Monday, February 1, 2010

You Didn't Eat the Fruit

I've been sort-of reading a book by a scholar of Jung recently, which has introduced me to the idea of the story as a map of our psyche, the different characters representing different sides of ourselves, the different locations representing the different territories of our consciousness and unconsciousness.  And so, I have been examining the imagery of Adam and Eve and the garden through that lens.

God tells Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.”

If the garden is innocence, and partaking the fruit is a fall from innocence, then Eve represents the part of each of us (whether we are female or male) that asks questions, the curious, eager side. The unfortunate truth is that often when we ask powerful questions we learn unpleasant truths; we find sorrow and disappointment. However, we are also able to open new worlds to ourselves, to give birth to new potential. The act of creation, of giving birth is not pleasant. It is painful. It is work. There's a reason we call it labour. When we put our whole being into a task, we feel the sorrow of failure or disappointment or dismay, but we taste the sweetness of potential and we see the possibilities which we have created by our actions.

We are constantly partaking of the fruit and leaving the garden.  Over and over again.  It's called growth.  The serpent was wisdom to many ancient religions.  Dangerous and powerful, shedding its old skin over and over as it grew. 

Perhaps even the symbol of the Goddess.  


Logan said...

Garden of Eden story, or the Mormon interpretation of it (especially in the Temple movie), was a crucial one for me. I guess that's where I went into "the Serpent"'s camp, as it were.

Also, I need to read Paradise Lost.

Th. said...


It seems odd that something so phallic could be a symbol of the Goddess....

Anonymous said...

I remember watching a PBS show with Joseph Campbell. He was Jung's student. Campbell, using Jung's ideas, was able to string together different cultural narratives that explain the same mysterious human longings. From what I can remember, he poignantly connected the story of the flood in Gilgamesh with Noah's flood in the Bible and other narratives of floods. He explain the power of myth in human history and how it has helped to unite people and give them a place on this Earth.

Furthermore, he told the story of Osiris and his death and subsequent resurrection as an example for the human longing for immortality or at least to know that the connections you make in this life don't end upon death.Campbell linked it with the story of Jesus and his resurrection. And other narratives which involved death and the promise of eternal life.

The themes, as Campbell explain, of Love, Death, Marriage, Destruction, Struggle, Greed, Hate etc,., our longings, the ones which are present in myths from every culture are really reflections of our humanity. The fact that the same themes resurface over and over again just shows the power of narrative to shed light on the mystery of our shared experiences. And how the narratives and religions converge on the same cultural myths which might just be artistic renderings of our deep longings.

Now, I'm using the word myth not as saying that they are false or true like they somehow belong to the domain of logic. No, the power of myth is tie to a mystery; an unknown, which we probably will never know at least in this life.

Myth, like Armstrong has argue in "A history of God" has been smudge from its original meaning. In the past, Myths were a kind of luminous narrative of eternal ineffable truth found in the opaque unknown---a paradox.

A favorite author of mine in an interview said that Literature told the truth by using fictional facts while people told lies by using real facts. Thus, you're most likely to get to the underlying truths of our humanity, the eternal themes, by reading the scriptures, from whichever religion, and the great authors and myths than reading the newspaper and the latest perishable facts.

I don't know about the serpent being a symbol for the goddess, but there has been goddesses of wisdom like Athena and, I believe, to an extend Aphrodite.

David L.