On Genesis #2: Adam in Paradise


                                                                                               And Jesus said: When you make the two one, you will become sons of man.



Gospel of Thomas



As we have said, in Genesis 1 God appears as the ‘sower’ who scatters his ‘seeds’ (logoi spermatikoi) into the receptive womb of primordial darkness (nigra sum sed formosa); now, in the second chapter, these ‘seeds’ come to fruition. [1] The narrative thus starts off with a humid ‘mist’ that ‘waters the whole face of the ground’ (Gen. 2:6), which is followed by the ‘forming’ of man from the ‘earth’ (Gen. 2:7).


This ‘formed’ man is obviously distinct from the ‘archetypical man’ of Genesis 1, these two relating to each other like ‘form’ and ‘instantiation’; the first being ‘Universal Man’ (Adam Kadmon), as exemplary reality in the Divine Word, the second ‘primordial man’ (Adam ha-Rishon), who is created in the conjoining of ‘form’ and ‘matter’ (the ‘earth’) and who is not simply a universal reality but a ‘living soul’ (nefesh hayah) as the Scripture tells us. This second Adam could thus be said to be the first (enhypostatized) ‘creature’, or ‘person’, and this is also the reason why, with the appearance of man as an ‘other’, there likewise appears YHWH, the LORD, as soon as we enter into Genesis 2.


The Tetragrammaton is certainly the most significant name revealed by God in the Old Covenant and whole books have been written about its meaning. Again, we only want to touch on it briefly, leaving aside many alternative opinions. Keeping with our gematric approach we should however note that the Divine Name Yod-Heh-Waw-Heh (10-5-6-5)[2] appears like an ‘evolution’ of that of Elohim (10/10), the second 10 (yod) having become ‘explicated’ or ‘extended’ into 5/5 (heh-waw-heh). [3]


In the Beginning (10)


Heaven (5) and (6) Earth (5)


Thus some kabbalists say that the name of YHWH refers to God insofar as He enters into creation, enters into ‘relation’ with the creature[4], i.e. insofar as He is not God in se, but God quoad nos: the LORD. It is Elohim who creates (universal) man in His image before the foundation of the world, yet it is YHWH(-Elohim) who breathes into him the spiraculum vitae (the neshamah)[5] and ‘walks with Adam in Paradise’ (Gen. 3:8); likewise it is He who reveals Himself to Moses in the burning bush, as the ‘personal God’ who enters into concrete history itself[6], until He finally becomes YHSWH[7] (Jehoshuah) in the ultimate synkatabasis of the Incarnation.


[Keeping in mind what we have said before, it is not hard to see that the name YHWH is related to the pillar of Mercy (as such it is also sometimes linked to the sefira Tiferet or Rachamim), whereas Elohim is linked to ‘Rigor’ or ‘Severity’ (which is also the principle of ‘discrimination’, like in the ‘separations’ of Genesis 1, especially that of the ‘upper and lower waters’ on the second day), hence why YHWH is also the ‘LORD’ (i.e. Adonai, the divine name linked to last the sefira Malkut, thus designating His Immanence in the created order). According to the schema employed above, we might link the name YHWH the ‘fiery/solar’ pillar of creation (the masculine side) and Elohim to the ‘watery/lunar’ side (i.e. the feminine). If our present interpretation of the name YHWH (as descensus or ‘entering-into-relation’) seems to conflict with that of Elohim (as ‘motherly’ Immanence) given above, this is merely due to the shift of viewpoint introduced between the two chapters (from knowledge in patria to knowledge in via, which we could term in the context of creation also the ‘heliocentric’ and ‘geocentric’ perspective). For the immanence of Elohim pertains to the two superior realms (which is transcendence from our creaturely point of view), whereas the immanence of YHWH in the two inferior realms is, from the standpoint of God, an ‘ekstatic’ descenscus (i.e. kenosis). We might also say that the separation of the two divine names points to a chasm between ‘heaven and earth’ (a chasm opened by original sin). Thus we hear that Eve, shortly before her fall, is confusing the two, when in Gen. 3:3 she tells the serpent that it was ‘Elohim’ who told her not to eat of the fruit even though the commandment is given by ‘YHWH-Elohim’ (Gen. 2:16), i.e. ‘Rigor’ absorbed (aufgehoben) by ‘Mercy’ (for ‘God is a light and in Him there is no darkness’ –1. Joh. 1:5). The primordial crime of man however detaches the left pillar (Severity/Elohim) from the right one (Mercy/YHWH), thereby ‘enkindling the wrath fire’ (Böhme) and turning the blessed soil of Paradise into the ‘cursed earth’ (Gen. 3:17) of separation and duality (the principle of this separation being, according to kabbalistic exegesis, Day 2 of creation – the only day that is not judged to be ‘good’ by God – which is also the first day on the left pillar and linked to the sefira Binah, i.e. Elohim). To the manifestation of the Messiah (YHSWH) then, who mends this schism, could thus also be applied that the saying of the prophet, according to which ‘in this day the LORD will be one and his Name will be one’ (Zach. 14:9). YHWH (‘The One who was, is and will be’) further stems from the verb ‘to be’ (hayah), further designating that it is the LORD who sustains the world in being, and who watches over it as ‘King of kings’. Likewise it is well established that the four letters refer to the ‘four worlds’ (i.e. the three realms of manifestation plus the unmanifest; cf. also the Hindu divine name AVM, which has virtually the exact same significance). As such the ideogram of the holy name YHWH (יהוה) can serve as a symbol for Adam Kadmon himself.  There are also four ‘generational lists’ (ele toldoth) in the Torah (cf. Gen. 2:4, 6:9, 11:10, 37:2), which further enhances this connetion between the Tetragrammaton and God’s revelation in history (there being in toto 26 generations, corresponding to the gematric sum of the name YHWH). Now According to Saint-Martin the Shin (ש) introduced by Christ into the middle of the Tetragrammaton represents the reconciliation of the ‘holy ternary’ (the Trinity, shown in the three tips of ש) with the quaternary (the totality of manifestation; cf. also the Pythagorean Tetraktys), i.e. the union of God and the world (cf. Correspondance, LXXIV). The letter shin (value: 300) itself designates the element ‘fire’, as well as the Holy Spirit (Ruach Elohim: 300), meaning that Christ brought the Spirit into the world: Ignem veni mittere in terram (Lk. 12:49). According to another interpretation it signifies the union of God and man in the Incarnation, for the divine Tetragrammaton expands into the quintenary (5 being, as we have said before, the number of man par excellence), which is likewise a restoration of Adam Kadmon (the ideogram: יהוה). For, as we have seen, the name Y-HWH (10-5/5) amounts to ‘going forth’, a ‘self-giving’ which, as His entering into relativity/relation, could also be said to be a ‘division’ (an alienation from Himself), that is then ‘mended’ by the Christ (YH-S-WH), who unites the ‘above’ (YâH, the principle of manifestation) and ‘below’ (WeH, manifestation in itself)].


