So here they were in the Garden, the first man and, because Adam was lonely, the first woman. They had no idea they were having a good time. They had not a clue that they were naked, nor that this mattered. They did not seem to have any curiosity about their bodies, and their sexuality was unknown to them. What they were for, the authors of this creation story in Judaism, Islam and Christianity seem to have no idea, except that Adam gave names to the animals.
That’s the situation, innocence in Eden; but where is the plot? Aha! Enter the serpent. The snake talks Eve into picking an apple from the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Adam and Eve dine on this pernicious pome and voila! They see that they are naked. They find that they are, indeed, having a good time. Their curiosity is, for the first time, aroused about the wide universe of cabbages, kings and sexuality.
The Creator wanders into the scene and discovers that the couple has eaten the forbidden fruit. For their disobedience, they are banished from the Garden. Eve is punished by having to labor in order to bear children. Adam is punished by having to work for a living. The serpent is punished by losing his appendages and having to get around on his belly. Seraphim are set to guard the Garden and the Creator dusts his hands off, satisfied that he has now wound the spring of mortal life for humankind and can let the plot tick itself through, dust to dust and ashes to ashes.
That’s the story. What does spirit think about this story? The world of metaphysical seeking tends to see this story as a parable of polarity. In the idyllic world of Eden before The Fall, there is no polarity because there is total innocence. There is no knowledge of what good and evil might be. There is not even self-consciousness.
Into this idyll of idleness and stillness comes the ancient symbol of wisdom, the serpent. We have the serpent to thank for the gift of self-awareness and the ability to examine all our experiences for evidence of whether they are good and evil.
Of course, when we first experience self-awareness, as thinking beings, we tend to be fairly well bemused by our sexuality. Our first ethical decisions can often be about our sexuality. When I was young in the middle of the twentieth century, I did not have to deal with this sort of decision until I was in high school. In this postmodern era, children in grade school must make choices about their sexuality.
In the metaphysical system of looking at this serpent’s role in offering knowledge to humankind, the serpent is seen as coiled down at the base energy center or chakra, which is located at the spine’s base between the legs and deals with sexuality and survival issues. That is the first arena of choice for our best wisdom to make.
As seekers encounter other types of choices, the serpent begins to uncoil itself and rise up through the chakras or centers of the energy body. Relationships call forth work in the orange-ray center. Formalizing relationships, as we do when we marry, calls forth work in the yellow ray. Discovering honest and unconditional love for a mate or a child brings the sleeping serpent up into the green ray of the heart chakra. Efforts at honest communication open the serpent’s way into the throat chakra of blue ray. Worship, prayer and meditation bring wisdom’s serpent up into the brow or indigo ray.
To the world of spirit, then, the serpent is seen as the light-bringer who did humankind a huge favor. The serpent set the stage for all the self-aware choices of our lives which mold us into the being we are. Each time we make a choice which has ethical values involved, we are calling the serpent of wisdom upwards.
One more point with regards to this central creation myth of The Fall: the bad rap for womankind. Islam, Judaism and Christianity are all monotheistic, paternalistic religions. Their Gods are masculine. The sacred feminine which balances the sacred masculine is nowhere to be found and accusations of woman’s inherent sinfulness lie thick on the ground, thanks to church fathers like Augustine and Paul.
In the culture of Islam today, when a woman is raped, a man from her own household is likely to kill her because she has shamed the family. In our more enlightened culture, women often do not report rape because in a courtroom situation, lawyers will often successfully convince the jury that the woman tempted the rapist and therefore was to blame.
In the original version of the creation myth, Jehovah was balanced by a mate who was Goddess to His God. Her name was Shekinah. Other names for the divine feminine have survived: Quan Yin; Sophia; the Blessed Virgin Mary and of course that controversial figure now popping up in “The DaVinci Code,” Mary Magdalene. However, the early church fathers chose to devalue the sacred feminine and emphasize the goodness of men and the sinfulness of women. It is a bias which we, as a culture, have not yet managed to lay aside.
Think what a wonderful change would occur if we could invoke that divine feminine aspect of the Creator! Swords would be beaten into plowshares immediately! Women do not fight wars to make changes. They redecorate. They build and nurture, nourish and encourage. How we need feminine energy these days!
It has been a long Fall. Let us embrace the changing season and call forth the Spring of love, light and the empty tomb!
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May you celebrate today each chance to choose the good, the lovely, the true and the just!