I’m reading a book my niece gave me called If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging by Sharon Blackie (Palimpset Book Productions, 2016). The title of the book comes from a poem by Ranier Marie Rilke: “If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence/we could rise up rooted, like trees.” The book marries the rising up of women with the care and attention to the Earth or to give it the term of the final chapter, the “Eco-Heroine.” I’m interested that this book is a good non-fiction follow-up to the novel I recently read called The Overstory which I mentioned in a previous blog. It also weaves together the lives of humans with the lives of trees (without a feminist viewpoint, however.) I hadn’t read three pages into this new book before I was stopped by this paragraph:
“The stories we tell about the creation of the Earth and the origins of humankind show us how our future views the world, our place in it, and our relationships with the other living things which inhabit it. And the key consequence of this particular creation myth is a belief, prevalent now for centuries in the West, that women are naturally disobedient temptresses who must be kept firmly in their place. We are weak-willed, easily persuaded to think or do evil, faithless , untrustworthy, mendacious, and motivated pure by self-interest. The story of Eve in the Book of Genesis is the underpinning for countless measures which have limited the actions, rights and status of women. No matter what women might achieve in the world, the fundamental message of the sacred texts of the world’s largest religious grouping, which for 2000 years have supplied the foundational beliefs of our Western culture, is that men should not trust women, and that women should trust neither themselves nor each other.”
I’ve long struggled with this story/myth myself. I can still feel some shame at being a woman when I was I first heard it as a girl, a sick sinking in my stomach. I think Blackie is right–it has at a deep level made me waver in my trust of self and yes, of other women. Even now, I can feel that sense of being less than, of being naughty and even more severe, of disobeying GOD who was, of course, male.
But I also remember thinking even way back then that if there was two creation stories in Genesis ( yes, two, check it out), why not another story of the events in the Garden of Eden; what if contained a story of a woman unafraid of the nature of GOD because she was a child of this GOD, gutsy and adventurous and a risk-taker, unencumbered by imposed rules. And I reasoned, (although I never asked this question out loud) who is this God that would create such a temptation? Why put this Tree of Knowledge in Eden in the first place if the knowledge was to be hidden? Perhaps this God put it there just to see what these humans he had created would do? All questions without the sure answers of the writers of Genesis. Yet that Eden story really has never been mine. It has never been my truth. At a soul level, I said no. And this is the first time I’ve acknowledged that fully. But isn’t it interesting that yet again, this story is about a TREE?
I want to write more on this. Stay tuned.