Magic of the Tricksters’ Dance

This began as an answer to a post from my friend online and game design peer, the awesome Kate Bullock.

The question was “What is your magic?”

I answered the post but decided to expand on my answer and talk a bit more about my interaction with the world with an idea that initially took form at the 2019 Playful by Design Symposium at UIUC in a keynote that I did. The keynote was about finding the power of your voice as a creative. In it I coined the phrase “Tricksters’ Dance” as a response, and counterpoint, to the idea of the Hero’s Journey. This post isn’t about the counterpoint of the idea. Just the stuff of it as a form of nourishment and being.

So what is my magic? I do a Tricksters’ Dance where I find new forms to address what is before me and I keep those forms which expands my sense of identity and capacity to connect and build relationships.

It’s shape shifting and working with threads that contain, shape, bind, and guide. It manipulates perceptions, reveals stories, and weaves scaffoldings to support when traumas must be extracted, and new foundations must be built.

It examines what serves and bolsters it. It also examines what no longer serves and unravels the threads that maintain it. It moves through all emotions and shifts through shadow, light, silhouette, negative space, color, emptiness and fullness, recognizing the value of all and not staying in any one form for too long and eschewing the prison of binaries.

It gives supremacy to no one thing while acknowledging the inter-relatedness. interdependence, and importance of all things. It’s about space holding and gentle nudges. It’s not trying to fix people, but giving them tools and space to effect a transformation that nourishes them and not my ideas of them. It’s about time traveling and sidestepping through one’s lifetime and webs of connection. It centers the power of my voice in world building, and the responsibilities that go with it. Again, it eschews binaries and the spectrums in favor of examining amalgamations of bits, pieces and forces that form ecologies which get colonized by our perceptions and narratives.

It bows to no gods or goddesses because they are still just stories but respects Creation and their influences within it. It helps to instigate new mythologies for new times while being a psychopomp for those which no longer serve and need gentle repose.

It’s playing with a purpose, and parables of play, but avoids being didactic and dogmatic and proclaiming general one-size-fits all panaceas and magic bullets.

It is about being in motion and giving love to the processes of becoming, creating, Creation, disassembling and reassembling.

As such it finds power in words, and motions, and textures and relationships. It finds cohesion in stories and dances and moments of play and presence. It finds truth in moments of yes and no, pleasures and boundaries, songs and stillness, and sifts through failures for golden bits and examines successes for possible hidden sorrows.

My magic makes me the Brother of crows, Child of spiders, Sister of rabbits, Sibling of serpents, Colluder with cats, Co-conspirator with monkeys, Clowning with coyotes, Student of scarabs, Jester for jackals, Playmate of raccoons, Confidant of owls, Dancing with stars, and Swaying with grass and trees. Those are the titles that come to me in Dreams because that’s were I mostly live. Mostly.

It is, at times, severely lonely magic. The whole of me doesn’t ever really belong to one place, and I’ve yet to find people who’ll move at my pace and navigate. There are some, close to me that try, but it overwhelms them. I am grateful for that service and try not to be pained by it when they shrug their shoulders and admit their boundary has been reached. Instead, I invariably shape change and adjust to their paces as it’s what nature does. I give that service with the understanding that at some point I’ll have to flow freely at my speed, running across the top of the grass, but I’ll return with new stories, dances, jokes and medicines. Such magic requires a great deal of trust in both directions and boundless love.

I have, at times, been at odds with my magic and wished it gone from the core of me because of the loneliness. But I’ve learned that my way is my way and I’m responsible for it and the space it creates. I’m building tribe, creating constellations, and gathering my valent electrons and reveling in the covalent bonds along the perimeter.

With each interaction the I of me grows in complexity through the we of us in motion. That growth cycle produces medicine that I must give away. That sharing of medicine produces nourishment for me as a byproduct.

I must be careful not to sow medicine faster than I’m nourished or it empties me out and leaves me weathered and exhausted. If I don’t move in my trickster’s dance, shapeshifting often and making gifts that belong to others, then I’m left equally exhausted and worn. In those times I am not my best self, but then I get better.

It’s a process of balance.

Allen Turner

Writer, Storyteller, Game designer, Teacher, Dad, Table-top RPG geek. I'm just a dude who likes to share my wild imaginings. Follow me on Twitter @CouncilOfFools

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