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My personal experience as a Heyoka Empath

Bevin Niemann-Cortez
9 min readSep 22, 2018

Heyoka is one name for a soul who came here to be an awakener of others through non-conventional means. Heyokas approach the world from a reverse perspective. We don’t live as others live, or choose what others choose. We often try things that appear to be foolish or childish, yet there is a method to our madness.

Heyokas are masterful at holding a container for creative chaos, which is different than stirring the pot to watch people suffer — that’s never our intent. Creative chaos is discomfort, sometimes temporary suffering, and an ego death that’s necessary to shift consciousness. A Heyoka can be both the catalyst for, and a support system, as those around us traverse a dark night of the soul.

Origins of the term ‘Heyoka’

Sourcing from the Lakota Sioux culture, Heyoka is a member of the tribe born as a sacred clown. The jester who entertains the king, queen and their court, or the well-known Fool archetype from the tarot deck. A seemingly carefree, wise-cracking satirist with a huge heart. Our words might sting, but our intentions are generally pure. We invite evolution.

The Hopi tradition has a similar figure, called the Koshari clown. One who exhibits ‘improper’ behavior in public to show members of the tribe what they look like in a humorous and enlightening way. The coyote (trickster) and the hyena (crazed laughter) are spirit animal archetypes associated with Heyoka energy.

There are traditional stories about Heyokas who walked around the community with their clothes on backwards, spoke in riddles, played tricks on others, and used irony or dark humor to teach and mentor.

When I found this video of Chief Walking Bear, a tribal elder, describing his life path as an Heyoka; it was like he was reading my autobiography. If you’re still skeptical if Heyokas are real, take note that 100,000+ people have watched his video and the number of online articles about Heyoka empaths have exploded. This is my top blog post of all time, after publishing 700 times. The fact that there are so many people interested in this topic insinuates there must be something to it.

The term empath later became connected with Heyoka, likely because of our innate spiritual gift to sense shifts in energy…

Bevin Niemann-Cortez