Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life

                                         

I have just finished writing ‘Legends of a Fall’ and want to see how issues raised there might be integrated with Carl’s Mayan calendar-based account. Essentially, he says a quantum shift happened in 3115 BCE from enlightened unity consciousness in the Regional Underworld to dualistic consciousness in the National. This favored the left brain and led to effects of hierarchy, division, dominance, warfare and more. I would like to understand this perspective better since it isn’t clear how effects noted follow from the posited cause. I pursue it now hoping that connections can be made.

I begin with Carl’s recent esoguru lecture, where he tries to makes connections. This quote is verbatim, subject to my note-taking: ‘If you see some through Light and some through Dark you’ll come to see some people as almost god-like pharaohs and worthy people and then, by necessity, you will see some people also through the dark filter and so you will tend to create a reality outside yourself which is dualist. You will separate people.’ He extends this to include warfare and separation from God but I can’t make sense of and certainly don’t associate necessity with it. I know of many intricately related factors that affect the emergence of hierarchy, dominance and so on whose role is simply overlooked in this account.

Turning to Carl’s treatment of the Fall in the same address, I paraphrase: inscriptions at Palenque relate the Mayan Creation story, how First Father erected the World Tree. This is also the Tree of Life, the energetic source of quantum leaps which occur at major shift points in the calendar. We turn then to a medieval German painting which shows Eve on one side of a Tree and Adam on the other. They have eaten of its fruit and are conscious of their nakedness. They are therefore ‘fallen’. The ancient Maya believed that the Tree of Life separates the genders, and yin from yang. It also separates the cardinal directions, associating particular energetic qualities with each one, as in the medicine wheel.

Let us consider the Creation Story: First Father erected the World Tree. This gives short shrift to Goddess cultures that preceded his-story. His story was written while Hers was spoken/sung. It makes no mention of power issues involved in Her demise. Indeed, feminist critics could make much of the phallic imagery involved in First Father’s ‘erection’, relating it to themes of Dark-Light, Absence-Presence and Wo-Man (1). There may well be a Fall implicit in this story but its details are concealed as well as revealed by the telling. Can deposition of the Goddess be explained by a new ‘filter’? And the German painting refers to a Tree of Knowledge, not Life.  What does this mean? And its absence in the Mayan story? What is the significance of there being two Trees? Here is a summary of inter-related determining factors.

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Agriculture developed at different times in different parts of the world between 7,000 and 3,000 B.C. It is associated with the transformation of hunter-gatherer groups into settled communities. Women foraged while men hunted in these early tribal societies. Thus women acquired a knowledge of herbs, plants and cultivating wild grains which developed into horticulture. When ‘heavy’ technologies (the plough, traction animals) were introduced, agriculture became the preserve of men. The generic political form it gave rise to is patriarchy – the rule of fathers. Earlier societies were matricentric, with mother-child units central and men evidently marginal. How could this be?

Physical birthing makes clear to which mother a child belongs. Proof of paternity is not so easily observed. Indeed, awareness of paternity as such seems not to have been established until opportunities arose to witness the breeding process of domesticated animals. This gave men a means to understand their role. Previously, breeding was assumed to be women’s prerogative. Their role was self-evident. Pregnancy and menstruation linked them to cycles of nature. In pre-patriarchal societies, evidence from archaeology and mythology suggests a vibrant and pervasive sense of women-mothers at the heart of life, creativity and culture. This is the core of ‘Goddess’ religions, in which the fecundity of women is assimilated to that of Nature, leaving men peripheral and redundant before an awesome, mysterious power they neither experience nor comprehend. It was later proposed under patriarchy that men supply the vital genetic material while women are as fallow fields, reduced from Creatrix to receptacle for men’s seed, thus replacing one unbalanced account with another.

Agriculture also generates surplus food, leading to population increase, settlement and fear of expropriation by predatory groups.  The prospect of conflict creates a need for fortification and militarily coherent units capable of effective defence. This warrants a revision of political structures and awareness. Witness the elevation of Yahweh from a specific god of place into a High God whose authority and jurisdiction exceeds that of local tribal gods. This facilitated a molding of disparate groups into a single people united under one God and, subsequently, King. Also, an ethos of recurring conflict warrants revaluation of fighting skills. This gives men a cultural centrality they lacked before. Such developments eclipsed the values of matricentric societies, which had to adapt or suffer conquest by invading nomads or emerging patriarchal states.

