Bark painting: female and male mimi
Most Australian tricksters are benign but there are those who create chaos and sickness. The Ngangjala-Ngangjala and the Wurulu-Wurulu often disrupt or subvert the ancestral order. The Argula are tricksters related to sorcery. The tricksters known as the mimi can inflict sickness, while the Namorodo are more sinister. The Ngangjala-Ngangjala and the Wurulu-Wurulu tricksters wander through the bush looking for mischief and creating chaos. They are the reason people fight and steal. They themselves steal food and ruin the harvest. They paint images of themselves over ancient cave paintings of aboriginal culture heroes. The Ngangjala-Ngangjala are often seen in the clouds during monsoon season. They also appear as a mist raising from their own cook fires, where they have been cooking stolen food.
The Wurulu-Wurulu steal honey from the bees. They use bottlebrush flowers tied to long sticks to obtain honey from wild bees nests. It is said that if one finds an empty honeycomb, the Wurulu-Wurulu have been there.
The Argula punish anti-social behavior,. Images of the Argula are painted on dwellings to inflict disability or death. The mimi are depicted as long slender spirits who live in the cracks of the Arnhem Land escarpment. If surprised by humans wandering the cliffs, these spirit tricksters become angry and cause sickness. So, travelers near the cliffs shout out to the mimi to warn them of their presence. The mimi live and sing within the rocks and can be heard at night tapping out the rhythm of their songs.
The Namordo “who are so thin that they consist of skin and bones held together by sinew, are particularly feared. They travel at night, making a swishing sound as they fly through the air, and may kill with one of their long claws anyone they hear“ (Willis, 1998, p. 285). Anyone who is sick or injured is vulnerable to their actions. The Namordo can capture the spirit of the dead, preventing it from joining its ancestors. The dead spirit then wanders the bush creating chaos.