Tuesday, 19 October 2021

The Serpent and the Dove

 When Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to preach the good news he said they would be like sheep amongst wolves, and told them therefore to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. In ancient mystery religions the serpent was often regarded as the personification of wisdom, especially occult wisdom, wisdom to do with secrets and hidden things, and, of course, it was the serpent, the most cunning of the beasts of the field, that tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, specifically tempting her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So it might seem strange that Jesus advised his disciples to be like the serpent. Perhaps then we should ask ourselves what is this wisdom of which the serpent is the chief exemplar?

It is not true spiritual wisdom for that arises in the heart and comes from God. Rather, it is the wisdom acquired through evolution. It is intelligence, discrimination, reason, even foresight and, yes, cunning. Now, this is good when brought under the overlordship of spiritual wisdom but potentially evil if not. That is why we also need the innocence of the dove. And what is the dove? For information on that we can go to John the Baptist who was the first to recognise the adult Jesus as the Messiah and who proclaimed when he baptised him that he saw the Holy Spirit descend on him in the form of a dove. The dove is the Holy Spirit, and the innocence of the dove is true spiritual wisdom compared to the earthly, even if it is occult or esoteric, wisdom of the serpent. The serpent represents the wisdom of experience or evolution. In a way, it is the wisdom of matter. But the dove symbolises the wisdom of purity and innocence and truth that comes from God.

This holds good even when we consider the raised serpent which is regarded as the opening up of spiritual consciousness in many systems of esotericism. And it is true that this process of raising the serpent does open up consciousness to the inner planes of being. But unless the dove also descends there is no proper spiritual awakening. The raised serpent is re-orientating the energies of matter to spirit. Instead of these symbolically being on their belly they are lifted up and re-purposed. Hence the raising of the serpent is restoring cosmic order in the soul. But on its own it is not enough. It can even make a black magician. The serpent, after all, was the first to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There must also be the descent of the dove, the Holy Spirit. That which comes from above must meet that which comes from below to bring true spiritual enlightenment. This is the union of spirit and matter that is the real birth of a soul into the Kingdom of Heaven.


Gary Bleasdale said...

This is a very important state to seek (I would call it a state of "wholeness"), and has proven very difficult to attain by most men.

The oscillation between emphasizing one at the expense of the other is a source of great sorrow and needless trouble - it seems we have a tendency to identify with one or the other and thus become hostile to the other, and consider it inferior in some way.

For example, those who revile "cunning" are easily taken advantage of, and eventually fall into some sort of dependency, usually but not always at the hands of the "cunning". Those who revile the dove (the bright softness, the gentle authority) almost always end up taking water to the side of the Adversary - usually unwittingly.

But I think the problem is indeed "identification" (we tend to "view ourselves" as standard-bearers of one or the other type), and a certain lack of imagination which makes us see the two as fundamentally incompatible.

It is important to acknowledge that both are of God, and both are Good, as our Saviour Jesus Christ has so clearly stated, and exemplified, by his behaviour.

Heartfelt congratulations on the new book being published, by the way!

William Wildblood said...

Yes, what Jesus did which had never been done before was to sanctify the material world and the fallen part of man's being. He healed a broken world and reintegrated the two poles of being thereby making a new creation.


Ancient Times said...

As wise as Dragons would be a better way to say it for moderns.