Book Review: The Trickster and the Paranormal
Written By: Paranormal News
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If you are a paranormal enthusiast with an acute interest in philosophical works influencing some of the subject's greatest thinkers, The Trickster and the Paranormal written by George P. Hansen is a book not to be missed. It discusses the concept of the "trickster” and his unspoken and often ignored relationship with supernatural phenomena and societal change. Whereas western Aristotelian logic sets up the law of the excluded middle in which something either is or is not, trickster concepts reside at the crossroads of these two opposing worlds. The subjects of the paranormal thrive here--between heaven and earth reside the UFOs; between life and death reside the spirit world; between truth and fiction reside the manifestation of reality itself--these convoluted crossroads are all trickster territory.
One of the most intriguing concepts to drive numerous secret societies is the desire to have the power of a God and make any whimsical dream come true--a power which has historically only been held by the communicator who stands between God and man. One of the most fundamental and influential figures in Greek Mythology who did this is Hermes, the trickster God. He stood as the mediator, communicating meaning to the masses while also maintaining his own contradictory ambiguity. Hermeneutics itself is the study of interpretation--giving reality its meaning, its magic. Hermes means “he of the stone heap” and in ancient Greece, mounds of stones served as landmarks of demarcation. He is the god of the unexpected, of luck, coincidence, and synchronicity. Through Hermes, coincidences have meaning, acting as meaningful guideposts which lead us on an adventure we would not have otherwise taken.
Like Hermes, Mercurius was known an evasive trickster as well, causing great transformation, acting as the process which converts the material into the spiritual, and vice versa. Mercurius is both the devil and God's reflection on physical nature. He is a compound of extreme opposites brought together and existing as one. He thus controls transmutation.
Tricksters such as these two are agents of change in the social order--a social order that is not directly observable. You cannot see the structure of society as a tree or a rock—the structure of society is made up of 'invisible' entities which exist like spirits, and the tricksters assist in helping new ones manifest. They therefore have the power to transform the spiritual into material, and as such, are extremely dangerous to the current establishment.
Because of his transitive powers, the effects of the trickster on society must be repressed to maintain social stability, and this is done by labeling tricksters and associated phenomena as crazy or deviant in order to preserve the hierarchy of passed down objective reality. Thus, “magic” itself--and the alternative understanding of reality it brings--must be suppressed to prevent the disintegration of the social organism. The 'paranormal' is therefore a dangerous field as it can transform the current understanding of the social playing field and needs to be belittled and ridiculed at all cost--a cost which can include the “meaning” of life itself.
Hansen suggests in his book that during many transitionary periods in history, there has been an upsurge of recorded paranormal events. When people lose faith in authority, structure breaks down and paranormal superstitions run rampant. A central thesis to the book therefore states that psychic phenomena associated with the paranormal is the very process of deconstruction, change, transition, disorder, ambiguity, and the blurring of boundaries—the power of the trickster. Boundaries become so blurred here that fact and fantasy are no longer easily distinguished -- an effect which erodes hierarchic influence.
In support of this concept, Anthony F.C. Wallace analyzed revitalization movements and demonstrated a clear and distinct relationship between societal destructuring and the supernatural. Where society falls apart, evidence and the claims of the paranormal surge. People in such states have a less distinct understanding of their relationship to the structure of society in general. Those who believe in new mythologies express extreme distrust for authority and government, and as such, form a dangerous philosophy against the powers that be. Whether this new philosophy of meaning is true or false is inconsequential—the fact that people believe the trickster causes mass revolutions, overthrowing empires. Novel perceptions presented by the tricksters break previous patterns and facilitate great change.
Hansen also points out that rigid structures, behaviors, and beliefs all work in an interconnected fashion to reduce magic, suppress the trickster, and sequester the paranormal to the confines of marginality, to be forgotten in a dusty basement. In our society, magic is relegated to fiction, and large industries have developed to portray magic in this light for the purpose of destroying it. Society, for it to maintain itself, requires collectively held fundamental premises, beliefs and assumptions—when these are challenged by magic, disruption of society ensues. Current objective reality may be nothing more than a shared but baseless myth—and only through the trickster can new myths enter in to the mix and modify these shared premises that society so fiercely upholds.
Hansen then writes that people who take on the qualities of tricksters have very thin boundaries--blending fact and fiction together--they also convey hypnotic abilities far beyond those of others. They can recall dreams with ease and can go lucid often. These thin-boundary people also have a tendency to experience synesthesia—the blending of senses. As such, they become artists, writers, and musicians. Those, on the other hand, with thick boundaries stay within one mode of thought and show less fluidity in their lives, existing more comfortably as middle managers in large corporations as boundary keepers.
Magic is meaning, and meaning is problematic to the current social structure--something best to be forgotten. A word is assumed to be unambiguously attached to an item or event, all the while ambiguity is repressed. Deconstructionists, however, recognize that this meaning is problematic and the reader and writer both have very different interpretations. Science refuses to acknowledge this, whereas some have gone so far to suggest that literature itself requires some theory of telepathy to work. With telepathy, magic and meaning are joined.
Becoming exposed to 'liminal' elements within the paranormal such as UFOs or poltergeists generally brings individuals to a breaking point of transition...unless this transition is shielded by a strong belief. It is the role of the skeptical organization to create this powerful shield to prevent the trickster's effects from bleeding through and destroying society at large. Those who are in transitionary phases in their life, looking for change and reintegration, are especially open and vulnerable to reaching that liminal breaking point. But once they emerge, they are also empowered by an upsurge of charisma--the power to change society itself.
Quantum effects as well, writes Hansen, are at the heart of magic and paranormal-related phenomena surrounding the trickster. Hoaxers can influence the expectations of those whom they are duping, and the two work together to roleplay a reality into existence. It blurs the observer and the observed, and causes numerous problems for objective enquiry because the investigator unwittingly participates in the phenomena. This occurs in scientific experiments and is known as reflexivity. Personal qualities of an experimenter influences the result, and consequently the result is not fully objective. In such cases, subject and object are one and the same—the 'pretending' nature of imagination makes this possible. Psi itself blurs the distinctions between self and the outside world, between imagination and reality. Our unconscious thoughts are not limited to the confines of our brain, but instead, they move and influence the world, short-circuiting the hierarchy, and they do so through the transmutational nature of the trickster.
As you can see, The Trickster and the Paranormal is exceptionally thought-provoking and digs into the core of all its associated phenomena. When you finish reading, you'll have a firmer grasp on the true nature of what causes social change and the dissolution of structure, have a clearer grasp of the power of the trickster, and understand more fully why certain knowledge is considered forbidden and suppressed by the establishment, yet preached by influential secret societies. Highly recommended. Read it now!