After man has been formed from the dust of the ground (adamah), we hear that ‘the Lord God planted a garden in Eden’ and placed there ‘the man whom He had formed’ (Gen. 2:8).[8]  Now the nature of this mythical Paradise has been debated among exegetes since the earliest times. As such already St. Augustine tells us in his commentary on the Hexaemeron that some have interpreted Paradise as ‘corporeal’ (i.e. as an actual place located in time and space) and other as a purely ‘spiritual reality’ (taking place, as it were, ‘in the soul of man’ alone), while yet others hold that it is both at once.


We touch here on a complicated question indeed, and one that is not without the danger of falling into either of the extremes. For, while on the one hand we meet with an excessive literalism, that refuses to read the Mosaic revelation as anything other than a quasi-journalistic, historical account (which is obviously ridiculous)[9], there has also been, from the earliest Origenists to contemporary esoterists, an exegetical current that tends to overly ‘spiritualize’ the matter, by telling us that ‘Paradise’ is really the soul of each man and that ‘the Fall’ is happening there at every instant etc. pp.


All this is certainly not wrong, and we will come back to this ‘microcosmic’ perspective once we discuss the separation of the sexes, yet to limit the whole Edenic mythos exclusively to this perspective seems overly reductionist. We thus have to fully agree with St. Augustine himself, when he supports the opinion that Paradise is indeed neither purely ‘corporeal’, nor exclusively ‘spiritual’, but both (we could say that ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ reality are for Adam at this point still inseparable).[10]


The Paradise was not corporeal for the body without being spiritual for the mind; nor was it spiritual to be enjoyed by man’s inner senses without being corporeal to be enjoyed with his outer senses: no, it was both for both (Civ. Dei, XIV.11)


Again, when we say that Paradise is ‘corporeal’, we in no way mean that it pertains to definite location in this fallen world, but that it is located, as it were, between ‘heaven and earth’.[11]


It is notoriously hard for us to imagine an ‘unfallen’ world, yet we dare say that Dante gave us the most fitting symbolism for the matter at hand when he placed the ‘terrestrial paradise’ on the intersection between (sublunary) world and the heavenly spheres (for, designating the ‘central state’ of the terrestrial plane it is truly the place where the horizontal plane of the earth and the vertical axis of heaven intersect).


Paradise has thus also been conceived of as a ‘mountain’ (cf. St. Ephrem’s Hymns on Paradise), whose summit protrudes into the lower heavens, meaning that it is suspended between the incorruptible and aeviternal ‘noetic’ world of the angels and the transitory material realm we inhabit now (the ‘cursed earth’). As the Holy Anchorite St. Gregory of Sinai tells us in the Philokalia:


Eden is a place in which there was planted by God every kind of fragrant plant. It is neither completely incorruptible, nor entirely corruptible. Placed between corruption and incorruption, it is always both abundant in fruits and blossoming with flowers, both mature and immature.


Being thus neither purely spiritual nor (grossly) material, we may conclude that Paradise (as well as the ‘earth’ of which Adam is formed)[12] is of a ‘subtle’ quality, consisting of what has been called the quinta essentia (or ‘ether’) by some.