Emerging patriarchal states bring with them emerging patriarchal hierarchies – kings, priests, warrior aristocracies and people: the basic structure of feudal society up to Europe’s 18th century. As these patriarchal forms developed, the power of women was reduced. Writing, like weaponry and the plough before it, was appropriated as a male technology by rulers anxious to legitimate their rule by reframing the past. New stories were required to represent a new order of society. This involved altering old myths to justify or conceal the diminishment of women. Not only were women removed from a position of cultural centrality they had previously enjoyed, their collective power was also broken by a shift away from a matrilineal, matrilocal mode of social organisation (in which descent is reckoned through the female line and ‘husbands’ go to live with their wives’ people) to a patrilineal, patrilocal one. Once there was wealth to be passed on, a new order of society was required, along with new measures to uphold it. These involved policing women’s sexuality to ensure paternity and correct succession.

A similar pattern is reflected in the gradual eclipse of Goddess religions by an emergent pantheon of increasingly powerful male gods, a trend which culminated in the institutionalization of patriarchal monotheism. The emergence of the Hebrew Yahweh as a prototypical Father-God who transcends the world He creates again offers an example. Men, formerly marginalized by the generative power of women, now move centre-stage by virtue of identifying with their new God. They come to see themselves as being, like Him, super-natural: above nature. Women, by contrast, are relegated with a vehemence that suggests the eruption of long-festering resentment. They are portrayed as bestial and tainted, incorrigibly steeped in what becomes the fallen natural world of Christian dogma. With the adoption of maleness as a norm, they are even seen as less than fully human.

Explicitly misogynistic legislation appears as patriarchy achieves institutional forms that are threatened by the survival of practices handed down from Goddess times. This locks women into restrictive wife-mother roles. Their fertility is derogated and said to depend on men for its fulfillment through impregnation. They are viewed as instruments, vessels for bearing children as Earth bears fruit, out of necessity rather than discretion and subject to men’s will as nature is to God’s. They are said to be driven by a rampant, instinctive sexuality that warrants coercion and restraint. They are consigned to the private realm of domestic management. Men command the more urgent public sphere of political decision-making. Even sequestered, women are held to be dangerously unpredictable and in need of control. This has been achieved by a range of physical and psychological means, from silencing, veiling and confinement to the application of rings, rods and plugs. Use of the latter suggests an assimilation of women to the category of livestock and evidences a deep-seated misogyny whose origins must be sought at a correspondingly deep level.

Women were intimately identified with Nature due to their apparent capacity to bring forth life from within themselves. This association was revalued under patriarchy. In Goddess times, Nature was venerated as a Great Mother. Humanity was attuned to her rhythms and immersed in her seasons. In so far as we were moved by spiritual impulses, these arose out of direct participation in processes of the natural world. Our sense of sacredness was identified with all of Nature and experienced as integral to her. When we speak of the Divine in this context, it must be acknowledged as female and immanent – as indwelling in Nature rather than external to or transcendent of Her.

The situation alters dramatically with the advent of patriarchy, which is characterized by the emergence of a male priesthood and, eventually, the postulate of a male God who transcends a natural world that He creates. This God confers His divinity on a world which is no longer seen as divine on its own account. Earth now expresses the creative largesse of a God who exists outside it, occupying a position ‘above’ Nature from which He comprehends the whole. Sacredness, or divinity, is referred to and held to derive from this transcendent deity. Thus Nature is no longer intrinsically sacred nor identified with the Divine Feminine, making ‘it’ available for exploitation. It is a fallen world, a place where humankind must suffer exile by way of atonement for a primordial sin which caused God to look disapprovingly on us. And Eve, archetypal temptress whose weakness in the Garden led to our expulsion, remains identified with that fallen state.

Within this frame, sexuality came to be viewed as a matter of ‘animal necessity’ while freedom was associated with its ‘opposite’, spiritual volition. Spiritual striving was said to elevate men. Human fulfillment was to be found through attaining a super-natural condition, raising us above fallen nature, closer to our transcendent God. Men were exhorted to rise above temptations of the flesh while women were reviled as sources of them, less able to exercise restraint due to a deeper immersion in ways of animal nature. Both were required to exercise willpower and control instinct in order to transcend the merely biological urges of our bodies. We were taught to experience shame and guilt for failing in this. Instead of being balanced and whole, we were made to feel guilty and split. We were taught not to trust nature, including our own natures. We were taught to inhibit and control. Spontaneity was suspect and expression dangerous. This situation was bound to lead to destructive overspills and it did. It also engendered a deeply divisive rift between properly complementary yin-yang tendencies of our human spiritual impulse.

