Trump is the Mythical Trickster, activating Action and Hope

Sitting in front of my computer tonight, the night before Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, I am resigned to do battle. I am Merry riding double with Eowyn, heading straight into a battle from which there is likely no return.


LOTR, Return of The King, Directed by Peter Jackson for New Line Cinema, adapted from the books by J.R.R.Tolkien


Or am I Eowyn, taking my destiny out of the hands of others and riding into battle with another more innocent than I in my care? I am both.

Donald Trump’s victory took me and many others by surprise. It is a hard lesson and an important one for the Democratic Party, realizing that there were so many people feeling voiceless, exhausted and desperate, defeated and angry after a long, unwinnable war and a Great Recession which ripped jobs, homes, and hope from so many. It has been a tough eight years, my family was on the verge of losing our home, more than once during the recession.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Faced with political candidates that represented the same policies that had not produced results, millions of voters put their hope in Trump. He offered a new, everyman appeal that resonated with disenfranchised Americans. A multimillionaire, whose home is gold-plated, who has divorced and bankrupted more times than I care to count, tells us he is going to fix everything and he is the only one who can do it, and many people believe him. Desperation makes people believe and do almost anything.

Donald Trump is what archetypal psychology calls a Trickster. It is not something you try to be, it is an energy that is created by and acts on the culture you live in. We conjured him with our desperation. The father of archetypal psychology, C G Jung writes; “. . . he is a faithful reflection of an absolutely undifferentiated human consciousness, corresponding to a psyche that has hardly left the animal level” (Jung, 1969, p.260 [CW, 9i, para 465]).

and  penned a wonderful description of the Trickster in their essay “Decoding Donald Trump: The Triumph of Trickster Politics:”

“The trickster is a universal figure, appearing in myths across cultures. The trickster is a figure of excess, especially of eating and drinking, and of sexual exploits, often depicted with an enormous phallus — the very grotesqueness of his figure denoting an inversion of order. The trickster is a breaker of taboos, a joker and prankster, the best of companions, but also a thief, a liar and an impostor; the mediator between the gods and the humans, a figure of shadow and night, the one who accompanies the soul of the dead into the underworld, snatching himself a soul now and again. In many storylines, the trickster is a vagrant who happens to stumble into a village, appearing as if out of the blue, just as a crisis has erupted. He tries to gain the confidence of villagers by telling tales and cracking jokes. He is an outsider without existential commitments. He is also a mime, telling people whatever they would like to hear — all according to the occasion. The trickster holds no real knowledge but practices a cunning intelligence. The trickster manages to impose himself, not because of his real qualities, nor by enabling the people around him, but by blurring distinctions. Rather than making clear the difference between truth and lie, the trickster thrives in ambivalence. While presenting himself as a solution to the crisis, he actually perpetuates insecurity by blurring boundaries and undermining the very sense of distinction and judgment. In fact, the trickster is not really interested in solving the crisis. His real interest lies in perpetuating conditions of confusion — his own habitat. The trickster is a demonic clown.

The sense of empowerment that tricksters manage to produce feels real enough for a while, but it evaporates as suddenly as the trickster entered the stage, and dissolves in nothingness. Before that happens, however, entire societies can drive themselves to destruction. The trickster is a professional in creating and escalating division up until violence breaks out, at which point he manages to represent himself as a savior. That is why in many cultures the trickster is defined as a ‘second creator’ — a nullity, a nobody, a prankster who yet, under special circumstances, creates the world in his own image.”

As a Trickster, Trump creates his own reality and it doesn’t matter if he changes his positions from day-to-day to him they are all true. A trickster lies, and in his mind, the ends justify any and all means. So here, now, we are left with all of his campaign promises, with which he won the election.

“I will not touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

“I will bring manufacturing back to the US and millions of jobs.”

“I will replace Obama Care with something better and everybody will be covered.”

“I will lower taxes on the Middle Class.”

Time will tell if President Elect Trump will even try to deliver on his promises to his supporters, or if like the Trickster, he will do what he wants when he wants without care, regret or shame. Only a trickster would nominate people to his cabinet who want to destroy, cripple or eliminate the departments they are nominated to lead.

