Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Janet Polsky

Homage to Humanity's First Mother

Homage to Humanity

Janet Polsky. Homage to Humanity's First Mother, 2007.

For centuries, Eve was vilified as the temptress who seduced Adam and caused their expulsions from Eden. In historical literature, the snake was a well-recognized symbol of the dominant goddess religion which flourished in the Mediterranean region from 7000 B.C. to 500 A.D. The goddess Hathor was believed to dwell within the fig or apple tree and to eat the sacred fruit was to eat of the flesh and fluid of the goddess.

Further, the literature suggests that patriarchal Judaism began to take root approximately 1500 years before the Christian era. In their efforts to defeat and replace the reigning goddess the Hebrew scribes wrote the "Adam and Eve" story. The symbolism of the serpent and the fruit would have been readily understood by the populace of the time since the snake was a symbol of the goddess religion and the fruit was symbolic of the goddess Hathor. The priests issued a warning to the Israelites that if they continued to believe in and listen to the "Serpent of darkness," Yah'we, the true God, would punish them and deny them the protection of his love.

The role of the priestess was still fresh in the minds of the Gnostics, who were early Christians in the newly formed church. The Gnostics recognized woman's spirituality and women, such as Phoebe, were deacons in the new church. Prisca, Persis, Tryphaena, and Junia were all respected preachers in the new Christianity. It is accepted that Paul said, "Because of Eve, women should not be allowed to speak in church.

Women must not be allowed to preach to men." Thus, the vilification of the Bible's first mother in this highly contrived tale was used to silence the voice of women in religion to this very day.

The following is an excerpt from one of the sacred volumes of the Chinese. This quote illustrates that the demonization of women is ubiquitous:

"All was subject to man at first, but a woman threw us into slavery. The wise husband rose up a bulwark of walls, but the woman by an ambitious desire of knowledge demolished them. Our misery did not come from heaven but from a woman. She lost the human race...See, thou kindled the fire that consumes us, and which is every day augmenting. Our misery has lasted many ages. The world is lost. Vice overflows all things like a mortal poison."


snake, Eden, mother, Eve

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Boynton Beach, FL
United States

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