Symbolism – The Origin of Knowledge

Posted on April 6, 2008
Filed Under Fake Culture, Society, Symbolism | 10 Comments

Perception is a strange thing; it is unique to the individual yet at the same time is heavily influenced by our surroundings and society. Over the years my personal perspective is something I have struggled with again and again. It’s a ‘compatibility’ thing, very much to do with how I relate to the world. The way we relate to the world is heavily influenced by language. Language is not only a form of communication, but it shapes our very world – through ideas, beliefs, taboos and laws. In this age of materialistic reason – language has adopted a very grounded perspective on reality. Thus everything can be easily defined; the edges between what is possible and not possible show the believed stark contrast on reality. There is an attraction to this; it helps us feel in control – and it allows us to create clearly defined meanings to life.

Yet – that is a view I have never really been a part of. Eventually I discovered that my thinking process is far more symbolic than literal. Maybe this is true for many people. At any rate, this has always caused me to look deep into reality and seek any and all hidden subtexts. It was therefore only a matter of time before I found that there is a whole body of knowledge out there which functions in this very manner; buried within the symbolism of the worlds history, myths and religions is a view on reality that is very different to contemporary beliefs.

I begun this Symbolism series with the intent to show those new to this idea exactly what symbolism is, where it can be found and how it can be interpreted. In the previous part I hinted at the vast and hidden knowledge buried within ancient history.

How Deep is this Rabbit Hole?

There are literally hundreds of books and articles out there on this very subject. In recent decades a growing body of information has been collected, based upon a certain idea. This idea has been born from the modern day clash between modern thinking and the ancient shamanic thinking. The shamanic traditions of the world are older by far than any other tradition. Unlike those stereo-types depicted in Hollywood, the shamanic way is based within reality and possesses a deep understanding of the human psyche – an understanding which is deeper by far than what we have in modern society.

The shaman is concerned with a ‘different’ level of reality. In the shaman perspective everything in existence is ‘language’ – unlike ‘western’ understanding – the shamanic view is that language is visual. That language itself comprises literally everything. This is the ancient Logos, it is “The Word” from the Christian Bible and the Tao from Eastern philosophy. Once this key fact is uncovered, an entirely new perspective on symbolism unfolds.

As I mentioned, the Western mind holds a very rigid view on language, this titan-like grip solidifies our Ego. Language aids us in self-identification because it enforces our relationship with society. We think in terms of labels. As such – as a society – we have become far more concerned with the map than we have with the territory. Most people are aware of the problems of associating too heavily with semantic meanings of words and labels; it causes us to stop looking at the reality behind those words and labels.

Shamanic Experience

The shamanic way is about dissolving the map and our dependence upon words – so that we may directly experience reality. This is the reason for consumption of various psychoactive plants, just as it is the reason for the many rituals which induce one into a trance. It causes the dissolution of the Ego.

Once the Ego has dissolved, the barriers of language collapse. The dissolution of the Ego is also the aim of Eastern traditions. When this occurs, one no longer attaches to their identity. The old labels which we cling to disappear, and one is left naked facing themselves and reality. If one is so inclined – it is possible to learn great truths about yourself and reality. Without the barriers and labels language creates, one gains the ability to see their true personal motivations. Here it is impossible for the Ego to hide behind justifications, logic, and excuses – because the language to create them doesn’t exist. In short one gains the ability to see right from wrong – to clearly comprehend the distinction between “Good and Evil”.

When under the influence of these trances, one literally enters ‘another world’. This is a world of visions…a world where ‘spirits’ and reality talk to the individual through visual representation – the shamanic visual language. As with dreams, when in a trance it is common to perceive symbolic meanings and images. One specific image that appears to be common to many peoples and cultures all across the world, and throughout time is the snake.

When asked what the snakes are the shamans invariably reply with ‘The snake is wisdom’, or ‘Knowledge’ – and that this reality itself is built upon that knowledge. But why do people from cultures all over the world see snakes? One theory is that the human brain has an instinctual fear of snakes, and thus when in an altered state, images of snakes are offered up. Yet this theory does not seem to fit the experiences of many who report these visual snakes to be beneficent and overwhelmingly comforting. So we find ourselves having to return to the shamans idea – based upon thousands of years of accumulated wisdom – that these visual snakes may indeed represent knowledge.

