Eve as Goddess

Do you consider yourself a Goddess? You should. The Goddess is the earth. We are all part of the earth. How has the main religion in the Western world, Christianity, shaped our beliefs about femininity? 
The bible tells us about how Eve was seduced by a snake and had to suffer for it. Almost every woman and man I know has been injured by this story. 
In today's blog Susan Scott shows us another side of Eve. Eve making a conscious choice. Eve walking hand in hand with Adam. Let's dive into our Goddess concept of Eve today to make us reconnect with our inner Goddess.

Mindfunda explores the Goddess in 4 blogs

The Goddess was hot in the seventies of last century. Marija Gimbutas put the Goddess back on the map. She inspired a lot of scientists, anthropologists and mythologists up to this day. But the attention for the Goddess seems to have faded away. Mindfunda want to invite you to reconnect with the Goddess. During the month of November Mindfunda will share 5 blogs:

The Goddess, 4 blogs to intergrate the Goddes in your life.

Eve as Goddess: a Guest blog written by Susan Scott, of the Garden of Eden.

Triple Goddess dreaming: an alliance with the moon.

The Goddess and the Earth: a Guest blog written by Trista Hendren

A review of “The Book of She” written by Sara Avant Stover.

< Jumped in from elsewhere? Start at part 1

Today’s Guest blog is written by Susan Scott.  Blogger on the Garden of Eden, author of In Praise of Lilith, Eve & The Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories.

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Susan Scott is currently working on a book on ageing and becoming with Jungian analyst Susan Schwartz.

Eve as Goddess : Susan Scott

Susanne, thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this theme on Goddesses for mindfunda.com for November. It is an honour indeed!

 

Throughout the ages, stories with basic themes have recurred over and over, in widely disparate cultures, emerging from the goddess Venus from the sea of our unconscious

Joan D. Vinge

 

The myth of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a patriarchal one from around 4000 BC. It is not a very old myth, although it begins at the beginning of humanity on this earth as propounded by the creationists. It stems from the Iron Age onwards and replaced earlier myths which were matriarchal in kind, for example, the myths of Sophia, the consort of God; the Indian myth of Kali, or the Greek myths of the goddesses, Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter and Persephone to name a few. These matriarchal myths had Mother Nature as her Supreme Goddess. They were replaced by the worship of the monotheistic Sun God Apollo who assumed ascendancy as the matriarchal goddesses began their descent. The cycle turned – replacing the mother goddess with the father god. No longer was there reverence for Nature and living within her cycles.

However we view the biblical creation story in the Old Testament,  it remains deeply embedded in the contemporary psyche of men and women, and in the collective unconscious too. Its echo continues. It has lasting value as all good myths do when they illustrate similar dynamics irrespective of time and place.

 

eve

In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden where beauty, peace and order reigned supreme. All was at One, all was perfect.

Imagine: Eve languishing against the tree on which hung plump, delicious, glistening apples within arms’ reach. She knew there was a prohibition that she could eat anything within the Garden, except for the fruit from that one tree. After Eve told the serpent that she may not eat of this tree, for fear of death, the serpent beguiled her with its words:

‘You will not surely die. God knows, that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be as God, knowing good and evil’. (Gen. 2:17).

What are we to make of Eve going against this patriarchal injunction, accepting the apple, ingesting its seeds and swallowing them and offering it to Adam? What are we to make of God’s appearance and asking Adam why he disobeyed; and Adam then blaming Eve and Eve in turn blaming the serpent? Their subsequent exile from the Garden, covered in cloths and ivy leaves to cover their newly discovered nakedness, with shame as their dire companion? For Eve to suffer in childbirth …

Was she the original disobedient bad girl who deserved her reputation as being sinful and seductive when she offered the apple to Adam? Does she deserve the blame for her and Adam’s expulsion? And for bringing death, sin and sorrow into the world?  Was this to be an ongoing ‘fault’ in forthcoming generations of women? Is this to be the legacy of the Old Testament?

What was it about Eve that threatened the new patriarchal order?

For millennia onwards, not only in western culture, we’ve witnessed the repression of the feminine principle. The animosity toward women has been expressed from time immemorial. Even the converted Paul upheld the subjugation of women, referring back to God’s word in Genesis:

Let the women learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression’. (1 Tim.2 10-14)

And the dogmatic St Augustine, brilliant in many ways, who referred to women as being vile and cursed, corruptible and filthy; her infant was infected with original sin from the moment of conception and was borne in faeces and urine; menstruation was close to the beasts; and that women have no souls …

The Mother of all Living (named so by Adam), once sacred, now degraded. Now also, the Mother of Suffering and Death.

