We Are Indeed, The Other People Part 2

Okay, people! When we left our adventurers back in Part 1 we were in the Garden of Eden and Oberon (Note: Words in bold below are those of Oberon Zell Ravenheart) was telling us about how ridiculous it was that a husband and wife would even think to be ashamed of being naked in front of one another. So what happens next you ask? Well…

Life is short, play naked people!
Life is short, play naked people!

Now this next part is where it starts to get interesting. Enter the Serpent:

Gen. 3:1 – The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman, “Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”
2 The woman answered the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden.
3 “But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death'”
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “No! You will not die!
5 “God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”

What a remarkable statement! “Your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The Serpent directly contradicts Yahweh.

Obviously, one of them has to be lying. Which one, do you suppose? And, if the serpent speaks true, wouldn’t you wish to eat of the magic fruit? Wouldn’t it be a good thing, to become “like gods, knowing good and evil”? Or is it preferable to remain in ignorance?

Ahhh, now remember what I said back in Part 1 about Daniel Quinn’s take on this same story? What do you suppose people of Leaver cultures thought when they first encountered people who had “eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” so to speak? When, suddenly, rather than the occasional territorial disputes these Takers chose to make all out war on their brothers and drive them from the face of the earth if they did not also choose to live as they saw fit to live? Would they perhaps say “What is wrong with our brothers? Why do they behave as though they are gods themselves and decide who and what is to live and die and what is good and what is evil?”

The story continues…

6 The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths.

Here, Oberon notes:

The author makes an interesting assumption here: that if you realize you are naked you will automatically want to cover yourself. Further implications will unfold shortly…

8 The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.
9 But Yahweh God called to the man. “Where are you?” he asked.
10 “I heard the sound of you in the garden,” he replied. “I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
11 “Who told you that you were naked?” he asked. “Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?”

And so the sign of the Fall becomes modesty. Take note of this. The descendants of Adam and Eve will be distinguished throughout history from virtually all other peoples by their obsessive modesty taboos, wherein they will feel ashamed of being naked. It follows that those who feel no shame in being naked are, by definition, not carriers of this spiritual disease of original sin!

Ahhhhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhhhh! Interesting indeed is it not?

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

Right. Blame the woman. What a turkey!

13 Then Yahweh God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman replied, “The serpent tempted me and I ate.”

So of course she blames the serpent. But just what did the serpent do that was so evil? Why, he called Yahweh a liar! Was he wrong? Let’s see…

21 Yahweh God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on.

Out of skins? This means that Yahweh had to kill some innocent animals to pander to Adam and Eve’s new obsession with modesty!

And now we come to the crux of the Fall. Yahweh had said back there in chapter 2:17, regarding the fruit of the tree of knowledge, that “on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.” The Serpent, on the other hand, had contradicted Yahweh in chapter 3:4-5: “No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” So what actually happened? Who lied and who told the truth about this remarkable fruit? The answer is given in the next verse:

22 Then Yahweh God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil. He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next and pick from the tree of life also, and eat some and live forever.”

Get that? Yahweh himself admits that he had lied! In fact, and in Yahweh’s own words, the Serpent spoke the absolute truth! And moreover, Yahweh tells the rest of the Pantheon that he intends to evict Adam (and presumably Eve as well) to keep them from gaining immortality to go with their newly-acquired divine knowledge. To prevent them, in other words, from truly becoming gods! So who, in this story, comes off as a benefactor of humanity, and who comes off as a tyrant? THE SERPENT NEVER LIED!

See why this might seem to be a story that originally belonged to a Leaver culture telling the tale of what they believed might have happened to cause their Taker brothers to become insane with this obsession to conquer, dominate and master all of creation? To see the world as it was created being unfit and need of righting by remaking it into something else entirely?

