U Universality: Lilith

I took this photograph in Plettenberg Bay in October last year when I was there. It is a washed up log (still there, I saw it last week). From this angle I can see a creature on the right hand side, with an eye, with its fish tail ending in the middle on the left hand side, embracing the cave – maybe a slumbering serpent underneath –

Does Lilith represent a universal myth? Isn’t she just one of those stories from so long ago? The ‘herstory’ is not a pretty one; full of angst and drama, revenge, entanglement, diminishment, humiliation, unsound, flight and fights. Haven’t we got over these primitive ways of being already? Surely we are more civilised?

Civilisation – where and what has it brought us? 

What does rejection of the dark feminine really mean? All that hurt, pain, rage, loss and betrayal – is this really necessary for growth?

Do we keep it buried underground and uphold a veneer of calm in order to appear civilised, for fear that were it to emerge it would erupt into a volcano? I work at a doctor’s rooms on a regular basis as receptionist and managing other rooms things. A patient will come through to the reception area after seeing the doctor to book the operation either for herself or her child in tow. In discussing dates, times, procedures etc, she may say that she is very nervous if she is the one to have it. Of what I ask? Of being under anaesthetic, she responds. O I ask? Why? If I’m under anaesthetic she will say, I have no control. That is always interesting to me though for professional reasons I can’t ask any further much as I would like to. But I wonder what she thinks will happen if she is no longer ‘in control’. Or if she even wonders? Do we have a fear of not being ‘in control’ of our dark energies if we allowed them to emerge? The rage that we feel, the hurt, the anger, the unfairness, the grief –

How much have we all internalised and ‘normalised’ the patriarchal way of life? It goes so far back. It is evident in today’s society, so much harm being done. I remember the rape trial of the ex-president some years ago. The ANC Womens League turned up at the courts daily in their thousands, bussed in from far and wide in support of the then president. They shouted slogans at Fezekile Kuzwayo, known as Khwezi, who brought the rape charges against him, that she was a slut, a whore. The trial was ugly. Zuma’s lawyer, a male, brought in her earlier child rape experiences and concluded that as a 5 year old she must have been willing to have had sex with a man in his 30’s.

In war, rape, pillage, killing of innocents are seen as part of the spoils – collateral damage. The country that steps into a foreign one as an ally, sells weapons to the enemy at the same time. Highest bidder wins each time. Deals go on behind closed doors in the political power boardrooms, each angling for a way to be on top of the pile.

What is our arsenal?

Would the world be wiser and healthier if we brought feminine energy into our lives and became more conscious of the gifts she brings? If she spoke her truth, so too can we.

 Is there a way we can repair the wound to both men and women?

‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’:  This carries the ‘hidden’ assumption that we love ourselves, and therefore we can love our neighbour as ourself. And being ourself we love ourselves, because we are worthy. We have intrinsic value – each part of ourselves. And we can love the other as ourself. Not loving yourself means not loving your neighbour – is this one of the reasons that we project onto the other, and make it our enemy? To deny this love of self is also to deny compassion towards ourselves and therefore to others. Can the injunction, love thy neighbour as thyself, including the unknown stranger within, help towards healing ourselves and the world? 

Is this maybe our arsenal – that we are willing to go deeper into our lunar energy in reclaiming love and feminine wisdom?

Thank you for reading!




34 Comments on A to Z U Universality Lilith

  1. First to say how much I enjoy the images in the last post and now this one. Thank you for all you offer with this series of articles. I’m just finishing a piece about a young wounded part of my feminine self that never heals. The reappearance of her in my life means a fresh cycle of acceptance is needed with acknowledgement that some wounds never heal. They must be loved along with everything else.

    Looking at recent history, it’s no wonder the Repressed Feminine is enraged. Nature herself is also enraged. This harming of the feminine goes back and back and back. Even with a lifetime of psychological work behind me, I struggle to release myself from my patriarchal values, passed on to me by my mother more than my father. I read this quote from Pema Chodron this week: ““The kindness that I learned from my teachers, and that I wish so much to convey to other people, is kindness toward all qualities of our being. The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve just blown it, when things are falling apart for us. Maitri, or loving-kindness, means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness with others.”

    • Strange – or maybe not – how she re-visits all the time – it’s going to take a long while indeed. Thanks Elaine for coming by and your comment; and for Pema Chodron’s loving quote – these last two sentences especially stand out for me: ”Maitri, or loving-kindness, means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness with others.” The last sentence as a reminder at all times – ‘the same unconditional friendliness to others’ ..

  2. Hi Susan – Universality of Lilith … I just can’t see how women can side with men, when they’ve behaved so atrociously … strikes me as ‘dumb’ and kowtowing to the male life that can/does dominate.

