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Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters

Dan Schatz 19 Oct 10 - 01:31 PM
Jeri 19 Oct 10 - 01:55 PM
ClaireBear 19 Oct 10 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Seonaid 19 Oct 10 - 02:03 PM
ClaireBear 19 Oct 10 - 02:12 PM
Dan Schatz 19 Oct 10 - 02:16 PM
Bob the Postman 19 Oct 10 - 03:20 PM
Nancy King 19 Oct 10 - 05:06 PM
Dan Schatz 20 Oct 10 - 01:36 PM
Jacob B 20 Oct 10 - 05:37 PM
Dan Schatz 22 Oct 10 - 12:19 AM
LadyJean 22 Oct 10 - 12:35 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 01:31 PM

I am working on a service for my Unitarian Universalist congregation on tricks and tricksters, in celebration of Halloween. I've always been intrigued by the chaotic benevolence of the trickster as a figure.

I'd welcome any good references to folklore studies about tricksters - the functions of the trickster in various cultures, the good things we can learn from tricksters, and of course, good trickster stories. Extra points if anyone can relate any of this to the ancient festival of Samhain.

I seem to have played a trick on myself by choosing an interesting, but esoteric service topic! Thanks for any help you can give!

Dan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 01:55 PM

See this page on History & Customs of Halloween. Apparently, they were really into outhouse tipping.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: ClaireBear
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:02 PM

Here's a short version of that raven-stealing-the-sun myth someone mentioned on FB:

"A long time ago, the Raven looked down from the sky and saw that the people of the world were living in darkness. The ball of light was kept hidden by a selfish old chief. So the Raven turned himself into a spruce needle and floated on the river where the chief's daughter came for water. She drank the spruce needle. She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy—which was the Raven in disguise. The baby cried and cried until the chief gave him the ball of light to play with. As soon as he had the light, the Raven turned back into himself and carried the light into the sky. From then on, we no longer live in darkness."

spoken by Marilyn Whirlwind, in a Northern Exposure Christmas pageant


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: GUEST,Seonaid
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:03 PM

Check out fox and coyote lore.
Those particular canids are recognized trickster figures.
There's also a "Jack" tale about how Jack beat the devil for meanness, and invented the jack-o-lantern in the process.
Good hunting!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: ClaireBear
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:12 PM

Maybe a useful website:

Tricksters of the World (UNC Wilmington)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:16 PM

These are indeed helpful! Oh please keep them coming!

Warmly,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 03:20 PM

Anansi is the West African trickster and his stories came to North America with the West African slaves.

As in the Raven Steals Sun myth alluded to above, trickster stories often attribute some aspect of contemporary reality to something the trickster did long long ago. Many natural stone pillars (hoo-doos) in western North America have a name which translates as "Coyote's Penis" because Coyote had a ribald adventure on the spot.

"Our" trickster, of course, is the devil, and the many European folk songs and tales dealing with a match of wits between Old Scratch and whomever (a tailor, a peasant, a soldier, a child) must have a pedigree stretching back to Cro-Magnon times or the olden days, which ever came first. False Knight Upon The Road is one example. In scripture, Satan behaves as a trickster when he tempts Eve, when he afflicts Job, and when he tempts Jesus.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Nancy King
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:06 PM

Reynard the Fox, or Reynardine, shows up in a lot of folk songs.

The Wikipedia (yeah, I know...) article on "Trickster" actually has a whole lot of stuff that might give you good leads. It gives links to articles on tricksters in various cultures, and even lists "Internet culture...troll".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 01:36 PM

The internet troll as a trickster figure. Not so benevolent.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Jacob B
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 05:37 PM

Look up Nasrudin (real person(?) from 12th-13th century Middle East), Herschel Ostropolier (real person from 18th-19th century Ukraine), and Lorenzo Dow (real person from 18th-19th century New England). I'm fascinated by the fact that the same story about raising the devil is told about all three of them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 12:19 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tricks and Tricksters
From: LadyJean
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 12:35 AM

Any Mountain Jack Tale is about a trickster. Then, of course, there's Robin Hood, and any number of other legendary outlaws.

I rather liked the Seminole story I heard about the rabbit, who laughed at the box turtles, because they were so slow, and they all looked alike.

So, the box turtles challenged him to a race. The rabbit and the fastest box turtle took off from the starting line. The rabbit took the lead almost immediately. He galloped along the track until he found a lovely patch of grass and sat down to eat. When he started up again, he passed a box turtle. So, he kept going as long as he could. Then, he stopped to rest, and when he started up again, you guessed it, there was the box turtle. So, he took off and ran and ran. Then, when he was sure of his lead, he stopped for a long drink. When he started, he found the box turtle was ahead of him.
So, he ran and ran. He came in sight of the finish line, just in time to see the box turtle hurrying across it.
So, the rabbit asked the box turtle what we'd all ask him, "HOW?"
"Simple," said the box turtle. "My brothers waited all along the track. Since we all look alike, you couldn't tell that it wasn't the same turtle you just passed. So we won the race by working together."
The rabbit hopped off with egg on his face.


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