Path, Patience, Process: Lilith

Isaac Asimov: In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmating –

Lilith’s path was arduous, tricky, fraught with peril. I’ve written before about her polarities. Her courageous act of rebellion against the patriarchal status quo set in motion far reaching consequences, of which we are only newly aware. She also represents the negative aspects of the feminine. Erich Neumann* lists Lilith among the ‘alluring and seductive figures of fatal enchantment’. Further on he writes: ‘She is an enchanting, seducing, orgiastic, and nightmarish form of the feminine’. To this day in traditional orthodox  Jewish marriages, the bride wears an amulet to protect her marriage and babies from her awesome powers.

It is as well to be aware of her demonic powers. I’m aware of those who’ve crossed my path who possess that demon-like quality about them. I invoke the powers that be for protection – seductive they are, charming on the surface – it took me a long long while to figure this out and to wonder what the hook was – ie what was my certain own role in this –

Paradoxically, she was also a woman of courage and depth, powerful energy and patience. Even though she was in deep pain at her plight in the Red Sea, through patience and processing all that had happened to her, she was able to transform, and arise again. She shows that striving for consciousness is a worthwhile task, even if it meant living in exile. Her energy was not a polite energy; it was the sort that was used by women in order to get the vote, to ban passbooks and to demand justice for rape victims. And today, those who stand against pipe-lines, march for better gun-control, better education, against corrupt policies, against pollution – 

Do some of us mask the inner pain we may feel? At events, psychological, physical, emotional pain? Do we disallow it? Although it can be paralysing, they are messages that need our conscious attention.

The Lilith myth of pain, peril and pilgrimage is alive in us today even if as a phantom lurking in the shadows. We are on a path. It has twists and turns, each day, each moment we select this one and not that. We are limited and expanded at the same time. One moment we are private, passive, personal and protected and then at another, public and seen. One enhances the other. The path alters, we prefer one over the other. The path defines us as much as we do it. In a way it is a relief to narrow the choices and be a specialist.

The photos below show me on my path on Robberg yesterday. We took the ‘no entrance’ way. The road less taken. Backwards. To avoid the tides. The first one is all good and pleasant, we’d reached about a quarter of the way, going downhill. The last two, well it was downhill symbolically all the way, while creeping upwards. My scarf is wrapped around my head. I thought it would never end. I like the last photo of my husband’s extended hand. I’m still processing our taking the wrong ‘path’ yesterday – 

* Erich Neumann: the Great Mother (Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series, 1972).

Thank you for reading!

45 Comments on A-Z P Path, patience, process

  1. Definitely not a polite or pacifist energy, this Lilith but one that stands up and screams, “No.” I am taken with the willingness to live in exile to stand up for oneself. I’ve always felt that masking our personal pain, grief, and loss forces out the Lilith/Medusa/Kali energy as a protection or shield against our pain and anyone who wants to break through it. I watched this with my mother-in-law for so many years.

    Yes, we are on a path and I think of Hecate who guides us through the night. Lilith must be related to her, too. A family of dark goddesses, including Ereshkigal, who lead us on a path or demand we follow a path we’d rather not follow. You took a frightening path with your husband. I would have gotten through that by muttering curses to myself alternating with begging the Great Goddess for help.

    • Thanks Elaine, those great goddesses were indeed courageous and outspoken and they demand much of us. Most of which I’d rather not face at times to be honest. Dreams are one thing – which cannot be denied … actual events are another. I believe in part I went through that dreadful downwards upwards climb for a real reason, mired as I was/am in Lilith stories…

  2. It seems to me that all paths are filled with peril. It’s just that some peril we’re accustomed to dealing with, while other peril is new to us. Life is a process and patience doesn’t always find its way to me. But you can’t let that stop you. Your last photo is a keeper.

    • Thanks Ally Bean – true, some we’re familiar with (like when I’m in the kitchen) others like the hike – ah well. I sent the photo to my sister – she was aghast!

  3. Hi Susan – well that was one brave hike … sometimes the path we take allows no turning back – so pleased your hubby was with you – with his long outreached arms waiting to guide you down. I really need to re-read all these to absorb Lilith’s journey … and learn.