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Carl’s account doesn’t engage these themes, despite alluding to some of them. How do they fare in the Sitchin-Thoth story reviewed in ‘Legends’? This presents us as creatures of low origin with a sublime, indeterminate and problematic destiny. Neither god nor beast, we participate in the nature of both and are charged with reconciling seemingly disparate parts. The way of patriarchal religion has been to disavow the beast so as animals we remain angry. As civilized beings, we are unable to admit and much less express this. Instead, as Freud noted, we make illnesses and war. Our sub-bestial excesses derive from this root split. The more we serve to repress by conscious piety, the more archontic mania we induce (2). This makes us dangerous and unhappy as well as unfulfilled. Surface accommodations of a permissive society can’t erase the imprints of this ‘Fall’ nor can Heartless sex repair a deep breach of integrity.

What then is the essence of our Fall? To find out we must review our myths, not as dismissible falsehoods but as metaphorical declarations of essential truths that literal, logical, left-brained language can neither access nor comprehend (because it is deeply implicated in ego-formation and marshalling un/conscious boundaries in relation to this). Erik Erikson, a psychiatrist, attempts to define myth as ‘a blend of historical fact and significant fiction’. Given that history is his-story, subject to perspective and interpretation, this reminds us that we must attend to myths as deeply representative transpersonal dreams that express collective un/conscious dispositions.

Our neo-Sumerian, Judaeo-Christian myth tells a story that our greeting cards omit, namely that our doubting, insecure selves arise out of damaged relations with absent, uncaring fathers and domineering, exploitative mothers. This makes us feel unlovable as well as unloved, abandoned in an incoherent and indifferent world. Our Bible is known to have been written by committees. The Thoth account is more direct. Its ‘gods’ are prone to sibling rivalry, Enlil is anxious and there are definitely two Trees. Even though these aren’t physical, their differentiation carries news that Carl’s story overlooks. It is eating of the Tree of Knowledge that precipitates our fall into duality: a state of reflective awareness or self-consciousness. This state is mediated. A and E don’t just know they are naked, they are ashamed and cover themselves. In Sitchin-Thoth, the Lord is furious as well as anxious. In guarded Genesis, he is sanctimonious as well as vengeful. Attempts were made to shame us and they stuck, emanating from the gaze of a ‘God’ who cast his mortifying spell over our innocence and spontaneity.

We became conscious of Good and Evil with special reference to sexuality, which the Lord didn’t want us exploring because it contains the seeds of immortality. He made clear that we had lapsed into evil. Even the Tree of Knowledge is a problem for ‘gods’ who want to control evolution. It is also the beginning of our venture out from a primal, undifferentiated state of unity (Perfect Unconsciousness) into a necessary developmental journey through duality (Imperfect Consciousness) and on to a state of Perfect Consciousness, or Unity regained except that this new Unity cannot be the same as what was there before because new Consciousness has been introduced.

Despite our humble origins it seems we have a gift for evolution. We proved resilient and versatile in spreading over the face of Earth. Despite being physically removed from the Tree of Life we found the image of its wholeness within and cultivated it by means of Mystery traditions and shamanic practice. These valued experience over doctrine and followed intuitions rising from the Tree of Life within. Despite infantile misgivings and seals of shame set upon our animal beginnings, we married our Divine Father-Mother aspects to birth a Divine Child. This heals wounds of temporal origin and renders us immortal as our new Consciousness participates knowingly in the life of Eternal Being through time (3).

The purpose of Enlil/Yahweh’s shame-inducing gaze was to freeze us in a moment of narcissistic entrapment around which our relative (dualistic, split) identity would form and be organized forever. This was consolidated by the Church’s doctrine of Original Sin and by ministrations of parents and other authority figures who had themselves been affected earlier. It teaches that we are not inherently worthy and must guard our (ego) positions carefully to merit recognition and reward. The parts of us that measure up we call conscious. The rest are consigned uneasily to dark recesses of Shadow.  Wounds laid down through the pre/history of this sequence do not even out across Underworlds. This is why, during the 9th Wave, we still have much to clarify.

