T: Trees – Lilith

We drove from Plettenberg Bay to the George International Airport last Friday to fly back home. This time en route I took photos of two road signs, which I meant to use in my last post. But, since I didn’t I’m using them now. The first one is a little shady – 

The Garden of Eden with its 2 trees: one in the centre the other fairly close by. The Tree of Life in the centre, at the juncture of the 4 rivers (Pishon, Gihon, the Tigris, Euphrates), the other The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, its lush fruits for the picking –

Why were they separated?

What to make of the Tree of Life? When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Authority had angels and cherubim swoop down and place flaming swords guarding its path so that they could not make their exit from that Tree. They had to go the serpentine road out of Paradise – 

It is said that the reason for this is, now that their eyes were opened and ‘knowing’ good and evil that, had they taken the Tree of Life‘s path, they would have been immortal, and their sins and the sinners would be forever eternal, and never die. Forever living in an imperfect world – 

Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and exiled from the Garden of Eden, gave them the opportunity to live in the world and act on their G.d given free-will, to use their discernment and ability to make choices between right and wrong. And maybe, in time, they would earn the right to return and to pluck from the Tree of Life – but, for the moment, it was taboo

I’ve heard it said that in order to be truly alive, we need to carry within ourselves the seeds of our own destruction. Adam & Eve ingested the seeds which, while they had the potential for good, now also had the potential for evil.

Are we carriers of seeds of self-destruction? It would seem so, the way we’re hurtling towards an uncertain and unstable future. And the plundering of the planet, not recognising it for the treasure it is.

Lilith has taboos against her because of her being seen inter alia as wily, unclean and as a temptress. Yet, we often fail to see beyond this one-sided view of her, and fail to see the need to experience her in all her modalities and her transformative powers, if we can but recognise her also as a Light Bringer –

 I’m adding an excerpt from a comment that Elaine Mansfield made on my R post Re-imagining Lilith, today: “Pay close attention to what makes you mad. Watch anger because it’s a teacher. That forever changed my attitude about “negative” emotions. I don’t blast away with rage, but I watch what makes me angry and see if it’s asking me to act or asking me to reflect”.

Did Lilith speak a lying truth in her stating that ‘when you eat of it you shall be like G.d’? Surely this is blasphemous? Yet, it is from this extreme and deceptive statement that the drama begins. In the shaking of the foundations lies the salvation. Her creation was necessary to get Eve and Adam out of the Garden, to exercise their G.d given gift of free-will (such a deceptive gift), for the ego to emerge from its captivity into the world of mind and matter, man and nature, self and other ..

I see Lilith and Eve as two trailblazers whose innocence was sacrificed in order to bring a greater awareness of the meaning of knowledge of good and evil and thus to consciousness. Knowledge obtained is not necessarily happiness or power, but consciousness of sin. There are always consequences – it is not sometimes about how much is gained, as it is what is lost.

Thank you for reading!






24 Comments on A to Z T Trees Taboo Lilith

  1. Susan, I hadn’t checked in here for a few days. I’m so glad to read this. Yes, yes, and yes. I hold the trees on my property as sacred and do all I can to keep them healthy until long after I’m gone. Like Deborah, I love walking with someone who knows the trees, those rooted witnesses of our human folly. The first sonnet to Orpheus by Rilke which I was studying during my husband’s illness and after his death begins with the sentence, “A tree arose.” After the sonnet, I created an image of a tree with my dying husband Vic on one side and me on the other, our hands grasping each other and our arms supporting the tree while the tree supported us.

    I didn’t know that Adam and Eve weren’t allowed to get close to the Tree of Life. I didn’t remember this separation of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. I’ll be pondering this because it feels essential to me that our knowledge be grounded in life. And also essential that our lives be grounded in the knowledge of Lilith’s darkness and death.

    We must carry the seeds of destruction, hell-bent as we are on using them. I’m so grateful for your words–and I’m honored to see my comment quoted here. I’ll thank my first Jung teacher Anthony Damiani for that instruction and so much more.

    • Thanks Elaine for your lovely response … the image of you creating an image of a tree with you and Vic on either side supporting its trunk while it supported you both – the branches?- is very powerful in its rootedness and love .. and all that the tree represents …

  2. Hi Susan – it’s interesting you writing these two paths … the tree of life and tree of knowledge … I’m sure I can apply that here … I’m thinking – I am at a crossroads in understanding … cheers Hilary

  3. I found this sentence a challenging one “Are we carriers of seeds of self destruction…. what better proof we need to see so much of problems we have created on the earth. The damage done for selfish gains, exploiting nature, cutting down trees, rivers getting dry, atmosphere getting polluted and the environment imbalance … lilith too has taboos against her… a need to recognise her as a light bringer… I feel the need to look within as beautifully articulated by you where you write”Pay close attention to what makes you mad”…. A reflective post susan. I loved all the pictures but the last one is simply awesome. Thank you for sharing

  4. an interesting story isn’t it and so powerful in our psyche- being kicked out of the garden – and so many layers of learning to behold within it.
    having to make our way conscious of wrongs and carrying the seeds of salvation – free will some say. the power to choose who and what we will Be. I think that lilith is asking us to stand up and be the possible version of our selves that we can be.
    here the fig is the tree of life and the bunya pine is the tree of knowledge . they are sacred as all trees are – all have a story a dreaming a song line- some a food a medicine shelter – they are providers and nurturers, they are a godsend and I love living within their embrace.

