Although you may not attend church services, align yourself with a particular religion, or read their publications, the stories, myths, rules, and fears propagated by religious organisations still have a powerful influence over people. Cultures dominated by monotheist religion and its myths have worked to maintain a particular power structure, which disempowers the majority of individuals through its stories and threats. Even today, we are continually subject to consistent subliminal reiteration of the culturally-agreed messages via the media – regarding frameworks of good/evil, right/wrong, true/false, real/not real, and valid/invalid. If we are to become peaceful, loving, and enlightened beings, it is important to get below the surface of the accepted reality and find the truth hidden deep within.
The Story we are told
The story of the Garden of Eden appears in The Bible, The Koran, and The Torah. There are some differences in each portrayal therefore I will focus specifically on the Bible story. The second chapter of Genesis in the Old Testament (Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man) is a story that has brought about a deeply-rooted fear of knowledge and power. This story includes the myth of ‘the original sin’, in which a woman disobeys the words of God. This myth consolidated the misogyny which already prevailed in early monotheist religion.
In the story, God made a garden filled with trees that were ‘beautiful and good for food’. God formed Adam in ‘his’ own image out of the dust of the ground. In the middle of the Garden of Eden were the ‘Tree of Eternal Life’ and the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’. Adam was commanded by God not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, on pain of death, but was encouraged to continue to eat from the Tree of Eternal Life.
God decided that Adam needed a ‘helper’ and ‘companion’. So while Adam was sleeping, God took one of his ribs and made a woman from it. Adam named her ‘woman’ because she was ‘taken out of man’ (note, not the other way around).
There was a ‘crafty’ serpent who came and told the woman that she wouldn’t die if she ate from the Tree of Knowledge but that her eyes would be opened instead, she would become ‘like God – knowing good from evil’. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree brought wisdom and enlightenment, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to Adam. They then had knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and became ‘aware of their nakedness’ i.e. their ‘tools’ of creation.
When God discovered this, he cursed the woman – ‘increasing her pain both in childbirth and in her monthly blood’ (menstruation came to be known as ‘the curse’) and by telling her that she would be ‘ruled by her husband’. Adam was punished because he ‘listened to his wife’ and he was made to work the land until he returned to it in death. In the story, God says that now ‘man’ has knowledge ‘he’ must become mortal otherwise he will become ‘like one of us’ (divine). God also cursed the serpent to crawl on its belly and eat dust for the rest of its life.
This teaches people that:
- God is a male who makes, controls and can destroy everything.
- Man is made in the image of God.
- Woman is made from the body of man.
- The reason for women’s existence is to be ‘helper’ and ‘companion’ to men.
- It is dangerous for a man to listen to a woman.
- It is dangerous to go against the word of God.
- It is dangerous to break rules or poke around in forbidden places – if you do, terrible things will happen.
- It is dangerous to listen to your intuitive wisdom (symbolised by the serpent).
- Humankind is ‘cursed’ because of the temptations of a woman.
- It is dangerous to ‘eat from the tree’ – i.e. to have knowledge.
- Knowledge brings pain, suffering, and continual work and knowledge is ‘evil’.
- With knowledge you understand ‘nakedness’ (sex) – that is, you know of your ability to create life, you can experience ecstatic states, and you can therefore become like God.
- It is dangerous to become like God.
What the Bible states very clearly is that the knowledge is plainly there, available right in front of you, and that you can become like the creator by simply ‘eating’ of the Tree of Knowledge. But it warns you against it over and over again. These messages keep people from their own knowledge, power, and divinity, and they have become the blueprint for our behaviour and social structure.
