How Trickster Became a Death Shaman, a parable.

October 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm (Spiritual) (, , , , )

So Trickster came to a new town, a town that was famous for it’s deep, still pond. Trickster didn’t know why they felt drawn to the pond, but there was something about a body of water that rarely moved, had no current, and in general just stagnated that called to them. We do not know if they had to travel a long way, or just down the block, but it’s important to note that this is not where Trickster came from, or started.

They walked along the shore of the pond, and there was a majesty and grace to it; just by looking at it you could tell it went very deep. For a while, Trickster just drank in the mysterious feeling of the pond, but it wasn’t long before all this stillness started driving them a little mad. What good is a thing, says they, that never changes, that never moves, that smells like stench; what good is water that you cannot drink, that you do not want to swim in – it seems it’s only purpose is this feeling you get when you walk along the shores. It is a feeling, a strong feeling in your soul, but that could also just be a reaction to how bad stagnant water smells.

So Trickster looked around the pond, and finding themselves alone, noticed several stones on the ground along the path around the pond. And in their way, they began to gather these stones – some big, some very small – into their pockets. A plan was starting to form, an amusement, something that would definitely mark the presence of One Who Makes Change here at this place.


They looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Seeing no one, they tried again.


This time, feeling safer, they were able to see the gentle ripples that the stone made in the pond. The water moved so happily, as if it had longed to be in motion for many years but no one had come to help it move.


A large stone dove in, and after watching the waves and curls of water for a while, Trickster heard a gentler, almost completely muffled “donk” as the stone hit the bottom of the pond. They smiled, in that way that children smile when they think they’ve figured out some secret like where their parents hid the sweets. They didn’t know what it meant, but they knew they were probably not supposed to know it, either.

With no interference from the outside world, the Trickster began exploring the pond in earnest. Many stones were thrown into it, at various places, and they noticed the results with glee. Something secret was being revealed with each muffled “donk” or absence of “donk”. Soon, the water was moving in several different directions at the same time, and the atmosphere around the pond began to change. Trickster began to change. They were happier, lighter, and found a innocent joy in throwing the stones into the pond and recording their effect.

They were so consumed by this plunk-donk that they did not notice the Stranger approach. The Stranger owned the pond, or maybe the pond owned the Stranger. However, the two were linked, and the chaos stirred something inside of the Stranger. For a while, The Stranger stood quiet and still, watching the Trickster dance around throwing stones into the pond and watching the reactions. The Stranger smiled.

It was this smile that the Trickster felt, and soon Trickster was aware that they were not alone.  Sheepishly, they went back to observing the pond in its more recognizable state, as the last little ripples died down and the deep solemnity drew a hush over it once again. However, Trickster kept stealing looks at the Stranger, and was drawn to that enigmatic smile. It was wide and welcoming, and creepy and unnerving at the same time. It was that dichotomy that drew the Trickster closer and closer, until the two of them were standing next to each other in silence.

“That was fun,” the Stranger remarked. “It’s been a while since someone enjoyed this pond.”

“I don’t know. It seems like this pond has a reputation of being enjoyable, but in that way that sleep is enjoyable. It’s not lively, or energetic, or friendly, but it makes you feel good,” said the Trickster, always looking at the other side of the issue.

“Many people are scared of this pond. It is deep, so deep we do not know the bottom.”

The Trickster swallowed hard, and decided not to share his plunk-donk research with the Stranger. However, by now Trickster had a pretty good idea of the topography of the bottom of the pond, where it grew so deep the donk was almost swallowed by it, and where the stone could still be seen for the shallowness of the water.

The Stranger continued, “Because of this, very few people come here anymore. Even those who live by the shores of the pond, they avoid it or are afraid of it. They try to pretend it does not exist. Even in the summer, when the stank of the rotting plants in the pond hangs heavy in the air, the people just look away and hold their noses higher, or contribute the smell to something else.”

“That seems silly,” said Trickster. “It’s a beautiful pond, and once you get used to the smell it’s a lovely garden as well. And it’s a fairly large thing to try to ignore or wish into non-existance all the time.” Trickster hated when people tried to ignore things that were right in front of them. It was sort of their raison d’etre, to force people to see those things. It was also part of Trickster to help people face their fears, and push past them, so that the fear held no power over the people anymore. This pond seemed to be calling out to Trickster now, a new cause to undertake.

“Oh,” said the Stranger, “Everyone comes here eventually.” Again, with that creepy but welcoming smile that made you feel your own bones. “It’s just that once they come here, they know that it exists, and they don’t like how it makes them feel. Take a look, deep within the water. See how it makes you feel.”

Trickster thought this a strange request, but they were always up for a challenge. Trickster went to the water’s edge and looked at their reflection in the water. Although it was definitely Trickster looking back at them, it was a different sort of Trickster. The eyes seemed hollower, and the flesh a little sunken. The longer they looked, the more the reflection withered away. Instead of being repulsed by this, Trickster was intrigued. Usually, a reflection is stagnant – it shows us what is there. This was more Trickster’s style.

“I think I understand,” said Trickster. “So, uh, yeah.” There was this uncomfortable silence between the two of them. The Stranger continued to smile at Trickster, and Trickster got the feeling they should probably be on their way now.

“I want you to do me a favor,” said the Stranger. “I want you to talk about this pond, at least your experiences here. I want you to talk about the plunk-donks and the changing reflection and how my smile feels in your bones. I want you to share how your life changes now that you’ve been to the pond, and you know that it’s here, and you’ve smelled the rot, and you know that someday you will be back here once again.”

Trickster looked up, and down, and side to side. “What do I get for this ‘favor’? What makes it worth my while?”

The Stranger took a small vial out of their pocket, stooped down and filled it with pond water. “I admit, things will change for you if you do this thing I ask. You will still be Trickster, but they will smell the rot on you and know that you have been here, that you know me. You can still do your Trickster-y type things, but also these things I ask. And when it comes time for you to come back, I will make it an easy and pleasant visit.”

“Why me? I’m sure there are many people in the town who would take that deal in a heartbeat. I already have a Job. I don’t need to add anything else to my plate.”

“Because, my friend, you above all others understand the nature of change. And although this pond seems like it never changes, it represents the biggest change of all. If you can dance with people through life, showing them the best and the worst of how the progression is one change after another, this is just one last change that they should also be dancing about. Now you’ve been here, you understand this place, at least a little, and I think as time goes on it will make more and more sense to you why you are one of many to talk about it, to lead people here, to make them think of this place as a good and worthy place, and not something to be ignored or feared.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Trickster took the vial of pond water and put it in their pocket. “And who shall I say I made this deal with? If people ask me who is Guardian of the Pond, what shall I say?”

“It is their Job to seek me out, if they want. The pond is unavoidable, but the Guardian is not.” And then, as though to seal the deal, The Stranger leaned over and whispered their name into the Trickster’s ear. “So you can find me again,” the Stranger said.

And the Trickster did the same, somehow knowing the significance of the Stranger knowing what their true name was.


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