Reinterpreting Eve

Written by Tabby Biddle

Not too far in the past, if a woman was assertive, demanding and purposeful, she was considered a controlling bitch. On the other hand, if a woman complained about her lack of opportunity and played victim, she was considered an annoying whiner. Today, many women are looking to each other for clues as to what it truly means to be a woman.

One of the great perks of being a woman is sharing intimately with other women. I have found over and over, no matter if I am talking with a CEO, an accomplished writer, a five star mom, a longtime healer, a talented artist, … that no matter what their successes, women feel a peculiar sense of self-doubt and inferiority. I have for a long time wondered what this is about.

As someone who studies spirituality and religion, I decided to reflect on our spiritual culture to seek some answers. When focusing on this, I saw that part of the issue could be the many thousands of years we’ve been living in a patriarchal spiritual, social and cultural system. This isn’t a criticism of men by any means, but a pointing out and curiosity about how that system has affected us, both as women and men, from the inside out.

In our culture our greatest spiritual role model, God, is a “he” in imagery and language. “He” is the one we are to please, emulate and be judged by. He is the one we pray to, seek counsel from and look to for solutions. If God is male in imagery and language, wouldn’t it make sense that girls and women who are not “hes” would feel a sense of inferiority, self-doubt and perhaps never feel that they are good enough? If this is the case, I wonder if women and girls deep down inside can ever truly feel worthy.

Let’s look at another part of our spiritual and cultural heritage that may also be contributing to women’s inferiority complex: The story of Adam and Eve. For many of us, we heard this story at a very young age. In my case, I was five. Whether as a child (or adult) we regard the story as myth or truly the creation story, it permeates our culture and has made its way into our unconscious systems. A review…

Woman (Eve) was created out of man (Adam). She was then told by an Almighty man (God) not to pick a forbidden fruit (apple). She picked it (disobedience) – gave it to Adam (unsuspecting innocence) – and from then on was said to have committed the first sin. It was that simple picking (which perhaps was due to pioneering curiosity) that is said to have led to the fall of humanity from paradise and the introduction of evil into the world. Ha!

Assuming Eve as the archetype of woman, woman here is portrayed as undisciplined, disobedient, and a sinner. Looking at it this way, it’s no wonder that women have an underlying sense of blame, shame and in many cases, a fear of questioning male authority. With this story told to us at an early age, it seems like no mystery that as girls and boys we would internalize this.

When reflecting on all of this, my question became – what happened to the time when the Almighty, the Divine, our spiritual leader was in feminine form? What happened to the honoring of our Mother God, Gaia? What happened to the ancient goddess cultures?

According to Maria Gimbutas, world-renowned archeologist, matriarchal and goddess-worshipping cultures existed as far back as 6500 B.C. Aside from the questions of why and how the shift happened away from these cultures and toward our modern-day patriarchy, I think it’s important to look at how we would feel if our spiritual leader were depicted as a woman and referred to as a “she.” Would we feel any different? What is your reaction to even considering this?

I know there is a book called, “When God Was a Woman,” which I have not read yet – but have a feeling it might shed some light on the subject. I also know that some will argue that getting caught up in duality, the feminine and masculine, is not helpful. They will say that God is Absolute and holds no gender or form. My feeling is that all the talk in the world about this, before females ever get a chance to see themselves in the image of the Divine is like skipping from kindergarten to college. We’ve spent the more recent thousands of years seeing our spiritual leader in the image of a male and I think it is going to take more than saying God is Absolute to deconstruct our unconscious belief systems.

Just to make it clear I am not advocating for erasing a male God nor am I advocating for dethroning him with a female. What I am advocating for is a remembrance and honoring of a Mother God, the Divine Feminine, as his divine and uniquely different partner.

As our hierarchies of power are shaking down and interconnection and interrelatedness are shaking wide, perhaps we have an opportunity to redefine how we see ourselves in the world and how we, as women and men, can move forward together as partners creating a world in balance.

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Tabby Biddle is a writer and editor specializing in helping women entrepreneurs and emerging authors get their message out. Additionally she is the founder of Lotus Blossom Style, a yoga lifestyle company created to support women in their personal transformation. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.