Here Oberon points out something else that is rather significant:

This story, to digress slightly, bears a remarkable resemblance to a contemporary tale from ancient Greece. In that version, the Serpent (later identified as Lucifer, the Light-Bearer) may be equated with the heroic titan Prometheus, who championed humanity against the tyranny of Zeus, who wished for people to be mere slaves of the gods. Prometheus, whose name means “forethought,” gave people wisdom, intelligence, and fire stolen from Olympus. Moreover, he ordained the portions of animal sacrifice so that humans got the best parts (the meat and hides) while the portion that was burned to the gods was the bones and fat. In punishment for this defiance of his divine authority, Zeus condemned Prometheus to a terrible punishment for an immortal: to be chained to a mountain in the Caucasus, where Zeus’ gryphon/eagle (actually a Lammergier) would devour his liver each day. It would grow back each night. Zeus promised to relent if Prometheus would reveal his great secret knowledge: Who would succeed Zeus as supreme god? Prometheus refused to tell, but history has revealed the answer…

The interesting thing about all this is that the Greeks properly regarded Prometheus as a noble hero in his defiance of unjust tyranny. One may wonder why the Serpent is not so well regarded. On the contrary, snakes are loathed throughout Christiandom.

23 So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken.
24 He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden he posted the cherubs, and the flame of a flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

So that’s it for the Fall. But the story of Adam and Eve doesn’t end there.

No, it does not. We haven’t even met any of “The Other People” yet…

Gen 4:1 – The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain…
2 She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain. Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil.
3 Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh,
4 while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. Yahweh looked with favor on Abel and his offering. But he did not look with favor on Cain and his offering, and Cain was very angry and downcast.

Well, why shouldn’t he be? Both brothers had brought forth their first fruits as offerings, but Yahveh rejected the vegetables and only accepted the blood sacrifice. This was to set a gruesome precedent:

Another interesting point there. Why were the vegetables not a worthy offering?

8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out;” and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him.

Accursed and marked for fratricide,
16 Cain left the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

We can assume that the phrase “left the presence of Yahweh” implies that Yahweh is a local deity, and not omnipresent. Now Eden, according to Gen. 2:14-15, was situated at the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, apparently right where Lake Van is now, in Turkey. “East of Eden,” therefore, would probably be along the shores of the Caspian Sea, right in the Indo-European heartland. Cain settled in there, among the people of Nod, and married one of the women of that country. Here, for the first time, is specifically mentioned the “other people” who are not of the lineage of Adam and Eve. I.e., the Pagans.

So let’s look at this story from another viewpoint: There we were, around six thousand years ago, living in our little farming communities around the Caspian Sea, in the land of Nod, when this dude with a terrible scar comes stumbling in out of the sunset. He tells us this bizarre story, about how his mother and father had been created by some god named Jahweh, and put in charge of a beautiful garden somewhere out west, and how they had gotten thrown out for disobedience after eating some of the landlord’s forbidden magic fruit of enlightenment. He tells us of murdering his brother, as the god of his parents would only accept blood sacrifice, and of receiving that scar as a mark so that all would know him as a fratricide. The poor guy is really a mess psychologically, obsessed with guilt. He is also obsessively modest, insisting on wearing clothes even in the hottest summer, and he has a hard time with our penchant for skinny-dipping in the warm inland sea. He seems to believe that he is tainted by the “sin” of his parent’s disobedience; that it is in his blood, somehow, and will continue to contaminate his children and his children’s children. One of our healing women takes pity on the poor sucker, and marries him…

17 Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became builder of a town, and he gave the town the name of his son Enoch.

With both of their first sons not turning out very well, Adam and Eve decided to try again:

25 Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Seth…
26 A son was also born to Seth, and he named him Enosh. This man was the first to invoke the name of Yahweh.

Now it doesn’t mention here where Seth’s wife came from. Another woman from Nod, possibly, or maybe someone from another neolithic community downstream in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. But her folks also, cannot be of the lineage of Adam and Eve, and must also be counted among “the other people.”

But whatever happened to Adam? After all, way back there in chapter 2:17, warning Adam about the magic fruit of knowlege, Jahweh had told him that “on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.” So, when did Adam die?

Gen. 5:4 – Adam lived for eight hundred years after the birth of Seth and he became the father of sons and daughters.
5 In all, Adam lived for nine hundred and thirty years; then he died.

Hey, that’s pretty good! Nine hundred and some odd years isn’t bad for a man who’s been told he’s gonna die the next day!

