A friend who has only the best intentions and love in her heart looks for meaning in the presence of the deer and the coyote who came to visit. Looks to the stories, wisdom told by others, some long past, when wondering why a coyote would choose to visit and shares the coyote's definition in endless lore as the Trickster.

And the response in my heart is how awful.

Worried that when we categorize in any way, anyone, at any time, that we always do them a disservice. Because in that one word, you have defined your perception of an entire species. Everything they do held up side by side with that thought in your mind, wondering, how is the coyote trying to trick you now.

But it turns out I rushed into that reaction, worried how once that definition is associated in your heart every time you look at one of them, can you still see them as a servant of nature, with wisdom to share? And can you trust anything that has at its heart a definition of tricking us.

Easy to trick us when we see how incredibly smart they are. When they as predators live with us when most predators like the wolves are killed off. The wolf just needs to come anywhere near us and the land and spaces that we claim everywhere, and we get rid of them with guns and traps, letting them know they are not welcome.

And yet, we don't do the same with the coyote? At least in a lot of places, we just ignore them.

Have you asked yourself why the difference?

How is it that we treat the two so differently, willing to accept the coyote living basically with us, right on top of us, brushing up against our towns and homes?

Personally, I have several packs that live within the distance it takes for me to hear their songs as they howl into the evening. Usually, they limit themselves staying a few miles north of me, but this past summer, they cut that in half for a week or two, something they had never done before.

In a previous home, they lived in a pasture just behind my arena. Although we never saw them, we could always hear them.

They are a predator, but they don't prey on us. They leave the horses alone as well. At least that has been my experience.

I do worry when I take the dog for a walk, and I have had them following me unknowingly. Especially worried when my dog was separated, not knowing how to get back to me. Racing back and forth in a wide arc, in the distance. Trying to find a way back to me that didn't make him cross their path.

I can't say I don't worry when they get close, when they begin to follow. Although I always thought it was their curiosity of my dog, someone so much like them, that they were interested in... and now putting this all together, I realize it wasn't him.

It was me.

And what does that say?

The first time riding in the ditch miles from the arena and a coyote joins me for the ride, keeping pace like a loyal dog. I never felt a moment of fear because it was obvious my horse didn't care.

Years later, I have my own place, and an entire pack moves into the property beside mine. And as I already mentioned, over time moves into mine and every evening howling just behind the riding arena, sounding far too close to my untrained ears.

The next time was on a walk with my dog, with me on foot and two coyotes that I thought were interested in him, that time when he couldn't get back to me. But the truth was, their focus and their attention was not on him, but on me, as they moved closer and closer, gazing into my eyes. Closer than I have ever been to any of them except for that time I was riding.

Although at the time, I was more worried about my dog than me, and the danger he might be in. He finally made this wide swing around the backside of a huge long pond, racing as fast as he could go, and managed finally to circle back to me. And I walked him out of the trees, asking him to stay close so that I could protect him with the two coyotes still following. Two of the biggest, most beautiful coyotes I have ever seen in my life, I have to admit.

The time after that miles away, I can hear them in the underbrush, an entire pack keeping up with us as I take my dog back to the car after a long walk, out on a country lane as the sun sinks down.

I look back through the years and all the different places that they have been, showing me their presence, and this latest coyote walks calmly toward two humans and two dogs and then lays down, settling down comfortably, content to lay there and watch us like he was just one more dog. Strangely he takes no notice of the dogs, and the dogs take no notice of him. It is as if he doesn't exist to them in that moment.

And I have to wonder if there is a pattern that I have been missing. Wondering what is the coyote trying to tell me?

I only find confusion in my research on the meanings found as assigned by us humans to a pantheon of gods that include the coyote.

It turns out 'Creator' is one of these definitions. Not one, in all honesty, I expected to find. Other times defined as an independent creative force or the originator of the human arts. Although more often than not, he is often referred to as the Trickster.

Yet today, often seen by us as evil and scary when they kill cats out on acreages or grab dogs out of back yards. And yet I had an entire pack living with me, and that was never a problem? Maybe because here there is room for them to roam, fields where trees still live, and a few ponds can still be found.

Yet I find I can't get the concept of Trickster out of my mind, and that bothers me, worried how that is influencing me. Blinding me to what is going on here.

And after researching, I hold onto two definitions - the one of creator and the one of author of the arts in us, and that helps to wipe the thought of Trickster free, the word no longer having a hold on me. And then the thought occurs, the first author of art and creation is life itself.

A creator or alternate creator, one that sometimes causes chaos.

That could be the definition of life, what nature is at her heart. And is that not what life is asking of me? To create something, to bring something into being that is going to challenge what is here right now. And I have to wonder. Is the coyote a representation of a part of me?

Perpetuating transgressions, challenging social boundaries, bringing chaos, but bringing resolution at the end as well. That is part of the tales that they tell about this fascinating creature.

In these stories, the purpose of the coyote is to teach sacred and spiritual morals; he can be both funny or fearsome and is said to have been an ancient being that existed from the beginning of time.

Any independent creative force will bring about chaos, and realizing that now, I have to wonder that if those that are being challenged in the status quo that they cling to, can't help but see new things, any creation, as a chaotic force? Can't help but see change as something trying to trick them. Easier not to change if you believe that they are just trying to fool you, taking you away from what you believe in.

Or maybe the message is that you need to be a little bit like a trickster when you are asking for change. Knowing that change can be hard. Knowing that the journey to the final answer, that resolution can be a complex journey, and we might as well have fun.

Maybe there is a suggestion here that any independent creative force does well to model themselves on the coyote. Laughing, playing, challenging, happy to disrupt because that is what creation demands of us.


Coyote, in the mythology and folklore of the North American Plains, California, and Southwest Indians, the chief animal of the age before humans. Coyote's exploits as a creator, lover, magician, glutton, and trickster are celebrated in a vast number of oral tales. He was typically portrayed as a demiurge (independent creative force), as a maker of fateful decisions, as the being who secured for humans such necessities as fire and daylight, and as the originator of human arts. In all cases, his transgression of normative social boundaries frequently resulted in social or physical chaos, a situation resolved in each folktale's conclusion.

Coyote | mythology | Britannica