Coyote Medicine

Go away, you are not welcome here.  You are a silly child and shouldn’t be sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.

 Now don’t tell me you are surprised by that opening statement, we are after all discussing Coyote Medicine.  Coyotes are teachers, but not in the straightforward way that most people expect.  Coyote teaches us by his folly and misadventure.  Coyote is the mirror that shows us our shadow and makes us laugh at the same time.

 Now Coyote is one of the totems the Heyoka often carries.  Along with Crow and Raven they are the trickster teachers.  We almost always benefit from Coyote’s teaching but often there is a price paid for the knowledge.  These are not theoretical teachings but are in fact lessons learned by experience.

 As you guess by the opening statement Coyote often talks either backwards or in riddles.  Coyote is about waking people from their slumber; shocking them if that is what is necessary to get them to open their eyes.  Coyote Medicine is about stopping people from acting out of habit.  All too often we follow tradition to the point where it loses meaning and significance.  According to Coyote nothing is sacred and all things are sacred; all teachings are inherently wrong and inherently right.

 Most people miss the message with Coyote. They either think he is being silly or disrespectful.  He is neither, he is just trying to get you take an honest look at your own actions.

 There are many stories involving Coyote, but the one I wanted to share came from “real” life.  It was in the interior of BC, Canada (near Kamloops) at the turn of the last century.  A small community sprung up of British immigrants that tried to establish a very British community in the arid hills.  They tried to bring over most of the upper class traditions they were familiar with and succeeded until they came to Fox Hunting.  Since there were few foxes to be found, they decided to try using a Coyote they had captured.  The Coyote led them on a merry chase that wore out even the strongest horse and rider.  In the end when they gave up and returned home, there was Coyote sitting by the house with a stupid grin on his face.

 There are plenty of examples of Coyote Medicine in our daily life.  It is my humble opinion that Coyote is the totem of the United States and not the Eagle as most people would think.  Consider this, most people in America figure they are the most educated and most informed population in the world.  In reality the media is the most heavily censored as to world content.  If you want to challenge that, watch the news in America and then in any other developed nation and you will be shocked at the disparity.  Again America sees itself as the peace keepers of the world, and yet has committed more aggressive acts than any other country; many that would be classed as terrorism (ex. Bombing of Cambodia in the 70’s).  As devastating as the 9-11 tragedy was in New York, it was Coyote Teaching.  Unfortunately like most Coyote teachings, most people often miss the lesson.

 Have I ruffled a few feathers with these statements? I sure hope so, as that is the role Coyote is supposed to play.   Often times there are layers to Coyote’s teachings and just when you think you have understood the meaning, you discover a new level that contradicts what you have just learned.

 In the entertainment field I cannot think of anything better that epitomizes Coyote than Monty Python’s Flying Circus or the Simpsons.  Anything that gets us to take a hard look at ourselves, poke fun at the sacred, and make us laugh in the process falls under the domain of Coyote.

 The Medicine Coyote carries is that of a mirror, which is not always an easy pill to swallow.  In this mirror we see Truth; it may wear disguises and make us laugh but it is still Truth at its very heart.

 For those that carry Coyote as their shadow Medicine, the personality can come across in less than appealing ways.  In fact in some cultures such as the Navajo (Dineh) it is an insult to refer to someone as coyote.  Greed, thievery, gluttony, and being obsessed with roadrunners are all part of the shadow side of Coyote nature. Of course this person may still prove to be a teacher for others but he will do so by negative example.

 Coyote is also a survivor.  No matter how hard man has tried to drive off Coyote, they have managed not only to hold their own but actually increase in numbers.  Today Coyote’s range is far greater than it ever was, and due to his resourcefulness has not only managed to live next to man but thrive in those conditions.  Even large metropolitan cities have wild Coyotes living in their midst.  Resourcefulness is one of the Medicines Coyote people carry.  Even in bleak conditions they can figure out a way not only to survive but prosper. Coyotes always adapt to changing circumstances. Remember it was Coyote that figured out how to steal fire from the Gods when man was freezing.

 It is told that Coyotes sang humans into creation, and has been our trickster teacher ever since.  Long Live Coyote!

  Robert Oakes