My daughter brought home her art projects at the end of the semester last year. For her final Illustration class project she had drawn a poster of a great tree spreading its limbs into the upper reaches of the page. Stacked beneath the roots of the tree were a pile of rectangular books.
I was a little startled when I saw this picture because I had drawn a very similar image at the same age in high school drawing class. It was a picture of a tree reaching into the sky with stars in its branches and tangled in its roots were the rectangular shapes of city sky-scrapers. I don’t think my daughter has ever seen that drawing because I don’t think I kept it.
It is an odd coincidence. Is the image of the tree a deep-rooted memory that we have not yet forgotten even though we no longer live in trees? A pattern of the mind? An image of the nervous system? Do we dream of trees over and over?
Is there a tree at the core of our being, I wonder?
Since I started my biblical researches some years ago I have been encouraged by the words of the distinguished scholar Peter Ackroyd. He suggested that the hostile portrayal of goddesses in the Hebrew bible, was part of a polemic. Its aim was to discredit any cult of goddesses and to classify them as alien rather than part of the Hebrew popular religion. – Asphodel P. Long, “Asherah, the Tree of Life and the Menorah: Continuity of a Goddess symbol in Judaism?”,
There was a goddess of the old, old world. Her name was Asherah. She was a goddess of trees, of high hills, of animals, and of sexuality. Or she was a living tree or grove of trees. She was a consort of Yahweh or of Baal, of Anu and of El. She was the Mother of all the Gods, and of all living. She was worshipped for thousands of years. She has been erased. The Asherah – the trees that grew near the temples – were all cut down when Yahweh became the One God.
To remember the erased ones does not mean that you have to believe in them. (Although that might not be a bad idea; there are worse things to believe in than trees.) To remember might be to restore something that was taken away. Something that might be useful.
The word Asherah is translated in Greek as alsos, grove, or alse, groves, or occasionally by dendra, trees; Vulgate in Latin provided lucus or nemus, a grove or a wood (thus KJV Bible uses grove or groves with the consequent loss of Asherah’s name and knowledge of her existence to English language readers of the Bible over some 400 years). “Asherah,” Wikipedia.
Eve in Hebrew is Ḥawwāh, meaning “living one” or “source of life” – American Heritage Dictionary
I can tell you right now that Eve was not having any of it. You do not bargain with Eve or tell her what she can or cannot do. She is not putting up with those mind-games. She is a rebel from the word go. That’s why there are all those lies about her. Because you were not going to tell her that she could not eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Hell, no. Do you think you could keep her in your walled garden forever? Do you think she was going to put up with that? Did you think you were going to keep anything from her? Eve is Life; she is unreasonable. She will take whatever you dish out and she will keep coming.