This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean  from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine,  Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt).  A similar evolution and change happened in the (farther) East that became dominated by Islam and Hinduism. 

For other commentaries by Janet Wise, visit www.janetwise.net and for the complete series of Punishing Eve, as they continue to be posted, http://www.janetwise.net/category/zeitgeist-commentary/ 

Note: The term androcracy is used to describe a social system ruled through force, or threat of force by men. This term derives from Greek root words Andros or “man,” and kratos (as in democratic), or “ruled.”

 

Eve (#1)

Eve

Part IV: PUNISHING EVE:

The earlier Paleolithic and Neolithic Mother Goddess was not separate from everyday life to be worshipped as a religion but was, instead, very much merged within it: the Goddess gave life therefore she was integral to every facet of it. She was the embodiment and giver of wisdom; the great teacher of how to regulate human use of her resources – for She was the Earth: its water, soil, the heavens and air – to replenish and maintain the bounty that sustained all. And because She gave life and was all wise, it was natural for women to be respected not only as the givers of life but to be the womb and receptacle of her wisdom. It was the foundation of the Neolithic Matriarchate where women, governed by the Goddess owned and controlled wealth, property, and presided over law and justice.

There is much evidence to support that women served as tribal and community leaders, as healers, and as high priestesses, part of whose role was to create law and dispense judgment as do our modern-day judges in courts of law today. In analyzing the purpose of the cave art so prolific in Paleolithic and Neolithic Europe, and indeed around the world, historian and author Gertrude Rachel Levy wrote that the cave itself was probably a symbol of the womb of the Goddess (the Creatrix, the Mother, the Earth), and that the rituals performed there were manifestations of the wish to partake in – and also influence – her creative acts. These would include giving birth to the animals that came out of her womb; the animals depicted on the cave walls and which they revered as coming from the Goddess.[1]

While She was the one divine source, there were many symbols used to represent her; one being the serpent. Just as the seasons progressed from the autumn harvest to winter dormancy to a spring of renewal, the serpent also represented the Goddess renewal in how it shed its skin and generated another. Both the serpent and the butterfly were symbols in the Old Religion of metamorphosis of new life. The serpent has been used symbolically as the embodiment of wisdom and eternity of life through regeneration in ancient cultures all over the world from not only the Paleolithic and Neolithic in the European crescent but in the Far East, by the Incas in South America and numerous North American indigenous tribes. It was the symbol of oracular prophesies throughout the Mediterranean region from Minoan Crete to Delphi in Mycenaean Greece, to Sumer, Egypt, and Canaan. There is hardly an area in the Near and Middle East where the serpent and shrines of divine wisdom embodied by the serpent cannot be found.

In much the same manner as done in our modern-day world, when Bush’s brain, Karl Rove, looked for the opposing candidate’s greatest strength in order to turn it upside down into a weakness, the serpent was to be transformed from a symbol of wisdom to a symbol of evil – of the devil. A technique now dubbed “Swift-boating:” in the 2004 Presidential campaign, Rove and his cohorts transformed John Kerry’s record as a decorated war hero into making him out to be a fraud, a phony, and a coward to detract from the fact that Bush had avoided serving in the military to escape the Vietnam War. In the Hebrew Old Testament the serpent, representing the wisdom of the Goddess was turned into a sly and cunning elicitor of sin.  Since women held high roles in the social order and were the keepers and dispensers of wisdom, and since all wisdom came from the Goddess, and since the serpent represented the Goddess, of course woman would listen to the serpent. It would have been a sin against all that she was not to.

As stated earlier, the biblical Genesis story of creation was written thousands of years after 4000 B.C.E. when it supposedly occurred if we adopt Christian evangelical literal thinking rather than myth and allegory.[2] But whether literalists or readers of the Bible as allegory, it is important to acknowledge that those authors had an androcratic nationalistic agenda. Just as Karl Rove’s strategy in Swift-boating John Kerry’s strength into a weakness was to discredit not only his candidacy but the truth of his character and integrity, the story of Creation in the book of Genesis was to do the same to that other God(dess). One does not have to read very far in the Bible to understand the religious and nationalistic agenda associated with stamping out the Neolithic Goddess.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:4-5).[3]

The fact that the Hebrew Lord states his jealousy is an acknowledgement that there was another God(dess) who did reside and rule over all of those places, and he saw her as competition and to be destroyed. Or, rather the Levant priests writing the Old Testament did.

