An Esoteric Interpretation of Genesis Chapter 1

by Joshua Tilghman on August 17, 2012

We should all be aware that the ultimate answer to the mystery of the universe probably isn’t available. I seriously doubt there is a definitive answer because a definitive answer is only a concept that exists in the conscious experience of matter where all things become concrete. What if I told you that ultimate reality is devoid of concreteness and cannot be limited to a definitive answer? Wouldn’t a definitive answer just be a limitation anyway? In this post I am going to show you how Genesis chapter 1, the very first book of the Bible, opens us to the possibility of something greater than a definitive answer.

Genesis chapter 1 is a very fascinating way to explain the creation of the universe. But is it a literal interpretation of how things came to be? I can’t remember how many articles I devoured as a kid trying to reconcile verses that didn’t seem to make sense in the very first chapter of the Bible. For example, how could light have been created on the first day if the stars like our sun weren’t created until the fourth day. What’s more, the herbs and trees and shrubs of the earth were created on the third day; we clearly understand that all the plant life on earth would die without starlight. So how can we expect this to be literal?

Obviously the light discussed in the first few verses in the Bible is not starlight. So what kind of light is it? Is it even light as we know it?

I will admit that some of the articles I read trying to reconcile theses impossible creation scenarios were well-written and conveyed some interesting ideas, but none of them put it all together in a way that made Genesis chapter 1 seem viable as a literal story.

Let’s face it: if you believe Genesis is literal, then you have to concede to the fact that is just doesn’t make any sense. And if you admit to that, then have to be honest with yourself and ask another important question:

Why would God include it in the first chapter of His book in the first place?

While I am going to say that there is no definitive answer that explains the universe, I am going to say that Genesis 1 makes perfect sense because it was never meant to be literal.  It all comes down to consciousness in the end, and I believe the very first chapter in the entire Bible makes this clear.

As you know, the first chapter of Genesis discusses the completion of creation in 7 days.  But the Bible is not speaking of 7 literal days. I have heard a lot of people explain these 7 days as creation happening over thousands of years because of 2 Peter 3: 8 which states:

“…one day is with the Lord as a 1000 years, and a 1000 years as one day.”

The argument goes that these 7 days could be thousands of years. This scripture has nothing to do with Genesis 1; it is simply stating that in God there is no such concept as time.

Likewise, the creation account in Genesis 1 has nothing at all to do with a length of time. As we break down the first chapter you’ll see why I make that statement. Let’s look at the first verse of the Bible.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The ancients understood these concepts to be polar opposites. The concept of heaven and earth can be likened to the male/female principle, light/dark, higher/lower nature, etc. The Hebrew word for “heaven” simply means to be lofty, or something that is elevated in nature or style. The Hebrew word for “earth” simply means to be firm. In other words, something with substance, as in the matter that makes up the physical plane.

The Genesis author has just brilliantly explained how things come to be from nothing by the way (which science has been trying to do for a long time). Since earth is just another way of conveying the concept of matter, and heaven is a way of conveying spirit, we have in both of these concepts the potential for the consciousness of God to become form. The polar opposites of spirit and matter are the divine masculine and the divine feminine, and because of these possibilities, self aware consciousness can be born through the limited expression of concrete, linear consciousness.

Let’s ponder the next verse in Genesis:

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2).

In other words potential matter had not been formed into anything as of yet. It was simply a void, but it was also ready to burst form with form in the conscious experience.

The next part of verse 2 states: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Here is our potential in action; this verse is charged with procreation. You could call this verse the divine intercourse between the gods, a divine dance of cosmic proportions. As even Strong’s Concordance points out, the Hebrew word for “water” in the above verse can be used as a euphemism for semen.

But the most interesting part about this divine union is the byproduct that is mentioned in the next verse:

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).

Light! Wow! Did the Bible just give us an answer for consciousness itself? I believe it did. God’s consciousness is the light of men. In fact, it is the light of everything. God himself is light. The Bible makes this clear.

Now you have the secret to why the wise ancient American Indians said that everything was divine because God’s spirit (consciousness) dwelled in everything that had Being. And yes, that means even a rock!

Think about the fact that consciousness has no size, no shape, no form, and no substance. Yet from that no-thing which consciousness is (BEING) comes the concept and idea of form, shape, substance, and size (physical creation).

The next two verses state:

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called night. And the evening and morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:4-5).

I want to bring your attention to the fact that you cannot have an evening and a morning (a day) without the sun. And the sun isn’t created until the fourth day! The evening and morning here cannot be a literal day. Instead these verses are simply emphasizing the polarity that is responsible for creation. The light is good because it is everywhere, just like consciousness. Matter is simply spirit in form. Ultimately, it is the arrangement and experience of information, which eventually brings self-awareness into existence. And the self-aware man is the pinnacle of God’s creation. This is the reason Adam was created last. Adam is not a literal man. He is the product of consciousness evolution (notice I didn’t say Darwinian Evolution), and the crowning achievement of the divine dance between heaven and earth.

