Sunday, May 23, 2010

Coyote's Practical Magic

 Wile. E. Coyote, genius, super genius! Did you ever watch him on the cartoon with the Roadrunner? I hated it and loved it at the same time. I loved Wile E. Coyote and all the clever traps and tricks he tried to catch Roadrunner with but always failed. What I didn't like was him failing...and then seeing all the horrible ways he was hurt even though somehow he miraculously came back to life.

Many of you have no idea what I'm talking about or haven't seen the cartoon. Basically there was this coyote who was always after a roadrunner who he wanted to feast on. The roadrunner however kept outsmarting the coyote and setting him up for these horrific falls. In pop culture"Wile E. Coyote," is our version of a multicultural legend/deity known as the "Trickster." 

In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. (Wickipedia)

For many of the Native American tribes he is known as "Old Man Coyote" or simply, "Coyote". So who is he and why am I writing about him?

Ewitch picks a theme every week to blog about and this week was "practical magic." My first reaction was, practical, shmactical, oh goodie! I mean come on, being practical is productive and healthy, yada, yada, yada, but for me it's definitely not the most interesting subject to either write about or read about. Although I must admit, my eWitch sisters have done an excellent job on this topic. My muse never lets me down though and as surrendered she lead me my mind through this maze and had me really think about what practical magic meant for ME, no one else. I first thought of the movie "Practical Magic", no, didn't hold a charge for me and then I started thought of practical jokes. But how could I relate that to magic?

Then he came into my mind....Old Man Coyote. He's been around longer than any cartoon character and represents far more than a simple practical joke. He teaches us about chaos and creativity, how to not take ourselves too seriously so that we can keep getting up after embarrassing failures or horrible circumstances, because that's his "medicine" (Native American term for power, essence, magic, spirit).

Most importantly he wakes us up from a long heavy sleep, laughing at us as we grumble about this and that until we see the look and shine in his eyes and we see our own reflection and then the true magic begins. The Zuni, Winnebago, Menomini, Nes Perce, Navajo, Crow, and Apache tribes all know their trickster god as "Coyote" and he is also known as "Crow or Raven" (Native American North Pacific culture), "Hermes" (Greeks), "Loki" (Norse pantheon), "Spider" (African), "Hanuman" (Hindu), "Kitsune" (Japanese), and "Br'er Rabbit" (African American Culture of the South).
It makes sense that the Trickster appears in so many forms as we have to easily relate to them and have a familiar bond.

One thing that never changes though is that the Trickster is always respected, revered and feared. I found this interesting article about tricksters and four qualities and motifs that are cross-cultural and consistent.
  1. They are “go-betweens.” Tricksters are able to move with relative ease among contrasting regions or levels of being. They have the power to escape order, crossing the threshold into another version of it. Hermes was the only god able to enter the underworld regularly and without difficulty.
  2. They embody inconsistency. Rather than enforcing one view of reality, tricksters support the paradox of multiple views. They follow the guiding principle of improvisational theater: you never deny another person’s reality, you only build upon it.
  3. They have “smart luck.” Tricksters are always prepared for the unprepared because they hold their ideas lightly. There really are no accidents in the liminal perspective, only opportunities for discovery and insight: you simply play through. When Loki bet his head in a wager – and lost – he agreed to let the winners take his head as long as they don’t harm his neck.

  4. They have no home. The trickster is closely associated with the road or constant motion. Hermes is the god of roads and escort of travelers.
(Article: "Why So Serious? How The Trickster Teaches Us About Inner Travel."
F. Daniel Harbecke; article originally posted on website; "Brave New Traveler")

Coyote has always lingered in my life, teasing me and taunting me, daring me to get into trouble or cause mischief upon someone else though never in a malicious or harmful way. I'll be writing in an upcoming eWitch post my very surreal, magickal, synchronistic ways that Old Man Coyote has met me on the internal and external realm.

Oh and the practical joke of this whole post? I kept having reformat this post over and over again while I was writing this on Blogger's editor AND in another individual blogging editor as well as almost deleting it five times!I have never had trouble before with my posts. It could be one of those days, or the way all blogging editor's are, but somehow I don't think so.

I think Old Man Coyote is laughing his head off, as I sat here all day, frustrated writing about practical magic of the practical jokes he makes up. Have you happened to run into Coyote or perhaps another trickster lately?



Debra She Who Seeks said...

There's another native expression -- "coyote wisdom." It means knowledge that you have learned the hard way, through experience. You can see how the trickster might be involved with that. If you want a child to truly learn something, the elders taught, don't just tell him the lesson or rule -- let him gain coyote wisdom.

Wendy said...

I love that Debra! That would be a great name for a blog, hmmmmm....I think you have a bit of the trickster muse yourself.

Rochelle said...

Well the trickster did a switcharoo on me this weekend - I thought I was going to be able to volunteer to help nurse cats back to health at the shelter but that is still full - so it looks like I'd be helping facilitate Pet Loss Support groups - which is also a good thing (but it's not taking care of cats!) What's Coyote up too I wonder?

Lynelle said...

Wendy, you have such a unique and thoughtful perspective on the weeks topics. I always look forward to reading your posts.

JJ Beazley said...

I gather the Australian aboriginals regard the koala as the most knowing and the trickiest of animals. I read a beautiful story once about a man who saved a koala from a bush fire. The animal allowed the man to heal and take care of him, until the day before the man was due to leave for home. Then the koala patted him on the cheek and pushed him away.

And the man in this picture looks remarkably like my dad. Same eyes.


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