The Trickster

Who is the Coyote?  For the Navajo he is the prince of chaos, the transformer, the troublemaker, the trickster, and one who walks with the gods.  He is unruly but good hearted.  In his darkest manifestation he is the Skinwalker. Yet he is the one who stole fire for man in the first world.  He stole the stars from First Man and scattered them carelessly across the sky, yet like so many of Coyote’s impulsive actions his arrangement brings about changes that make life better.  

From Coyote’s foolishness, we mere mortals may gain wisdom learning what  and what not to do.  Coyote is the forerunner of change. He knows no bounds but because of him new customs, moral codes, ceremonies and ways of living are brought into being.  Coyote is self-centered and can regenerate himself, but this rascal clarifies the boundaries of human and animal conduct.  Coyote is able to speak in ways that those constrained by good manners cannot.  

His role is a large one.  He is the happy fool–the court jester, the moral commentator standing just next to an ear, but which ear? And he is the creator of chaos from which we must find order.

He knows how to protect himself from mortal danger (he hides his vital organs in his tail when under attack) and shows us that we too must at times protect ourselves, guard our heart.  

Not only did he bring man fire, he is the one who calls the rain and he has been very generous with us this year.  Even if you don’t like him, you soon see that you need him for many important things!

Both sacred and profane, Coyote is the deceiver and the deliverer of good.  Coyote through is actions makes change possible or even necessary.  He brings both mischief and promise, but always something new!

Coyote is not unique to the Navajo. Most North American Native American tribes have Coyote the trickster in better or worse manifestations.  Prometheus brought fire to man and Loki the trickster is the Northern European manifestation of this complex and often frustrating fellow.  The Far East and Africa have their own manifestations of the trickster.

Can you trust Coyote?  No.  Do we need him?  Yes.  But be careful when he’s around! And don’t cross his path without sprinkling a little corn pollen first.  Better safe than sorry!

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About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States" in Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, and a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico. Karen and her husband traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, spending many summers in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala . Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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