The demonizing of women has caused a grave psychic wound to men and women. We’re all damaged, Mother Nature too. The concept of ‘sin’ keeps us bound to a paternalistic, vengeful, guilt ridden and narrow view of life. It is far removed from the image of wholeness that is deserved. It is a long repressed wound which needs healing.

We go back to the Garden where all was quiescent, yet too tranquil, too stable and too domesticated. It’s usually the best time for something to happen! There must have been a longing in Eve for change, away from this languor and passivity, dependence and homeostasis. The status quo. She’d been a child for too long. What did those seeming opposites of good and evil mean and why did they also appear to belong together? Two words, each holding great weight. And, after all, what would the knowledge of Good and Evil be if one were permanently in the Garden where all was ‘good’? The serpent offered a way out.

Eve acted on her instinct and used her initiative. She acted unconsciously because at that moment consciousness was not yet in her purview. There must have been a sense within her of wanting to move from this complacent security where there was no room for growth.

Her act resulted in the rise rather than the fall of man. A rise into consciousness, lifting the veil from that uroboric childlike innocence. An awakening. A growing up – into a new world, where pain and pleasure, life and death, sunlight and shadow, love and power, saint and sinner, wildness and conformity, joy and sorrow, strengths and vulnerabilities, solar and lunar resided side by side. A world of opposites. A world of duality – where distinctions and discriminations are necessary. Yet, identification with one side of the polarity and repression of the other means immobility and stagnation and movement towards wholeness is prohibited. Our task in life when faced with a conflict is to hold the tension between the opposing forces until a transcending symbol reconciling the two appears. It does mean that the old ‘pattern’ or way of relating to life will die, yet we consciously allow that to happen for the new to emerge. We begin to see that those opposites are complementary to each other and not necessarily in conflict. They need each other. Eve’s innocence in the Garden died yet allowed the discovery of the ever-present paradox in the new world, as we do too. Death endows life with meaning. We were not meant to be immortal.

Why else were we given the gift of free will? Yet, free will carries with it an enormous responsibility, so it is not so free after all. It sounds enticing, yet it is also a burden. It is a meaningful paradox illustrating being bound to the treadmill of Fate and Destiny by our freedom of choice –

Eve was a catalyst for growth for herself and Adam. She wanted more than just the taste of the apple. Those seeds had potential, activated by her swallowing and digesting them. Her knowledge of Good and Evil was an intuitive knowledge, embodied in experience, not rational knowledge. She opened up a new way of knowing. This is the mystery, the uncertainty and the wisdom of the unknown, which is the field of all possibilities. Hers was a beginning knowledge ‘…of the opposites, a knowledge necessary for higher consciousness’.*

eve

Her breaking the rules meant that ego consciousness previously lacking, was given the opportunity to develop. We leave home eventually, making our way in the wider world. In my view, I think it’s reasonable that God precipitated Adam and Eve’s exile from Paradise. A loving parent knows that its child must leave the security of the nest eventually – and push them out if need be so that they stand on their own two feet – and experience first hand the challenges of the outside world. He knew that they would have to navigate their lives with all its ups and downs as they ventured forth; but that it would be of value to them as they entered a world of conflict and paradox, never a straightforward and easy task. They would experience community and responsibility, cooperation and the continued search for their spiritual identity in their alienation. Perhaps Adam and Eve also came to realize that both of them were guilty of laying the blame for taking the apple onto the other. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. In other words, each denied their own role and blamed the other. It sounds familiar doesn’t it. We still do it …

Wise choices are made only when the conflict or difficulties in our lives are made conscious, after differentiation and discrimination between the seeming opposites. Too often in our contemporary lives the difficulty seems insurmountable and we ‘choose’ not to confront it – we’re not prepared to do the hard inner work.

We can thank her for her curiosity about the serpent’s words offering her the tantalizing apple. She considered the offer very seriously before her acceptance. She wanted to share ‘knowledge’ with Adam. It was not an act of corruption but one of cooperation. She sensed the hidden world of human potential. Besides, she felt an intuitive kinship with the serpent who, according to legend, was Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Lilith was the woman prior to Eve who was also exiled for exerting her standpoint and demanding fairness, banished this time to the Depths of The Red Sea. The first two woman, both exiled, both repressed, both wanting to be a help-meet to their partner and both prepared to do the hard work necessary in meeting the challenges in everyday life to proceed authentically on their journeys –

Incidentally, the literature invariably shows Goddesses in time past with the revered serpent alongside as a symbol of fertility and rebirth. In Hatha Yoga, the serpent (kundalini) energy lies at the base of the spine, coiled upon itself in a ring.