[The etheric quality (avir) of the primordial Adam is also why he was clothed into the ‘garments of light/glory’ (aur) in Paradise, meaning that he was a perfectly translucent receptacle of the Divine Light, which, up to the Fall, covered his nakedness (as well as the ‘nakedness’ of creation as such, i.e. the ‘infernal possibilities’ that all contingent being necessarily entails). After his expulsion from Paradise however, he took on the ‘garments of skin’, i.e. of (gross) materiality or the ‘animal nature’ (‘Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh’ – Job 10:11), under which lies still hidden his original ‘light nature’ (albeit in a virtual state which has to be actualized by us once more), which is also the ‘Self in the ether (akasha) of the heart’ the Upanishads tell us of. We might also note that the word aur in hebrew can mean both ‘skin’ or ‘flesh’ (ayin-waw-resh), as well as ‘light’ (alef-waw-resh). As pointed out above the alef stands for unity (the ‘eye of the heart’), whereas ayin means ‘eye(s)’, i.e. ‘duality’ (‘And their eyes were opened’ – Gen. 3:7). The subtle nature of primordial man is also testified by the Apostle, when he says that ‘the first Adam was sown psychic’ (cf. 1. Cor. 44-47).]


While Paradise could ‘vertically’ be conceived of as a ‘mountain’ (or a pyramid/cone), horizontally it appears as a circle (the cross of the four ‘streams’ extending from the central ‘source’ towards the periphery) or ‘circular plane’ (gan), a motive also found in many of the ancient iconographies.[13] From another perspective we could say that the ‘summit’ of this mountain (extending in the heavens) is circular, while the base (founded in this ‘valley of tears’) appears rectangular, signifying the increasing ‘petrification’ along the line of descent.[14]


Having thus set the stage, we may return to the question of that fateful separation that begins in Gen. 2:18: God observers that ‘it is not good that man should be alone’ and wants to provide him with a ‘helper’ (ezer). After presenting Adam with the animals [15] ‘there was not found a help meet for him’ (2:20); thus He causes ‘a deep sleep to fall upon Adam’[16] (2:21) and, taking a ‘rib’ from his side, fashions woman from it and presents her to him as his new companion (2:22).


Recalling the interpretations summarized previously, there is in this chain of events indeed hardly any indication of some egregious sin, that prompted God to act this way. The whole sequence seems to be in perfect accordance with the will of God Himself and we may thus infer that the partition into male and female was not a mere ‘precaution’ or some ‘preemptive punishment’, but in fact a necessary step for Adam to fulfill his divinely appointed mission as ‘king of creation’ (for even the ‘New Adam’, the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’, who eventually accomplishes what the first one couldn’t, has a Queen: Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia).


As such we want to depart here from the school of interpretation that sees in the appearance of woman a mere ‘diminution’ of primordial man, a ‘falling away’ from the original prototype. For as we have seen in the previous section, God’s manifestation in the work of the six days is structured around two pillars; the ‘solar’ or ‘fiery’ one on the right (active, masculine, vertical, centre, head) and the left one, that we’ve called ‘lunar’ or ‘watery’ (passive, feminine, horizontal, periphery, body); according to the numerical symbolism we’ve laid out before (cf. Essay #9) we could link the former to the 1 (alef, like in the word for ‘fire’: esh) and the latter to the 4 (mem, like in the word ‘water’: majim).[17] We already see from this that the manifestation of man in his dual aspect of masculine and feminine is not just an accidental aberration but has in fact profound reasons and could truly be said to be essential in accomplishing the divinely appointed mission of man as mediator of creation.


Now, the nature of the ‘Adamic office’ can be expressed in a variety of ways. As the khalifa (vice-regent) or lieutenant (locum tenens) of God on earth, he is called to ‘work the ground’ and ‘pray for rain’ (call down the heavenly influences and make the world receptive to them); to ‘name the animals’ and ‘host angels’ (realize the ‘semantic dimension’ of being and allow for its manifestation on earth). [18] Man is the vertical/central and as such he is tasked with binding back the whole of the Edenic ‘plane’ to the Supernal Centre and Principle of all. In short: it is on adam (1-4-40) to accomplish the ‘work of the 5’ (for, as we have said before, the 1 represents the ‘centre’ and the 4 the ‘periphery’ or the totality of horizontal expansion).


We might thus also conceive of the aim of his mediatory function as a ‘unification’ (1+4) and say that, like the hermetic ‘Great Work’, so the Adamic mission lies in the coniunctio of opposites (or rather complementarities), i.e. a ‘sublimation’ of duality. This is thus why ‘it is not good for man to be alone’, for this ‘rectification’ (tikkun) of the created order is to be achieved through the union of the male and female principle, which is manifested in Adam and Eve. The duality of male and female (which is also that of ‘heaven and earth’) could further be said to be represented by the two Hehs or ‘fives’, of the Tetragrammaton. Their unification by the Waw (‘hook’) corresponds thus to the horizontal integration[19] (5-6-5), i.e. the unity of ‘heaven and earth’, which is then (vertically) bound back to the Supernal Principle (Yod/10), thereby realizing the ‘Great Name’ of God: YHWH.


According to St. Maximus (op. cit.), universal existence is marked by five divisions: that of created and uncreated nature, sensible and intelligible things, heaven and earth, the (inhabited) world and paradise and lastly that of male and female. Adam is called to mend these divisions, first in himself (male-female) and through himself ultimately in the whole macro- and metacosm, eventually uniting the created with the uncreated nature of God itself. For man, says the venerable Father “is like a most capacious workshop containing all things, naturally mediating through himself all the divided extremes, and … manifestly possessing by nature the full potential to draw all the extremes into unity … by the perfect union with his own principle”, i.e. with his ‘archetype’, which is the ‘hierogamy’ with his uncreated exemplar: ‘Universal Man’.