Perhaps the Christian might not judge the pagan who believes in mother earth so harshly anymore? Is the Biblical explanation of creation really so different? The answer is a resounding no, but every spiritual text eventually gets interpreted literally and therefore becomes the true idolatry spoken of in scripture. Why? Because when you interpret the Bible literally, you have just made God consciousness, which is beyond any image, into an image. And all images or physical matter is simply an illusion anyway.

Let’s turn back to Genesis chapter 1 briefly and then wrap this post up.

Once you understand Genesis 1:1-5, the rest isn’t so difficult. Within each day is created all the fish, birds, and mammals in existence. Humans are created on day six because as we have already said, the human is the crowning creation of God. Ultimately, this is because—according to the Bible—a human has advanced to a stage of consciousness where a mystical union can be experience with God through consciousness again. With that being said let me quote the Apostle Paul so that you can understand this concept from its deepest implications:

“And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

Paul speaks of the above verse in reference to Jesus. But as anyone versed in the art of esoteric interpretation—the highest calling to Biblical understanding—knows, the Christ must be formed “within” you, and he is definitely not something to worship outside of yourselves. As Paul further said:

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19).

Why do you think God rested on the seventh day? Seven is the number of completion. On the seventh day the creator rests and this is the opportunity for man to enter into that rest with God. And that is the Christ in you!

How Does The Knowledge Help You?

Do you want to go home? Do you want to be with source again beyond the cycle of birth and death? Although I know this is the ultimate message of the Bible, I cannot say what it is like to fully experience being home. I have my struggles every week like all of us involved in spirituality. But I can say that I have had glimpses of being home through deep meditation and experiencing the joy of the present moment. Many of us are not ready to go home after death. Maybe I am one of them. Maybe I have more to learn until the Christ be formed in me. That is the beauty of life though. The choice is up to me in how deeply I want to pursue going home. The choice is also up to you! At any rate, please understand that Genesis chapter 1 does not give a definitive answer to creation, but it surely makes sense and it is surely a beautiful description of creation, life, and the birth of consciousness on the physical plane! This is a much better alternative to a definitive answer. Why? Because consciousness needs no answer. It just is. An its potential is infinite!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzy August 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm

What an inspiring exploration of consciousness. This helps me to understand this physical plane a bit more. Also, I love the new “How Does The Knowledge Help You?”


Joshua Tilghman August 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

Thanks for commenting, Suzy!


Christine Hoeflich August 20, 2012 at 12:49 am

Thanks Josh for sharing your insights! I really like your personal shares as well. We, all of us down here, struggle, even Jesus himself struggled. But it’s what has us keep going forward!


Joshua Tilghman August 20, 2012 at 7:37 am


Growth, especially spiritual growth, is always in the struggle. Thanks for commenting.


anny July 15, 2013 at 7:09 am

The fact that God created polarity and duality becomes clear already in the first word of Genesis, it starts namely with a very big bet, the number two. When characters are written larger, or smaller, or even upside down (which I have never seen however) it always means something and this large bet points the creation of duality and polarity.


Joshua Tilghman July 17, 2013 at 2:48 pm


Thanks for sharing this. I also think its important for people to understand that creation is inherit within the concept we call “God” just as creation in polarity. Thus God and polarity are linked.


IVM March 26, 2015 at 3:08 am

Referring back to the first part of Genesis, it has not been discussed that God “said” – ‘Let there be light’. In John, we read also that ‘In the beginning was the Word…’
So that, before there was Light, there was the Word – the sound vibration – and in order (in our Universe at least) for Light to be known, there must be matter – the primordial ‘world’, without form and void – ie/ a thought form of the One. Into this thought form, God spoke, or vibrated forth the Word – and THEN there was Light. I would be interested in your thoughts on this…


Joshua Tilghman July 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm


Thanks for your comment. The Word IS the divine life in all, creating all. Light represents the union of spirit and matter which is a potential to take place after the Word, or creation.


ken frye April 2, 2015 at 5:33 am

can i buy a book with all of this information combined together. This is a good work and i want to know more, what can i do.


Joshua Tilghman April 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Thanks Ken, but I don’t think you’ll find this all in one book. This is a conglomeration of a bunch of different knowledge from a wide variety of reading, as well as some of my own and the other writers on this site. Check out Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and Myth if you want a good place to start.


Emmanuelle October 10, 2015 at 8:14 pm

While I agree with you about the inherent symbolism of the Bible, I however disagree about “Light” representing “consciousness”. Too much of this is thrown around by New Age-influenced philosophy that seeks to exalt “intelligence” to a quasi-deified status in the world and within religions where such concepts cannot be found anywhere until the 19th century interest in occultism and spirituality. All this masquerades as is a renaissance of religion but confuses many of the meanings of ancient texts with Jungian psychological terms, or seeks to apply psychology to religious texts and scriptures in the hopes of changing their meaning(s).

