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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Serpent vs. the Dove

I have recently begun reading a book called “Return of the Serpents of Wisdom,” [Adventures Unlimited, 1997, by Mark Amaru (it means snake) Pinkham]. According to this strange book, the biblical story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden turned reality upside down because the Hebrew deity is falsely depicted as the fount of Life and Wisdom, whereas it is really the Serpent who offers those gifts. The book is slithering with mystical serpents all across the pages, the ages and the globe. These reptilians came from the Sirius and Pleiades star systems, to Atlantis until it sank. They taught humans their magical and psychic arts, causing adepts and priests to become enlightened. They taught us healing, sorcery, alchemy, and soul travel. The Kundalini fire serpent is ubiquitous in anthropological literature. In Pinkham's world it was really the Christian Church that formulated the Serpents of Wisdom as the foe of mankind. The author doesn’t impute a motive for this slander (as far as I’ve read), but the usual line of thinking is that the Catholic Church was vying for the loyalty and the money of the masses, as well as the authority over their domains.

There is so much to say about the war between the Judeo-Christian deity and the Serpent of Genesis 3. The battle was not just engaged in the time of Christ, but formally began under the Law of Moses when the Hebrews were forbidden to bow down to any image, man or beast, because their God was a Spirit. Have you ever heard the phrase “lower than a snake’s belly?” Genesis 3 deliberately depicts the serpent as cursed by God, humiliated, caused to slither on the ground, lower than all the beasts and livestock, eating dust. In the Ancient Near East, the icon of tree, garden, goddess, serpent, and life force was common from Mesopotamia to Egypt. Genesis 2-4 was written to dissuade the Hebrew/Israelite people from choosing the serpent’s promise (with accompanying goddess worship) because those promises lead to spiritual death rather than life. In fact, in Psalm 91, the followers of Yahweh are promised the ability to victoriously tread on serpents and scorpions.

Pinkham is correct that serpent worship was ubiquitous throughout the history of mankind. In fact, Genesis 3 and 4 is far more important as a statement of theology than as a history of human origins. In the Old and New Testaments, Jews and Christians are forbidden to participate in of the occult arts associated with the serpent. In Genesis, the genuine Tree of Life goes untouched. It fades out of the picture as Adam and Eve are driven out into the world. They found the wisdom offered by the serpent more attractive and more imminently available than that offered by the Tree of Life.

Adam and Eve are not alone in that choice. Even today, when it’s not fashionable to bow down to an image of a snake or to dance around the campfire wearing a snake around one’s neck, New Agers, Buddhists, and Hindus talk about the Kundalini spirit, which is a serpent entity that is invited to wind around the spine of the devotee, passing through the 7 chakra power centers of the body until it reaches the base of the neck. At that point the devotee becomes spiritually energized, enlightened, transformed, empowered . . . or perhaps demon possessed, according to one’s belief system.

Numbers 21 tells the story of a time when the Israelites came to a place in the Wilderness which was infested with poisonous snakes. At that time the tribes were being guided through the desert by Moses’s in-laws, who happened to be Midianites. The archaeological record reveals that the Midianites worshiped bronze serpents on poles. The biblical record claims that Moses ordered one such icon to be constructed as a magical defense against the desert serpent’s fatal bite. This action was in direct disobedience against the first of the Ten Commandments and was a serious compromise. But the people did it, and apparently it worked. The icon became an occult power object for the Israelites for many years to come. The Bible says that it was kept in the Temple itself, along with the ark of the covenant, and became a snare to the people until it was destroyed by King Hezekiah of Judah.

Jesus Christ pitted Himself against the serpent that was raised in the wilderness. In John 3:14, 15 he states, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son that whosoever should believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

How ironic that today we have the same choice as depicted for Adam and Eve and the ancient Israelites. On one hand, there is the Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus Christ at his baptism in the form of a dove. He is the ultimate Tree of Life. On the other, we have serpents of worldly wisdom and occult arts. Both offer healing from illnesses, and both deliver. Both offer wisdom and immortality. The secret initiation rites described in Pinkham’s book don't seem very wise. They are beyond dark and creepy, and they may take place underground or under the sea.

I assure you my reader friend, Pinkham is right in the sense that the serpent and the dove are still foes. They are incompatible. I personally chose Jesus long ago. I hope that you will, too.