Adam was called to achieve within himself the mode of their completion, and so bring to light the great mystery of the divine plan, realizing in God the union of the extremes which exist among beings, by harmoniously advancing in an ascending sequence from the proximate to the remote and from the inferior to the superior (ibid.).


However Adam, unlike the animals, is yet ‘simple’, pertaining, as it were, to a ‘higher plane’ (gan) than the other creatures. Thus one interpretation would be, that (since ‘like is only known by like’) Adam needs to ‘know’ duality in order to fulfill his role as ‘shepherd of creation’ (in which omnia duplicia), and only through ‘knowing’ his inherent duality he can ‘overcome’ (aufheben) it, thereby unifying, through him, all of creation.[20]


This certainly a quite Hegelian approach: Adam (thesis/an-sich) has to first ‘posit’ himself as ‘other’ (anti-thesis/für-sich) in the duality of male-female, before he can ‘sublimate’ (aufheben) this duality to achieve true integral unity (synthesis/an-und-für-sich).[21] This ‘synthesis’ of male and female (which is not an ‘abolishing’ but an Aufhebung of the sexual duality)[22] is the true ‘androgyny’ of which the Lord says: ‘Unless you turn and become like a child, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 18:3).


Now, the androgyny of the child is ‘pre-sexual’ or ‘before differentiation’, i.e. still pregnant with potentiality; the Saint who has become like a child again[23] however is ‘beyond sex’; he has ‘transcended’ (aufgehoben) all differentiation and thus also ‘sublimated’ the possibility of duality in himself (the posse mas et foemina fieri).[24]


The reconciliation of God and world is to be archived in and through Adam. [25] Woman is man’s ‘outwardness’/’objectivity’ (his für-sich-sein), his ‘periphery’ or ‘envelopment’, hence why the Apostle says that ‘the man is the image of God and the woman is the glory [i.e. irradiation/expansion] of the man’ (1. Cor. 11:7); she represents in a sense the whole of the ‘horizontal plane’ (hence why the Zohar says that ‘the garden is woman’; I.35), and by unifying with her, Adam ‘gathers together’ all of creation and ‘recapitulates all things’ (Eph. 1:10).


We might thus also interpret the partition of sexes not merely in the context of Adam ‘knowing’ creation, but also as Adam ‘knowing himself’.[26] This self-knowledge can only be effected through an ‘other’ (again, a quite Hegelian thought) or his ‘likeness’, but seeing that there is yet no such other (like him), all created beings being either ‘inferior’ (animals) or ‘superior’ to him (angels), God ‘takes woman (isha) out of man (ish)’, upon which Adam recognizes (himself in) her as ‘bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!’.


We could even go so far as to read this self-reflexive ‘emanation’ of Eve as mirroring that of Trinity itself, albeit on a lower level (an idea which is certainly not without precedent in patristic literature).[27] For the soul being (according to St. Augustine) an image of the Trinity, it too, has its ‘being’ (esse) in its ‘self-knowledge’ (scire) from whence proceeds ‘love’ by the mode of will (velle).  One way to conceive of this would be to see in woman an image of the Word, proceeding ‘consubstantially’ out of the ‘Father’ (Adam) as His self-knowledge, in the ‘recognition’ of which the Holy Spirit is generated, in whom all duality is ‘expired’ (an-und-für-sich-sein). 


However we could also pick up on the notion of ‘hypostatic maternity’ (cf. here) and relate Eve to the Holy Spirit in His (‘feminine’ or ‘passive’) role as the ‘mirror’ in which the Father conceives the Son as the perfect image of Himself. For man is called to realize ‘the image of God’, and every image (or ‘icon’) presupposes duality (two is the image of one), which manifests in the created realm as that of ‘form’ and ‘matter’. Eve thus represents the ‘unitary space’, the ‘receptive surface’, on which Adam (the pure ‘theomorphic form’) is reflected and ‘realized’[28] 


[The notion of Eve as the ‘mirror’ of Adam is even indicated in the text itself, hence why Gen 2:18 could more literary be rendered as ‘an aid before-him/in-front-of-him’ (b’neghedo) instead of ‘a help meet for him’. As such also the Zohar states that Adam was originally created ‘two-faced’ (du partsufin), and that both ‘faces’ were separated so they could ‘see each other face to face’: “It is written ‘You formed me from behind and in front; you lay your hand upon me’ (Ps 139:5). This verse has been established, but come and see: When the blessed holy One created Adam, they were created male and female. And the two of them were bound together, the female in the back and the male in the front, until the blessed holy One split them apart. He arrayed her and brought her before Adam so that they could look at each other face to face. When they looked face to face, love increased in the world” (Zohar, II.231).We might also connect this idea of subjectification via mirroring to the notion of the ‘mirror stage’ as developed by Lacan (Le stade du miroir comme formateur de la function du Je). Now, this archetypical function of the feminine is of course fully realized in Mary, the New Eve, who is an ‘unstained mirror of the working of God’ (Wis. 7:26). Eve is the ‘receptivity’ of Adam and as such she is also linked to the (horizontal) adamah that receives the (vertical) spiraculum vitae. Thus the Blessed Virgin (Virgo Humilis) has been called the ‘paradisiacal earth’ (humus) which brings forth the New Adam (homo). As the ‘support’ (sub-stans) of the manifestation of God, she is thus not only realizing the function of woman specifically, but, in a sense, the mediatory office of man as a whole, i.e. ‘reflecting as in a mirror the glory of God’ (2. Cor. 3:16) and like a mirror fully offers itself up to the image it receives, so man can only realize this glory in his ontological ‘humbleness’]