People need to be a bit more realistic about the Genesis creation story and stop trying to equate it with any scientific meaning or significance at all. The Bible is not meant to be a vividly philosophical or ‘logical’ scripture and any attempts to make it as such distorts its original meaning. The seven days of Creation are the basis for the seven days of the week of the Hebrew/Abraham and the holy day of rest, the Sabbath. The separation of “light” and “darkness” probably does signify some sense of polarities or of duality, but more in the sense that ancient people saw “light” and “darkness” as two physical warring substances which could not coexist or cohabit with each other, such as oil and water, and that “Day” and “Night” were actual two physical ‘beings’ or ‘essences’ – not essentially as something to do with the rotation of the Earth, the stars, etc. Ancient nomadic tribes saw everything as heaving dense and physical matter – there was no sense of unseen matter or energy. The blue of the sky was the ‘waters above’ that was separated from the ‘waters below’. Even in our much more technologically advanced era you can see how the sky and the ocean can be seen as two separate ‘waters’, and the sky a physical dome or orb encapsulating the Earth.

The first part of the Genesis creation does not fit in well with the second part of the story and they are likely the same story from different ages or eras in the history of the Hebrew race. The first we commonly know and understand so famously “Let there be light, and there was light,” is more generalized and broader in terms of detail. When the story of the Creation of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden has been introduced, it does not smoothly fit in with the narrative of the prior story and thus, cannot have been written at the same time despite the fact they are put side by side together. Once Genesis 2:4 is read in comparison with Genesis 1, the overall context and language does not fit in with the first story despite the fact they speak seemingly of the same thing.

Most of the original books of the “Old Testament” were oral and spoken through the various tribes and peoples of the pre-Israel race. I’d say that most of the Genesis story – save for a few people here and there – are ‘figures’ representing the forefathers of the Hebrew people. It is part of the greater narrative of the Hebrew culture.

I do not doubt the divinity of the Bible or of the world, but in truth I do doubt human interpretation and understanding.


Emmanuelle October 10, 2015 at 9:19 pm

I would also like to add that the story of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the “Garden” all have similarities with the birth and resurrection of the Christ Messiah, whom we call Jesus, son of Mary, David, etc.

Christ is sometimes seen as the last Adam, second Adam, or the new Adam. Many people, trying to fit this in with reincarnation theories, have attempted to malign the birth of the Christ as being a ‘reincarnation’ of the ‘cosmic soul’. Unfortunately, it does not work this way, as Christ spoke of no cyclic nature but instead, of a changing or resurrection of the human soul/body.

First Man, single man origins are not uncommon in prehistory. However, the intricacies of the Adam/Eden story have been desecrated by the literal viewpoint of the modern “Christian” who attempts to fit the Genesis story within a logical time-frame of history. This is impossible, but people get so upset by the mere thought of people treating the story as a symbol for a ‘fall’ or expulsion that it becomes impossible for them to understand the depth of meaning of the story.

It is impossible to know at this time in human existence if there was an “Adam” who existed physically on this Earth, and any attempts to do so are just cause for confusion. Instead, we should see, hopefully, the story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and the eating of the Tree of Knowledge as apart of a piece of an essential truth. The Garden of Eden was a place of perfect spiritual perfection, without fault or sin. This is reflected in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Second Coming of Christ, the Messiah, etc. Possibly the story of Adam was the prehistoric man trying to understand how humanity – so distinct from the rest of Creation – came about. Even with our best modern theories of evolution, there is no other animal on this Earth who possesses the intimate capabilities of the human soul and spirit, such as the development of culture, civilization, abstract, complex thought, moral, so on and so forth. No other creature on this planet exhibits the depth of knowledge of language as we do. There are so many mysterious things about our creation and existence the story of Adam is apart of this mystery. And possibly even, within the depths of the human soul, the early people developed a need and desire to find an original place of origin. The Garden of Eden was an answer to man’s attempt at understanding his unique existence in this world. Separated from the ‘gods’ or God, yet being somehow of their essence or being (image).

Man has always attempted to regain his divinity or at least, to instill the divine nature within the natural world. Again, as in my prior post, I do honestly believe in the Divine. I do believer there is a greater, higher, unseen aspect of this world, this earth, and our lives which manifests itself delicately in the physical realm. I am sure there is an afterlife, that God can incarnate Himself in the form of a man (to become the Christ), and that miracles and strange things happen. I believe our lives are just mirrors or reflections to something greater than ourselves, and that the Bible – and the stories within – reveal this need within us to express what cannot always be expressed.


Skye December 5, 2016 at 7:10 am

After many years…I’m now in my sixties….of searching for a deeper truth to the Bible I recently came across your website. Thank you so much for your insights. I can finally reconcile my eclectic faith that encompasses Pagan & Taoism with Christianity. In years gone both I have felt an aversion to mainstream religions which appear divisive and elitist but always felt there must be a common spiritual unifying truth at their foundation. Once again, thank you for your time and effort in helping people like myself to find the deeper spiritual meaning


Joshua Tilghman March 1, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Thank you Skye, for your comment. Many blessings.


Peter August 13, 2017 at 3:31 pm

This is the mystic Revelation of the word. I understand better now. And I’m humbling myself to the point where you explained it clear that the world was created by the consciousness


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