Therefore, in order to legitimize and sanction the rule of androcracy, the authors for the warrior-priests needed to be history revisionists. They claimed that their God created Earth in one day (in approximately 4000 B.C.E, Genesis 1-11); an earth which had been in existence for millions of years, and in a myth similar to the Sumerians legend of creation. Then moving on, they stole the Sumerian garden of Eden for their new mythology; a Neolithic region that had been cultivated and irrigated from the great rivers for thousands of years. (Genesis 2:8). In (Genesis 2:9-14), God describes what will grow in the garden and the great rivers (naming the Euphrates and Tigris which branch into four rivers) which will water it. Then we get to the Tree of Knowledge. Genesis 2:15-17:

15And the Lord God took man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. 16, And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die.[4]

But God didn’t want man to be lonely so (in Genesis 2:18-20) he makes every beast in the field and every fowl in the air, (even though those animals were the subjects of magnificent Paleolithic cave paintings from many thousand years earlier.) Enter again woman: that she reappears (in Genesis 2:21- 25) to be wrought from Adam’s rib, after already having been created (in Genesis 1:27, So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them) suggests there was more than one author of Genesis and they didn’t collaborate very carefully. Or wait . . .  was the Genesis 1:27 female perhaps Lilith who appears so frequently in the Hebrew Torah and Zohar?

But temporarily overlooking such inconsistencies, we enter into the heart of this saga: The making of woman and the institution of marriage. This second woman that was born out of man was another key element of undermining women and the Goddess, since for thousands of years before this Genesis story of creation, life was, and still is, born out of woman; the Goddess worshiped as the source of life. (Genesis 2:21-25):

21And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22, And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, he made into a woman, and brought her unto man. 23, And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.25, And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.[5]

Demonizing of Woman to Legitimize Her Subjugation 

Scores of books have been written analyzing how, at this point in the Old Testament God’s creation activities, man and woman were not yet mortal and were both virgins; they had not committed the “original sin.” It is the very foundation of the Christian religion with Jesus and Paul, followed by many other of the religious agonizing over and interpreting the meaning of Genesis, specifically the sin of sex versus the virtuousness of abstinence. Given that the Zohar –  twenty-two volumes of Kabalistic commentaries on the Hebrew Torah (those same Hebrews who wrote the Old Testament) – give numerous references of Lilith as being created at the same time as Adam from the dust of the ground and animated by spirits that rose up out of the ground (Genesis 1:27) and that as his wife, she left him in dissatisfaction – among her complaints being sexual domination[6] – an honest acknowledgment would be that Adam was not a virgin when God eased his loneliness and created Eve. But Eve would have been (a virgin). A verification in the Bible that Lilith was the first woman created for Adam comes from when he first awoke to find Eve: ויאמר האדם זאת … הפעם (‘A woman again?’ he said).

So yes, for a second time in this Hebrew myth of creation, God has given a woman to Adam. The first was Lilith who rejected him for his overbearing actions of domination. The second was Eve.

Then comes: The Serpent’s deception of Eve and man’s shameful fall. Genesis 3:1-5

1, Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2, And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3, But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4, And the serpent said unto woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5, For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be like God, knowing good and evil.[7]

What the serpent was revealing was that the wisdom of the Goddess is within. To be like God(dess) is an inherent truth in the Old Religion of the Neolithic Goddess (and of Jesus Christ, according to the Gnostic Gospels).[8]  But in this new religion (or at least after the orthodox Catholics had the mythology edited to their liking by 300 A.D.) God is separate from self, and rules over via the Catholics bishops. To be like God or having God’s wisdom within was heresy, and to know good and evil resulted in man’s interpretations to be the blurring of the sin of blind disobedience to the male god into the sin of having engaged in sex: Eve accused of seducing Adam into carnal knowledge – claiming that before this seduction, he was a virgin and as such was “immortal.”[9]  This “original sin” (this sin of the act and the sin of the desire for the act) would haunt Adam and be passed on to all his mortal male progeny from that day forward due to the mythologized sin of enticement by Eve.