But ultimately we’re touching here on the mystery, for however Adam was supposed to ‘actualize’ this image en detail, he obviously failed to do so, and, as a wise man once said, ‘there is no theology of what-ifs’. Nevertheless we may conclude that the creation of Eve was necessary to achieve this realization, so that the ‘confirmation’ of the image can certainly be conceived of as a ‘hierogamy’ (like that of Christ, the New Adam, and the Church, which shall be consummated at the end of time). This hierogamy, the ‘work of Adam’, appears thus as a veritable ‘alchemical operation’ in which Adam, the ‘Red King’ (sulfur) and Eve, the ‘White Queen’ (mercury), unite, in order to beget the (golden) ‘Son’, Filius philosophorum, thereby completing the Opus magnum, which is also the accomplishment of the ‘work of the 5’ we spoke about earlier, in which ‘male’ (3) and ‘female’ (4) produce the ‘son’ (5), according to the Pythagorean symbolism of 3²+4²=5².[29]


This also clearly indicated in the Divine Oracles; for immediately after Adam first ‘recognizes’ himself in woman, there follows a very telling passage about ‘marriage’, in which he prophesizes that ‘therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24).


In ‘cleaving to’ Eve (i.e. uniting with her, or ‘reintegrating’ her, as Baader says), Adam will ‘leave his father (i.e. God) and his mother’ (i.e. the ‘earth’), meaning that he will ‘overcome’ (aufheben) their separation as two distinct principles and achieve the unification of ‘heaven and earth’, created and uncreated nature, and this hierogamy is what is meant by ‘begetting the son’, which is why the primordial commandment given to man is to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28), that is: realize the divine sonhood of man by fully actualizing the divine image. This task is of course ultimately achieved by Christ, who is both ‘Son of man’ and ‘Son of God’, and who ‘gathered together into one body the children of God who were scattered aboard’ (Joh. 11:52) and ‘brought unity to all things in heaven and on earth’ (Eph. 1:10).


By re-uniting through Himself universally in everything the fissures of nature which are contrary to nature, and by showing forth universally the foreshown reasons of the things that are divided, by which the unification of the separated things is wont to be brought about, He fulfilled the great plan of the God and Father, ‘summing up’, that is, gathering together, ‘into Himself all things which are in heaven and on earth’; in whom also they were created. So, by the unification of all things universally to Himself, beginning from our division (of male and female), He is made perfect man from us and in us and for us, possessing all our characteristics completely, except sin (St. Maximus, op. cit.)


Through His miraculous Virgin birth He unifies the dispersion of ‘male and female’ (horizontal integration) and by His glorious death and resurrection, His descent into Hades and ascension into Heaven, He united ‘heaven and earth’ (vertical integration), finally reconciling created and uncreated nature in the hypostatic union and gathering together all things that were dispersed along the ‘outer darkness’ of the periphery by bringing them back to the ‘central axis’ of the Cross.[30]


Thus Christ truly ‘recapitulated’[31] all things by integrating them into His Mystical Body; and to conclude we may remark that herein also lies the mystery of the ‘three bodies’ of the Lord (triforme Corpus Christi). As Honorius of Autun explains:


The Body of Christ is said to be of a triple kind, it is the Body incarnate of a Virgin (Corpus Natum), offered for us upon the altar of the Cross, raised to heaven after having conquered death, seated on the right hand of God; second, they call the Body of the Lord the promise given to the Church and which the sacerdotal power mysteriously realizes from the bread and wine consecrated by the Holy Spirit (Corpus Eucharisticum). And thirdly the Body of Christ is the entire Church in which the elect are united like members of a single body (Corpus Mysticum) … The third Body is connected to the first through the second, so much so that one does not affirm that there are three Bodies as such, but only one Body coordinated by the Holy Spirit, just as in the human being the soul provides life to all parts of the body (Eucharistion, I).


The interrelation of these three aspects of the one Body (triplex modus corporis) is manifold and we cannot go into detail here (cf. Borella, Sens du Surnaturel, II). Suffice to say that Christ has not only ‘summed up all things’ in His Glorified Body with which He ascended through all the heavens (transversed all states of the being) ‘to appear in front of the Father on our behalf’ (Heb. 9:24), but, as the Logos, He is also the ‘first-born of creation’ (Col. 1:15), i.e. the beginning of all thing (ego sum alpha et omega), the paradigmatic synthesis of all forms, meaning that the whole universe could also be described as modality of the Corpus Christi (according to some of the Fathers even Holy Scripture could be considered a ‘body of the Word’).


This is why the blood poured forth from the body of the Saviour amounts to a veritable ‘cosmic baptism’ and also why, through His bodily ascension, all of creation is ‘lifted up’ with Him, making the sacrifice of Golgotha both an irradiation of divine Love and a metanoia to the centre (‘The Cross is both centrifugal and centripetal’ – Borella). Lastly, this also means that in the elevation of the Eucharistic Body during Holy Mass, the whole universe is lifted up on the altar to be transfigured, a transfiguration as of yet still ‘hidden’ under the veil of the ‘accidental’ species, but which shall be revealed in illo tempore.


