Emperor, who had him struck 800 times with a rod and exiled to earth, where he was to be reincarnated as a terrible man-eating sand demon. There, he lived in the Liúshā-hé ("flowing-sand river", or "quicksand-river"). Every seventh day, a flying sword sent from heaven would stab him in the chest before flying off as a punishment to him. As a result, he had to live in the river to avoid the punishment.
Split into 2 teams and prepare :
connected with the story of Monkey King
The opposite team must identify these and write their associations on a separate sheet of paper.
How Loki Killed Baldr
The coyote is one of several North American animals whose name has Native American origins. The word "coyote" was originally a Spanish corruption of the Nahuatl (Aztec) word for the animal, coyotl. From there it was borrowed into English.
Coyote is a major mythological figure for most Native American tribes, especially those west of the Mississippi. Like real coyotes, mythological coyotes are usually notable for their crafty intelligence, stealth, and voracious appetite. However, American Indian coyote characters vary widely from tribe to tribe. In some Native American coyote myths, Coyote is a revered culture hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; in others, he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. In some Native coyote stories, he is even some sort of combination of all three at once.
Coyote and the Origin of Death
In the beginning of this world, there was no such thing as death. Everybody continued to live until there were so many people that the earth had no room for any more. The chiefs held a council to determine what to do. One man rose and said he thought it would be a good plan to have the people die and be gone for a little while, and then return. As soon as he sat down, Coyote jumped up and said he thought people ought to die forever. He pointed out that this little world is not large enough to hold all of the people, and that if the people who died came back to life, there would not be food enough for all.
All the other men objected. They said that they did not want their friends and relatives to die and be gone forever, for then they would grieve and worry and there would be no happiness in the world. Everyone except Coyote decided to have people die and be gone for a little while, and then come back to life again. The medicine men built a large grass house facing the east. When they had completed it, they called the men of the tribe together and told them that people who died would be restored to life in the medicine house. The chief medicine man explained that they would sing a song calling the spirit of the dead to the grass house. When the spirit came, they would restore it to life.
All the people were glad, because they were anxious for the dead to come and live with them again. When the first man died, the medicine men assembled in the grass house and sang. In about ten days a whirlwind blew from the west and circled about the grass house. Coyote saw it, and as the whirlwind was about to enter the house, he closed the door. The spirit of the whirlwind, finding the door closed, whirled on by. In this way Coyote made death eternal, and from that time on, people grieved over their dead and were unhappy. Now whenever anyone meets a whirlwind or hears the wind whistle, he says: "Someone is wandering about." Ever since Coyote closed the door, the spirits of the dead have wandered over the earth trying to find some place to go, until at last they discovered the road to the spirit land.
Coyote ran away and never came back, for when he saw what he had done, he was afraid. Ever after that, he has run from one place to another, always looking back first over one shoulder and then over the other to see if anyone is pursuing him. And ever since then he has been starving, for no one will give him anything to eat.
Eshu, also known as Elegba or Legba, is a trickster god of the Yoruba people of Nigeria in West Africa. He is unpredictable, sly, and fond of pranks that can be cruel and disruptive. Eshu, who knows all the languages spoken on earth, serves as a messenger between the gods and people. He also carries up to heaven the sacrifices that people offer to the gods.
Create a short tale about a mythical (fictional) trickster protagonist who introduced death into the world.
Lao Tzu and the Way
Journey to the West continued
Journey to the West is a classic Chinese mythological novel. It was written during the Ming Dynasty based on traditional folktales. Consisting of 100 chapters, this fantasy relates the adventures of a Tang Dynasty (618-907) priest Sanzang and his three disciples, Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, as they travel west in search of Buddhist Sutra. The first seven chapters recount the birth of the Monkey King and his rebellion against Heaven.
Then in chapters eight to twelve, we learn how Sanzang was born and why he is searching for the scriptures, as well as his preparations for the journey.
The rest of the story describes how they vanquish demons and monsters, tramp over the Fiery Mountain, cross the Milky Way, and after overcoming many dangers, finally arrive at their destination - the Thunder Monastery in the Western Heaven - and find the Sutra.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that crows were viewed as harbingers of death in Native American cultures, but in fact, seeing a crow was (and still is) considered good luck by many tribes. Although crows will eat carrion, so do many other animals not typically associated with the dead such as bald eagles, bears, etc.
In Native American folklore,
the intelligence of crows
is usually portrayed as their most important feature. In some tribes, the crow is conflated with the raven, a larger cousin of the crow that shares many of the same characteristics. In other tribes, Crow and Raven are distinct mythological characters.
