EpisodesMythologyStrange Tales

6 Trickster Deities

What is a Trickster?

A trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, human, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior.

Here are six trickster deities throughout different cultures.


  • Carved on rock walls throughout Southwestern US
  • Fertility figure
  • Depicted humpbacked with flute
  • Trader, storyteller, healer, teacher and magician
  • Associated with childbirth and agriculture
  • Depicted with an inhumanly large phallus ?


  • Small figure from West Africa
  • Often depicted as a spider
  • Can shape shift into human form at will
  • God of all knowledge of stories


  • From Lakota culture of the Great Plains 
  • Sacred clown, jester, satirist
  • Uses inversion and reversal as elements of satire
  • Laughter is the ultimate lesson
  • Tricks others into enlightened states of understanding


  • Norse trickster god
  • Shape shifter – has appeared as a raven, salmon, horse, fly, and old woman
  • Mischievous – adds confusion and chaos to situations 
  • Invented technology and gave it to humans, such as the fishing net


  • Means “little people” in Mayan 
  • Stand about knee-high
  • Associated with forests, caves, stones, and fields
  • Described as tiny gnomes who help with crops
  • Farmers leave out gifts as a sign of gratitude 
  • If they do not leave out offerings, they hear laughter, tools disappear, crops are attacked

Reynard the Fox

  • From medieval Europe
  • A peasant-hero 
  • Sly as a fox
  • Smashes the aristocracy
  • Satire aimed at the clergy

See more in Stalking the Tricksters by Chris O’Brien. Also available in ebook and DVD.