As the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and as the Universe is, in its own manner, also a Sacrament, one is led to say that the Body of Christ extends through the whole Universe, the entire Cosmos, and that the bread over which the priest pronounces the words of consecration: Hoc enim est corpus meum, doesn’t merely symbolize the Mystical Body but also the Cosmos, all of creation, which participates thus in the redemptive Sacrifice, for it too awaits the ‘redemption of its body’ (Rom. 8:23), ‘the liberation from its bondage to corruption and to share in the glorious freedom of the children of God’ (Abbé Stéphane, Ésoterisme Chrétien, I.1).


When we unify our fallen (fractured) nature, by ‘making the two one’ and conforming to our eternal archetype (the divine image), we become ‘sons of God’, and in this deification Paradise is restored. This the revelation all nature yearns for and, as the example of many of the Holy Saints (who have become once more ‘like Adam in Paradise’) shows, in this ‘rectification’ of ourselves all of creation is liberated from its bondage and the dawn of Eden shines once more through the garments of the ‘cursed earth’: ‘Acquire the Spirit of Peace and thousands around you will be saved’ (St. Seraphim). Amen.


[1] This is also indicated in the text itself, for, as Genesis 2:5 tell us, at the beginning of the second chapter ‘no plant had yet sprung up and no herb had yet appeared’ (the ‘plant’ being the visible manifestation of the ‘seed’ or logos).

[2] We might note in passing that the gematric sum of the letter alef (consisting, as we’ve seen, out of yod-waw-yod, i.e. 10-6-10) is the same as that of YHWH (10-5-6-5), namely 26, which further supports our interpretation.

[3] Cf. for example Weinreb, Schöpfung im Wort (likewise Zahlen, Zeichen, IV.3), who gives an in-depth exposition of this symbolism. A very similar interpretation is also shared by Borella, who sees Elohim as ‘macrocosmic’ (the Creator of ‘heaven and earth’) and YHWH as ‘microcosmic’ (i.e. as relating to man). 

[4] (see above) 

[5] We have already talked about the anthropological implications of this passage in Essay #7; let us however note that the tripartite structure observed in the forming of man, where the medium term, the ‘living soul’ (psyche), emerges in the ‘tension’ between the two extremities of the ‘body of the earth’ (soma) and the ‘divine spirit’ (pneuma) appears also quite frequently in the overall structure of the Hexaemeron as related in Genesis, for example in the ‘earth’ emerging from the upper and lower waters, or the land animals (middle) coming after the birds (above) and the fish (below). It seems we are pointed here to three gunas that inhere all creation, namely sattva (ascending), rajas (horizontal) and tamas (descending), as well as many other ‘triads’ (like that of sulfur, mercury and salt in alchemy for example, which is, at least in terms of imagery, most closely linked to the the triad of sun, moon and stars that appears on Day 4).

[6] (see above)  

[7] (see above)

[8] In total we seem to meet in Genesis with three distinct kind of ‘grounds’; firstly the ‘earth’ (arrez), designating the totality of creation (natura naturata) or the passive creative principle more generally (natura naturans or prakriti as opposed to the ‘purusha hovering over the earth that is formless and void’), secondly the ‘soil’ (adamah) from which Adam and the animals are formed, which we could link to the etheric quinta essentia as the manifestation of prima materia (avir kadmon) on terrestrial plane and lastly the ‘garden’ (gan, literally meaning an ‘enclosed space’ or a ‘ring-wall’), which seems to be the (central) state, reserved exclusively for man alone (hence why man is ‘put there’ after being formed from the adamah and why God has to bring the animals to him from the ‘outside’/periphery). While the ‘Garden Eden’ could thus designate the elevated state of man alone, when we speak of ‘Paradise’ (or Eden) in the following we mean the whole existential plane of pre-lapsarian creation (the unfallen world).

[9] Contrary to the rationalist fervor of many Biblical scholars today, we have to be emphatic that Eden is a reality that will never be found by archeological excavations; in fact, as many of the Saints tell us, it is still today as it was then (‘Paradise is still in the world, but man isn’t in it’, says Böhme); As such St. Andrew of Constantinople is said to have spent two entire weeks there, and in of her apparitions to St. Seraphim, Our Lady gave him an apple plucked fresh out of the Edenic gardens (not to mention St. Paul himself, who was likewise ‘caught up to Paradise’;  2. Cor. 12:4). Paradise is thus not to be searched ‘horizontally’ (in some ancient valley of the Fertile Crescent) but by ‘vertically’ ascending the Holy Mountain of God ourselves.

[10] This is also the view proposed by Böhme, who says that ‘if we want to talk of Paradise and understand it, we need to have sharp eyes, to see it, for the inner world of Paradise and the outer world hang together. It is only us who have turned from the inner to the outer, such that we now stand in two worlds’ (Epistolae, VIII.72).

[11] This ‘intermediary’ position is also indicated in many medieval illuminations, which often depict the ‘ring wall’ (gan) of Paradise as an octagon, the octagon signifying (especially in sacred architecture) the ‘intermediary’ between the cubical base (earth) and the circular dome (heaven).

[12] (see above).