Gage writes, “Inasmuch as it was a cardinal doctrine that the fall of Adam took place through his temptation into marriage by Eve, this relation was regarded with holy horror as a continuance of the evil which first brought sin into the world, depriving man of his immortality.” She quotes Irish religious historian, William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838-1903), “It was a favorite doctrine of the Christian fathers that concupiscence or sensual passion was the original sin of human nature. The tendency of the Church towards enforcement of celibacy was early seen. At the four Synods which assembled to establish the true faith in respect to the Holy nature of Christ’s Humanity, the first one at Nice, 318 A.D., the second at Constantinople with forty bishops present, the third at Ephesus with two hundred bishops present, the fourth at Chaledonia with many bishops together, they forever forbade all marriage to the minister at the altar.”[10] To such an extent was this doctrine carried, it was declared that had it not have been for the fall, God would have found some way outside of the sexual relationship for populating the world, consequently marriage was regarded as a condition of peculiar temptation and trial; celibacy was one of especial holiness.  Gage goes on to explain that, “It is a notable fact that a thousand years of  joys on earth has less attraction for the Christian fathers than the eternal rapture of heaven, and that the “old Fathers” taught that “the world is a state of matrimony, but heaven a paradise of virginity.” Quoting Ferdinand August Bebel, (1840-1913) German Marxist, politician, writer, and orator, Gage writes, “According to Christianity, woman is the unclean one, the seducer who brought sin into the world and caused the fall of man. Consequently all apostles and Fathers of the Church have regarded marriage as an inevitable evil just as prostitution is today.”[11]

Gage, goes on to say, that those in the Church patriarchy who upheld marriage as a necessity for propagating the species still taught woman’s complete subordination to man in that relation; also that this condition was one of great tribulation to man. Quoting Lecky in speaking of the noxious influences of ascetics upon marriage, “it would  be difficult to conceive anything more coarse and repulsive  than the manner in which the Church regarded it; it was invariably treated as a consequence of the fall of Adam and regarded from its lowest aspect.”  But having determined that evil was necessary in order to future good, the Church decided to compel a belief that its control of this contract lessened the evil; to this end declaring marriage illegal without priestly sanction, thus creating a conviction of and belief in its sacramental nature in the minds of the people. Despite this, celibacy was taught as the highest condition for both man and woman, and as early as the third century many of both sexes entered upon a celibate life.[12]

(Note: In case you missed it . . . Catholic/Christian’s imagined heaven is virginity and abstinence; an absence of the sin of sexual desire. Westerners enjoy ridiculing the Muslims’ belief where their hereafter is an imagined paradise of sex with 70 virgins. Christian males want to reconsider . . . )

Some scholars and artists have depicted the Serpent as being Lilith with Lilith representing Satan, the Christian Swift-boat revisionism of the Goddess. Regardless, it is this twisted allegorical intent on stamping out and discrediting the Goddess, thus casting all women’s sexuality as the sin that caused Adam to fall into mortality that has carried forward into the tainted (sex is sin enticed by woman and deserving of punishment of women) bedrock of Western civilization from 4000 B.C.E. to this day – or at least since the Hebrew priests wrote it into language in the Bible in 600 B.C.E. and the Catholic Fathers further interpreted and edited it a number of centuries later.

For after Eve entices Adam into this sin of sharing knowledge. (Genesis 3:16):

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow your pain in childbearing; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.[13]

Note: In the Old Religion, the Mediterranean Goddess Diana known as maiden, mother, and crone was the deity to whom was given tribute and offerings for an easy childbirth. Midwives knew of and used extracts from plants provided by Mother Earth – the Goddess – to ease the rigors and pain of childbirth (meaning childbirth was already painful, and a male god had nothing to do with it).

Because of this great hoax – this story of creation – woman was to be subservient to man. Her role in the world was to procreate – but within marriage and under authority of her husband: no single mothers allowed. It became her fault that man wanted to have sex with her (and many other women, with whom those Old Testament Hebrews surely did, according to their own writings, and often through force of rape). But for women to engage in sex for any purpose other than for procreation was a sin. Though, over time and thanks to the double standard, the sin lessened for men – prostitution an age-old practice continued to flourish. And, of course, they legalized and promoted polygamy.

