In the 1970s, Joni Mitchell sang, “We have got to get ourselves back to the Garden.” A return to an Edenic relationship with the planet is even more urgent now. 

Lately, thinking about the old story of the Garden of Eden, I’ve realized that the snake, always cast as the bad guy, was actually right to lead Adam and Eve to the Tree. 

Why? Because plants hold the key to our survival

Here’s how I imagine that old story being retold—by none other than the Snake.

Teachings of the Tree of Knowledge—as told by the Snake

Adam and Eve were fighting all the time. All of us in the Garden felt the strain of their constant bickering. Adam was restless; he wanted to go exploring, and wanted Eve to come along. She preferred to tend her plants and play with the animals in the Garden. She could sit and watch the butterflies feeding on the flowers all morning long. 

But Adam…he was restless. He had the kind of strength that needs to be discharged in action. Frustrated, he’d relieve his pent-up energy by picking on Eve.

One full moon night, while Adam and Eve were busy making love, all of us animals gathered for a conference on the other side of the Garden, under the Tree of Knowledge. We were trying to figure out what to do about those two humans. How could we make them peaceful and relaxed like us?

The Tree had an answer for us. She would grow some delicious fruits, encapsulating all of her Knowledge of how to live in peace and harmony on Earth. When Adam and Eve ate the fruits, they would instantly know everything we did. They would be enlightened.

I volunteered to lead the humans to the Tree once the fruits were ready to eat. All summer we waited and watched eagerly, trying to tune out Adam’s berating and Eve’s whining. Finally the fruits were ready—big and red and juicy-looking. The Tree called them Apples.

At the Fall Equinox, I went to find Eve. As usual, she was sitting in her flower garden, watching the butterflies at play. Where is Adam? I asked her. She tossed her head, indicating that he was in a far corner of the Garden. I decided to lead Eve to the apples first. Later I’d go find Adam.

When Eve saw the Tree full of Apples, she eagerly reached out, plucking one and biting into it. As she chewed on the juicy flesh, she fell into a kind of swoon. She lay down on the grass under the tree, and fell asleep. 

So I went to find Adam, leading him to the Tree. But then things did not go as expected. When he saw the half-eaten Apple lying next to Eve, he became angry. “Why didn’t you wait for me to eat this fruit?” he roared. “You are trying to cheat me!” 

“Adam, there are many more fruits on the Tree, you can eat yours now,” Eve said as she awoke, startled by his noise. “Our friend the Snake says the Tree has prepared these luscious fruits just for us!”

But Adam would not be pacified. Angry with Eve for eating the new fruit without him, he sulked and would not try his own Apple. 

Meanwhile, Eve was in a kind of dreamy state—we’d never seen her like that before. It must have been all the Knowledge that was flowing into her from the Tree, through the Fruit. She kept looking up at the Tree and saying, “Now I understand! We are all one! We are all connected! Everything is love….”

You know what happened next. Adam claimed that God spoke to him and told him that Eve had been disobedient for eating from that Tree, and that therefore they were going to be thrown out of the Garden. 

Adam made out like it was a punishment, but secretly it was what he’d been wanting all along. He felt penned up in the Garden. He wanted to get out and begin his next chapter—the one where he would “be fruitful and multiply and hold dominion over all the creatures of the Earth.”

The story he told was that I was evil, tempting Eve to eat the Apple when she should not have done so. But that’s not true. I was just carrying out the will of the Anima Mundi, the World Soul, speaking to us through that wise Tree. 

If Adam had just eaten his Apple, so much would have been different ever after.


Trees and plants show us that photosynthesis is the smartest, cleanest source of energy. If we bend our big brains to the task of converting sun to energy, we can make this whole planet a beautiful garden, filled with healthy, contented animals, just like it was in the Garden of Eden. 

If we don’t learn the lesson this time, Gaia will just restart the whole process again. She has all the time in the world. 

But time is running short for the descendants of Adam and Eve. How sweet it would be to get back to the Garden! 

Jennifer Browdy, PhD, an associate professor of compara tive literature and media arts at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in western Massachusetts, coined the term “purposeful memoir” in her award-winning writer’s guide, The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir: A Writer’s Companion(2017 Nautilus Silver Award). Her memoir, What I Forgot …And Why I Remembered, was one of six memoir finalists for the 2018 International Book Awards. The editor of three anthologies of global women’s writing and the online magazine Fired Up! Creative Expression for Challenging Times, she offers workshops in purposeful memoir along with coaching, manuscript review and publishing services at Green Fire Press. Find out more at