The Myth of Woman as Demon
The god of monotheistic religion was not only singular, it was also seen as male – like the priests. The world was divided. Everything commonly (and falsely) associated with ‘male’ (physical strength, focused thinking, competitiveness, domination, assertiveness and unemotional/rational decision making) was also associated with God (good, normal, right, powerful, valuable, light, positive, and divine). We can see the reflection of this in our language even today. Words that describe men are acceptable, fun, or powerful whereas words for women which describe exactly the same concept are seen as unacceptable, wrong, scary, and laughable. Compare the following:
wizard, bachelor, stud, priest, dick
witch, spinster, slag, priestess, cunt
Everything which isn’t male-like is not God and is therefore seen as evil, bad, dirty, dark, negative, dangerous, wrong, and weird. Not-God is: demon, evil, woman, animal, menstruation, emotion, gentleness, softness, carer, mother, priestess, midwife, healer, witch, intuition, psychic vision, and goddess. Goddesses have been demonised, and made into evil or destructive forces – for example, Kali, Hecate, and of course Lilith – creating fear around the power of the feminine, or they have been desexualised. For example, the symbol ‘Virgin Mary’ of Christianity removes all sexual power whatsoever. This informs and encourages misogyny and the abuse of women. It informs the misuse of male power and the negation of everything feminine – men who allow emotion or gentleness are often ridiculed. It upholds the myth that men are stronger, more capable, and in charge – albeit under the watchful eye of a vengeful god.
Messages of wicked witches, nasty step mothers, sexual predators (bunny boilers), and subservient women who depend on men in order to survive, are not only perpetuated via religion and its supporters (politics and the education system) they are maintained via the seemingly innocuous avenues of fairy tales, advertising, and entertainment. The messages are also supported in the judicial system where women are often punished more heavily than men for the same crimes or where crimes such as burglary or tax evasion are met with more severe sentences than sexual or violent crimes against women. The messages are also sustained in the very structure of our culture, where men generally hold the most ‘important’ and ‘powerful’ jobs and the work that women tend towards is underpaid and undervalued.
The Culture of Control
Myth is an incredibly powerful and transformative magickal process which uses symbol and emotive content to implant ideas deep into your unconscious. Used consciously and with the right intention it can bring joy and expansion of being. In the wrong hands, and with dangerous stories, myth perpetuates fear and limits self- realisation. It has been used in this way by religious/political organisations to influence, manipulate, and control cultures.
The ‘original sin’ is the story we have all been told. It is the prevailing myth we live under. Even if you haven’t been brought up in a religious family, this myth and others have influenced the blueprint from which you manifest your reality, and this gives rise to your thoughts, beliefs, judgements, and perceptions about yourself, others, and the environment around you.
It may seem like a simple story but the symbolic power of The Garden of Eden is more far reaching than you’d ever imagine. It is dangerous and power-stripping to all genders. It forces people into unnatural and disempowering gender-based dualistic roles within society and within relationships. By maintaining this environment of fear, all humans are separated from their right to freely express themselves in a way that is true and fulfilling. This ultimately disempowers and enslaves all but those who hold the reign.
A Disempowering Leadership
The monotheistic teachings encouraged separation from the collective ALL. The universal creative force became personified into this single all-seeing, judgemental, angry, and punishing father-figure. This was a very frightening mix that had the effect of keeping control over large cultures by maintaining an environment of perpetual fear. Understood to be the word of God in written form, the Old Testament actually encourages the murder and torture of any individual who is knowledgeable or powerful, or who differs in opinion or action.
The practice of marginalizing, killing, and punishing people who have different beliefs appallingly continues throughout the world today. Rather than empowering individuals with ancient teachings of personal transformation and enlightenment, these holy books are little more than instruction manuals for personal disempowerment and global violence. It is not surprising that cultures are warring and individuals live in judgement, hate, and fear of themselves and others when these teachings are at their foundation.
Apart from power and control, the priests were also hiding important knowledge with their stories:
- The knowledge that All is One.
- The knowledge that we are the Creatrix.
- The knowledge that sex can be an avenue to divine experience.
- The knowledge that we are deserving of the bliss of Oneness and fulfilment.
- The knowledge that all genders, cultures, sexualities, abilities, and ages are equally valuable, powerful, and worthy of fulfilling their chosen paths.
- The knowledge that everyone has the ability to understand, experience, and benefit from the truth of Unity.
- The knowledge that we have all the wisdom already within us and we don’t need to look outside ourselves in order to find it.
- The knowledge that, with training, our bodies and minds can be a conduit for the ecstatic state and therefore for divine creation.
- The knowledge that the structures and belief systems they have created are entirely false.
When you know their secrets you are no longer reliant on their religious, political, and social structures and you are free to live your life according to your true journey.