Figs and Sin
Human practice of creating Myth is an important past time. It gives us a story, both of a symbolic history as well as an ideal set of values. I am especially drawn to pre-patriarchal mythologies as there are universal and eloquent themes that establish a base set of values for us all. Indeed it appears that these early mythologies hold within them archetypal keys that, once deeply investigated, reveal essential understanding of our universe. Modern historians basically stop at the classical Greco-Roman era, ignoring the genius of societies that created the civilizations to begin with. The Greeks and Romans were astute in their inclusivity so it becomes quite simple to find the origin of the stories directly in the Myths. When one follows the threads, incredible discoveries ensue bringing great depth to the Archetypes.
What could be revealed when we study our ancient knowledge of the Earth and the spirit-biology of plants?
Who knew that the prolific Fig would be such a symbol? A fecund and self-fertilizing plant, whose blossoms form inside the fruit, has appeared in countless ancient texts and artefact. Toothsome, full of sustenance, the delightful rainbow of types yield themselves to endless preparations; dried, a paste, savory, sweet or fresh. Cultivated and foraged since before memory, they have found their way into the spiritual lexicon as well.
(Marzipan Figs By OppidumNissenae - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41972371)
In Indo-Mediterranean tradition, the fig was a sacred tree often associated with fertility rites. In Dravidian thought ‘it owed its powers of fecundation to its milky sap, because the milky sap was of the same essence as rasa', that particle of universal energy contained within the element of Water. Rasa may be likened to ‘the waters below the firmament’ of Genesis 1: 7. Milky sap is also the fluid of life, ojas, which calls the child in the womb into being. Countless rites of sympathetic magic bear witness to the symbolic importance of trees with milky sap, and hence arises the Dravidian custom recorded by Boulnois of hanging a calf s placenta, wrapped in straw, from the boughs of a banyan-tree in order that the cow should give milk and calve again in future. Throughout India the banyan is held sacred to Vishnu and Shiva. Its worship is associated with that of serpents, the association of tree and serpent being pre-eminent in calling into existence the powers of fruitfulness." (http://dreamicus.com/fig.html )
Michelangelo, Detail, Adam and Eve in the Sistine Chapel (Temptation and Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden)
The connection of serpent and fig is especially impactful to modern times as it morphs into the Christian origin myth. The Tree of Life/knowledge/World Tree, with its attendant serpent- (a being who represents many things at the time- including Gaia, wisdom and eternity) may be a fig tree. Not coincidentally, many initiation rites in the ancient world involved eating figs and up and coming Christians come to use the symbol of eating of the tree of knowledge as the reason we are cast "out of the garden" as humans. This early marketing campaign cleverly contains the more ancient story of Agricultural empowerment and profound pagan symbols of the Snake and Sacred Tree while serving to lambast these symbols and direct culture away from this paradigm (and bring people to the new God, and priesthood of Yahweh)
We remember that Adam and Eve clothed themselves in fig leaves as they were expulsed from the Garden, perhaps indicating that they move forward into the world as knowledge holders and cultivators, that the original sin is believing we have the power of Gods since we are able to master Agriculture. This, masked as sex between Adam and Eve- is the original sin. Laying this burden of the first sinner to be woman only strengthens my perspective that women were the first Agriculturalists.
(N. Syria/Hittite - Hurrian/Cyro-Minoan Phoenician- Goddess of the grain)
I think it is interesting that the Fig is a super sexy fruit. It has the sweet appeal of laden testes and once open is particularly female-ish, sensual to eat fresh, yum! How could it represent anything BUT sexy yumminess? It also could serve to represent the ancient understanding that within the female is the male and that Goddess energy is essentially parthenogenetic. (ie: Sympathetic magical comprehension may tell us that this fruit appears to be both testes and yoni-esque, and blossoms within itself....) This thought-culture changed: Agriculture and Animal Husbandry brought us a deeper understanding about reproduction and as we gained the skills to plow, propagate seed and breed animals, we must have had an awakening and a tremulous growing identity. The heady power of independence! We begin to understand the magic and mystery of nature’s fecundity and we can master it! We can do it on our own dammit! Then, like adolescents leaving home we punish the Mother for the coddling. Human society, once completely and globally wrapped in the Mystery of Mother the Parthenogenetic Creator is now faulted: we have found the secret of the seed. The masculine was duped. The masculine had something to do with it after all. The first Sin: duality. In our hubris, sex becomes the symbol, perhaps warning us of over-population and self-interest out-of-balance.
This story of Original Sin comes out backwards in the telling, yet in a sense I agree. When we turned away from the Tree of Knowledge, THAT was the Sin. When we understood (*grokked*) this Symbol (and the snake and the Fig) we "Encountered" Nature, we communicated WITH Nature and were able to HEAR nature: ie: The First Science, Shamanism. We recognized ourselves as intrinsic parts of Nature. We were made after all, according to these stories, in the image of God…. So I agree the First Sin may have come from woman tangentially, She created Agriculture, but the pair of them took Mastery over Nature and turned away from the Tree of Knowledge which is the true Sin of the story.
We separated ourselves from the Tree of Knowledge and developed the egoic sense of self as separate from the Garden.
Interestingly the Tree of Knowledge was a pre/proto-Neolithic symbol related to early iconography of the Goddess Kybele/Artemis whose first sculptures were made from the wood of the World Tree/Tree of Life/Tree of Knowledge. We, in Genesis, were turning away from Parthenogenesis, one-ness/non-duality.
In the bible the story is written that they are eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Michelangelo's painting in the Sistine Chapel better describes this story when looked at more wholly.