Trump is probably the most famous person on the planet right now, eclipsing even the Pope and the Dalai Lama.
An aspiring tyrant of Nero-like proportions to the political left, and a holy crusader to the political right. But there is also a third mythical perspective (and certainly more, but we will focus on this particular one here):
Trump as The Sacred Clown.
To my surprise, I have seen many references to Trump as a Heyókȟa in the last couple of weeks, a term with seemingly positive connotations. Intrigued, I started to research this increasingly trending concept and found a large number of blog posts exploring this connection. They all point to the Heyókȟa – the sacred clown of the Lakȟóta.
The Lakȟóta people are one of three tribes comprising the Great Sioux Nation, currently living in reservations in Dakota. According to their traditions, the heyókȟa plays an important role in the community, the role of the jester, the satirist, the one who interrupts and breaks accepted social norms.
The heyókȟa is full of contradictions and brings absurdity and parody to the tribe, thereby illuminating reality by subverting assumptions. They are prone to sudden outbursts that, like lightning strikes, are keys to enlightenment. They display extreme behaviours to function as a sort of mirror to the absurdities and foolishness inherent in everyone. They can ride a horse facing the wrong way, flatten round things for no apparent reason and walk around in the cold naked while complaining about the heat.
A heyókȟa provokes laughter in times of danger and despair, and brings chaos and turbulence when everything feels safe and secure. They teach by negative example and disrupt established ceremonies. They keep people from taking themselves too seriously or believing that they are more powerful than they actually are.
Which sort of fits the bill for Trump. It actually fits very well. Extraordinarily well.
But then we come to this point – the heyókȟa is a highly advanced empath, employing his antics in a conscious manner to lead people to a greater understanding of themselves and the universe. They act on behalf of Wakan Tanka – The Great Spirit, or rather, The Great Mystery.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if there are two words I am loathe to use about Trump, they would be “conscious” and “empath”. For the sake of example, let’s contrast the Commander-in-Chief with an actual heyókȟa – Heȟáka Sápa, also known as:
According to the Lakota way of measuring time, Black Elk was born in the winter when the four crows were killed on tongue river. He grew up with the Oglala Lakota. At the age of nine, he was suddenly taken ill by a mysterious illness.
Black Elk was in a coma for days. During this time, he had an immense vision where he met the Wakíŋyaŋ.
Wakíŋyaŋ means Thunder, but also Spirit/Mystery, the Sacred (The Supreme Deity of the Lakota is named Wakan Tanka – see above). These seem to be converging concepts. The beings that Black Elk met – the Wakíŋyaŋ – are often translated into Thunder Spirits or Thunder Birds.
Black Elk had already heard their voices. From the age of four, they had been calling him, but he had been afraid. Then, at nine, when he was eating, a voice said:
It is time; now they are calling you
He started walking, but his thighs began to hurt, and he lay down to rest. The next day, he lost his ability to walk. As time went by, his arms and legs became swollen and his face bloated.
When lying in his teepee, looking out the opening, he saw the arrival of two beings, shooting head-first like arrows from the clouds, flaming spears in hand.
Hurry! Come! Your Grandfathers are calling you!
Black Elk communed with the Grandfathers, spirits kind and loving, full of years and wisdom, and saw many wondrous things, visions that can be read in more detail elsewhere.
Being visited by the Wakíŋyaŋ and communing with them, is a prerequisite for becoming a wičháša wakȟáŋ (holy man/medicine man) and a heyókȟa. And this was Black Elk’s destiny.
Black Elk had several visions of the Universe and of Wakan Tanka, The Great Mystery. He described Wakan Tanka as the center which is here but which we know is really everywhere which reminds me of Voltaire’s quote concerning God – God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.
Black Elk was a wise man beyond compare. It seems almost an act of sacrilege to honour Trump with the title of heyókȟa, even in jest. Unless that, of course, has a point to it? As in, breaking a cultural taboo?
Or are we just looking at the wrong type of clown? Looking at some of the (other) articles claiming that Trump might be a heyókȟa we find they are sometimes accompanied by images like this one below:
You would never see Black Elk in this kind of attire.
Because this is a Payakyamu of the Hopi of New Mexico (other tribes in the Pueblo region have this sacred clown as well, with other names).
And though this is not an exact fit for Trump either, it leads us to a potential fantastically huge possibility.
Trump as a Tsuku.
The Hopi have an important ceremony, a ritual theatre called the Kachina dances. The Kachina are sacred beings, ancestral and virtuous spirits. Somewhat akin to Wakíŋyaŋ. An important part of these dances are the Tsukulalwa, which could be translated into the Clowning. The Hopi have different types of clowns, among them the Payakyamu pictured above, but the coarsest and most unaware of them are the Tsuku.
The clowns arrive from the rooftops. They do so in slightly unorthodox fashion, i.e. jump with umbrellas or go upside down on a rope.
They explore the plaza in a ridiculous way, eating scraps of food and making strange antics, until they spy the beautiful Kachinas.
Then they become greedy and proprietory, running around shouting: “This many are mine! This many are mine!” to the Kachinas, claiming ownership over the spirits.
In the dances to follow, the Tsuku, in their absurdity and stupidity, reflect “life as it should not be”. And, sadly, at the same time “life as it currently is, with its choices and consequences”.
The most common type of Tsuku are the Köcha Tsuku (White Clown) and the Sikya Tsuku (Yellow Clown).
And here he is. Though we have chosen to call him The Orange Clown (Just try Googling it and see what comes up), this is his mythical counterpart. The Sikya Tsuku.
And though he is no heyókȟa, he still has a sacred function. Like the Tsuku in the Hopi plazas, he bumbles about, creating chaos, disrupting established ceremonies.
He shows us life as it should not be.
But also, and more importantly, life as it is.
We have believed that the systems we are living under are well-functioning and that they make sense. Trump, the Yellow (Orange) Clown show that they are anything but. They are fragile, built on clownish partisanism, and politics itself was a circus before Trump came aboard. He is just making it obvious for the world to see. As my therapist use to say, negative patterns in your life repeat themselves until they become a parody of themselves. And only when that happens, you are able and ready to throw them off and change your path.
Trump is like a Universal Law. Something that had to happen. The Parody that makes us understand that we can’t continue like this. Something must change. He doesn’t try to hide the shadows, he flaunts them. He is like a troll happy to dance in the sunlight, exposing the dark underbelly of our society like a buffoonish trickster. He is humanity’s unchecked Ego. Unapologetic.
As a sacred clown, he mirrors what we have become. A globalized culture riddled with greed, selfishness and ignorance. He shocks us, with one lightning strike after the other, absurdities to reveal the underlying absurdity of our society. That our civilization is, at its core, built on insanity, divorced from Nature and our hearts and virtues. That our culture is kooyanisqatsi, Hopi for World out of Balance.
Trump shows us a grotesque picture of what we have become, for, as Black Elk said:
It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost
So, in this perspective, this mythical view, we should be grateful to this holy jester, this Orange Clown in the White House. He has helped show us that our life is life as it should not be. Now it is up to us.