Holy Fools


The Holy Fool, the Trickter, the Sacred Clown, the Jester and the Heyoka:

What do they all have in common?

This section will explore these people, characters, deities and archetypes.



Some version of the fool appears in virtually all cultures, as it is an archetypes, one of the universal patterns that arises out of our collective unconscious. Wes Nisker has written a book about the crazy wisdom which comes to us through our holy fools. He says that the fool is the "most potent of the archetypes" (30), and also "the capable teacher of crazy wisdom." There are actually two kinds of fools: "the foolish fool and the great fool." The foolish fools are inept and silly. They are the ones we see "every day when we look into the mirror or walk down the street."

Great fools, on the other hand, are very rare. They are "wise beyond ordinary understanding."

Closely related to the Fool are his cousins: the clowns, jesters and the tricksters. All challenge convention, turning cherished beliefs and rules on their heads. Their motive is to cause us to doubt the truths we are so sure of. Says Nisker,

"They spread doubt about our beliefs, our abilities, our motives, our institutions, our sanity, our loves, our laws our leaders, even our alliteration. Clowns and jesters have grave doubts about our attitudes. 'Is this seriousness really appropriate?' [they ask] Others, such as the spiritual crazy wisdom masters-the holy fools - call into question our entire understanding of ourselves and the world." (Nisker, 19)

~Rev. Linda Hoddy - Read entire article on The Holy Fool


A FOOL IS ONE who goes on trusting; a fool is one who goes on trusting against all his experience. You deceive him, and he trusts you; and you deceive him again, and he trusts you; and you deceive him again, and he trusts you. Then you will say that he is a fool, he does not learn. His trust is tremendous; his trust is so pure that nobody can corrupt it.

Be a fool in the Taoist sense, in the Zen sense. Don't try to create a wall of knowledge around you. Whatsoever experience comes to you, let it happen, and then go on dropping it. Go on cleaning your mind continuously; go on dying to the past so you remain in the present, here-now, as if just born, just a babe.

~Osho - Read entire piece on The Tarot Fool


What is truth? This question propels the Clown into the sacred dimension. The Truth the Clown intuits is the interconnectedness of all life. She KNOWS (although she cannot prove) that no part is more important than any other part - no matter how big or how small - and that the tiniest change in one part produces a profound change in the Whole. She SEES (although she cannot explain) that imbalance or blockage of the Life Force is the result of a person or group believing themselves to be more important than another. And she can't help puncturing that over-blown self-importance with her sharp humor!

~Peggy Andreas - Read entire article on The Path of the Sacred Clown


Lame Deer calls the heyoka the "upside-down, forward-backward, icy-hot contrary."

More importantly, I think they induced trance in others through their contrary behavior. Psychologists have noted that trance does not always occur through rhythmic repetition. Another way in which it occurs (the "paradoxical state") is through a sudden shock to the nervous system. Ethnomethodologists have often noted the blank, glassy stares and strange states produced by violating peoples' expectations - by, for example, getting into an elevator and facing the other people in it. It's in such "paradoxical states" that people often may assimilate new information quickly, without filtering. They also may be able to "abreact" psychological trauma. For these reasons, the heyoka may have been seen as a source of wisdom and healing.


~Steve Mizrach - Read entire article on The Thunderbird and Trickster


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