When I first heard the Adam and Eve story back in my youth I wondered about that Tree. Of course I pictured an apple tree as artists’ renditions conjure. But a magical one! Tree of knowledge, for crying out loud! One bite of THAT apple and, bingo, no more school. Alas, it turned out to be a fable or allegory or myth. Whatever.
Millions of people, nonetheless, still believe that the tale is true- that there was a garden, a tree, a serpent and a sin. And, even more incredulous, that this ‘sin’ stains the soul of every infant born of a woman. The so-called Original Sin. Apparently it is part of the x-chromosome yet undiscovered as of this writing. A dominant gene.
The idea was concocted in the brain of some theologically obsessive male in the 2nd century. Too bad he didn’t take up a career in wagon wheels or pig slaughter. Sadly, the subsequent Christian children’s souls were semi-permanently stained- so said the Church. And, not surprisingly, only the Church could remove said blemish. Donations always appreciated.
While all of this muckity muck was going on in the Christian community, Pagans were happily celebrating the Original Blessings from their Gods. Pagans and Christians lived in the same places and knew each others’ rituals and beliefs.
Brendan Myers, author of the book, The Earth, The Gods and The Soul – A History of Pagan Philosophy from the Iron Age to the 21st Century, writes about the history of Paganism and says,
“To put it simply, people got tired of the austerities of Christian discipline and the misanthropy of the Doctrine of Original Sin. They maintained the appearance of being committed Christians, of course … But they dramatized for themselves a world that never knew Original Sin, and so still existed in a state of original blessing. In that imagined world it was no sin to ‘dance, sing, feast, make music, and love’ … and despite the heroic efforts of puritanical counter-Renaissance activists like Savonarola, the box would never be shut again.”
Although that box never was shut, serious barriers were erected around it by the Church itself. In fact, 3 centuries after the doctrine of Original Sin hung like a dark cloud over Christendom, Emperor Justinian nearly nailed the box shut as he ordered the closure of all the philosophy schools, because he thought they were an intellectual threat to Christian teachings. An intellectual threat. Imagine that! People were put to death for trying to see what was hiding in that box.
Original Blessings from the Gods. How refreshing. How liberating.