Our mythology evokes a time of universal peace during which the most aware among us (Masters who ascended the Tree of Life) worked to make the sacred marrying of yin/yang, right/left, dark/light tendencies more available. There were also qualitative shifts, rationalized in terms of a Great Flood (whereby wo/men are born again of water). ‘Atlantis’ rose and with it a challenge for our civilization to integrate a great yang wave of existence which, beheld in right relationship, illuminates all Being. It was carried by a rampant (male) warrior consciousness intent on its own purpose as ordained by godlike rulers from Enlil/Yahweh on. Its challenge has always been to find its way Home.

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I grew up half-listening to pious rant and witnessing behaviors it informed, at home and at school. I have already referenced a story called ‘Narcissus’ which shows how male sexuality comes to be confusingly associated with violence, power and pain. A similar association has been established through patriarchal history between sexuality, conquest and aggression. Irrespective of surface political objectives, the punishment and degradation of women has been pervasive in war. The boy in Narcissus breaks a spell. He refuses to stay fixed before the mirror and discards his surrogate phallus as symbol of authority and power. Most boys don’t. We grow to manhood invested by that power and subject to the warping it entails. I ask you now to read ‘A Birthday Present’ under Stories at www.sacredplay.info. This shows how sexual repression and all that underpins it got played out in an ‘educational’ setting.

I wrote in ‘The Politics of Spirit’ about what Barbara Clow calls archontic forces. She associates these with the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all of which are filtered through Genesis – and blames them for a persistence of evil in human affairs. She wants to see them expelled before October 28. I believe it defers Unity and is otherwise misleading to posit them as Other. Look at the second story and you’ll understand why. Its end can be read as something that really happens or as a compensatory fantasy. Note that the latter can only work as such for the protagonist. All the other boys would still be left nursing a latent rage that finally erupts. This is the energy of archontic mania that Barbara names. It is born of repression, gathers via repudiation of Darkness/the Feminine and is transmitted across generations via our formation as linguistic-political subjects. It is thus intricately bound up with ego as the core of our subject positions.

The term ‘position’ implies fixing, a psychological anchoring that holds firm through fluctuations of experience. As ego, ‘I’ know myself as one to whom things happen. This ego-I maintains a sense of staying the same through whatever changes unfold: ‘I’ retains the same name, story, life situation and personal details. These are consistently reinforced by the address and regard of others as long as ‘I’ doesn’t lose the collective plot. The core of this core takes shape in early childhood, when ‘I’ learns who I (as ego) am in an extended process of social mirroring whereby ‘significant others’ reflect my sense of relative identity to me. (This process was already at play during the 5th Underworld but was decisively intensified in the 6th by population increase, the physical and symbolic ramifications of walled-off cities and Law as a quintessential expression of Father Power.)

I think of the work of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who describes a ‘mirror phase’ during which a child comes to identify with her/his image as the illusory analogue of a supposedly whole and stable ‘self’ which is actually sustained by the metaphorical reflections of others. Everything that doesn’t fit into this socially fabricated ‘I’ is, de facto, repressed: pushed away from the functional space of working consciousness. As a result we become what Lacan calls ‘split subjects’, conscious and unconscious – imperfectly conscious – without knowing it. This is indeed a process of narcissistic entrapment, manipulable from calls for Holy War to the purchase of Brand X. It also recalls the essence of our species’ Sacred Wound as evoked by the archetypal scene of a Lord God impugning the innocence of early humans for daring to step out in response to their instinctive-spiritual (kundalini) stirrings.

Shame is enjoined but our ‘first parents’ show wonderful resilience in eventually finding their way to a Tree of Life beyond Knowledge. This is a resolution proposed by deep imagining and expressed in the collective dream of myth. Things seem less clear, however, when we are caught in the midst of our capacity for violence and hemmed in by walls of a prison, madhouse, mindset or vast city which prevent the release of exile to Lemuria. The yang tide of existence has now been launched and needs to become aware in a species that was groomed for the purpose. (We are all Chosen People in this sense.) The process of its emergence is metaphorically related in the Atlantis story, where Martians come from elsewhere (like Archons) to infect us with their hostility and unfeeling, and depose our Goddess ways. A de-mythologised version is given in the pre/historic summary already offered.

