Heyhoka – The Trickster


Life often, present us with surprising twist and turns. Throughout the world you will find reference in Mythology to the Trickster. The Trickster has had a loads of fun with me, just when I become complacent, even smug in what I thought was personal achievements, the Trickster arrives, and forces me to laugh at myself, reduce me to humbleness. Although my laughter has been in bitterness at the time, it has always stopped me dead in my tracks, and shown me a perspective I would not have considered at the time.

Among the Sioux tribes, a select few members of the tribe volunteers to be-come a Heyhoka. It means one who has an obligation to do things differently from everyone else in order to break all patterns of habitual behaviour.

Sometimes the Heyhoka’s actions are very humorous, because this is part of the technique for shattering a person’s perceptions of, and participation in, the everyday routines of life. To break through the habitual enables one to take some distance from oneself – to see things a little bit more objectively, and thereby on a higher level.” – Epes Brown – Biographer of Black Elk (Himself a Heyhoka)

One of the chief causes of psychological aging is habituation. Psychologist Dr. Robert Kastenbaum has the theory that as we grow older we develop a gradual decrease of response to persistent stimulation – habituation – ‘a mental reducing valve’. “It is a reduction of our consciousness as well as our senses, a process in which ordinary stimuli of life, the simple pleasures and small joys, lose their flavour over time by sheer repetition.”

Habituation is assuming without understanding, judging without weighing, reacting from bias rather than evident fact. It is a reduction of our awareness rather than an expansion of our consciousness.” Harry Moody

So the world becomes stale and stagnates under limited perception and ages. Here is where the Heyhoka, the trickster comes in., to turn your world upside down, so that you can see a with fresh eyes, and grow. It is a vital part of Longevity. All Centanariums have one thing in common, open minds and a positive out look on life.

In story of Demeter and Persephone (Kore) Arnobius relates: “ Baubo… received Ceres, wearied with complicated evils, as her guest, and endeavoured to soothe her sorrows … she entreated her to pay attention to the refreshment of her body, and placed before her (kykeon) to assuage the vehemence of her thirst…” Being unable to divert Demeter, Baubo then uncovered her vagina: “ upon which the goddess fixed her eyes, and was delighted with the novel method of mitigating anguish of sorrow; and afterwards became cheerful through laughter …” Demetra George

Like Heyhoka, Baubo uses the gift of humour to lift the spirits, giving Demeter the reminder of renewal and regeneration. In the same way The trickster comes to show us that there is always more to learn in life, deeper to go. We can become complacent in our sorrow, in our achievements, or in our cynicism.

My favourite interpretation of the ultimate meaning behind the Tarot card The Magus comes from The Fool or the Trickster;

There was once a magician of great standing and reverence, who called his apprentice, who had completed his apprenticeship.

“My son, you are now schooled in the High Art. I welcome you into our fellowship.”

The apprentice glowed with pride.

“You now think you know everything and have learn t all you can … But you will know, in time, that you had to learn everything to know that it is all of no use. The Divine joke is that many years of magical training are finally discovered to be quite irrelevant. But this truth is only gained by experience, and not through discussion or mere play of words.

Heyhoka, gives us the opportunity to again experience the world anew, “With windows of perception cleansed.”

In our everyday lives, it is focused attention that helps us from becoming habitual. The Kahunas use a form of meditation or rather contemplation called Nalu, to strengthen awareness. The word means “to form waves.” The essence of the technique is a gentle, effortless resting of attention and awareness. You just look, listen and feel, with an attitude of positive expectation … without judgment while maintaining your focus on a subject. With this technique new insights can received on ordinary experiences of living.

Be aware, be free, be focused, be here, be loved, be strong, be healed.”

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