    I saw a film on a small village in Switzerland when they were voting for women’s suffrage in 1971 – it makes interesting viewing … they were living in the ‘dark ages’ as the village was exceedingly rural … I think it is relevant here … The Divine Order: the write up in Wiki isn’t perhaps inspiring … but I think Lilith features here …

    Cheers Hilary

    • Thanks Hilary, I’ll look up that film when there’s time. Made a note on the innumerable scraps of paper on my desk – and interesting that Lilith is mentioned! You would remember Emily Pankhurst who was a British political activist and leader of the suffragettes (early1900’s) who achieved women getting the vote …

  3. “What does rejection of the dark feminine really mean? All that hurt, pain, rage, loss and betrayal – is this really necessary for growth?”….

    This is such a deep question… Lilith, Eve, Pandora, Helen of Troy are female archetypes associated with Evil and darkness. Women have been accused of putting Humankind under Threaten- And yet they were so many protectess goddess.
    It seems Ancient Grece was a Matrirachy until the War of Titans took the lead.
    Carl Jung was such an intelligent man. He teaches us to include and unify the male and female principle in ourselves. The feminine inner personality: anima in the man. And the animus, meaninf the male inner personality in a woman.

    Excellent post, dear Susan. Love and best wishes 😉

    • Thank you dear Aquileana – so lovely to see you here! The matriarchal goddesses began their descent when the masculine ones eg Apollo began their ascent from the Iron Age onwards .. which didn’t mean they disappeared (well, they did almost but the wheel is turning!) Yes re the anima and animus – that which ‘animates’ us 🙂

      Love and best wishes to you and I hope that your father is recovering well and that you and family are well –

  4. WOW! This post has knocked my socks off –in a good, nay, in a great way.
    The bit about ‘losing control’ and only showing the calm exterior while keeping a lid on the dark within reminded me of a Roald Dahl line in one of his books: “Adults don’t mind being cruel to children as long as they’re not seen by other adults.” (I’m not sure if the wording is exactly this but that’s the gist)
    When I read it to my children when they were little, either my son or daughter pointed out to me that this is what I do when I’m alone with them–tell them off in a my mean voice but when my friends are around I use my good voice. It shook me then, Shook my image of myself as a good mother, my image of myself as a human being even. I was being two faced. That quote has stuck with me. And reading your post today made me think of it at the universal level you talk about. That’s is why the –WOW!
    Thank you Susan.
    W is for Wells

    • Thank you Arti – our children can bring us up short – I’m sure my family has said similar to me which has caused me a fright! Wow for you coming by! My computer is giving me major gyp at the moment … hope to get onto your Wells post .. posting comments on others’ blogs is the problem as of today …

  5. One of the things I most love about Lilith, our relationships with her, your posts, and the entire ensuing discussion this month is the aspect of wholeness she represents. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of universality, but yes, that’s it as well. It’s not that we don’t, and aren’t often stuck in viewing her one way (demon or sovereign Divine Feminine, or any of the dualities that our particular configuration of beliefs/wounds/awarenesses focus on. But it’s that she truly is one of the most glaringly apparent archetypes I can think of that is so closely available to us that invites, nay begs us to fold into wholeness. We don’t have to resolve it one way or the other – we don’t have to make her disown parts of herself – we simply have to allow her (and ourselves, and the world, and all that has been and all that will come to be) to be whole.

    • Thank you Deborah so much. Her wholeness or her potential for wholeness is very much what I hoped to bring across. The comments have also helped considerably as have yours, not only for me, I am sure for others who read them. We can fold into ourselves into our wholeness – and we don’t have to disown any part of ourselves …

  6. I like your reflections on the driftwood, then and now.

    Your post reinforces to me the power of the women in my family, Writing memoir I realize how the feminine face of God imprinted my life. Thank you!

    • You are fortunate indeed Marian to have your maternal ancestors and to realise the imprint of the feminine face of God.

      Driftwood … a ‘nicer’ word than ‘log’! 🙂 Thank you for coming by!

  7. oh well packing a punch here susan – it is a long study this woman business – I have been at it for years and still hot on the scent of the feminine … my sense is that women do fear loss of control because we are uncontrollable- wild fey turbulent volcanic surging with grace and eddies of calm … at some point we got managed , we got persecuted and put in ‘his’ place which was not’ our’ place . it is this fear of reprisal happening again that keeps us locked down . so many centuries have passed that we have internalised the trauma and assume we are a submissive energy . with lilith as guide we can plunge into the depths and find out who we are for ourselves – and how we may serve the whole.when the feminine rises and reclaims its joy of being then the possibility exists that the masculine can be released from its crippled state of macho violence..

    • I love what you say Sandra about women being uncontrollable ‘wild fey turbulent volcanic surging with grace and eddies of calm’.. and that we can plunge the depths and be ourselves and this can serve the whole – and that the masculine can be released from its crippled state of macho violence. Thank you very much …

  8. The top photo looks like a Bedhoin to me.
    I agree about the feminine energy – way to many women act like men when they get positions of power, so it’s the energy we need, not just the women. Another lovely post, Susan.❤️

    • I’m laughing – I’m trying to see the Bedhouin and for the life of me I can’t! I have a girlfriend who gets that overly aggressive stance, hands on hips, raised voice, and pointing fingers which makes me want to bite them off … thanks Pam for coming by 🙂

      • It’s just the head with a scarf wrapped around it that floats in the breeze to the left and the face has REALLY BIG eyes. 🙂 Okay, maybe I have an overactive imagination.

