Genesis, Briefly

Reposting a post that I wrote on Reddit.

Standard interpretations of the first bits of Genesis are very badly done. It isn’t, and never was, a story about something that happened. What it really is, is a story about the beginning of agriculture (and also the economic triumph of agriculture over shepherding), and the abandonment of the worship of trees.

This is a very big topic, but I’ll try to do the brief version. The Tree of Life is Asherah, i.e., the Sacred Tree at the heart of the Sacred Grove, which is always deep in (or “in the middle of”) the “garden” (forest). Asherah is worshiped as a goddess in her own right, and in one form or another was probably about the oldest god we ever did worship. Now what does Asherah do, exactly? She takes energy from the underworld, combined with energy from the sky, and magically transforms it into life (food) here on Earth.

Along comes agriculture. What this means with regard to Asherah-worship is that we now know how to do Asherah’s magic. We have “eaten her fruit,” which means her magic is inside us now. So we don’t need her anymore. Therefore, we must leave the garden (which is the place of Asherah worship) and go out into the field and grow crops. Notice how Genesis says exactly this. Adam and Eve are “cursed” to have to go do some farming.

All of this is put into a story-template that is common to many growing-up-type stories. In this template, the parent lays down one and only one rule – they always say the kid can do everything except for this one thing, fully expecting the kid to do it simply because it’s been forbidden. To emphasize the parent’s complicity, the parent goes away for a while. This is what God does in Genesis. It’s the same framework used in a large number of fairy tales, like Mary’s Child, Faithful Johannes, many versions of Cinderella, etc.