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Mircea Eliade – Mishna and the Tree of Knowledge



Type of Spiritual Experience


The Mishnah or Mishna (Hebrew: מִשְׁנָה, "repetition"), from the verb shanah שנה, or "to study and review", also "secondary;" is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions known as the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic literature

A description of the experience

Patterns in Comparative Religion – Mircea Eliade

 The Mishna declares the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in Genesis, was a vine.  The Book of Enoch places this vine or tree of the knowledge of good and evil between seven mountains, as of course, also does the Epic of Gilgamesh.

 The snake goddess, Hannat, could taste the fruit of the tree, just as Siduri and Calypso were allowed to.  Grapes and wine went on symbolising wisdom until quite late.  But the primitive conception of vine-cosmic-tree-tree-of-knowledge-and-redemption was preserved extraordinarily coherently in Mandeism. 

In that gnosis, wine (gufna) is the embodiment of light, wisdom and purity.  The archetype of wine (qadmaia) is in the higher, heavenly world.  The archetypal vine is water within, its leaves are made up of 'spirits of light' and its nodes are fragments of light.  From it spring the streams of sacred water intended to satisfy men's thirst; the god of light and of wisdom, the redeemer (Manda d'haiie), is also identified with the vine of life (gufna d'haiie) and the vine is held to be a cosmic tree because it spreads over the heavens, and its grapes are the stars

The source of the experience

Judaism and Kabbalah

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

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