“In the Garden” by Jason Louv (from John Dee and the Empire of Angels: Enochian Magic and the Occult Roots of the Modern World)

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Art by Gustav Doré an illustration from Paradise Lost by John Milton, 1895

In the Garden

Beginning it all: A man, a woman, and a Dragon.

Around them, the Garden of Eden. A single, shining instance—before time began, with all its stupidity of suffering, loss, and waste. In which there is only the devotion of God for his Creation, and man and woman together, in love.

Blissfully unaware, Adam and Eve sleep sheltered in each other’s arms beneath the Tree of Life. They speak with the language of angels, and with it, Adam begins to name the things around him. Imagine yourself as Adam, naming all that you see, watching as each facet of eternity comes into being as a separate object, divided from the supernal totality that is the body of God.

And then, into this perfection, comes the Dragon. The snake of fear. Eat of the Tree of Knowledge, says the Dragon, and you shall taste all that God has hidden from you. Look into its eyes. See it twisting and coruscating in three hundred and thirty-three colors. The afterbirth of God’s Creation. The crack in the plan. How must evil itself have appeared to such pure and innocent beings, the original parents of humanity, before the Fall? See it dancing, a serpent of light.

Listen to the wind howling through the rainforest as the Dragon coils up toward the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, urging you to take it. Look. The apple is perfectly polished. At first you can see your face in its surface but now your focus begins to blur. You look through it. Scrying.

Observe, now, the end of time. See the Red Dragon as it shall be, the deceiver not just of the first humans but of the last, with seven crowned heads and ten horns, rearing up to conquer heaven itself. See its servants, a seven-headed Beast upon which a Scarlet Whore rides, causing all humanity to worship the Dragon, as the nations decay and the human project collapses. The final degradation, in which the four cardinal directions are opened by Death, Famine, War, Conquest. See the last judgment, the son of God come to reign for a Millennium, when all but the saved are cast down to eternal torment in the lake of fire. And all of this to redeem what you are about to do.

Now eat it, the Dragon says. Don’t you want to know what it is to be a god?

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