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No Mere Prankster?

"You don’t wanna go looking for folklore. And you especially don’t want folklore to come looking for you." ~ Barbara Shelly to Sophie Bangs in Alan Moore’s Promethea.

I discuss the trickster a lot in connection with the paranormal, which includes UFOs. The trickster element, the trickster behaviors. Sometimes people think I mean a specific person or character; a fictional or mythical one, but a single entity, like, a Santa Claus, (not that the trickster’s anything like Santa) (hmm, maybe, wait a minute. . . well, that’s another thing altogether.)

"The" trickster, or Trickster, isn’t a single entity. It’s not a character, like The Shadow of the comic book world; Lamont Cranston is not really the Trickster, hiding behind a black cape. It’s not just within the UFO phenomena, or Fortean, esoteric things, although that’s where my focus with trickster phenomena is -- on the esoteric.

Trickster behavior exhibits itself both in events that happen as well as the responses of individuals. Disinfo agents within UFOlogy is a trickster event, so is the confusion and arguing and mistrust that ensues because of the alleged disinfo agents presence.

There are those who spend their lives studying the trickster, and there is an immense amount of information on trickster. It’s impossible to give anything more than a very brief look at trickster in a piece like this, but I’ll try.

Trickster is seen cross culturally and all over the world. Usually male (with few exceptions of female aspects) and usually symbolized by animals. Talking coyotes, spiders, rabbits, etc. Tricksters are playful, jokers, rude, crude, sexual, devious, mischievous. They teach, they poke fun. They deconstruct. They invert and subvert the hallowed institutions of society, including academia, science, the law, and religion. It is this last point that is important for UFOlogy to recognize; the on-going "wars" between all those institutions and UFO researchers is the trickster working hard to keep it that way. That is why UFOlogy and related subjects will never be "respected" in the mainstream.

Trickster is also a force; shape shifters, weird creatures and beings, doing equally weird things. Examples of trickster behavior in UFOlogy is well, in practically everything. The classic UFO encounter of Wisconsin farmer Joe Simonton is typical trickster. In 1961, aliens land, give him pancakes, and go away. Seemingly pointless, and extremely weird, and for what? It’s nonsensical to both skeptics and many a UFO researcher. Unless you understand it’s typical in this realm, and only the trickster in action.

It’s as if some researchers don’t expect the unexpected to happen in the realm of the unexpected. UFOs and aliens are weird, but a given, in UFO research. That’s acceptable. But when those aliens give a farmer pancakes, or a Sasquatch appears next to a UFO, the trickster is working overtime. Witnesses are more confused than ever, researchers deny and argue amongst themselves, chronic skeptics are pleased that yet another silly tale has emerged from UFO land, and the trickster’s work is done.

All of it, from the response of the researchers to the aliens, is part of the trickster energy at work.

Some think of the trickster in more narrow terms, and as strictly a negative force. Stephen Yulish, in his article for UFO Digest, (Many Apparitions of Mary may be Tricksters but the Real Mary was not!) believes the trickster is "demonic." I in no way believe this, and do not consider the trickster to "live" simply within a Christian framework. The trickster is not "the devil," or Satanic. (Yulish wrote his article as a response to my Speculations on Mary as Trickster.)

But beware; the trickster is no mere innocent joker. When it comes to the paranormal, including UFOs, it can be very dangerous territory, entering the land of trickster. George P. Hansen, in his brilliant book The Trickster and the Paranormal, makes that very clear when he discusses folklorist Barre Toelken’s extremely serious confrontations with Trickster. Author Brad Steiger has written extensively about the trickster force within the paranormal and UFOs.

It can’t be stressed enough that, while the Trickster isn’t any kind of "devil" in that limited sense, it can be very dangerous. Whether or not the danger is due to intent on the part of the trickster, or our own ignorance of its being, is not the point. The point is to be very careful and well prepared, equipped with some research and grounded, before exploring the land of the weird.

Join Regan Lee’s Trickster and the Paranormal group on Yahoo.

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