Let's take a closer look:
This painting caught my eye when Andreis Purim shared it March 9 on Facebook, saying:
This is a painter friend/acquaintance of mine. While he usually does somethings related to our historical region in Brazil, he was commissioned to remake in his style a painting called "Mary consoles Eve" and I really love the renewed detail on the snake. Genesis to Apocalypse in one single detail.
Oh the snake! The sacred, much-maligned, misunderstood serpent!
From infancy I loved these slithery creatures even though my mom would grab her garden hoe and chop innocent garter snakes in half. HOW COULD YOU, Mom.... I caught one, named it Snaky, put it in a jar, and kept it under my bed until Mom found it. I was maybe seven years old. My memory is fuzzy on most of my childhood, but I like to believe that I released my little snake to safety in the garden.
Never a safe place in my childhood, the garden was host to chiggers, mosquitoes, weeds, itchy things, and stories about The Fall, the exile from God, the everlasting punishment (pain in childbirth, and the miserable monthlies!) all brought upon us by a woman who just wanted to "know," the world's first woman, punished for her curiosity. Right, "disobedience" is the crime, not curiosity, and she had it coming! Right? Eh. I was ever troubled by it. Much later, when I married into Catholicism and learned of the community of saints, I thought Eve might have earned her place in the canon, but no, she did not, nor did Adam, nor even did Elijah or Moses, and they had actual miracles to boast of, while Eve just had "Original Sin."
Call me a heretic, but "original sin" always had a peculiar, appealing ring to it. As opposed to mundane, unoriginal sins, right? Maybe because our oldest sister Julie made such a strong point of being an original. We were prohibited from professing our love of David Cassidy because SHE had liked him first. (Really, Julie?) Some things are universal, and classic, and meant to be loved by all. So, Julie, you can take the fall for this one, this vague notion I entertained that "original" sin must be kinda/sorta awesome.
Sorry. I'm trying not to sound flippant or irreverent.
I keep an open mind and try to understand other views, however crazy some ideas sound to me. Like the ones I was indoctrinated with from infancy. The whole eternal hellfire and damnation thing. The punishment doesn't fit the crime. All that. I've blogged about this before.
Devotion to Mary is a visual feast of tenderness, sweetness, motherly love, nurturing, protection, advocacy ("I've got your back! I'll take this up with The Father and plead for mercy on your behalf!")-- all the good things. I've met Carmelites, Opus Dei "lay nuns," actual nuns, and all manner of Catholic women who have a special devotion to Our Lady, and they always look radiant and younger than their years and at peace, even though their lives are usually piled higher than most with suffering (cancer, misfortune, sons with severe autism, and the lesser strain of children who abandon the Faith, but really, all manner of stressful events). Every woman I've ever met who has a special devotion to Mary has been the kind of person I gravitate to for kindness, patience, humility, and not passing judgment on others.
So, what am I on about? The snake. The one Our Lady is so often shown with her foot on its head. Somehow it always felt wrong to me, just as Disney's villainous, drooling wolf in "Peter and the Wolf" struck me as grotesque and ridiculous and unfair to wolves.
I was born missing a gene for fear of snakes. And not because I had any inkling of the "divine feminine."
The snake represents the Feminine Divine. It is also a powerful healing symbol used in modern day as part of the caduceus to represent the western practice of medicine. To justify invasions and massacres of peaceful pagans, the snake had to be painted as a symbol of the ultimate evil. Snakes are instrumental in keeping the balance in nature.
The Snake and The Divine Feminine Connection - In5D
The Tree of Knowledge
Ok, call me ignorant, but to my childish mind, it meant, literally, books, libraries, KNOWLEDGE, not just, specifically, knowleged of good versus evil. To me it meant Eve would learn how the world was made, atom by atom, block by block. But she didn't get a Periodic Table of the Elements or a grasp of physics or anatomy or chemistry. She learned one thing, to start with: I am naked. That's it?
My dad was always telling us to do this, don't that, BECAUSE I SAID SO, and don't ask why.
So, yeah, my dad and his "Take my word for it" and "Don't question my authority" fed into my distrust of the sad, sorry tale of Eve.
My mom (sssh, don't tell!) would fear for my soul if she saw this:
After Eve eats from the Tree of Knowledge, God curses the snake: “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” Nor does He stop here. Like a jealous boyfriend, God announces he will make Snake and Woman hate each other: “her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel.”
To Woman, he says: “I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and your pain in giving birth. In spite of this, you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him.”
And to Man: “You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you.”
Is it just me, or is the condemnation of the snake yoked to the roots of modern patriarchy?
Nope, not just you, Kosmic Tonic.
This "Blame the Serpent! Blame the Woman" mentality didn't end with my last-century childhood. My Protestant mother is not alone in retaining an "Eve blew it!" view of the world, of humanity, of original sin and the fires of eternal hell.
Joining the Catholic Church only increased my cognitive dissonance (for lack of a better term). I learned the Rosary and internalized a litany of daily prayers, focusing especially on an increase in "faith, hope, and charity," gifts that ever elude me. I remain a heretic.
To this day, the snake is vilified and crushed under the foot of Our Lady and Holy Mother, Mary. This is a contemporary painting, sold as a prayer card, paired with song lyrics.
Painting by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO. Lyrics by Katy Bowser.
Mary Consoles Eve was a song we all wrote together. I really felt like it needed to be written in response to Sister Grace's gorgeous drawing, but couldn't get it right on my own. I was so moved by the awakening of the thought that Eve needed consoling: that she knew a rescuer was coming, but didn't know who, or when. She waited so long, seeing the consequences of their disobedience, watching things disintegrate. What must have it been like to find out how God would do what he did? Sandra picked up on the blush on Eve's cheek: "lift up your head, don't hide your blushing face- the Promised One is finally on his way." ~Katy Bowser
Eve, my sister
The one who took the fall
Eve, my sister
Mother of us all
Lift up your head
Don’t hide your blushing face
The promised One
Is finally on His way
See more lyrics and hear the song at Bandcamp:
Mary Consoles Eve from Waiting Songs by Rain for Roots
released November 10, 2015
Written by Katy Bowser (©2015 Velveteen Songs [SESAC]), Flo Paris Oakes (©2015 Flo Paris Music), Sandra McCracken (©2015 Drink Your Tea, [ASCAP], Admin by Simpleville, Inc.) & Kenny Hutson (©2015 Jiggyfoot Music [SESAC])
@ all rights reserved
And one young woman, an author of several books now, has had a variation on Mary Consoling Eve tattooed onto her arm. Shannon Evans
I will talk about her book Rewilding Motherhood: Your Path to an Empowered Feminine Spirituality another day.
The Punishment Doesn't Fit the Crime.
Do I sound petulant and irrational?
Or just irreverent?
Off to go walk the dogs, and pray that daily Rosary, counting off the convenient ten fingers vs the beads.
Nope, "faith" and "hope" haven't arrived yet, but I don't feel I'm quite so lacking in charity (forgiveness, mercy, compassion).
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
And on that note, I'll close.