….suffice it to say that those of us who are not of Semitic descent (i.e., not of the lineage of Adam and Eve) cannot share in the Original Sin that comes with that lineage. Being that the Bible is the story of that lineage, of Adam and Eve’s descendants and their special relationship with their particular god, Yahweh, it follows that this is not the story of the rest of us. We may may have been Cain’s wife’s people, or Seth’s wife’s people, or some other people over the hill and far away, but whichever people the rest of us are, as far as the Bible is concerned, we are the Other People, and so we are continually referred to throughout. Later books of the Bible are filled with admonitions to the followers of Jahweh to “learn not the ways of the Pagans…” (Jer 10:2) with detailed descriptions of exactly what it is we do, such as erect standing stones and sacred poles, worship in sacred groves and practice divination and magic. And worship the sun, moon, stars and the “Queen of Heaven.” “You must not behave as they do in Egypt where once you lived; you must not behave as they do in Canaan where I am taking you. You must not follow their laws.” (Lev 18:3) For Yahweh, as he so clearly emphasises, is not the god of the Pagans. We have our own lineage and our own heritage, and our tale is not told in the Bible.

We were not “made” like clay figurines by a male deity out of “dust from the soil.” We were born of our Mother the Earth, and have evolved over aeons in Her nurturing embrace. All of us, in our many and diverse tribes, have creation myths and legends of our origins and history; some of these tales may even be actually true. Like the descendants of Adam and Eve, many of us also have stories of great floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other cataclysms that wiped out whole communities of our people, wherein “I alone survived to tell the tale.” Nearly all of our ancestral tribes (and especially those of us who today are reclaiming our own Pagan heritage) lack that peculiar obsessive body modesty that seems to be a hallmark of the original sin alluded to in the story of the Fall. We can be naked and unashamed! Why, our Goddess even tells us, “as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites.” Not being born into sin, we have no need of salvation, and no need of a Messiah to redeem our sinful souls. Neither heaven nor hell is our destination in the afterlife; we have our own various arrangements with our own various deities. The Bible is not our story; we have our own stories to tell, and they are many and diverse. In a long life, you may get to hear many of them…

We Are Indeed, The Other People Part 1

Oberon Zell Ravenheart wrote a story which changed my life.

I'm not Oberon.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I think I wrote once about how one of the earliest things I ever read that was of a Pagan nature was a little pamphlet made as a Pagan answer to the Chick Tracts that used to adorn car windshields in parking lots and pay phone booths everywhere where I grew up. What’s a “Chick Tract” you ask? I’m actually surprised by how many people I speak with who honestly don’t know. I used to see them everywhere. The Wikipedia entry for Jack T. Chick, the creator of them, begins thusly:

Jack Thomas Chick (born April 13, 1924) is an American publisher, writer, and comic book artist of evangelical fundamentalist Christian tracts and comic books. His comics have been described by Los Angeles magazine as “equal parts hate literature and fire-and-brimstone sermonizing”.

Most of them were elaborately illustrated with tales of “This Is Why You’re Going To Burn In Hell!” and usually filled with text about the evils of watching television, listening to rock music and playing Dungeons & Dragons or some such.

So, in answer, some enterprising individuals at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church printed up a bunch of similarly styled tracts with Oberon Zell Ravenheart’s article We Are The Other People printed in it. One day, I happened across one of these and read it. Having, up until that point, only been exposed to the concepts and philosophies offered by mainstream religion and predominantly in the region I grew up in that was fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity with a hefty dose of hellfire and brimstone, what I read between the pages actually made a lot of sense to me. Here was a counterpoint argument that laid out exactly why there wasn’t just one right way to live. At that point in my life it was what I needed to see but as I have gotten older I do find the tone a bit too caustic for my now more coexistent, live and let live point of view. I even recall Oberon saying in later years that he felt, if someone were to choose to include Jesus Christ in their personal pantheon and be both Pagan and Christian then, why not? If it works for them, who are we to judge? A lot of the objections I have previously had to such an arrangement stem from words that are prevalent in the modern interpretations of the bible. Words which I believe were put there by men, not gods. Most everything attributed to be the words of Jesus himself though, I generally have no issue with. Anyway, I have long wanted to take just the points made in the original article and separate them from the picturesque scenery of the visit by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their reactions, the decor, etc. You know, just look at the facts. But before I dive into that, here’s a link to the original article so you can see where we’re starting from.

