Tasting from the Tree of Transformation: an Alternative Interpretation of Eve
Part one in the Biblical Goddesses series
Most see Eve as the Christian Pandora who brought death to humankind, a plague, a thoughtless being subservient to her husband Adam. But this is not the true Eve. Her story has been shrouded by centuries of dogma and doctrine. What do religious myths such as the creation story in Genesis really mean? I feel this is a question each seeker will have to discover for her/him/zemself; what follows is just one interpretation. Names can reveal a lot about mythological and religious characters. What does Eve’s name reveal about her?
She has many appellations: Barbelo [or Arb-Eloh, the embodiment of the Feminine Principle in Gnostic Christianity], Hawwa [“wife”], Hiywa [“Source of Life”], Chava, Light Maiden of Sophia, Zoe [“life”], Mother of Life. Her name is possibly related to that of the Hurrian goddess Kheba [Hebat], who was worshipped during the Bronze Age. Kheba’s name in turn may be derived from the name of the first female king, Kebau, of the Third Dynasty of Kish. In the Tyndale translation of the Bible, Eve is the name Adam gives to animals; he calls his wife Heua. The word eve itself means “dawn” or “beginning.”
Here’s an interesting connection: Another name of the Goddess Asherah is Hawwa/Chawah; she was also commonly depicted as a nude woman with a serpent. Asherah is mentioned more than a few times in the Bible.
Sophia is a feminine aspect of God in the Gnostic Christian tradition and is associated with wisdom. It is my opinion that Eve and Sophia are one in the same – she is, after all, called “The Light Maiden of Sophia.”
As can be seen from these alternate names, Eve was associated with wisdom and life. She ate the magical Fruit and was awakened, filled with god-like knowledge and wisdom. This is when her elevation to Goddesshood began.
Eve is the brave Mother of humanity – much like Mary, who is sometimes called “the second Eve.” She was never actually directly forbidden from eating the Fruit; God only forbade Adam: “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” [Genesis 2: 16 – 17] At this point it is debatable whether or not Eve was even created; once before it is mentioned that a womon was created [Genesis 1:27], but it’s not until 2:22 that she is mentioned directly [and not until much later that she is named]. This brings up another point: nowhere is it written that Eve was even told that Adam could not eat of the Fruit – reading the story, it sounds like no one told her anything about the Tree. [No one, that is, except the Serpent.]
It sounds to me like Eve went through a shamanic transformation.
At Genesis 3:22, God sounds like a child protecting his favorite toy, but once again he refers to Adam, not Eve: “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’” As an aside, who is this “us” God speaks of? It is well-known that Elohim [the Hebrew word translated as God] is plural [this has been explained as a “royal we” but I’m not buying]. It is not so far-fetched to think that the “us” God speaks of is himself and Sophia, that is, Eve.
Eve became a Goddess through the divine magic of the Fruit, but was cursed because she shared the Fruit with Adam, a mere mortal who was not yet ready for shamanic transformation.
As for Eve being saddled with the label of “helpmate,” created solely as an afterthought to assist Adam – this is blatantly wrong. The word “helpmate” is ‘ezer, and it is used often in the Bible to refer to God! Furthermore, Eve is depicted as autonomous and independent, while her husband is surprisingly passive.
Eve, one goddess among many in the Bible, has been much maligned throughout history. It was believed that women were inferior because of the Original Woman’s stupidity, that women had the same careless, stupid nature as Eve. This was used as justification for the subordination of women up until fairly recently. An example of this is the use of pain relievers during pregnancy: even after ether was discovered as an analgesic, doctors refused to use it on laboring women because the curse of Eve was that women would suffer the pain of childbirth. [As an aside, this is just one example of the sickening trend of doctors — thinking they are infallible — going against the wishes and consent of female patients.]
Eve was maligned like this perhaps because she represents the power people can obtain for themselves by refusing to be passive, much in the same way that Lilith represents freedom. It has been my experience that Eve is very responsive to those who seek her.
An Eve-centric Ritual
photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc
If you are interested in inviting Eve into your life, you might find her energies to be very gentle, yet quite palpable, much as I did. Information on this forgotten goddess is hard to come by, but here are the correspondences that worked for me:
Color: vibrant blue
Stone: blue lace agate
Symbols: light, wisdom, fruit, transformation
Tool: chalice or cauldron
An idea for a simple Eve-centric ritual could be something like this:
Set your altar or ritual space with a white cloth, blue candle, and an offering of fruit.
Clear your mind and banish as you typically do. Enter a meditative state by doing pranayamas, counting exercises, or anything that works for you.
Evoke the goddess: “Eve, who of old was called: Barbelo, Hawwa, Mother of Life, and Light Maiden of Sophia. You are the brave Mother of wisdom and the beating heart of Sophia. Through your curiosity, humanity was blessed with wisdom and courage. Come, for you are welcome here.”
Meditate on this thought: Eve, our lady of the Fruit, is wise and brave. She reigns over shamanic transformation. Light the candle and say, “Eve lights my path.”
Offer the essence of the fruit to Eve. Close as you typically you do.
“The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects” – Barbara G. Walker
“The Alphabet Versus the Goddess” by Leonard Schlain
“The Goddess Eve and her Dirty Consort Adam” – web article