In part one on the commentary of Eve, I wrote on the story of Adam and Eve taking the apple that was offered by Lilith/serpent in the Garden of Eden, which forced their exile from Paradise into an uncharted world, with no maps to guide them and of which they knew nothing.
In this second commentary on Eve, I want to consider whether we can view this biblical story in a new and contemporary way, and determine whether it has any relevance for us, psychologically. We often find ourselves stuck in the status quo with no clue of how to move or in what direction.
Adam and Eve were perfectly contented in the Garden. All was at One, much like the babe in the womb, in bliss in its state of perfect undifferentiated unity. But perhaps it was too peaceful and passive. Perhaps they were like overly indulged children in the Garden of Eden. No personal boundaries were being stretched and there was no room for reflection or forward thinking or discernment.
Something had to happen.
I suggest that it was necessary for them to get out of the Garden and its unity and unconsciousness. That it was necessary for them to experience what the the other world had to offer and to learn from experience what the Knowledge of Good and Evil really meant. I see Eve’s taking the apple in spite of the prohibition as a necessary act of disobedience. Sometimes disobedience of the rules is necessary for one’s psychological development.
The story of Eros and Psyche illustrates the necessity of contact with the real world. This is the story where Psyche the beautiful maiden is deeply in love with Eros (son of Aphrodite), although there is a condition to their love. Psyche may not look upon Eros with open eyes as this will mean death to him and their love. Their love is pure and Psyche lives in an idyllic state. However, Psyche’s two jealous sisters convince Psyche that Eros is actually a serpent in disguise and must be killed while he is sleeping. Psyche takes their advice and one day, or one night, with lighted lamp and knife in hand, she approaches Eros to kill him. But a drop of oil from her lamp falls on his shoulder and awakens Eros. He has been betrayed and flees to Psyche’s suicidal despair. Now begins Psyche’s journey to selfhood and away from unconsciousness. Like Eve who took the first bite, so too does Psyche break the taboo albeit at her sisters’ jealous encouragement.
*Anthony Stevens, British psychiatrist and Jungian analyst in his commentary of this story says and I quote:
“In this, the sisters function in a similar manner to the snake in the Garden of Eden which encourages Adam and Eve to break the taboo imposed by Jehovah. Expulsion from Paradise results in contact with real world and a development in consciousness” (italics mine).
He also comments on the story of Bluebeard and says: “Disobeying Bluebeard’s command, his errant wife enters the forbidden chamber and discovers his guilty secret. Disobedience is about defying the dominant male, refusing to be subordinate and coming to self-hood. It is a necessary step on the path to individuation, and a realization in consciousness of one’s full self-potential”.
Paul Tillich, the theologian, declares that the Fall is a symbol for the human situation, not a story of an event that happened ‘once upon a time’. Tillich says that the Fall represents a ‘fall from the state of dreaming innocence’ or, in psychological terms, an awakening from potentiality to actuality. His view and that of many learned scholars is that the Fall was necessary for the development of humankind.
I suggest that Eve heard the knock on the door as Lilith/serpent offered the apple, and not only opened the door but entered in and beyond thus setting the scene for their expulsion, needed in order to develop their consciousness, a necessary requirement for today’s world and one worthy of deep and ongoing consideration.
Both Lilith and Eve went against the status quo and by their actions got out of Paradise into the real world where they would face death and no longer be immortal; they would experience pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, duality and disunity in the other world they were now to inhabit. They were now alienated from G.d’s grace. Perhaps in time they would come to value and appreciate that which they had lost and thus seek to return to G.d’s grace but this time in greater awareness, intention and consciousness.
Eve lifted the veil from hers and Adam’s eyes – a courageous and intuitive act in her search for the beginning knowledge of the opposites – Good and Evil – a knowledge necessary for higher consciousness. Eve may have had a momentary illusion of power in her desire for knowledge of Good and Evil, but she brought the beginnings of consciousness into the world and this is surely an act to be celebrated.
In closing, I hope I have illustrated how important it was for Eve – and Adam – to get out of the Garden for the development of their psychological growth i.e. to move from unconsciousness in the Garden of Eden towards consciousness in the real world where choice and free will is exercised – hopefully wisely.
*Anthony Stevens: Ariadne’s Clue. A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind. Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1998.