“Humans love stories. We always have. We write them and read them, tell them and show them, learn from them and live by them. Throughout history, most of humankind’s origin stories, hero’s journey tales, novels, and films have been created by men. Embedded in the stories are the values and priorities we live by, and what we believe about women and men, power and war, sex and love.”Elizabeth Lesser, Cassandra Speaks: When Women are the Storytellers
Our holy books are no exception. The Bible too. For centuries, the story/idea that women brought evil into the world and are cursed by God has caused great harm.
Listen with new ears as Eve tells her own story…
A sequel to Understanding Our History of Patriarchy: What’s Faith Got to do with it?, this video continues in the footsteps of the inquisitive Girl Child who encounters a mythic wise woman who honors her curiosity about why the world treats her differently as a girl. This video opens with a circle of women and girls gathered together around the wise woman who introduces herself as Eve, the “Mother of all Living” (Chavah in Hebrew). Again, she honors the Girl Child’s curiosity, faith, and her native capacity to wonder about her origins and seek to understand the world around her. To all gathered, the Girl Child pleads: “I’m asking you all, my mother, aunties, grandmother, and sisters to join me on this journey of discovery.”
As you watch this video, envision yourself sitting in the circle with the women and girls. Reflect on the inherited meaning and theological associations you have in your mind and heart about this infamous character Eve who has a much more complicated backstory than what most of us were taught in Sunday School.
Most people don’t know that the character of Eve existed long before she was adapted into the Hebrew creation story, one of our world’s “origin stories” which ponder our beginnings as a human family. To explain why so many patriarchal traditions persist around the world which continue to shame and stigmatize the female body, Eve offers to tell her pre-patriarchal backstory before she came to be seen as an evil temptress who caused evil to enter the world.
In a dreamlike way, Eve shares how many indigenous cultures had an honorable Eve-like character who was seen as the original Mother of all mothers, an earthy goddess figure, who gave birth to and lovingly sustains the world. Other related symbols connected with Eve which predated the Genesis account include the snake (a symbol of rebirth), the tree of life (a symbol of the interconnectedness of all of life), and the apple (fruitfulness, immortality, love).
Stories and myths like the Adam and Eve creation story carry timeless meaning, but also the seeds of ancient oppressions. Crammed into this short video are tomes of scholarship which have sought to reclaim a more ancient, positive view of Eve than the culpable scapegoat she has become over the centuries. This stigmatizing of Eve has caused vast harm over the millennia including the burning of thousands of wise spiritual women for “witchcraft” and the vast array of man-made traditions and beliefs which have treated the female body as unclean and restricted girls and women’s agency to subordinate, inferior roles. Eve’s soliloquy is adapted from theologian Patricia Lynn Reilly’s book Eve, Our Mythic Mother: Exposing the Lies of Patriarchy.
Allow yourself to enter into and ponder anew this ancient origin story. Honor your innate capacity to wonder for yourself about the origins and meaning of life, not just accept as true and set-in-stone stories of old that have been passed down over many generations through many layers of patriarchal cultural and religious constructs.
What is the timeless meaning we can hold onto in the Genesis origin stories? What meaning might have been lost along the way as patriarchal re-interpretations turned Eve, the Mother of all Living, into a shameful character, a scapegoat for evil in the world?
Let’s break free from these harmful patriarchal beliefs and reclaim Eve as the Mother of All Living.
Adapted from Eve, Our Mythic Mother by Patricia Lynn Reilly
Voice Artists: Lila Sage Bromley (the Girl Child), Trekina White (Eve)
Visual Artists: Sue Ellen Parkinson, Caroline Selles, Shiloh Sophia, Cissie Watson
Production Team: Monette Chilson, Emily Nielsen Jones, Patricia Lynn Reilly, Ruben DeLuna, Sarah Dungan, Ray Sutton
A Partnership of The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom and WomanSpirit Reclamation