I’ll be writing a series on Lilith, the Dark Feminine, once a week. This myth still has its affects and effects in the contemporary lives of both men and women. It is necessary to bring Lilith out of the shadows, as well as Eve on whom the blame, even unconsciously, is placed for accepting the apple. I’ll be writing about her too.
According to the Midrash*, Lilith, first wife of Adam, was born from the same mud and clay at the same time as Adam in the Garden of Eden and thus they were equal. Lilith refused to be submissive to Adam. The ensuing argument in which Adam, and God, refused to see Lilith’s side of the story caused her banishment by God for her blasphemous rage to the depths of the Red Sea to be never seen or heard of again. But she does re-appear, from her exile, in the guise of the serpent who offered Eve the apple. Lilith, as serpent, was instrumental in Adam and Eve’s exile. In contemporary psychological terms, this banishment is referred to as the ‘Rise’ of man, and not the ‘Fall’ as it was seen as necessary, Fate, for them to move from unconsciousness and to strive for consciousness.
This meant leaving Paradise and its unity, into a world of duality, where pain and pleasure, light and dark, life and death, temporal and eternal, into a world of opposites with which to contend, and to experience over and over the extreme of them. To re-find themselves in a newly-found world of the collective -
Lilith as serpent has had a seriously bad reputation. She is viewed inter alia as a whore, responsible for the death of new borns, men’s wet dreams at night (to sap their strength), Bride of Satan and In her demonised and objectified form she is indeed frightening and threatening.
She is seen as all we are not, she who is the container for the dark and earthy creative feminine. We have all sought to repress her through our projections. Looking at her in a one-dimensional way means that we do this at the expense of other more enlarging and encompassing ways. We have put her out there, as not belonging to us and the hard work is bringing her in again, allowing her into our psyches to her rightful place within us.
If we relate to her in a more compassionate way we can see in her, some of ourselves. We all get into horribly dark places at times, when we feel unloved, unappreciated, unvalued, unfairly treated, exiled even from ourselves and we feel that dark, destructive and dangerous energy rising. Too often we act out our feelings of rage and despair, disempowerment and feelings of helplessness, stuffing ourselves with food, drink, drugs, anything, to rid us, numb us, tamp down those uncomfortable feelings and emotions. We repress those feelings, in an unnatural way, thereby repressing the vessel. Repression stored in darkness is soul destroying. It tends to become distorted and, if disregarded, turns against us to our detriment manifesting in ways we know only too well ..
What are we to do with that roiling energy? Do we disregard it as too foreign to ourselves, too black, too dark and dangerous? Can we bring Lilith energy out of the shadows and connect to it in a different way, releasing some of its demonic powers by acknowledging her?
Her energetic force arose as a result of opposition and suppression. Her spirit was broken but not indefinitely. If we bathe her, wash and cleanse her with our tears she will be redeemed and transformed. We need to rid her from the socially conditioned and condoned guilt that we have taken it upon ourselves to suffer. Can we reach deep inside ourselves and connect to the core of our sadness, anger and wounding and allow healing to take place allowing the divine, constructive and beautiful feminine to be restored?
It is important to be aware of both her divine and demonic powers. She is not to be cast out and banished – it is only by banishing her that that she becomes demonic. Anything that is repressed will find a way out, for expression. She can be redeemed through our conscious awareness of her. Given the proper outlet the darkness within us can be constructive. Dreams can offer a way of bringing her into consciousness if we take the time and effort required.
Barbara Koltuv, in her book ‘The Book of Lilith’ says: ‘Experiencing Lilith in her many forms is part of the process of giving birth to the feminine self‘. (italics mine)
Hannelore Traugott, German Lilith expert: ‘ .. Lilith…is striving to become conscious again. Let’s call it archaic energy, spiritual femininity, something akin to the wisdom of the goddess. As long as we don’t have access to this energy we experience it psychologically as loss, suppression, isolation, emptiness, addiction and above all, power struggles’.
from the mud and murky depths, arises the lotus, petal by beautiful petal, striving for the light.
* Midrash: Rabbinic study into the spirit of the scriptures for a larger understanding.
* Oil painting by John Coller, 1887
next post: Lilith in Exile