Monday, July 13, 2009

Of Eve and Iktomi

Relatively new to this blogging thing. But I wanted to create a blog that is less about my everyday practical shit and more about my musings, insights, philosophical ramblings, and literary references. :P So I shall.
The title of this blog bears a touch of explanation. You all know who Eve is. She was the first woman on this earth, according to the Bible, the first wife, the first mother, and single-handedly responsible for things not being all perfect and heavenly around here, besides the obvious fact that she talked to snakes. People's reaction to Eve is mixed- cheuvanists use her as an excuse to claim that all women are weak and evil, because she led Adam astray. Most Christians do not look up to her, but relate to her... after all, do we not fall into temptation every day? She is sometimes reverenced as the mother of us all (and hey, she's better than Lilith, who I'm a huge fan of, but for different reasons) and sometimes despised as no better than Satan himself. But as for me, I applaud her choice.
I see it as strength that Eve chose knowledge over obedience. Eve was "perfect" (which is actually an impossibility- the fact that she willingly chose to sin either indicates a flaw in the elemental design or a self-creating nature, both of which undermines God's complete ominipotence and perfection, but that's besides the point). But even though she had all she could ever want, she wanted more. She didn't necessarily want more good food, because up until the snake talked to her, she didn't really give a thought to eating the "forbidden fruit." But after it was pointed out to her that God was holding out on her, she started using her brain. Why would a good God want to keep me in ignorance? Why would my creator want to keep me from being wise like him? And so she took the fruit, and defied God. She was essentially the first human rebel.

Most people don't know who Iktomi is. In Lakota (Sioux) mythology, he is a trickster god who was once the god of wisdom but was framed and banished to the earth and became a trickster. (Oh yeah, he's also a spider, my favorite animal) :) He is both the wisest of the wise and the most foolish of fools. He also personifies the Lakota culture, where wisdom is often intertwined with folly. Like Eve, there is a mixed reaction to him. To some, he is just a silly spider who can't seem to do anything right. To others, he's an unfortunate culture hero who was destroyed by both the gods and people, whom he served. As the god of wisdom, he's hardly mentioned, because the kind of wisdom he portrayed is largely inaccessible to common people. It was the kind of "high brow" wisdom which transcends every day life. However as a trickster, he becomes much more interesting, alternating between periods of extreme folly and selfishness and periods where he becomes a living symbol of the unrecognized teacher, a seeming fool who often helps mankind from behind the scenes. Both Eve and Iktomi are rebels. Whereas Eve made a conscious choice to pursue wisdom and knowledge over perfection and obedience, Iktomi evolved from the personification of an unreachable goal (wisdom) to an anti-hero who demonstrates the absurdity of life through his actions and antics.

I find it interesting that the first story in the Bible basically teaches us that questioning authority and gaining knowledge leads to damnation. Iktomi, on the other hand, didn't even make a conscious choice to rebel, and yet he was "damned," but his damnation actually pushed him to evolve.


  1. Holy shit. I have never ever read a better "first post". Wow. Really. Wow.