When Coyote is personified in an Indigenous tribe, he or she is,
in practice, the most important figure in the tribe. The Coyote's
job is to maintain the social order in the tribe through the use
of a very powerful tool; parody. In the Pueblo culture, Coyote
is called "Heyoehkah" and to this figure, nothing is
sacred. This figure dances outside all the rules and regulations
of the tribe, both bleeding off the urge to break all the rules
that already exists in every tribal member and, at the same time,
reinforcing the necessity of consciously keeping the rules in
place for the very survival of the tribe as a unit.
The role of the Heyo. or Coyote in the tribal situation is an
accepted and one, agreed upon in tribal lore and custom.
In other words, Coyote energy is an integral part of the tribes
structure. We have no such set up or expectation in our structure.
Without this "agreement" if you will, an unannounced
or unwelcomed Coyote suddenly dropped in our midst serves no teaching
purpose and is only a self indulgence on the part of the individual
playing the part.
A typical situation in which the Heyoehkah might be employed is
when a member of the tribe is seen as becoming too self important.
Heyoehkah's job may entail following that individual around the
camp for a few days, using miming skills to parody the self important
behavior. If the Heyoehkah were to use this power irresponsibly
and without heart, this form of social control would be devastating
to the person who is it's target. It is important that the person
using this energy has his or her own agenda out of the way, because
the ultimate purpose is the strengthening of the tribe, not the
destruction of the individual.
Heyoehkah also parodies spiritual beliefs, as the "Mud Heads"
do in Zuni culture, in order to act out the primal man, the "stupid"
side of us, and thus further put in high relief the differences
between the enlightened and unenlightened self
Other tribal cultures see this energy differently. Coyote is
not only "trickster-teacher" but also an evil opportunist
who cares nothing for convention and will dump on you and yours
given the opportunity. And of course, we can learn from this
kind of event. We often call this energy "Fate" in
our culture. Fate has no interest in outcomes. No compassion
for suffering undergone, no caring one way or another about how
things happen or turn out. But "Fate" is an abstract
Named "Coyote", we have an opportunity to give it attributes
we can handle and then, on occasion, we can fanaticize that even
Fate gets a payback. So, Coyote-falls-into-his-own-traps helps
us feel we can expect that, as bad as Coyote Fate can be to us,
we can at least count on some getting even, though we will not
have a direct hand in the revenge and may never know how it is
Having taken on the name "Coyote", I have, as is always
the case, learned to grow into this energy. And this is what
I have determined it means to me. As a therapist my job is to
help others across boundaries (with me along for the ride as well
I must add). This often takes the form of trickery. For example,
we recently did a talk at a New Age bookstore. Our topic was
"Sexuality and Relationship, getting the genders reconciled!"
We knew that this would not pull in the clients of that book
store, so we called it "Sexual Spirituality." That
got 'em in and then we did our job of sneaking them across their
boundaries. Coyote medicine at work.
"Coyote" in the Mexican/US border states is one who
smuggles people across the border. So we smuggle people across
the borders of their belief systems which were, after all, "gifted"
to them by parents, churches, peers, etc.
This is the extent of my "evil". Coyote energy trips
me up when fate hands me a new lesson, or when, out of
my own unconsciousness, I hurt someone. It is then incumbent
upon me to not repeat this kind of error. Example: I yell at
the kids about some trivial event or blame them for something
they are not guilty of, and all of it comes from my own unresolved
childhood stuff with my parents.
Coyote has tricked me! Now it's my job to set things straight,
not just with the kids, though this is crucial, but within myself
as well. My job is to become more aware, not to simply excuse
my mistake by blaming Coyote energy. Most important here is to
recognize that one of the energies associated with the Medicine
Wheel direction the Coyote comes from; the South, is compassion.
The dark side of this is a lack-of-compassion. Compassion comes
from consciousness, lack of it from unconsciousness. If I am
to be a teacher, my teaching must come first from compassion for
my fellow beings. That, after all, is the nature of Sweet Medicine,
God, Great Spirit, Higher Power. If our teaching comes from any
other place, it is only serving Ego, and Ego is the dark side
of Coyote energy. Ego serves only us and our own unexamined agenda.
When we come from this place we only injure and do not serve
ourselves or any of our relations. We only get conscious as we
continually work on separating what is our Ego self and what is
our God self. Our job is to come from more and more consciousness
and thus get closer to being who and what we were sent here to
be; God's presence here on Earth.