We love our tricksters, here on Vingle! But as I have been exploring the evolution of trickster mythologies, the above question has been pestering me. So, I decided to sit down and delve a little deeper. Maybe we can dispel some of the negativity.
New Religions = New Villains
Whenever new religions arise, old religions often either get eliminated or assimilated. This has been true throughout history. As you trace any religion through its origins, you will find remnants of its predecessor in stories, ideals, and rituals, and you will also find gaping holes of lost lore.
To try to dissuade the practice of an old religion, new religious leaders would modify stories...vilify the old gods to make them less appealing. For tricksters, this is exceedingly true. Take Loki and Set...there is archaeological evidence that they were quite possibly a couple of the most worshiped and revered gods of their respective pantheons.
Before the influence of Christianity, the nordic people did not have a concept of good or evil. The devotees of each god and goddess had their own sets of values, their own idea of what brought honor and what was dishonorable. Christianity swept through and brought a more universal idea of morality and the concept of "good vs. evil". Loki, being a trickster, was likened to a demon, (quite possibly even the Devil himself).
The Egyptian god Set, on the other hand, fell victim to changes in political climate. When the cult of Horus began to gain power and momentum, they clashed violently with the cult of Set. The god of chaos eventually lost his foothold. Many of the surviving legends have him firmly in the adversarial role.
Smart is Sexy!
Women love men who make them laugh, and tricksters know a million and one ways to entertain. However, real life men are usually charged with the burden of being the breadwinner. Hard work can wear on a sense of humor.
Generally, strength and the ability to provide for a family has been held in higher regard than the ability to make a woman laugh. Tricksters, however, do not usually posess such traits. They are intelligent and clever, creative and inventive, and they are often portrayed as sexually deviant (animalistic, even). (Don't forget that we like our bad boys, too!)
Since tricksters challenge moral ideals, like sexuality, it is natural for those who are afraid of such unsuppressed expression to manipulate the perception of the stories. And so, our wily free spirits are demonized as their tales are passed on.