[13] These two perspectives also find their correspondence in the two creation accounts of Genesis. For in the first chapter man (created last) appears as the top of the pyramid of created beings, the ‘pinnacle’ and crowning work of creation, as well as its ruler and king: “When the Creator of all had prepared a royal lodging for the future king … he manifested man into the world to be the beholder of some of the wonders therein, and the lord of others … For this reason man was brought into the world last after the creation, not being rejected to the last as worthless, but as one whom it behooved to be king over his subjects at his very birth. And as a good host does not bring his to his house before the preparation of his feast, but, when he has made all due preparation, and decked with their proper adornments his house, his couches, his table, brings his home when things suitable for his refreshment are in readiness — in the same manner the rich and munificent Entertainer of our nature, when He had decked the habitation with beauties of every kind, and prepared this great and varied banquet, then introduced man, assigning to him as his task not the acquiring of what was not there, but the enjoyment of the things which were there” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, De Opificio, II). In Genesis 2 however Adam (formed first) appears as the central point from which the concentric circles of peripheral beings emanate outwards.

[14] Hence why Eden is depicted not only by ‘circular’ but also ‘vegetative’ symbolism, whereas the entropic ‘solidification’ of existence that commences after the Fall is conceived of as a ‘hardening’ into rectangular ‘stone’ (likewise, in the Symposium, Plato describes his ‘androgynes’ as ‘spherical’, which is in perfect conformity with this imagery). In fact we might interpret the history of the generations after the Fall as an successive descent down the Edenic mountain, until finally the ‘sons of God’ (the Sethites, who still dwell on the ‘slopes’ of Paradise) ‘come down’ to the ‘daughters of man’ (the Kainites, who have fully descended into the ‘valley of tears’) and the flood commences (cf. Gen. 6).   

[15] It is said that when Adam named the animals he contemplated their essences and since man exercises, in a sense, the ‘knowledge function’ of the cosmos (i.e. the realization of the semantic dimension of being), we may even go so far as to say that that this definition (‘de-signation’) or ‘knowing’ (be-zeugen) of the animal essences constitutes in fact a kind of ‘co-creative’ act on the part of Adam (‘knowledge’ being the joining of spiritual and corporeal realities). Now, as we have seen before, for Böhme the Fall already commences in this act of naming, for upon contemplating the duality of animal nature he desires to ‘actualize’ it in himself, thus succumbing to the downwards tendency of separation and ‘development’. Contrary to this opinion we want to put forward another interpretation at present, according to which Adam (the ‘pan-animal’) knows/contemplates himself in all created beings to an extent, although this knowledge cannot exhaust his superior nature. This is why ‘there was no help meet for him’ and it is precisely in this statement that we seem to find an affirmation of the fact that, upon seeing lower nature, Adam actually realized his ‘divine origin’ (i.e. becomes conscious of the ‘upwards tendency’) instead of stooping down to the beasts.

[16] This ‘deep sleep’ is interpreted by Baader and others to designate a ‘falling asleep to the divine presence’, i.e. a first turning away from the Divine Face, which eventually terminates in the Fall. This negative reading of ‘sleep’ is of course supported by many passages, not only in the ascetic literature of the Holy Fathers, but also the Bible itself. However there is also a positive connotation of sleep, namely as ‘initiatory death’ (like Christ’s ‘sleep’ in the grave). As such Adam falls asleep in the death of the ‘dark night’ and wakes up finding Eva (meaning: ‘Life’).  

[17] The harmony between left and right pillar is also called Beauty (Tiferet) and we could likewise say that in this ‘conjoining’ of ‘fire’ (esh) and ‘water’ (majim) terrestrial Paradise is elevated to celestial Paradise, i.e. ‘Heaven’ (shamajim). We can also see how the detaching of the lunar from the solar pillar (the Divine Sun) effected by original sin, amounts to veritable fall to the moon and water side of being in which everything flows (panta rei), being subjected to the impermanence of decrease and increase. The re-joining of these two pillars effected by Christ is also shown in His crucifixion between the two thieves and it is through this ‘marriage’ of Sun and moon (also: Christ and the Church) brought about by His redemptive work that in illo tempore celestial Paradise will finally manifest in the descend of the Heavenly Jerusalem on earth. This then truly marks the ‘last day’ of the creation week, ‘the unique day, in which day and night are one’ (Zach. 14:7-9), for in the City of God there is ‘no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminates it. The Lamb is its light … and its gates will never be shut at the end of the day, because there will be no night there’ (Rev. 21:23-25).

[18] This is thus the basic symbolism of ‘lifting up’ the corporeal (chaotic matter) and ‘hosting’ or ‘manifesting’ the spiritual (the ideas, or ‘semantic meaning’). Adam’s job is thus that of the ‘symbol’ or the word, which expresses intelligible meaning in corporeal ‘signs’, thus ‘fitting together’ the two ‘halves’ of ‘heaven and earth’ into one ‘circle’ (cf. also Pageau, Language of Creation). Herein lies also one aspect of the symbolism of ‘bread and wine’, the former being produced by a ‘raising up’ (or ‘coagulation’) of wheat into solid food, the second by a ‘trampling down’ (or ‘solving’) of grapes into liquid (bread and wine thus being the ‘meal of the mediator’ par excellence).

[19] Of course this horizontal unification seen in via has likewise a vertical dimension for the male principle (heaven, purusha) stands, as it were, above the female principle (earth, prakriti) as the ‘head’ above the ‘body’, however from the ‘principal’ view this cosmic hierarchy is obviously once more sublimated into higher unity.  