So, Like Eowyn and Merry, I will ride out and do battle to preserve the environment, stop climate change, preserve public education, save our heath care, support massive infrastructure and green energy spending, fight for civil rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous people’s rights and women’s rights.

The trickster comes at a time when a society needs to wake up and face its shadow, face its failures and do better. We Can Do Better. We must do better for all Americans, the world, and the generations to come.

Khizr Khan, the Right Messenger at the Right Time

IMG_0068This post first appeared in the Opinion section of The Santa Clarita Gazette, by Andrea Slominski on 8/04/2016

It is possible that the words of a Harvard-educated Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, and his wife, may just save us from ourselves. How fitting, that by sharing their love of America, their reverence for the Constitution, and the insurmountable loss of their son to suicide bombers, that Khizr and Ghazala Khan remind us of the principles that structure our republic, and that have held it together for our brief 240-year history. We are stronger together. Together, Americans have achieved the improbable.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s son, Captain Humayun S. M. Khan, was killed by two suicide bombers at a checkpoint north of Baghdad on June 8, 2004. In fact, suspicious of the approaching vehicle, Captain Khan ordered his men to “hit the dirt” and stay back, while he took another 10 steps forward, stopping the car. The two suicide bombers inside detonated their vests, killing Kahn and wounding 10 other U.S. soldiers. That is the definition of a hero. He put the lives of others before his own. He protected his men.

In an interview with “Vocative,” an online news source, Khizir Khan said, “Muslims are American, Muslims are citizens, Muslims participate in the well-being of this country as American citizens. . . . We are proud American citizens. It’s the values (of this country) that brought us here, not our religion. Trump’s position on these issues do not represent those values,” he said.

How ironic and beautiful that a Muslim American Citizen, an immigrant, whose story IS the American Dream, should school Donald Trump on what it means to be an American, what is means to defend the Constitution, and the equal rights it offers all citizens.

Khan continued, speaking of his son, “Values that he learned throughout his life came together and made him a brave American soldier. This country is not strong because of its economic power or military power. This country is strong because of its values, and during this political season, we all need to keep that in mind.”

Yes, we do need to keep that in mind. We also need to remember Mr. Khan’s remarks at the Democratic convention.

“If it was up to Donald Trump, (my son) never would have been in America,” Khizr Khan said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities – women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. . . . Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America – you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one. We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together.”

Boom. Mic Drop.

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Global Warming or why…

This is a column I recently wrote for “The Santa Clarita Gazette” a conservative paper in my hometown. I will be writing weekly, the opinion column “Lean to the Left. This is my first…to go to the column copy and paste this link into your browser.

Earth NASA Image

Global Warming, or why our grandchildren will most likely hate us.

The biggest problem currently facing humankind is global warming. Boom. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if we believe it or not. With or without our consent and acknowledgement, the oceans are acidifying, sea level is rising, and permafrost is melting, releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane holds atmospheric heat 30% more efficiently than CO2,, thus increasing the rate of warming and it’s effects on the oceans. The planetary crisis of Global Warming has caught up to us. When I was an undergrad in 1978, studying marine biology, it was already happening. My professors at the University of Rhode Island, home to one of the finest marine research facilities in the world, were screaming about it then. No one would listen. They were considered alarmist, nuts. Well, people are beginning to listen now.

“On July 20th, (2015) James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, ‘We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization’” (Holthaus).
Scary and true. Currently, there are over 400 dead zones in the oceans documented by oceanographers, where no life exists. Divers are frightened by it: They should be. We were never meant to be alone in the oceans. In his book Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts quotes the scientists who dove in; “As you go deeper, it gets kind of scary. Because there’s nothing there. There’s no fish, no organisms alive, so it’s just us” (121). Predictions for the future of the oceans run the gamut, from hopeless, to hopeful. Ocean acidification, due to the high levels of CO2 the ocean is absorbing from the atmosphere, is already beginning the dissolve the shells of snails, oysters and mollusks and kill off plankton, the base of the food chain.