Patriarchal consciousness emerged from a complex interplay of many factors, all of which were necessarily aligned (as Divine Intelligence works through pre-established structures). Individuating males need to cut ties with their Mother(s). It takes time, even history, to find our way back. In between, rampant yang runs amok. Due to polarization, this adventure of a whole species was taken to be the prerogative of men only. Individuating yang consciousness was seen to be carried by an alienated warrior mentality – ‘alienated’ by virtue of its dissociation from Goddess, ‘warrior’ because institutionalized warfare was what underpinned the new cultural centrality of men and ‘mental’ because fixation on the Tree of Knowledge cuts us off from a Flow of Life and Love that arises in the Heart of God(dess)/What Is. Now if you can’t flow in trust your only option is dominance and control. This warrants ever greater concentrations of power-control, which led to the creation of hierarchy (4).

Lord Gods had to make their narcissistic fixings count. Things worked best if warriors of the battlefields and arenas really were proud to die for ‘the Cause’. Laws crippled spontaneity as Sons of Light only poisoned the innocence of Darkness with phantoms of their own imagining. This is down to a Tree of Knowledge which represents maya (Asian) as truth, dooming us to wander forever in labyrinthine construct systems. The Tree of Life serves to call us Home. A Fall is needed out of Perfect Unconsciousness, or undifferentiated (‘dark’) Awareness. The Tree of Knowledge is required to mediate our access to Imperfect Consciousness: a form of consciousness which is self-aware within the circumscribed sphere of ego concerns. Perfect Consciousness is not relative – there being nothing other than itself. Its Unity is perfected in that it has passed through maya’s veils of separation and enlightened in that it has remembered stages of its journey (as an unfolding 9-part ‘God’).                                      

The Calendar, like the Tree of Life, affords a map for our Journey Home. This is a journey through Knowledge (ego initiation) and Beyond, disclosed at the same time as our Fall. Mayan Dreaming remains silent about it, presenting as elevation what Enlil/Yahweh and papal Lords have striven to secrete. We know from another story that going about our Father’s business carried us past forsakenness and despair. The same is true of our relationship with the Mother, as ‘Martians’ who have felt let down. Associations have been hinted at between Elenin and returning Niburu. Whether or not these are correct, I recommend making of this an occasion to heal our (species’) mistrustful rifts with the Goddess/Sacred Feminine. I am reminded here of lines by Leonard Cohen, in summary of patriarchal history: ‘… and all I said was just instead/ of coming back to you’.

In other worlds, parallel dimensions, He has never left Her Heart.  Realizing this is the fulfillment of Human (not just Fe/Male) Mysteries. It is the Sacred Play of a Divine Child to become still and know that I AM God. Creator is informed by Her/His Dreaming as we are by our dreams. In the end, Cosmos (with us ‘in’ it) provides our truest image of God. I applaud Carl’s evocations of Universal, Galactic and Planetary Trees of Life as part of our awakening, of the Beloved’s self-remembering as One.                                                                  It is said that our genius is found beneath our wound. To access it, we must reach into the nature of what our wound has been. We must admit this, feel it, to secure release and transmutation.

As our sacred wound has been entrapment in painful straits of shamed ego (self-) consciousness, so its healing – its redemption and its making whole – is a turning inside out of this condition so that – awakening beyond an  illusory sense that ‘I am John (Carl, Drunvalo, Barbara or Beyonce)’ to I AM THAT I AM – our capacity for reflective awareness universalizes to encompass and transcend all Existence: Cosmos and Beyond; Perfect Unconsciousness (relatively speaking) to Perfect Consciousness, which knows no separation having realised All.

Notes (all references are to www.sacredplay.info):

(1) See ‘Lips that Speak as One’ under ReSource.

(2)This deeply unconscious repression underlies a still current tendency to blame quasi-reptilian ‘archontic’ creatures for our capacity to do ‘evil’. See ‘The Politics of Spirit’.

(3) See ‘The Rose Tree’ under Articles/Drunvalo.

(4) I still find Carl’s account overstated but can see connecting links in that ego processes are deepened and intensified by left brain language dominance. This links to Power via our formation as linguistic-political subjects. It matters because wounds laid down across counter-clockwise rotations don’t even out across Underworlds. They leave residues, political secretions that need clearing, and subtle threads that need reweaving while energies of the 9th Wave are available to assist. The purpose of Wave 9 is to awaken us as a species through which the process of Reality becomes self-aware.

(5) Readers are drawn to sympathize with the boy but his parents and ‘teacher’ have been equally affected in advance. My early exposure had an aspect of intelligent design in this respect, as Divine Intelligence works through established structures. I have clarified it in the course of soul clearings back through Holocaust, Inquisition and Aztec frenzy. See ‘A Journey to Poland’ under Articles/Sacred Journeys for example.

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