Myths

Trickster Deities in Canadian Religions
Trickster deities bend or outright violate rules or norms of social order and play important parts within several religions observed by Canadian people.

Trickster deities bend or outright violate rules or norms of social order and play important parts within several religions observed by Canadian people.

Just as real life is not without its tricksters, these individuals play important parts within several religions observed by Canadian people in modern times. Broadly speaking, trickster deities either bend or outright violate rules or norms of social order through their clever and cunning ways, often with humorous results. In his writings, psychiatrist Carl Jung spoke of this trope within First Nations mythologies, describing it as an archetype that apparently combines qualities seen as divine along with human tendencies. According to mythology, tricksters are usually deities, human folk heroes, anthropomorphic animal characters or some combination of the three. 

“Let There Be Light,” or Raven Steals the Sun 

As the Canadian Encyclopedia reveals, trickster deities frequently appear in the creation stories of many First Nations cultures. You might be familiar with Raven, a figure present in the tales of multiple groups such as the Inuit, Nisga’a and Haida. One famous account depicts Raven bringing light to a dark world by stealing the sun, a feat he accomplishes by turning into a hemlock or pine needle that’s swallowed by the Sun Chief’s daughter. She gives birth to a child strangely resembling the brazen bird who then begs to see the sun, which has been secreted away in a box. Once the Sun Chief obliges the child, the avian god steals the sun and flies away. Some editions of the story insist that Raven’s feathers were white prior to his theft and that the burning sun turned them black. 

Baron Samedi: Lord of the Dead 

Canada’s National Household Survey doesn’t include Haitian Voodoo as a separate religious category. Nevertheless, a 2010 piece in the Globe and Mail disclosed informal estimates that its practitioners make up between 30 and 80 percent of Haitian nationals in the country, which numbered more than 248,000 according to the 2011 survey. Significant spirits in most versions of Voodoo are called “loa,” and Baron Samedi is a charismatic loa said to dig the graves of the newly departed and escort them to the afterlife.

The Baron fits the “trickster” idea in both his demeanor and behavior. He’s described as having a jovial cheekiness manifesting itself in his liberal use of profanity, indulging in scandalous humor, frequent flirtations with mortal women and love of rum and tobacco. Such irreverence matches the “trickster” profile, but it’s his ability to defy the forces of death that’s most notable. The Baron has been known to refuse to dig some graves, which effectively saves the individuals in question from dying. 

Loki and Mohini: Breaking the Gender Binary

As many trickster tales include some sort of physical transformation, it’s no surprise that some tricksters shift genders. Loki, a well-known charlatan from both ancient Norse legends and modern-day Heathenry, aids Valhalla’s finest in several stories while bringing ruin and death in others. One gender-bending account shows him shifting into the form of a mare and giving birth to Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged steed. Some texts from Hinduism speak of Mohini, a goddess and avatar of Vishnu whose ruses include the following:

  • duping a group of demons into handing over an immortality elixir
  • charming another demon into mimicking her dance moves until he turned into a pile of ash
  • causing Shiva to be overcome with lust and temporarily lose his cosmic powers

As long as humanity has existed, people have been fascinated with “trickster” characters. Within many cultures, these personae have often manifested as deities who frustrate plans of humans and gods alike. Although their mischief is sometimes meant in fun, in other cases it breaks the rules or challenges authority to accomplish their own agendas. Whether these actions have altruistic, selfish or more complex motivations, examining the stories of divine beings with a trickster disposition becomes a fascinating study in human nature.

 

Are You Considering Adoption?
Adoption can completely change a child's life.

Adoption can completely change a child’s life.

The Adoption Council for Canada estimates that there are about 30,000 children in Canada’s child welfare system eligible to be adopted. Although many of these children are aged 6 or older, they still need a permanent home where they can grow and thrive in a loving environment. If you’ve been considering an addition to your family, but were afraid of adoption, learn more about it to know if it might be a good solution.

Myths Surrounding Adoptions

Many people are concerned about the costs of adoption, which is understandable. However, a public adoption costs very little, according to the ACC. A private adoption will cost more, but costs vary by organization. It’s estimated that a public adoption costs $3,000 or less. Through a licensed agency, it can run $10,000 to $20,000, and an international adoption can cost $20,000 or more.

Then, there’s always the fear that a biological parent can take back the child. Once a parent’s rights have been terminated, the parent cannot regain custody of the child. Once the adoption is finalized, adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents when it comes to the child.

Another common myth is that “I don’t qualify.” Whether it’s age, marital status, or relationship-status, there are no hard and fast rules about who qualifies to adopt. Many people over the age of 40 have been able to adopt children. Single parents can also adopt, as can same-sex couples. Actually, in Canada, each province regulates adoptions based on rules that have been set by their government.

Many people are concerned with the needs of the child who has been abandoned or abused. It’s true that children in the foster care system can have emotional, mental or even physical needs that have to be addressed. Their best chance at success is a loving, permanent family who works toward a positive future with the child.

What’s the Process Like?

Although the process may be slightly different based on where you live or the agency you’re using, there is a basic process that can help you understand what it will take to adopt a child. The first thing you need to do is contact the agency and attend their intake meeting. Here, the agency will outline their specific guidelines.

Adoption is a very intrusive process. You’re going to be given an application that is very personal. You may not have even considered some of the questions you might get asked. You can’t get upset by the process. You’re asking to be entrusted with a human soul. This is a very serious matter. The agency has to do its due diligence to know that you are capable of the job. A medical exam is required. You may also be subjected to a police check. Prepare to give references for a background check.

Each applicant will be required to have a homestudy by a licensed social worker. Some agencies offer a class to prepare you for this step. You may choose to delay the process at this point while you prepare or even withdraw. The homestudy is more than just paperwork. You and your spouse (if applicable) will be interviewed. You should expect at least one home visit. The agency worker will probably want to meet with family members to assess your readiness and ability to deal with the adopted child.

Is It Worth It?

There’s no real timeline for the process, because it depends on many different factors. Be patient, because the most important aspect is the child’s needs. Although you may be trying to find your child, the real purpose of adoption is to find a family for a child. There may be disappointments along the way, but once the process is complete it is very rewarding. Think about it. Maybe you can be the difference in the life of a child.