[20] Thus, according to some of the Holy Fathers, Adam was supposed to eat (know) of the Tree of Knowledge eventually, once he was ready or ‘mature’ enough, thereby ‘assimilating’ (aufheben) duality and attaining to the ‘Tree of Life’. This is also why Christ, having accomplished this by ‘overcoming’ death and sin, still retains the holy wounds, even on His glorified body with which ‘He appears in the presence of God on our behalf’ (Heb. 9:24), signifying that He has fully ‘integrated’ the ‘sin of the world’ back into the Divine Glory, and, being fully aufgehoben, a ‘new Fall’ thus becomes an impossibility in Heaven.

[21] We could say task of man was 1-2-1 but instead he fell into 1-2-4 ,succumbing to the false desire of ‘development’. Geometrically this could be shown with two triangles, the first ‘stretching downwards’ into duality (1-2) and the second, with its base upward, flowing back into unity (2-1); this symbolism is especially interesting in this context because God could be signified by a triangle and man, being the ‘image of God’, His inverse reflection on the ‘waters’, by an inverted triangle below that, which is also the ‘cup’ or ‘vase’ (likewise the ‘calyx’ of the flower turned to the Divine Sun), designating the virginal receptivity to God that man is called to realize (the Virgin Orans: Vas spirituale, Vas insigne devotionis). This mirroring receptivity to the Divine Light (a true photosynthesis) is also the imperative of the Tree of Life which, growing upwards vertically, is the via salutis leading to Heaven.  

[22] Even in Heaven the Blessed Virgin is still a woman (as evidenced by countless apparitions), for, as Baader points out, the polarity of the sexes is not a ‘duality’ properly speaking, but a ‘quaternary’, i.e. a double polarity (cf. Essay #10), both sexes carrying the male and female ‘tinctures’, there being however a difference in degree/dominance (A/b, a/B).

[23] This is thus also the androgyny of the angels, or the ‘Cherubim’ (Keruwim, from Ke-rawyan: ‘like the children’). We might note that the Talmud uses the word qerobim to designate ‘those who are close (to God)’, i.e. to the qualitative pole of essence/unity. 

[24] “Jesus saw some infants who were being suckled. He said to his disciples: These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom. They said to him: If we then become children, shall we enter the kingdom? Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, and the upper as the lower, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female, and when you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter the kingdom” (Gospel of Thomas, XXII).

[25] Eden, like Adam, is in a state of virtual perfection that has to be actualized by ‘working the ground (adamah)’, indicating that the realization of Adam is also that of the world. This adamah is thus the ‘soil’ in which the ‘mustard seed’ of the parable is to be planted (Mk. 4:31) and from which sprouts forth the Kingdom of Heaven. As such, many Holy Father have called the spiritual realization of prayer and watchfulness the ‘tilling and keeping of Paradise’.

[26] As already indicated, this ‘microcosmic’ perspective is already found in many of the Holy Fathers like Origen, St. Maximus, St. Ambrose and others, who teach that Adam designates ‘spirit’ (or nous) and Eve refers to the ‘soul’ (or aesthesis, ‘sense’) , animus and anima, their unification being thus a veritable ‘subjectification’, a realization of the true ‘person’. As such for example Origen tells us ‘that the spirit is male [nous being of the masculine genus] and the soul (psyche) can be called female’ (In Gen. IV.15). We could also transpose this symbolism on the tripartite constitution of man, reading Adam as ‘spirit’ (or neschamah), Eve as soul or ruach (the ‘mediating principle’) and the snake (nahash) as ‘lower’ or ‘animal soul’ (nefesh).

[27] The ‘deep sleep’ from which Eve emerges is rendered as ekstasis in the greek text, denoting a ‘going-forth’ or ‘emanation’.

[28] (see above). 

[29] The so-called ‘Pythagorean Theorem‘ which ‘binds together’ two unequal sides (‘male’ and ‘female’ according to the numerical symbolism of 3 and 4, odd and even) into one unified surface is thus not simply a ‘mathematical’ but truly an ‘alchemical’ operation through and through. We might also add that the same numerical symbolism is present in the Biblical text, for the second half of the primordial word (bara)-sheet amounts (gematrically) to 300-10-400, pointing us to the fact that the male (300) and the female (400), or the ‘right’ and ‘left’ side, have to be ‘integrated’ into the unified ‘middle’ (10), the ‘son’ (ben: 2-50), who is the ‘fruit of union’ that grows on the Tree of Life.

[30] As we have said the ‘periphery’ (4) pertain especially to femininity, which bestows a new dimension on the fact that the Lord was ’accompanied by a crowd of women’ (cf. for example Mk. 15:41) on his via crucis, thus literally binding back periphery to centre (1). Christ ‘circles the periphery’; He gathers what is lost, not only by preaching to the very ‘fringes’ of society, but by taking upon Himself the very ‘curse’ (Gal. 3:13), the ‘garments of skin’, the sins of the world and all the ‘thorns and thistles’ (Gen. 3:18), nailing them to the Cross.

[31] The greek word used for this ‘recapitulation’ by the Apostle is anakephalaiôsasthai, which literally means a ‘putting (the body) under the head’ (kephalê), i.e. restoring original order/hierarchy. 

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