Uncovering the Symbolism

Jeremy Narby proposed an interesting theory in his book ‘The Cosmic Serpent’. Narby, an anthropologist with many years experience with the tribal Amazonian cultures, stumbled into the visual snakes on his own psychoactive experience whilst trying to understand the shaman ways. Years later and after much research, he uncovered many historical records from cultures all around the world referencing snakes. In each case the snake would represent ‘knowledge’ – or on occasion a twisted rope ladder (much like coiled snakes). This fact held true, even for those cultures, such as the Australian Aborigines who were separated from the rest of the world for 40,000.

The unavoidable question then, was where were these cultures obtaining this idea? In many cases that answer is lost in antiquity. In other cultures that answer can still be found – often hidden in shamanic knowledge and vision. As the shamans would say; the snakes are always there because they represent the knowledge upon which reality is built.

The ancient Caduceus is a prime example of the snake representing wisdom or knowledge. This symbol has been dated back over four thousand years!

Caduceus - the snakes of knowledge.

As with other ancient representations of the snake of knowledge, it is often intertwined, or has two heads, or comes in pairs. There is another ‘symbol’ that is very similar.

DNA Helix - the source of knowledge?Could the snakes of ‘knowledge’ represent the DNA helix? Jeremy Narby and many others certainly seem to think so. The shamans have always claimed to have been in communication with the spirits, where they obtain information about the nature of reality. Could the shamanic psychoactive plants and ritual which induce an altered state of consciousness, be moving the individuals point of awareness down to the molecular level?

Certainly it is known that the psychoactive experience provides knowledge or awareness very different from ‘normal’ everyday states of consciousness. But scientifically little is known about consciousness, and almost nothing is known about how and why psychoactive plants modify consciousness in the manner they do.

The Origin of Knowledge

So with the above in mind, it is possible to sit quite comfortably with the idea that the snakes do indeed represent knowledge. From there it isn’t too much of a leap to believe – based upon the drawings, and representations from visions made by hundreds of people and many cultures – that the snake could represent DNA. If this is true – and it certainly feels true. Then suddenly many things click into place.

DNA is the ultimate source of knowledge, DNA is often described as language. Thus it could be the ‘invisible’ linguistic knowledge which the shamans claim reality itself is built upon.

If we take this symbolism as a key – we can use it to unlock deep meaning from many of the ancient myths and religions. Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge (a psychoactive plant?) because she was tempted by the serpent. This was called the Fall, in the Christian Bible, God said of this event; “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, to prevent his putting out his hand and taking also from the tree of life, eating, and living forever –”

With that in mind we can interpret the symbolism as this: Mankind ate of the forbidden fruits (the psychoactive plants were forbidden, just as they are still illegal today), from this experience man gained tremendous insight – standing in stark naked realization of himself, in dissolution of the Ego, he clearly learned right from wrong – he knew Good and Evil. For this ‘God’ punished him with exile. Or another way of interpreting; once man gained knowledge – we Fell from being at one with nature, and began the slow entrance into the realms of authoritative knowledge and reason.

Yggdrasil Tree - The Tree of Knowledge?Take a look at a few images of the Tree of Knowledge, or the Yggdrasil Tree – the World Tree. Often it is depicted with a snake (serpent) coiled around its roots. Could this be the tree in Eden? Psychoactive experiences are induced by plants, could this be the Forbidden Fruit?

Remember, as clearly highlighted in the first part of this symbolism series; these myths and religions were originally great knowledge and understandings encoded into the form of symbolism. Over the millennia the symbolism was lost to the general populations, and thus the meanings were forgotten. Instead the stories were interpreted in literal manner, just as they still are today. But once we find the key to the original symbolism the ancient wisdom once again can be unlocked…


Further reference:

If you are interested in this subject, the following documentaries are totally recommended, especially the first one “Other Worlds”, however it does need a small plugin before it will work.


Other Worlds – A Documentary on Shamanism, Ayahausca and its implications.

The Pharmacratic Inquisition


The Cosmic Serpent

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10 Responses to “Symbolism – The Origin of Knowledge”

  1. Dan on April 6th, 2008 2:08 pm

    I dont see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil being pyschoative plants. That to me is a far too literal approach which is the approach humans have be taking to religon throughout history but just a more modern version.