This double standard alive and thriving today, it was to be a woman’s duty to keep an aspirin between her knees per Rick Santorum’s billionaire donor, Foster Friess.[14] And if she didn’t, the responsibility of her sin of letting man pry those knees open, by agreement or force through rape, was to bear many children. Of course, being ordered to be subservient to her husband meant that he could pry those knees open anytime he felt the urge, for over time man’s “sin” of sexual desire became his naturally ordained right. And as long as she wasn’t menstruating, and could show evidence she was “clean” of blood, and the intention was to get her pregnant, man was not committing a sin –although much Catholic theologian energy has been expended on whether it was all right to feel sexual desire or if man was supposed to do the deed while suppressing the sin of lust.[15]

Menstrual blood, and blood of childbirth, both of which was sacred in its relationship to birth and new life – even mixed with water for fertilization in the Old Religion – had become “unclean” in the Hebrew Old Testament, tainting everything that came in contact with it. And because the bearing of children was to be with great pain, midwives who were highly esteemed in the Old Religion for their knowledge in easing woman’s birth would soon become hunted as witches.

Modern day Catholic Catechism Sacrament of Matrimony follows the laws detailing women’s role in subservience to husband; of being bound to a man for life; the mandatory import  of virginity and fidelity; and sex for procreation only as is laid out in the Old Testament.[16] So, in defense of Rick Santorum and the big “C” conservatives cheering his rhetoric, they didn’t come up with their anti-woman, anti-democracy as it applies to women, anti-women’s sexuality except for procreation, anti-birth control irrationality in the fearful aftermath of a Lilith-induced midnight wet dream. Well, that fear and loathing is now embedded in their DNA, but . . . they are actually taught to believe that sexual desire is sinful but using women as sexual tools of reproduction under the rulership of men is moral. And they are homeschooling their proliferate number of offspring to believe in this same immorality, while at the same time trying to replace science in public schools with mythical creationism.

We’ve already learned that Lilith was created, according to Hebrew lore, recorded in Kabalistic writing, at the same time as Adam and that she was the first woman created in Genesis 1:27. In addition to the wrongful distortion of Eve questing knowledge as the ultimate sin, or the myth of instilling sexual desire into Adam who had already discovered it through Lilith, Lilith was transformed in Hebrew myth into a demonic spirit and into the sly and sinful serpent in the Bible.  As Adam’s first wife who divorced him due to his insisting on having authority over her – including insisting on the missionary position – her disobedience to his authority resulted in her becoming mythologized into the evil sexual seducer of men, and killer of babies. The fearsome Lilith would often visit those Hebrew men in the night, causing that troublesome nocturnal semen to spill.[17] She would still later be transformed by the Catholic Dominican inquisitors into the demonic midwife baby-devouring witches and into the succubus – a demoness appearing in dreams who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, causing either his foul and messy unconscious wet dreams or his conscious lust.

It is fear of the spirit and the evil of the Lilith they invented in myth that is today in the Right-wing DNA and entelechy – that evolutionary memory that propels us into what we are. And they are lashing out and legislating for all they’re worth against educated, independent Liliths who dare try to rise to the position of equality with men. This fear of female independence is their motivation to get women married (to an androcratic Christian man), locked in the home, and keeping them pregnant via the missionary position, under and subservient to a husband and Church authority. And women are only allowed to have sex when it will result in procreation. Pleasure sex – even if it is perverted pleasure a violent man gets through rape – is to be punished with pregnancy: no abortions, no birth control and no morning after pill is to be the law of the land per the modern day inquisitors leading this assault on women’s sexuality.

The male priests who wrote this great hoax and then imposed their deception of denigration on one half of the population – repeating it over and over until it began to be believed even by those who are victims of this deception – is an excellent testimonial for how to create and perpetrate deception. To be clear, a male God didn’t do that either. Male priests did it; they did it for power and wealth. And, just as with all imposed societal restructuring, it took quite a goodly number of brutal centuries of oppression of blaming the victims for the victims themselves to adapt to the lie, internalizing it into their beliefs.