Eve
Picture: nexusilluminati.blogspot.com

With certain breathing exercises the snake uncoils itself upwards, releasing energy into all the chakras until it reaches the third eye where awakening occurs. Hermes, the winged messenger and trickster has two entwined serpents, symbolizing good and evil, health and sickness at the top end of his staff. Worthy of consideration is that the staff is rigid, straight and unyielding related therefore to the masculine, whereas the serpent coiled around it is flexible and yielding thus representative of the feminine principle. This image of the staff and the serpent graphically illustrates the union of the opposites, masculine and feminine inter alia, contained therein.
We know that the serpent sheds its skin to be born anew. We individually need to shed skin when it becomes too tight and does not fit any longer. Society needs to shed skin when ideas are outdated or outmoded. We become too comfortable and complacent, afraid of change and thus do not shed our skin. The serpent can be likened to Hermes, the trickster and messenger, precipitating change. Perhaps God too …

Eve can be seen as an agent of change bringing an end to the status quo in the Garden. In a way, she sacrificed herself to bring about change. Though the price was high, she stepped out of the Garden, with Adam’s arm around her, unaware of the blame that would be forever accorded her or the projections she would have to bear, not only from men but from women too who’ve accepted a fully submissive role, as in doormat. She’s been a scapegoat for far too long and the doctrine has been far too pervasive. Women’s voices continue to be silenced in many parts of the world, as we know.

Eve was to learn in the second Eden of the world’s repression of her feminine principle. She would come to learn of man’s repression of his own feminine principle (the anima) as she would of her own masculine principle (the animus). Men and women contain within themselves both male and female energies in varying degrees. Women can successfully use the male energies of e.g. assertiveness and ambition, reason and courage if they consciously don’t sacrifice their feminine energies in the pursuit, but manage to keep the balance. Men too would benefit from being more in touch with their feminine side where qualities such as reflection, patience, openness to life, and the willingness to initiate and explore life’s mysteries were not suppressed.  Eros and Logos need each other and require emergence from the unconscious so that transcendence within the individual, and collectively too, can occur.

Women throughout the ages have defended Eve and thus allowed women’s voices to be heard from their own experience and not from that of a patriarchal view. They’ve said No! to the projection of sin put upon them. Having to be patriarchy’s scapegoat was something (and still is) unacceptable.

Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was benign to Eve, seeing in her the person who bestows divinity onto humanity, and seeing in her also the prefiguration of Mary. Pain in childbirth is not seen as inevitable or a curse; rather each time the mother gives birth, the hidden image of God is revealed in every child who is born.

eve
Hildegard von Bingen

 

Christine de Pizan (1365-1430) rehabilitates Eve in The Book of the City of Ladies, arguing for equal status, stating that Adam and Eve were made in God’s image.

Sarah Joseph Hale (1788-1879) contends in her book Woman’s Record that Adam needed assistance in cultivating his good qualities and ‘left to himself, his love becomes lust; patriotism (becomes) policy; and religion, idolatry. He is naturally selfish in his affections, and selfishness is the sin of depravity’. She contends that Eve took the apple because of her ‘higher faculties of the mind’, her ‘desire for knowledge and wisdom’. She also states that Adam ate with ‘compliance’, typical of a person with of a ‘lower nature’ and motives no higher than ‘gratifying his sensuous inclinations’.

To this day, writers grapple with Eve, she is painted, poems are written of her. Analyses of the implications of her role are ongoing. A psychological approach to what she stands for is always needed. As Edward C. Whitmont (ref. below), and many others who look at her in depth, writes: ‘Thus the dichotomy of the virgin and the whore, the good mother and the witch, continues to gnaw like an unresolved canker at the soul of modern man’.

Eve, mother of all living, mother of suffering and death – opposing poles of the archetype of the Great Mother. Is it possible that a woman can hold these polarities within her at the same time? Is this an archetypal image still felt deep in the collective unconscious?

It is our task, men and women alike, for us to venture into the wilderness, explore beyond boundaries, into the depths of our being, to find authentic meaning for ourselves and thus for the collective, this troubled world in which we now live.

Eve was such a woman. It is fitting that she appears in Genesis, the book of origins. Hers is a universal story, one in which we are accountable for our responsible use of free will. If we want to live less stressful, less fear-filled lives we have a moral responsibility to stand up against injustice in any shape or form, to ourselves, another, animal and Mother Nature. It begins with the individual. What is positively transformed on the micro level has positive effects on the macro level.

She offers us the chance of a new beginning, a new way of relating between men and women, a new way of relating to the earth, a way yet to be born when we come to the fullest expression of our adult selves. We too, like Adam and Eve, can walk together, arm in arm, bound perhaps by adversity and love, courage and trepidation as we continue on our journey.

“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves”.

