By Lynn Picknett
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Eden' remains a synonym for the ultimate, unspoilt and ineffably beautiful location. When Charles Dickens wished to underscore the true vileness of an allegedly paradisical plot of American swamp in his Martin Chuzzlewit,9 he simply called it `Eden' with characteristic irony. Surely it is one of the few instantly recognized names of ancient myth that is as well known today as it was millennia ago. The curse of life The story of Man's10 abrupt expulsion from Eden - be it fiction, metaphor or literal fact - has become etched too deeply on the collective unconscious to ignore, for it has set in stone JudaeoChristian attitudes to men, women, original sin (and therefore children), the Creator and his opposition, Lucifer/Satan/the Devil.
However, it is not much of a leap from the story of the wicked snake to the notion of its being instructed or even possessed by the personification of evil, whoever or whatever that might be: Milton makes the point clear in his description of `... K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. ) The unedifying story of the expulsion from Paradise is believed to be essentially about the arrival of sin among humankind - its fall from grace and future as the plaything of evil and the repository for all known pain and suffering.
Saint Paul ruled that women's heads should be covered in church `because of the angels',46 for there was a real fear that female hair attracted daemones (other-worldly entities), much as jam attracts ants. ) Another, non-biblical, myth has God calling his angels together to admire his latest creation - Adam. The archangel Michael obediently enthused, but Lucifer was horrified, demanding to know `Why do you press me? I will not worship one who is younger than I am, and inferior. I am older than he is; he ought to worship me!