*We Are the Other People*

by Oberon (Otter) Zell

 

"Ding-dong!" goes the doorbell. Is it Avon calling? Or perhaps Ed

McMahon with my three million dollars? No, it's Yahweh's Witlesses

again, just wanting to have a nice little chat about the Bible...

 

Boy, did they ever come to the wrong house! So we invite them in:

"Enter freely and of your own will..." (Hey, it's Sunday morning,

nothing much going on, why not have a little entertainment?) Diane and

I amuse ourselves watching their expressions as they check out the

living room: great horned owl on the back of my chair; ceremonial

masks and medicine skulls of dragons and unicorns on the wall;

crystals, wands, staffs, swords; lots of Goddess figures and several

altars; boa constrictors draped in amorous embrace over the elkhorn;

white doves sitting in the hanging planters; cats and weasels

underfoot; iron dragon snorting steam atop the wood stove; posters and

paintings of wizards and dinosaurs and witchy women, some proudly

naked; sculptures of mythological beasties and lots more dinosaurs;

warp six on the star-filled viewscreen of my computer; a five-foot

model of the USS Enterprise and the skeleton of a plesiosaur hanging

from the ceiling; very, very many books, most of them dealing with

obviously weird subjects...

 

To say nothing of the great horned owl perched on the back of my

chair and the Unicorn grazing in the front yard. You know; early

Addams Family decor. And then, of course, it being late in the

morning, you can expect Morning Glory to come wandering out naked,

looking for her wake-up cup of tea. Morning Glory naked is a truly

impressive sight, and the Witlesses look as if she'd set titties on

stun as they stand immobilized, hands clasped over their genitals.

With the stage set and all the actors in place, the show is ready to

begin.

 

Their mission, of course, is to save our heathen souls by turning us

on to "The Word of the Lord"- their Bible. I guess they figger some of us

just haven't heard about it yet, and we're all eagerly awaiting their

joyous tidings of personal salvation through giving our rational

faculties to Jesus.

 

Every time they come around, I look forward to trying out a new

riposte. Sure, it may be cruel and sadistic of me, but hey, I didn't

call them up and ask them to come over; they entered at their own

risk! This time should be pretty good. After letting them run off

their basic rap while lovely Morning Glory serves us all hot herb

tea, I innocently remark: "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."

 

"Hunh? What?" they reply eloquently. It's clear they've never heard

this one before. "

 

Right," I say. "It's all in your Bible." And I proceed to tell them

the story, using their own book for reference: (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."

(1: 27) The Gods created humanity in the image of themselves, In the

image of the Gods they createdthem, Male and female they created them.

(1:28) 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." 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: (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. (2:8) Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden

which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned.

(2:9) 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.

(2:15) Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden

to cultivate and take care of it.

 

Now this next is crucial: note Yahweh's precise words: (2:16) Then

Yahweh God gave the man this admonition, "You may eat indeed of all

the trees in the garden. (2:17) 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." Fateful words, those. We will

refer back to this admonition later. 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 set-up in Eden is Yahweh's own little experiment, and will

unfold to its own separate destiny. (2:21) 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. (2:22) Yahweh God built the rib he

had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man.

Right. Man gives birth to woman. Sure he does. But that's the way

the story is told here. (2:25) Now both of them were naked, the man

and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other. Well,

of course not! Why should they? But take careful note of those words,

as they also will prove to be significant...

 

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?" (3:2)

The woman answered the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees in

the garden. (3:3) "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." (3:4) Then the serpent said to the woman, "No! You will not

die! (3:5) "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?

 

(Gen. 3:6) 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. (3:7) 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. 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...

 

(Gen. 3:8) 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. (3:9) But Yahweh God called to the

man. "Where are you?" he asked. (3:10) "I heard the sound of you in

the garden," he replied. "I was afraid because I was naked, so I

hid." (3:11) "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!

 

(Gen. 3:12) 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! (3:13) 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... (3:21) 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: (3:22) 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!

 

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. (3:23) So

Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from

which he had been taken. (3:24) 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.

 

(Gen 4:1) The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she

conceived and gave birth to Cain... (4:2) 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. (4:3) Time passed and Cain brought some

of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh, (4:4) 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: (4:8) 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, (4:16) 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...

 

(4:17) Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave

birth to Enoch. He became the 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: (4:25) Adam had

intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named

Seth... (4:26) 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 Gen. 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. (5:5) 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!

 

Well, the story goes on, and maybe next time the Witlesses come to

visit I'll tell more of it. But 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 specialn relationship with their particular god,

Yahweh, it follows that this is not the story of the rest of us. We

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...

 

May you live long and prosper