Church of All Worlds – We Are The Other People

Let’s start with the visitors, shall we? I, too, get the occasional visit from the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses or others going door to door to share their tales. Generally, if there is time, I try to share some tales of my own. Unfortunately, I often find they only want to speak, not listen. That happens a lot in verbal communication these days I’ve noticed which is why I have a preference for blogging or other formats that allow me to speak my full thoughts without interruption. I don’t mind listening to what others have to say and quite often do because I love learning new things. But, sadly, when my turn comes to speak I often don’t receive the same courtesy. Interesting conundrum that, isn’t it? Anyway, a great deal of getting people over to their way of thinking comes in the form of the concept of “Original Sin” and their idea of “Salvation” to escape the repercussions of this “sin”. As Oberon says in We Are The Other People Though:

“But none of that applies to us. We have no need for salvation because we don’t have original sin. We are the Other People.”

What? How is that possible? This story applies to everybody! Not so fast, let’s take a look at the first chapter of the book. Again, as Oberon puts it:

Genesis 1:26 – The [Elohim] said, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.”

Elohim is a plural word, including male and female, and should properly be translated “Gods” or “Pantheon.”

I have a few Jewish friends who are very open minded and I’ve spoken with them about this. One, in particular is a Rabbi who explained to me that one thing people often don’t know about ancient writings is that, unlike today, there really weren’t any punctuation rules and even spaces between words. So, a lot of what has to be considered when interpreting these texts is the context the word is used in. Elohim is a word that can be interpreted as either Gods or Pantheon as stated here or can refer to a singular God which embodies both masculine and feminine form. But, whether Oberon’s interpretation is correct is irrelevant. As the story continues, many other points are made as to why there were clearly people who were outside the sphere of influence of this particular creation myth.

27 The Gods created humanity in the image of themselves, In the image of the Gods they created them, Male and Female they created them.
28 The Gods blessed them, saying to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.”

I would like to interject something here while we’re on the subject of “conquering” the earth and “mastering” all of the creatures within it. Daniel Quinn, in his book ‘Ishmael’, advances an interesting theory with regards to this concept by dividing the cultures of the world into ‘Taker’ and ‘Leaver’ cultures. The ‘Takers’ are those who have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and have taken it upon themselves to assume the role of gods; choosing what is to live and what is to die. Determining what is good and what is evil. The ‘Leavers’ leave such matters up to the gods and live in harmony with the world rather than seeking to dominate it. It is said that this story of Genesis was originally a ‘Leaver’ culture story which was adopted by the ‘Takers’ as their own. Anyway, Oberon had this to say regarding the above two passages.

Now clearly, here we are talking about the original creation of the human species: male and female. All the animals,plants, etc. have all been created in previous verses. This is before the Garden of Eden, and Yahweh is not mentioned as the creator of these people. The next chapter talks about how Yahweh, an individual member of the Pantheon, goes about assembling his own special little botanical and zoological Garden in Eden, and making his own little man to inhabit it:

Sure enough, if you look up various versions of the bible online this is what it appears to say. Take a look at this one for example: NIV Genesis 1 26-28

Then in Chapter 2…

Gen 2:7 – Yahweh God fashioned a man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus the man became a living being.
8 Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned.
9 Yahweh God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.
15 Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.

At this point Oberon said:

Now this next is crucial: note Yahweh’s precise words:

…and indeed it is crucial.

16 Then Yahweh God gave the man this admonition, “You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden.
17 Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.”

As the original article states:

Fateful words, those. We will refer back to this admonition later.

So what happens next? As Oberon put it:

Then Yahweh decides to make a woman to go with the man. Now, don’t forget that the Pantheon had earlier created a whole population of people, “male and female,” who are presumably doing just fine somewhere “outside the gates of Eden.” But this setup in Eden is Yahweh’s own little experiment, and will unfold to its own separate destiny.

As Genesis states:

21 So Yahweh God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh.
22 Yahweh God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man.

Humorously, Oberon interjects here:

Right. Man gives birth to woman. Sure he does. But that’s the way the story is told here.

So, here they are, these newly formed individuals in the Garden Of Eden and the story goes:

25 Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other.

To which Oberon says, and I agree:

Well, of course not! Why should they? But take careful note of those words, as they also will prove to be significant . . .

In my opinion, significant indeed and it speaks to one of the many reasons that most traditional practitioners to this day still hold skyclad initiations and other rituals. But anyway, this post is getting long and I need to attend to some other things so I think I will continue with my review of ‘We Are The Other People’ in a later article. It is a rather lengthy article in it’s own right but well worth the read I think. It gives a great incite into our worldview versus mainstream thinking.

I’ll catch ya on the flip side with part 2 of this saga.

We Are Indeed, The Other People Part 2