The mythology and archetypes of almost all societies have one or more characters known as “tricksters”. Loki was the Norse trickster, for example. Other tricksters: Sinbad, Isis, Kokopeli, Shiva, leprechauns, Hermes, Br’er Rabbit, the coyote/fox/Kitsune, the crow, Anansi, and Puck. And ancient kings had a jester. (There are many others we haven’t heard of, but anthropologists have – but they’re still tricksters doing their thing. Check Wikipedia.)

Sociologists have noticed that across cultures, one role tricksters play is to break apart “stuck” or “frozen” or “hidebound” situations. When everything is ALL JAMMED UP, a trickster or bull in a china shop came in and smashes or upends everything, or sneakily diverts the story’s action outside the original limitations.

(You were probably read fairy tales as a child where some tricky creature makes a mess of things in the middle, now you know why.)

In this story arc, after the trickster’s tricks play out, the previously DOMINANT factor in this tale of woe… the seemingly insurmountable logjam, or existential crisis, where everything is solidly stuck, or doom is impending… that stuckness gets unclogged, pieces are moveable, the situation gets workable, options seem feasible. Hide-bound power structures fall apart. An opening appears.

Then people (heroes) start looking for, and find new solutions.

Our most frequent experience of this today is a saga of a movie that follows an archetypal story line, where you really feel the stuck characters’ misery from feeling trapped… still trapped… still trapped… even if you don’t notice how the trickster has a hand in shaking stuck things loose (to you it looks more just like chaos caused by a jerk)… when the hero has an opening to be a hero after the trickster is done, you’d feel relief once things started moving. It creates a “good” and “moving” story which fits the “man in a hole” archetypal story line.

(And obviously not every story follows the “something is stuck and the hero is in a hole” story line – but if YOU are or have been in that situation in your life, this story line will resonate with you. And there’s a good chance there was an element of chaos and things being turned upside down in the resolution if it turned out well.)

In myths and lore, tricksters often use tricks, lies, transgressing norms expectations and taboos, amorality, double-dealing, contradiction, vagueness, flip-flopping, breaking promises, turning other characters against themselves or each other, destruction, opportunism, shamelessness, plain old bullshitting, or humor to accomplish this. Even murder. Normally those traits or actions are considered “bad” in any significant amount (or combination of them). But the trickster seems to get away with those traits more than he should, it’s considered part of the package, the funk with the useful, if only for today. In the old stories, not infrequently the trickster’s actions cause considerable damage. Sometimes a body count. But the trickster weasels out of consequences for duplicity and chaos galore (usually by further trickery) maybe because at least things are moving again. Okay, what did you expect, I’m the trickster! You got your bed of ashes for your spiffy new Phoenix, didn’t you?

Tricksters are often careless, selfish, or captured by their own vices. But this doesn’t seem to limit their power to break up a logjam, bust up the funk. (Okay, the trickster’s role usually makes things worse before it gets better, though.) But in their end, their ability to bust through the situation nobody else could bust through is seen as a special kind of “wisdom”. In its own way. In hindsight.

Sure, what’s left after the trickster’s tricks might not seem pleasant to someone used to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the USA. But that doesn’t apply to the billions of humans who created and heard these stories, mostly before any kind of advanced civilization, who never had “rule of law”, “freedom”, etc. etc. to begin with. For THEM, they got to a better place than they were. At least in the OLD stories.

And those archetypal trickster as provacateur stories pretty consistently seem to explain the chaos (and the agent who BROUGHT chaos) to society as necessary to get THROUGH the stuckness – even if ancient societies didn’t “understand” this, the trickster mostly gets away with it time after time after time, and the “Phoenix from the ashes” theme, or a parallel, happens over and over. (Some stories end more neutral than positive, but compared to the doom in the middle it’s still an improvement, and the trickster helped get there.)

Granted, these stories are often thousands of years old, which MIGHT make you think it’s not relevant to 2019… but the theme happens over and over and over again in cultures all over the world with no connections between them. It’s wired into us.

So IF on some level we feel really really stuck… WE, even those of us who detest current leaders… maybe we have “asked” the trickster (in an archetypal way) to “break” the old system so we can start from scratch. IF “the trickster” dynamics are “just how we deal with” intractable stuckness on some deep level, maybe especially if we just can’t agree on what the cause of the stuckness is… where does that leave us now that we’ve realized it?

IF this is a thing… archetypes have A LOT of power. And it’s mostly under the surface, you don’t see it working.

I assert a good storyteller could “prime” you to put up with chaos, mayhem, and confusion, seeming descent into unworkability, if he convinced you he was a trickster with tricks up his sleeve, and the promise of some better world down the road, but he’s got to shake things up first. Especially if you feel stuck, and the forces lined up against you are shadowy, and/or baked into the system. Deep state, liberals, invaders. Liberals, invaders, deep state. Invaders, deep state, liberals.

To quote a recent Presidential candidate, with those nefarious forces holding you back, “What have you got to lose?”

In the archetypal stories, the old power system sometimes does not survive.

So it will be interesting to see how the current world order and “Loki” dynamics play with each other, IF I’m on to something and we don’t address our current stuckness in another way… but we’ll see.