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9 thoughts on “Reinterpreting Eve

  1. Tabby,
    In today’s social and specailly economic downturn in which people have lost hope, there would be very hard to create equality and balance among men and women because each person trying to survive and working hard to make ends meet. And, yes we women become stronger and more reselient but it still won’t mean equal.

  2. I love that your voice is getting stronger, Tabby, and less apologetic and ‘spiritual’ (in the sense of ‘let’s all be in bliss’). You are taking a stand, and we need more of that. I especially agree with the notion that we can’t jump from kindergarten to college in how we perceive ‘God’ or ‘Goddess’. I would add to that that the PhD-level is to acknowledge and embrace the fact that we are different! The existence of the masculine and the feminine, yang and yin, light and dark, left and right brain is the foundation for life. We can’t have one without the other. Having that said, it’s important to add that without the feminine spark of creation, nothing would exist.
    Love the path that you are on!
    Lxx

  3. When we grow up with a mythology of a male god and male clergy, of course females become the second class gender and internalize the idea of being less than men. And books like the Bible give license to men to denigrate women as less than. Lots of programming and conditioning we have to overcome to off-set the damage in our cultures, religions and psyches and has led to the imbalance across the globe. Bride burning, female genital mutilation, infanticide, domestice violence, intimate violence, rape as a weapon of war, inequities in pay for equal work, only 20% of female leadership in academia, corporate America and politics. Women can’t be ordained as priests, women have their reproductive health controlled by their church or one day the government. We’ve lost the concept of our sacred sexuality replacing it with taboos about being unclean and the shameful sex. We let men and society determine what we call beauty resulting in eating disorders in women and millions spent with cosmetic surgeons. Should I go on? Yes, all of this because we have lost the essence of the feminine face of god. If we don’t see ourselves as reflections of the Divine – then we allow ourselves to be denigrated and the other gender feels entitled to denigrate us because they have been programmed that they are superior and we are here to serve. And by association, the Earth and species on the planet are also abused and raped because everything is here for Man’s pleasure. Okay — off my soap box now. That’s my Queen talking!

  4. I recently read some information about gnostics and pre-christian religions-it was on-line and I haven’t checked for validity, but if it’s true it is an interesting version of the Adam and Eve story.

    In this version the God at the time was not the benevolent all-powerful one God of the Christian faith, but was more like a demi-god. He had been separated from the other sources of divinity, most notably the feminine in the form of Sophia (wisdom), and either thought he was all that existed, or was ego-maniacal about his position in the grand scheme of things. The tree of knowledge, or I think it may be more accurate to call it the tree of gnosis, carried the energy of Sophia. By ingesting the apple Adam and Eve gain the ability to connect to the divine-masculine and feminine-through self-awareness/knowledge. They can access a source of divinity that existed before the demi-god of that story existed, because Sophia came before him.

    Or I see the story this way as well: in coming to this earth we all make the choice that Adam and Eve make, we choose to leave Eden and enter this world because we want to know ourselves in a way that Eden can’t provide, we all eat from the tree of gnosis and “descend”. Of course Eve was first, women are the portals to this reality.

    There are other interpretations of this story, and more details about its historical context, that take it out of the realm of the “women are the root of evil” interpretation. There is a lot more to the story, there are other players like Lilith and Sophia, and it can be a rich and empowering allegory for women.

  5. I want to acknowledge how powerful women are. If the rise of the patriarchy wasn’t supposed to happen it wouldn’t have. If women wanted the patriarchy to end it would. We’re just not yet as a collective, but we’re getting there. Apparently we were all due for some patriarchal marination. But the cosmos is shifting, and I agree, not to a matriarchy, that would be just as skewed, but to a state of greater balance. If women actually claimed their power there would be no stopping us, and that power is not in the hands of anyone else, it is within us. When we’re ready, it will happen, and I’m excited to be living at the time when the collective psyche is turning in that direction. It’s going to happen, it’s where the natural cycle is going. Kudos to all the women on the frontier of change!

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