    • That is lovely to learn of the bunya pine as the tree of knowledge and the fig tree that of tree of Life, thank you Sandra and that they are sacred and have a song-line dreaming story. Hopefully Lilith can be helpful in her story for us all, to be the best versions of ourselves we can be –

  5. Susan ~ Thanks. This latest thought-provoking post of yours got me thinking about the two trees, their symbolism, relationship to one another and differences. For clarification, I turned to Friedrich Nietzsche, whose words speak for themselves in the following quotes, which when considered together, take on deeper meaning:

    “Probability, but no truth; the semblance of freedom, but no freedom — these are the two fruits by virtue of which the tree of knowledge cannot be confounded with the tree of life.”

    “But it is the same with man as with the tree. The more he seeketh to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously do his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark and deep~into the evil.”

    Nietzsche understood the relationship between suffering and truth, how the relentless pursuit of comfort, pleasure and happiness drives away truth, joy and the *true* freedom of non-attachment,. An unconscious Lilith has shallow, twisted roots and becomes her oppressor, convinced in the rightness of her projections and attachments. But as is true with anything in shadow, Lilith also holds the potential to serve as the mechanism through which we might eventually learn from, be humbled by and surrender to our suffering ~ and find redemption. Lilith’s ‘gift’ lies in her ability to shed light on the dark, neglected places in our psyches,bringing insight into self as well as the suffering and shadows of others.

    A more conscious Lilith faces the ‘taboo’, suffers and is transformed, experiences the fullness of a life filled with pain and joy, lived on the edges of societal norms, surrenders to God (or Source, or whatever word we use) and returns to the Tree of Life.

    I think this was what you were getting at, albeit in your own unique way.

    • Thanks LB – the semblance of freedom – probability, but no truth – perfectly Nietzschean – but maybe possibility? Maybe we stretched out into ‘rational knowledge’ to the exclusion of intuitive and poetic knowledge. I may have said it before in a previous post – the saying “There can be no depth without the way to the depth”.

      Thank you for saying so clearly about Lilith being the mechanism through which we can learn much.

      • Yes, I think we’re thinking along the same lines. My personal takeaway from the Nietzsche quotes is that the tree of knowledge can lead us to practice a legalistic form of good and evil, a kind of enforced morality influenced by individual desires and shaped by tribe, culture, and conditioning ~ which makes it easy for us to deny, ignore, rationalize (as you said), and normalize all sorts of evils while calling them good.

        The tree of life, on the other hand, is about transcendent, inclusive, divine love, beyond our limited legalistic, corruptible, and sometimes FIXED ideas about good and evil. Instead it’s about God’s grace and Sophia, wisdom, truth and love made REAL . . . beyond dogma, law and seemingly reasonable intellectual abstractions and arguments.

        Some take this to mean there is no evil in our world, and that ‘all’ is good ~ which is just more ‘soft-minded’ denial and rationalization. This also doesn’t mean we ought to throw out our critical thinking skills, which ideally, compliment intuition and spiritual discernment.

        • You’ve expressed that so well and clearly thank you LB. We’re told what is good and evil and we buy into that, re the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

          Likewise you say so well about the Tree of Life. And the importance of keeping our critical thinking function alive and well, so’s not to get woolly and wild eyed, which well complements intuition and spiritual discernment ..

          Thank you so much…

  6. Knowledge obtained is not always helpful yet important, even if it is to our detriment.
    Wonderful post, Susan. I like your words, equating Lilith and Eve to trailblazers. Well put.

  7. I love your posts. Right now I’m struggling as I’m partly sorry that God gave us free will to make decisions for ourselves as I’m seeing so much violence in the world I’m wondering why we chose that route and not the route of kindness and caring. I wonder if God knew the trouble we would get ourselves into?

    • Thanks Gwynn for coming by. I wonder if WE knew the trouble we’d get ourselves into. Do we know what responsibility we take on board when we exercise our free-will? When we have our limitations at the same time … there’s no free lunch with this gift –

  8. Thank you for including Elaine’s comment with this post. Together they provide much to reflect upon. Thank you for including the photos too. So interesting!

  9. So much about this post I love–the road signs, The gorgeous picture of the setting sun on what to me is the Tree of Life (similar to Matthiessen’s cover for that book), and taboos. I’ve been studying those for my WIP.

  10. Dear Susan, How delightful! I love that one of your “T’s” is for trees! As yesterday, in pure synchronicity, we joined a large group of (other) tree huggers on a walk, led by an expert (dendrologist) around my local park. For hours we walked and talked, stopping beside many trees, to discuss their origin, age and blossom, etc. It was the first time we’d ever taken such a walk with someone, who not only loved trees, but held virtually encyclopaedic knowledge about them too. It was a wonderful walk around the sunny Garden of Eden!

    With original Rider Waite Tarot cards, “The Lovers” illustrates both of these sacred and divine trees in the Garden of Eden. Thank you for sharing more insights of these two trees. In fact there are numerous and numinous myths, folktales and legends surrounding the archetypal tree. Oh, and I absolutely love the last image in your post, that of the above and below. This symbolic and alchemical image resonates deeply with me! I have always found the tree traits of shelter, regeneration and strength to be deep inspiration! In soul, Deborah.

    • Dear Deborah, tomorrow is Arbor Day I believe! What a wonderful walk through your own Garden of Eden!

      I will look up The Lovers Tarot card – and some mythological tales. Trees supply so much, don’t they. I’d heard that the roots are are deep as they are high above ground, but this isn’t strictly true. Many trees have shallow roots, standing tall nevertheless. Thank you so much for coming by. In soul, Susan

Comments are closed.