C.G. Jung

References include:

* Marion Woodman, Elinor Dickson: Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness.  Gill and Marcus 1996

Anne Baring & Jules Cashford: The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image Arkana, Penguin Books 1993 (first published by Viking in 1991)

Edward C. Whitmont: Return of the Goddess, Arkana edition 1987

Pamela Norris: The Story of Eve. Picador 1998

Naomi H. Rosenblatt & Joshua Horwitz: Wrestling with Angels, Dell Publishing 1995

And my own book: In Praise of Lilith, Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories. Olympia Publishers 2009

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
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Eros in dreams

When was the last time you were mesmerized by somebody who took your breath away?

Eros is in the heart of every dream. I know that is a very romantic thought. When I interviewed Bart Koet about his book Spirituality and I suggested that maybe god, in the form of spirituality, is a part of every dream.


He did not agree with me. Some dreams are spiritual dreams other dreams are not.. But still I feel there is truth in the notion Jeremy Taylor once proclaimed:  “But the dream comes always in the service of health and wholeness, of the best and most complete and most creative being that we can be ”

Eros as Dionysos

“The cave is, traditionally, the location of Dionysos’ cult; the serpent, according to Kerenyi, is a life phenomenon, whose coolness, mobility, slippery character and, frequently, deathly threat, cause a highly ambivalent impression. The snake also represents the identity of Zoe, indestructible life, in its lowest form. The earth’s sun, from the depths, is Dionysos himself, “the light of Zeus”. Jung emphasized, in the corrected draft, the references about the Orphic representation of a stream of mud in the underworld.

The Orphics worshipped the first Dionysos (Zagreus), who was dismembered by the Titans. Zeus recovered his heart, and gave it to Semele in a drink, so that she would gestate it. With her death, Zeus placed Dionysos on his thigh, and from that the god was born, the second Dionysos -hence he is considered the god of death and rebirth. To protect him from Hera’s fury, Hermes gave him to Ino, who, together with her husband, King Atamas, raised Dionysos as a girl. His capacity to move between the world of genders is attributed to his living among women, thus he is seen as an androgynous god, in the sense of being able to integrate both masculine and feminine elements in his personality.

eros
Eros/Phanos

Unlike Apollo, the sun-god, representative of culture and civilization, Dionysos is associated with the mysteries of life and death, with vegetation, with consciousness associated with the depths, irrationality, a life fully lived, the emotions and sensuality that lead to an altered state of consciousness, and to transcendence through experience. Dionysos is considered the god of ecstasy and of enthusiasm, because his devotees, after a frenzied dance, “become enraptured”, and then “the god merges into his adorer, through enthusiasm”.

The Eros/Phanos picture was the target picture of the psiber conference orginized by the IASD. It is an online conference were people can read about psi- connections in dreams. And I do not consider it coincidence that I was reading the book about Jung his love life at the same time this image was selected as target picture!

This quotation I read in Maria Helena Guerra her book “The love drama of C.G. Jung”:

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The love drama of C.G. Jung

This book is very much worth reading. (If you want to buy it just click on the link and go to Amazon, that way you will support Mindfunda). Maria weaves the strings of Jung’s process of constructing the Self in a web of the love triangle that was created after Jung introduced Tony Wolff into his home. She was his lover, his therapist, the one that kept him sane. She was the manifestation of his anima.

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Tony Wolff

Eros as anima

This was Jung his dream:
In the dream I found myself in a magnificent Italian loggia with pillars, a marble floor and a marble balustrade. I was sitting on a gold Renaissance chair. in front of me was a table of rare beauty. It was made of green stone like emerald. There I sat, looking at a distance, for the loggia was set high up on the tower castle. My children were sitting at the table too.
Suddenly a white bird descended, a small sea-gull or a dove. Gracefully came to rest on the table, and I signed the children to be still so that they would not frighten away the pretty white bird. Immediately, the dove was transformed into a little girl ], about eight years of age, with golden blond hair. She ran off with the children and played with them among the colonnades of the castle.
I remained lost in thought, musing about what I had just experienced. The little girl returned and tenderly placed her arms around my neck. Then she suddenly vanished, the dove was back and spoke in a human voice: “Only in the first hours of the night can I transform myself to a human being, while the male dove is busy with the twelve death”. then she flew off into the blue air and I awoke”.

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The dove as symbol of the anima

 

Eros in your life

How about you? When was the last time you were mesmerized by somebody who took your breath away? In your dreams? Or in your waking life?

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Please sign up for my YouTube channel to enjoy all the beautiful Mindfunda interviews with inspiring people. People like Jean Benedict Raffa, Anne Baring, Connie Kaplan, Ralph Metzner, Stanley Krippner and P.M.H. Atwater, Catherine Wikholm about her book the Buddha Pill and Justina Lasley about her book Wake Up to Your Dreams: Transform Your Relationships, Career, and Health While You Sleep! Evan Thompson about his book Waking Sleeping Being.

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