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Trickster (Puck, Provocateur)
Almost as far back as our earliest written records, the Trickster appears as a key figure in the human drama. According to the great historian of religion Mircea Eliade, a Trickster is a human or animal character that plays dubious jokes or tricks, makes fun or is made fun of, and may be camouflaged as one of the demigods of a religious tradition. The serpent who tempts Eve in the Bible was based on similar characters in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology from the third millennium B.C., in which a serpent tricks humanity out of the gift of immortality and assumes it for itself. (Observing snakes shedding their skin led some to believe that the reptile was capable of renewing its life indefinitely.) In many cultures, though, especially among Native Americans, the Trickster can also be the Creator's helper or messenger.

Like the Prostitute and Servant archetypes, the Trickster seems at first to have only negative connotations, but it can be a great ally in presenting you with alternatives to the straight and narrow path, to people and institutions who seek to hem you in through peer pressure and conformism. The best modern illustration of this dual role shows up in the film work of Jack Nicholson and Groucho Marx. Although the characters they portray are often unsavory or duplicitous on some level, their antics can also be liberating by transcending convention, stuffiness, and predictable behavior.


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