The Garden of Eden as a Metaphor for the Evolution of Consciousness
There is probably no body of text more widely debated and interpreted than the bible. To me, it seems to make the most sense to view these stories as symbolic representations of states of consciousness and processes of nature. Since many books of the bible have different authors it is most likely that there is no one-size-fits-all key or cipher that can be applied to everything. I believe these books were written in a way that allows their meanings to be multi-layered, meaning two or more different interpretations of the same story can all be accurate simultaneously.
Here I would like to offer one such interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.
The story of the garden of Eden seems to be a symbolic representation of the evolution of human consciousness. I do not think the story is meant to be taken literally. It is a symbolic story of humanity evolving the conscious part of the mind which gave rise to the awareness of individuality, the issue of life and death, and the problem of good and evil. The Fool card of the Tarot represents a similar process. Going from an unconscious state of unity into a consciousness of duality.
Humans used to exist in a pre-thought or pre-ego state. Mostly we exist now in a state where we are lost in thought and fully identified with the conscious mind or ego. This disconnection with the pre-ego state of unity consciousness has led to the fear of death. We have forgotten that our consciousness is inextricably woven into the fabric of existence. This fear of death has caused us to create a wall of thoughts that separates us from the direct experience of the present moment. We view everything through the lens of our survival-based worldview. Our survival mechanisms are stuck in the ON position due to the nagging sense of impermanence that is always present in the back of our minds. The chattering mind is a survival mechanism meant for solving problems and in the absence of problems, it creates more problems to solve. The conscious mind has forgotten its roots and fears that death is the end of existence.
We are slowly (VERY slowly) moving on the collective level into a post-ego state that is usually called enlightenment. It seems humanity began in an enlightened state but we were unaware of ourselves as individuals. We were conscious without KNOWING we are conscious. The fall of man and being cast out of the garden of Eden is symbolic of the fall into a state of consciousness where we become aware of ourselves as individuals but have lost the sense of unity with all things. We are frightened satellites floating in a world that seems foreign and separate from us. Enlightenment is the awareness of both modes of consciousness simultaneously. Both duality and unity, knowing ourselves as both one and many.
Adam, representing the potential for self-awareness and the masculine action-oriented principle of consciousness, was convinced by Eve, the subconscious and feminine aspect of consciousness, to partake of the fruit of knowledge. Eve was convinced by the serpent, which represents the evolutionary force, to partake of the tree. The serpent is a well-known symbol for energy which has many names, shakti, chi, prana, etc… So we see the evolutionary impulse influencing the subconscious which in turn influences the action-oriented side of the mind to enter into a state of duality consciousness.
Now humans are stuck in a perpetually conflicted state of mind and many of us spend our time avoiding examining the feelings of fear that come along with the knowledge of good and evil. Good and evil in this context are symbols of duality and the paradoxical nature of reality. The unsolvable problem. The problem-solving mind cannot come to terms with the paradox of its own existence so it spends most of its time trying to keep us from seeing the truth of nature as consciousness itself. The antidote to this conflict comes from the tree of life. “Next they shall partake of the tree of life and become as we are”
By exploring systems of magick such as the Golden Dawn system, which are based on the use of the kabbalistic tree of life, we can begin to ‘climb the tree’ and return to our original state with a new perspective, experiencing an awareness of both individuality and unity at the same time. Duality + unity = trinity. This idea can also be seen in the symbolism of ‘the Lovers’ card in the Tarot.
As far as Golden Dawn magick is concerned I am not a fan of the original traditional setup. I find that Lyam Thomas Christopher’s book “Kabbalah Magick, and the Great Work of Self-Transformation” is the best derivative system available today, but that is a topic for a later discussion.
The garden of Eden represents unity consciousness, the fallen state represents duality consciousness and the next step is to see both at the same time through what we could call trinity consciousness.
I doubt I am the first person to interpret this story in this way but it felt worth sharing as an introduction to the idea of the tree of life since that is the topic we are going to be exploring in future posts.
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