(Click for larger image to see the Serpent)
The serpent here makes its first appearance in the story, but it does not say anything about it being evil, Satan or Lucifer. It simply says it is subtle. The serpent here could mean one of two things, or possibly both, but I'm inclined more to believe my first explanation below. The second theory came to me after meditating on the idea while writing this article, and I may have stumbled on something interesting. First, let's get the most likely theory out of the way.
The serpent here symbolically represents the energy that travels up the spine from the base chakra (ground) to the brain (Eden) during deep transcendental meditation. This form of meditation is about as deep as it gets without the aid of psychedelics or hallucinogens. The serpent energy known as the kundalini in Hinduism, as pictured above, is what tempts feminine aspect of consciousness to become aware of good and evil.
Up until this point, people were only meditating to a certain degree and had found that happy balance of reality perception that allowed them to live happily and productively together as one. Once they became aware of duality or that bad things can happen based on the thoughts they have, and not simply as a mysterious act of God, the Ego was formed into the human mind. This happens throughout individual human lives as well as the child reaches young adulthood. In the timescale of evolution, this could represent how humans went from living peacefully in tribes, to suddenly lusting over money and power based on selfishness and ego, causing wars and separation.Credit: http://media.maps101.com/SUB/GITN/ARCHIVES/GIF/1091_042911cobras.gif
The second theory for what the serpent represents is a little more far-fetched and something I only just realized. The Egyptian Cobra is native to parts of the Middle East and Africa where the author of this story is from. In ancient shamanic traditions, one of the easiest ways to achieve the same results as deep meditation is to drink or eat psychedelics and hallucinogens. Cobra poison, when taken in very low doses, produces an amazingly out-of-this-world effect on the human mind. In my quest to see if the serpent could have been a symbolic reference to cobra poison, I wound up finding an experience by a well-known researcher who recently tried this. Take a look at how his experience is described and you be the judge of whether it sounds like the same thing in this allegorical story or not:
"Jim drank it. He felt fear unlike any he'd ever felt in his life. There was a searing pain throughout his body. He was thinking, "Oh, my God, why did I do this? I'm a fool. This is the stupidest thing I ever did."
And then there was a change. He started to feel no pain. He wasn't aware of his clothes or the temperature of the air or the ground beneath his feet. He was released. He saw the light, all those near-death-experience cliches. His mind started replaying scenes of family dinners from his childhood. He thought, "Am I really dying or is my mind playing tricks on me?"
Then Jim came out of it. He doesn't know how. Monks are mysterious about things like that. Either a doctor ministered to him or the monks are so experienced, they know the exact dosage of cobra venom.
Jim said he experienced millions of years in a matter of seconds. He believes he experienced the Big Bang and everything that has happened since. He realized that we are all stardust. The elements in our bodies are the same that were present at the Big Bang.
Jim doesn't recommend cobra venom, by the way. He says meditation is the safest, cleanest way to reveal the truth."
Now isn't that a bit curious? If this happened to a guy who was already aware of Good and Evil and Duality, imagine the effect it would have on someone who had not ever been introduced to such concepts before.
The feminine consciousness saw that these thoughts were wise and "good for food" just like any other Tree or "thought" from the feminine conscious and subconscious. It is symbolic of a human having his very first selfish or wicked thought, and then realizing he has the ability to act on it if he so chooses. The woman feeding it to the husband represents the waking male consciousness analyzing what the feminine subconscious has thought of during the deep meditation. Without the male consciousness acknowledging, identifying and analyzing it, there would be no way to act upon it. It is merely a neutral thought until it is fed to the husband to be identified as "Good" or "Evil".
Obviously this signifies the fact that both aspects of Higher consciousness now became aware of ego for the first time ever. The human has become aware that he has the ability to manipulate people, kill people, steal from them, etc. if he so chooses. None of those were ever a conscious option in his relatively undeveloped mind.
Many of the people who haven't reached this stage of awareness at this time would be easy targets for evil acts as they are not consciously aware of such capabilities. This verse metaphorically describes the revealing truth and realization of human capabilities and how we are made in God's image. We are the birthers of our own reality and we have the ability to think of anything --good or bad--and act on it if we so choose to change the present and the future.
Here we have the birthing of guilty conscience a newfound Fear of Self. The fact that Higher male and female aspects of consciousness ran from God and tried to hide amongst the other thoughts (Trees) in the lower feminine subconscious (Garden) sounds like the first time someone realizes they can do something evil, and how they battle with whether or not they should act it out or not, or, the battle of trying to figure out how these thoughts entered into your mind to begin with.
Imagine if you grew up without any laws or rules, and you suddenly realize you can do something "Evil". That's a weird thing to imagine because we live 3000 years after this time and have rules ingrained into us. But we're talking about the first civilized humans ever here (the author is writing in past tense). The first humans to think so hard and realize there is a difference between Good and Evil and they have much more power than they originally thought.
This could symbolize the relentless nature of a guilty conscience on the Higher analytical mind.
The analytical mind is naked, or exposed, and doesn't want to cope with the fact that life isn't as perfect as previously believed if such evil thoughts could be acted upon.