So, several years ago I read Sue Monk Kidd's (of The Secret Life of Bees fame) book "Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine". A few days ago I ran into it and decided to read it again. . .this time as fuel for a song I'm working on. Here is an excerpt that I especially appreciate:
. . .I came upon a picture of Eve being tempted by the serpent. I gazed at it a long time- the snake whispering in Eve's ear, her hand outstretched to receive the apple. It brought to mind the classic interpretation that Adam, the symbolic man, was the superior one, the agent of God, while Eve, the symbolic woman, succumbed to evil because of her association with the snake. Woman was blamed for bringing evil into the world. Her punishment, we're told, was women's pain in childbirth and submission to man.
During my reading, I'd come across a number of references concerning the symbolic history of the serpent. To my surprise, I'd learned that in ancient times the snake was not maligned or seen as evil but rather symbolized female wisdom, power, and regeneration. It was associated with the ancient Goddess and was portrayed as her companion. The snake was perhaps the central symbol of sacred feminine energy. . . Questions followed one another in rapid-fire succession: How had the snake, of all creatures- an animal no better or worse than other wild beings- come to embody the full projection of evil within the Jewish and Christian traditions? Why was the snake selected to represent Satan in the origin myth? COuld it be that the patriarchal force chose the snake in hopes of diminishing women's connection to feminine wisdom, power, and regeneration? Was it a way of discrediting the Feminine Divine?
In the context of that time and history, the idea made gut-wrenching sense. In fact. later I would read many such theories by scholars, theologians, and historians.
To understand why the Eden story is so important we have to remember the extraordinary way origin myths operate in our psyches. In a way humans are not made of skin and bone as much as we're made of stories. The Eden myth perhaps more than any other floats in our cells, informing our vision of ourselves and the world. . . .
Holding the picture of Eve and the serpent that day, I realized how significant and sad it is that in the story Yahweh forever placed enmity between Eve and the snake. Taking symbolic history into account we might say Yahweh placed enmity between Eve and her deep Feminine Source, her wisdom and power. What did it mean spiritually and psychologically for women to be at odds with that source? Wasn't this another way of portraying women's severed connection with their feminine souls?
I came to realize that Eden is a wounded geography within women's lives, that part of my journey would be returning to this painful inner ground and redeeming the snake in my own psyche.
No matter where you are in your journey of reclaiming the Divine Feminine, I think you will enjoy reading about Sue's journey. You can order the book here via Amazon!