    I see it more symbolicaly that the tree represents a state of consiousness, being the knowledge of good and evil or what we can better call today as the consiousness of duality. This isnt a higher state of consiousness this is a low state and fallen state. it is only in duality where everything is divided that we can create our language ad that we cannot experience the one true reality. How can we experience reality when we live in the illusion of seeing everything as a polarity.

    The ego survives in duality thats where it can create language to justify its existence, The key for us is to overcome the knowledge of good and evil because in reality there is no good or evil God “IS”. God or whatever you want to call it does no “see” evil, evil is the absence of God evil is create by ignorance which only humans posse’s therefore we create evil not God but evil is not real because its created by our ignorance and ignorance is not real because its simply the absence of truth.

    to begin to see a non dualistic approach to life read “the art of non war” by Kim Michaels.

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  2. Marcus on April 6th, 2008 2:35 pm

    I totally agree with you Dan! I certainly think that the tree of knowledge is a state of consciousness. And it is interesting how it can be perceived in two different ways:

    1) The idea of duality which knowledge – through language – brings.

    2) The dissolution of the ego which psychoactive plants (and deep meditation) induce. No ego – no duality!

    So I guess the point of contention is this; did man exist in a state of duality after the Fall…or because of the fall?

    1) In this perspective, mankind discovered knowledge which created duality. Hence led to the Fall.


    2) Mankind already existed in a state of duality. He ate the Forbidden fruit and “Became like us” (God’s words). Man became like God (and the Angels?) after eating the forbidden fruit. That much seems to be clear. If this is the case then the Forbidden Fruit dissolved duality (man became like God – neither good nor evil).

    In perspective 1, man becomes “like God” – neither good nor bad then is kicked from Eden. How did the Fruit create duality if it made man like God? It is paradoxical.

    Or in perspective 2, man was already in a world of duality. Ate the Forbidden Fruit – which dissolved his ego – making him like God, for which he was punished.

    The real contention that people have is the word KNOWLEDGE. Did it mean true egoless knowledge of self and reality? Or did it mean the knowledge of reason and logic?

    Two entirely different states of consciousness. Which one does the Tree represent?

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  3. Marcus on April 6th, 2008 2:56 pm

    Another interesting point. In the Nag Hammadi scrolls it was “The Authorities” that kicked man out of Eden, not God. Which is quite suggestive…

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  4. Dan on April 6th, 2008 7:29 pm

    Reading the Nag Hammadi scrolls now, very interesting.

    somthing relevant

    Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”

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  5. Marcus on April 6th, 2008 8:43 pm

    That is a pertinent quote indeed!

    It always seems to come back to that same thing “The Kingdom of Heaven is within” – dissolution of the Ego…

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  6. Marko on July 2nd, 2008 9:41 am

    Nothing makes you awake. There is no such thing as awakening. It is just a good idea for raising money and fame. People like Jesus and Buddha have just talked too much. What is there to talk about other then about practical things. You have no way to express what is real, nobody does.



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  7. Marcus on July 2nd, 2008 9:48 am

    “You have no way to express what is real, nobody does.”

    That’s exactly what both Jesus and Buddha said…

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  8. Jake on July 9th, 2008 9:36 pm

    generally speaking I feel that overly complex answers are not needed to realize reality. They are for entertainment of the mind, just a game to keep us occupied through eternity.
    Essentially, its about the journey. Are you having fun? Well then do something about it! Anyone can keep their mind occupied/entertained by elaborating on any given subject – and that’s great! If you were stuck in a vacant dark space for eternity, wouldn’t you eventually start too imagine and see things? and then start to explaing these things as a way to kill the boredom? That’s essentially the seed of this tree of knowledge. And it just grows from there – what can we imagine next? oh and don’t worry, it never ends……

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  9. Curious on June 26th, 2009 8:17 pm

    I too have been thinking about the biblical symbolism of the bible. Namely, Genesis. There are so many contradictions involved and I feel that there is a story to be revealed beneath the surface.

    Could the tree be symbolic of ‘what is forbidden’ could what is forbidden be our very blood?

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  10. Suzie Deyris on March 26th, 2010 10:28 pm

    I believe the forbidden fruit is the word which leaves the tree, and is apart from the whole , “the bite of the apple, the word for ones self”. once taken and consumed selfishly, purely for ones own pleasure no heart or mind for the tree from which it came and is still part, no thought or care of the whole , then the consmuer has dropped further away , dying from the tree he is a part. And how many in word and deed have an awareness of their word, from thought to action.

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