Anansi is a trickster figure in west African folk culture, especially in among the Ashanti (Akan) people of Ghana. The slaves who were brought to Jamaica carried the stories of Anansi with them. Anansi is a spider, but he is also a person: when you read the stories about Anansi and Lion and other characters, you will probably find it hard to say just "who" or "what" Anansi and the other animals are. This is a major difference between the Anansi story tradition and the animal fables of Aesop. In Aesop, the animals talk, but they clearly have animal bodies and lead, more or less, animal lives. This is not true of Anansi, who is a true animal person, a spider-man.
As a trickster, Anansi often outwits his opponents - but sometimes the trickster himself gets tricked. Like most tricksters, Anansi is not very nice - you can admire his wisdom, but he can also be wicked and cruel. Anansi would really like to be able to get something for nothing: and sometimes he manages to do just that, but other times his lazy habits and greediness get him into really big trouble.
The Cherokee (who call themselves the Tsalagi) originally occupied a large portion of the Alleghany mountains. Their territory covered what is today the states of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. They had long-running, highly ritualistic conflicts with the Iroquois and other eastern tribes such as the Tuscarora, Catawba, Creeks, and the Shawnee.
However, their most tragic war was with the the US government. In 1839, after a long series of conflicts during which they were pushed westward towards the Mississippi, the Cherokees were forcibly evicted from their land and marched to Oklahoma in the dead of winter by the US Army. This is today known as the "Trail of Tears", one of the most shameful actions ever taken by the Unites States government.
Legendary Native American Figures: Trickster Rabbit (Jistu)
Name: Trickster Rabbit
Tribal affiliation: Cherokee, Creek, Alabama, Yuchi
Native names: Jistu, Jisdu, Tsisdu, Chisdu, Tsistu; Cokfi, Chokfi, Chukfi; Cufe, Chufi; Tcetkana, Chetkana
Pronunciation: jeese-doo (Cherokee), choke-fee (Alabama), chook-fee (Choctaw/Chickasaw), chuf-ih (Creek), chet-kah-nah (Biloxi)
Type: Animal spirit, trickster, rabbit
Rabbit is the trickster figure in many Southeastern Indian tribes. The Rabbit Trickster is generally a light-hearted character who does not engage in serious wrongdoing and features in many children's stories; however, like most tricksters, he is prone to humorously inappropriate behavior, particularly gluttony, carelessness, and an overinflated ego. In the folklore of some Southeastern tribes, it was Rabbit who stole fire and brought it to the people.
Loki stealing Sif's hair
Before the victory of Christianity, the Germanic peoples had no conception of what we think of as absolute moral “good” or “evil.” Some values and actions were appropriate for some people and some situations; others were inappropriate for those people and those situations, but very well might be appropriate for other people and other situations. This was not the free-for-all of moral relativism, however, which is, after all, simply the inversion or denial of the Judeo-Christian perspective of an absolute, universal morality.
In traditional Germanic society, a person who occupied a particular social role and was a devotee of that role’s corresponding god or goddess could rightly be held to the standard of conduct appropriate for that role and its divinity. Thus, while most Viking Age men were held to the standards of honor and manliness exemplified by such figures as Tyr, Thor, or Freyr, for example, not everyone was necessarily held to these standards. Devotees of Odin, for example – a god for whom we have ample evidence of true historical worship – followed a path of ecstatic and creative self-actualization that often seemed fickle, ruthless, irresponsible, and even shameful by the standards of, say, a man of Thor.
Thus, Loki can’t rightly be considered a model of moral “evil.” Instead, he’s a model of one of the countless, and often opposing and contradictory, principles and meanings of which life consists.
The principle to which Loki corresponds, however, is the disregard for or hatred of the sacred as such. For Loki, the gods are “not to be worshiped, but ignored, to be overcome, or in the last analysis mocked.”
Why would such people, who place their trust solely in their own might, reverence a god who happens to share their anti-spiritual perspective?
Paradoxically, however, in order to affirm life as being inherently and unconditionally sacred, one must affirm even Loki and the principle to which he corresponds as being an embodiment of divinity in and of itself. One embodies Loki whenever one lives in a totally profane manner, without any reference to sacred models – hence Loki’s utter
lack of any allegiances
to the gods, giants, or anyone else.
Thus, while the animistic and pantheistic Germanic peoples held the sacred to be categorically superior to the merely profane, they recognized that, since, in their perspective, the sacred and the profane are not dualistic, mutually exclusive conceptions (as they are in Judeo-Christianity),
all that is profane is ultimately sacred as well.
Dan McCoy: "Loki"
Joseph Campbell--Mythology of the Trickster