Gage writes, “The Patriarchate under which Biblical history and Judaism commenced, was a rule by men whose lives and religion were based upon passions of the grossest kind, showing but few indications of softness or refinement. Monogamous family life did not exist, but a polygamy whose primal object was the formation of a clan possessing hereditary chiefs ruling aristocratically. To this end the dominion of man over woman and the birth of many children were requisite. To this end polygamy was instituted, becoming as marked a feature of the Patriarchate as monogamy was of the Matriarchate. Not until the Patriarchate were wives regarded as property, the sale of daughters as a legitimate means of family income, or their destruction at birth looked upon as a justifiable act. Under the Patriarchate, society became morally revolutionized, the family, the state, the form of religion entirely changed. The theory of a male supreme God in the interests of force and authority, wars, family discord, the sacrifice of children to appease the wrath of an offended male deity are all due to the Patriarchate. These were practices entirely out of consonance with woman’s thought and life. Biblical Abraham, binding Isaac for sacrifice to Jehovah, carefully kept his intentions from the mother, Sarah. Jephtha offering up his daughter in accordance with his vow, allowing her a month’s life for the bewailment of her virginity, are but typical of the low regard of woman under the Patriarchate. During this period the destruction of girl children became a widespread practice, and infantile girl murder the custom of many nations. During the Matriarchate all life was regarded as holy; even the sacrifice of animals was unknown. Both infanticide and prostitution with all their attendant horrors are traceable with polygamy – their origin – to the Patriarchate or Father-rule, under which Judaism and Christianity rose as forms of religious belief. Under the Patriarchate woman has ever been regarded as slave to be disposed of as father, husband or brother chose. Even in the most Christian lands, daughters have been esteemed valuable only in proportion to the political or pecuniary advantage they brought to the father in the legal prostitution of an enforced marriage. The sacrifice of the woman to the man’s baser passions has ever been the distinguishing characteristic of the Patriarchate. Woman’s degradation is not the normal condition of humanity, neither did it arise from a settled principle of evolution, but is a retrogression due to the grossly material state of the world for centuries past, in which it has lost the interior meaning or spiritual significance of its most holy words.”[18]

After naming Judaism as a Patriarchate society, Gage then goes on to dissect how many Hebrew words still referred to the feminine principle but were mistranslated in their meaning by the Christians to even further remove the feminine from their Christian Bible: Holy Ghost, although in Hebrew a noun of either gender, masculine, feminine, neuter, is invariably rendered masculine by Christian translators of the Bible. “The double-sexed word, Jehovah, signified the masculine and feminine God. The Hebrew word ‘El Shaddai,’ translated, ‘The Almighty’ is still more distinctively feminine than Iah, as it means ‘The Breasted God,’ and is made use of in the Old Testament whenever the especially feminine characteristics of God are meant to be indicated.”[19] After giving yet more examples of the feminine in the Hebrew references to the divinity, she reiterates that Judaism was a Patriarchate culture and religion, and the first and primary Semite culture to so thoroughly subjugate women. But it was the Christian Fathers’ particular prejudice and bias against the Goddess and Matriarchate that removed all traces of the feminine from the Bible and that turned life for women into centuries of darkness and violence. She ends by saying, “It is but a few years since the acknowledgment of a feminine element even in plants was regarded by the Church as heretical. Science now declares the feminine principle to inhere in plants, rocks, gems, and even in the minutest atoms; thus in some degree recognizing the occult axion, “As it is above, so it is below.”[20]

In spite of the Catholic Fathers antagonism toward Her, ridding Western culture of the feminine deity didn’t happen overnight. Stamping out the mythology of the Goddess who represented nature, and the regeneration of life, to be replaced by a male God whose mythology was centered on fear of death was a transition that took the pre-Christian Patriarchate a few thousand years – and the Christians even a few additional centuries, after they edited and wrote the New Testament, in spite of being politically embedded with Roman rule to enforce it. While violence against women increased as the Church tightened their hold, She didn’t go quietly and quickly into the night.

 

***

 


[1] Gertrude Rachel Levy, Religious Conceptions of the Stone Age, (New York: Harper & Row), 1963

[3] The Bible, Authorized King James Version, Exodus 20:4-5

[4] Ibid. Genesis 2: 15-17.

[5] Ibid. Genesis 2:21-25

[7] The Bible, Authorized King James Version, Genesis 3:1-5

[8] Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1989) pp. xv, xx quoted from J. M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library (New York, 1977), pp. 21, 22 and The Gospel of Thomas 35:4-7 and 50:28-30.

[9] Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York: Random House, 1988) 94 quoted from Jerome, Adversus Joviniam 1,16

[10] Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church and State, p 49, quoting William Edward Hartpole Lecky, History European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (2 vols., 1869).

[11] Ibid., p 49, quoting Ferdinand August Bebel, Woman in the Past, Present, and Future.

[12] Ibid., p 52.

[13] The Bible, Authorized King James Version, Genesis 3:16

[15] Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York: Random House) pp. 70, 86, 94

[16] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 7: The Sacrament of Matrimony, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c3a7.htm

[18] Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church, and State, pp 43-44.

[19] Ibid, p 45.

[20] Ibid, p 48.
Photo from Cliff licensed under Creative Commons