Did you know that nearly half of the world’s populations live on or near the coast, harvesting twenty percent of their annual protein from the oceans? Poor and rural communities harvest thirty percent more. We are facing rising sea levels, acidification, the looming extinction of species and growing garbage patches that cover hundreds of miles in all of the deep ocean gyres. Whether you like the terms Mother Earth or Mother Nature the truth is the oceans feed us, and are the regulatory systems and engines of weather patterns, droughts and floods alike. How many refugees will be created by flooded coastal cities and parched farmlands? How are we going to care for our families and each other? What kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren?

A movement has begun in both the Eastern and Western traditions, re-assessing the role of religion and the church in environmental leadership. Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home” was an eloquent and timely plea to the world, an environmental and social call to action. Equally, the life’s work of the Dali Lama has been of care and compassion for all living beings, including the Earth. Time is running out. We must deepen our concern and broaden our actions on a massive scale in order to save our oceans and our planet, for our grandchildren and their children, lest our names memories, and lack of action, be cursed throughout history. It’s time for some serious American, environmental, leadership. We got to the moon in eight years after we made the decision to do it. Let’s ditch fossil fuels, we can do it; we are Americans and we can do anything we put our minds, grit, muscle and heart into.

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Eric Holthuas,

Best Back to School Advice …..

Computer genii Indifference Student in college Legs of kids

Some kids love to go back to school, they have lots of friends and socialize well! They love the ritual of new sneakers and new pencils; they rebound from disappointments and defeats and learn from their mistakes, in class and on the playground. Some kids have a more difficult time. They may be shy, they may not fit in with the crowd, they may be different somehow. . . Some children hate going back to school.

We need to pay attention to our children, we need to be mindful of the ones who don’t fit in; in grade school, middle school, high school, college and beyond.

Children and adolescents who feel isolated and alienated are often lonely, sad and sometimes, angry and volatile. They all grow up. They grow up and very bad things can happen when their mental heath needs are not diagnosed and treated.

We need to make young people’s mental heath a priority, because for some, back to school is Back to Stress, Peer Pressure, Bullying and Performance Anxiety. This desire to fit in with a group doesn’t change as we get older.

If we could cheerlead our community’s mental health with as much gusto as we cheer for our sports teams, club teams and celebrities we would go a long way toward eliminating the kind of violence we have seen so much of the last few years.

Dylann Roof, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church South Carolina, 2015. 9 dead.

Elliot Rodger, UCSB, 2014. 6 dead, 14 injured. Shooter commits suicide.

Adam Lanza- Sandy Hook, 20012. 28 dead. Shooter among the dead.

James E. Holmes-Movie theater screening Aurora, Colorado, 20012.  22 dead, 58 wounded.

Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech, 2007. 32 dead. Shooter commits suicide.

“The FBI found that education environments were the second-largest location grouping for active shooters, totaling 39 incidents at K-12 and institutes of higher education from 2000 to 2013” ( Washington Post).

Maybe if someone—a teacher, a parent, an Aunt or Uncle, or family friend— had intervened; maybe if these shooters had been treated or hospitalized, this terrible legacy would never have begun. Because sometimes, those who didn’t fit in during childhood, grow up to commit atrocities as adults.

Let’s be mindful not just of ourselves, but of one another, for yes, when it comes to mental health, we are each other’s keepers.

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) students from various sororities hug outside a sorority house where two women were killed in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Santa Barbara, California May 27, 2014. Students at the University of California at Santa Barbara returned to campus for a "day of mourning" on Tuesday, four days after the son of a Hollywood film director killed six students in a stabbing and shooting rampage across the seaside community. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW EDUCATION)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) students from various sororities hug outside a sorority house where two women were killed in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Santa Barbara, California May 27, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW EDUCATION)

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Danger! Deep water—rip tides—dangerous surf


  Humpback Whales

What is it in your life that you keep pushing back under every time it surfaces?

The greatest accomplishments, the sweetest victories and even the pinnacles of success cannot be reached, thoroughly experienced and enjoyed without “Knowing Thyself.”

What good is it to be wealthy if you are alone and unloved? Where is the fulfillment of your gifts to the world if you are struggling everyday when you know you have so much to give?

We all have submerged wishes, desire, fears and faults.

If we are brave enough to take the journey into the deep

If we are brave enough to swim with them and give them a voice

If we are brave enough to face our deepest-selves, our own brokenness, and mortality

Then fear dissolves. Then real growth, movement, and fulfillment are possible.

