As a young boy I used to love to watch cartoon characters. I totally accepted the idea that animals (and even trees) could talk and act like humans. Cartoon characters touched something deep inside my young mind and I unconsciously felt that they portrayed something real.
My best friend and I even created our own cartoon characters in grade school and wrote imaginative stories for them.
Later in life, when my rational mind was more developed, I still enjoyed fantastical tales like The Hobbit and Harry Potter. These stories had a strange ring of truth about them, but I could not put my finger on it.
But when my adult mind came across a “talking serpent” in the Garden of Eden story in Holy Scripture, my powers of reasoning (and post-modern mind) were seriously challenged. Why? This biblical serpent was not a simple cartoon that could be easily dismissed as fantasy, it was a creature representing some aspect of God’s absolute (and inerrant) Truth. In other words, the serpent in the Bible was ontologically real and profoundly relevant.
How could this be?
Enter scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. His investigations and spiritual research of the narratives within Holy Scripture led him to discover that they transcended mere historic facts and events. Holy Scripture also contained a spiritual or metaphysical history of humankind’s changing relationship with the Creator.
Swedenborg provided rational evidence as to how a talking serpent could be ontologically real in such a scenario. He claimed that everything in the physical world represents (mirrors) something in the realm of the human spirit. Holy Scripture makes creative use of this correspondence throughout its many pages. A serpent symbolically represents a lower function of the human intellect, which is completely immersed (from head to tail) in worldly and corporeal matters. When we prefer this inferior mental orientation to God’s higher teachings, it is this lower state of mind that is communicating with us. Thus we have a talking “serpent”—which represents something quite real about our inner quality.
I have now come to believe that all cartoons, fairy tales, myths and legends have their origins in spiritual forces that are trying to communicate with our habitual minds and stretch our ordinary and terrestrial consciousness to interesting new levels. We are spirits living temporarily in the spacetime arena and certain influences are constantly trying to remind us of that.