        • 🙂 🙂 🙂 – I’ve squinted and scrunched my eyes this way and that and am just short of turning my lap top upside down or standing on my head – but I cannot see him! Nor those BIG EYES! What am I not seeing? I want to see the Bedhouin .. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. Dear Susan, What a fantastic post! Well done U! You’re onto the home straight now! Me, I believe we all fear not being in control (such is our wounded feeling function) where the “spoils of war” (however defined) dangerously blunts all feeling. This “blunting” writes Robert A. Johnson is, “probably the most common and painful wound which occurs in the Western world.” He continues, “It is very dangerous when a wound is so common in a culture that hardly anyone knows there is a problem.” #WikiLeaks or turn our state lens around and we see local #FamilySecrets

    And so it is with women and children (the innocents) being raped, tortured and then shared out by the “men” (however defined) as rewards that accompany a deep sense of entitlement! Grrr! It makes me sick to the stomach when I hear another rape victim being persecuted! Universal themes indeed! The #MeToo campaign “calls out” these sick abusers on state and local levels! Like Lilith we’re no longer lying down and taking it! Instead we’re rising up, (go Maya Angelou!) leaving that wounded part of us behind so we can mature and know that our suffering is no longer needed. In sisterhood and in soul, Deborah.

    • Thank you dear Deborah – our wounded feeling function is numbed, normalised & dumbed down but not forever. For men as well as women. We still need though to be aware of the collective suffering yet I believe that every little bit of consciousness helps towards the greater benefit of all. We can call out those within our own smaller sphere of influence and in the outer world too. My younger son told me of an incident that happened when he was with a bunch of people and someone was being derogatory about our indigenous people. He took a stand, and called out that person – it had rippling effects. In soul, Susan

  10. Again, this post is packed with so much wisdom. I stand in awe of how much thought-provocation you can evoke in so few words!

  11. When I saw the ‘bogmen’ at the National Museum of Ireland, and heard their stories of being thrown into bogs, and such, I realized that the legends of ‘boogie men’ might be based in actual fact… those long-ago stories that are based in reality…


  12. Susan ~ My perspective is always open and evolving, but at this point, I experience Lilith as an open channel for unconscious forces and *universal* pain and suffering, always personal but also collective. An unconscious Lilith (particularly one out of touch with the daemonic and without a creative voice or outlet) can be as cruel, oppressive and/or violent as any other oppressive individual, entity or force.

    But a conscious inner Lilith is informed, radical and fierce, sometimes warm, sometimes hot, never cold or apathetic. Unlike those who would keep us asleep, a conscious Lilith is fearless in her pursuit of deeper truths and universal meaning, and uses hands and feet, words and ideas to metaphorically rip off our scabs, remove our happy hats, wake us up and keep us awake, no matter how painful. I think Lilith’s pain is what drives her to try and understand the universal meaning and greater purpose in her own suffering, and how it unites her with others who have suffered.

    Our system and its supporters (men and women) are adept at using words and ideas to suppress and manipulate our desires to be normal and happy, like a propaganda lullaby designed to keep us anesthetized and asleep ~ here in the US, partly due to ‘public relations’ wizard, Edward Bernays.

    When propaganda fails, more extreme forms of violence, suppression, and scapegoating are used. The rape trial of Zuma and the terribly unjust and unkind ways in which the victim/survivor was treated and portrayed are examples of this.

    Here in the US, a few days ago the DNC (Democratic National Committee) filed a civil lawsuit against (among others), the Russian government, WikiLeaks, and its founding editor, truth-teller Julian Assange (who’s paid a high price for his truth-telling). This lawsuit is part of a larger ongoing McCarthy-like effort intended to silence dissent, streamline propaganda (news), censor and blacklist alternative news sources and independent journalists, and do away with the means and protection for sources and whistle blowers concerned with transparency in government and other systems of power to report on abuses. It’s also part of the ongoing scapegoating of Russia and anyone in the US critical of our system.

    These are all universal themes repeated over and over again throughout history.

    • Thanks LB for your comment. You say so well about Lilith and her qualities, especially about her never being apathetic. Likewise about the one who doesn’t use her creative energy or have an outlet for her voice. Lilith sees through manipulation and will not be put to sleep. We also have propaganda machines here; spin doctors who’ve mastered the art ..

      Whistle blowers are in danger of their lives here in SA.

  13. The patriarchy has everything invested in maintaining the status quo, so if you’re going to love thy neighbor then do it in a way that keeps things the same. No wonder feminine energy, less linear, more cyclical, scares the patriarchy so much. Sad to realize how many woman have internalized the patriarchy’s limited ideas, ignoring their own innate power.

    • Thanks for coming by Ally Bean.. best if those energies meet. Women have and are coming into their own, standing up for themselves in all walks ..

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