You cannot say yes to the adventure and no to the dragons, they are the same thing.


Grieving is a beautiful and complicated thing.


Late in the evening on August 18th, I lost a dear friend. She had suffered a difficult previous six months with hospitalization, surgery, and rehabilitation. And, as I had found out the night before she passed, a very difficult life. Her children, a few good friends and I talked that night before… we shared a meal and memories of her through the years. I found out so many things I had not known about her. She spent her childhood with an abusive, “crazy” mother, living in the deep South; a difficult place for a free-spirited young girl to grow up. She suffered an abusive marriage from which she kidnaped her own children to escape. There’s more, including rape, the death of a child, escape into alcohol and drugs, a second divorce and still more. The terrible laundry list goes on, but that is not the point.

The soul has an inner capacity to rise from the ashes, that is as life-affirming as the smell of rain after a long drought. The woman I knew was my mentor and spiritual teacher, a woman of love and values, who never once complained to me about her life, what had happened to her and her family, or what had been inflicted upon her. Amazing in retrospect. She was a strong woman, with a strong personality. The woman I knew and studied with for fifteen years had a meaningful life and she was loved.

Though I had known her for about thirty years, we did not spend as much time together in the last ten. She had moved in with her son and his big family and I was busy raising my own. She was moving from 65 through to 75 and I was moving from 47 through to 57. She began to suffer from dementia in the last five years of her life. Her son would follow her in his car when she was driving, as her memory seem to be failing, to be sure she could find her way home. She was unable to remember who had called and who she needed to call, so she would write it down. Then she would lose the paper.

This was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around. Her mind was so strong. I knew her in her prime. She had a fantastic mind. For her to lose that intellectual edge must have been horror filled. To look up, out the windshield and not know where you are, to be truly lost; Terrifying.

The sadness I feel at her loss, is not about her dying. Well, part of it is, but I believe that consciousness lives after death. I don’t know what form it’s in, or how, but I know in deep places that it does. Love is the only thing that is eternal. In the end, she was suffering, her body was done; it was time for her to go.

My sadness is for how difficult her life was, for how much she had suffered and how she had weathered so much abuse and betrayal, in her personal life, her family life, and her spiritual life. My sadness is in recalling what she had been in my life, and what life itself, through aging had taken from her. What life, if we are privileged enough to live to a ripe old age, will do to all of us.

My sadness is for all the words of love and forgiveness left unsaid. For the “thank you for all that you have taught me, showed me, given me-s”, left unsaid. For her grandchildren who won’t have their grandmother at any graduation. For her un-celebrated 76th birthday. For relationships that now can never be healed, unless by grace and forgiveness from within the wounded, who remain.

My sadness is for how we rush through life and the everyday banal moments, that we will treasure so deeply one day, pass unnoticed. Moments, that even for those without dementia or Alzheimer’s, most of us will struggle valiantly to recall. The sweet memories of my adult children as babies, the memories of my parents, now gone, and my childhood all swirl together in my soul, spiraling out behind me, like a trail of star dust, as I move forward into the unknown future.

I am of an age, where my sadness at the brevity of life, what I miss and missed are all only half an inkling away from conscious thought. Each rose smells sweeter, each jasmine tea more fragrant, each hug is more meaningful, each argument and sharp word more dangerous, as we each approach our own death, that will spiral us out into pure consciousness.

I still have so many goals and dreams for my life. I just finished a Master’s Degree and am going on for my Ph.D. I want to use what I have learned to help others live mindful, bountiful, love-filled lives. I also don’t want to be distracted from the life that is right in front of me, teeming within me and chaotically unfolding in the world. I find I am a vessel with plenty of room left for filling. The more love you pour out the more you can receive, the bounty is endless. Try to love everyone, say everything, forgive it all, every day. I’m working on it.

My sadness is the eternal fruit of wisdom growing, as my spiral widens.


“It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor. Thinking in mythological terms helps to put you in accord with the inevitables of this vale of tears. You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth

If you haven’t read any Joseph Campbell, check out The Power of Myth, it’s a wonderful easy read, very inspiring! Take a look here!     The Power of Myth