    Love the quote from Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.” … so good for us all to read … cheers Hilary

    • Thanks Hilary, no turning back … only onwards! (downwards, upwards, side-wards) – I’m ever grateful my son and husband were there! My sister would have been a good guide also … plus she would have had delicious treats –

  4. Hi, Susan – Your comments about ‘non-polite energy’ are very timely. As you know (because you commented) my “P” post contained the quote “Well-behaved women don’t make history.” I love when posts serendipitously connect like this!

  5. These words of yours spoke to me today Susan: “We are limited and expanded at the same time. One moment we are private, passive, personal and protected and then at another, public and seen. One enhances the other. ”
    Thank you.
    Your pictures are beautiful. And well done for keeping up with the challenge despite taking the ‘wrong’ path. But is a path ever wrong?
    Q is for Quotes on my fridge door in Qatar

    • That’s so good Arti that you found particular resonance with those words .. the opposites coming into play, and that they enhance each other ..

      There’s a lovely saying about the path whose source and the exact words I can’t exactly remember but to paraphrase it’s about whatever path you are on is the right one.

  6. Wow susan lovely pics which are communicate, loved the way you have captured. The first image is also very good and fitting for the post you have written on path, Patience and process…we are all responsible for the path we have chosen… and if its a less travelled road, lot patience is required to walk the unknown path.. every post there is something new for me to learn. Today I am enlightened about the jewish bride.. thanks for sharing:)

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Genevive, and liking the first image of the two paths! You’re right about patience being required to walk the unknown path – but we are always in process –

  7. What a rich conversation and deep reflections your exploration is evoking Susan. I think patience with my process is very much what I need as I follow along here.

    I look at your photos of your trek and think how challenged I would be by that. And then I think of one of my favorite quotes, from Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Indeed we are.

    • Others’ comments are very illuminating to me Deborah … I’m glad you’re enjoying them too –

      Thanks for that lovely quote by Ram Dass. I may use it in one of the next A-Z posts. Or something similar – it speaks volumes.

  8. Susan ~ Lilith as part of an ongoing process requiring patience. I agree and relate to that.

    In one of your replies, you mentioned Lilith’s influence on your life and dreams. A few nights ago, right before the New Moon, I dreamed I was among a large group of mostly unfamiliar women (but also a few former friends) who’d gathered in the dark. At first they were discussing something. Some were friendly, others ignored me.

    Then the dream changed and I found myself (alone) in the center of the circle they’d formed, with everyone seated on the ground, facing away from me and silent. Not comfortable with my placement, I quickly removed myself and joined another, much smaller group of women, (interestingly, none of them white), lying, face-up, in rows just outside the circle.

    Lilith has entered my dreams too.

    • Thanks LB for coming by – your dream is pretty graphic – circles and rows, linear and circular .. faces you couldn’t see and faces you could are the first thoughts that come to mind. Nice that you had it before the new moon!

  9. Oh, goodness, Susan, you brave people. Love the pics, and your daring nature.
    Masked pain … oh yeah, too often. Hard lesson, as is life as a whole, and we emerge wiser, hopefully, compassionate for ourselves and others.

    • I’m not sure about the ‘daring nature’ Silvia – had I known beforehand, I would not have …
      Thanks for your comment too re masked pain …

  10. Good grief, in looking at your pictures, are you sure your middle name isn’t Lilith? My word, you definitely do like a challenge, and fight to overcome obstructions. There is NO WAY I would hike your path!! I’ll stick with my smooth jaunt around Poulsbo. It IS interesting the paths we choose to take in life! Great job!

  11. Hi Susan, I’ve been continuing to follow your courageous Lilith excavation and your comments really have me thinking. While you and others speak about some of the negative things that Lilith represents in our psyches, and this may be thoroughly psychologically accurate, I’ve also been wondering about her more primal nature. Her ancient ways of knowing and being that were shunted to one side with her banishment as ‘civilization’ demanded a more subservient feminine.

    What did Lilith know? What did she see? What forces was she aligned with that we need now? What is prompting you, and the others equally engaged in this conversation, to resurrect her energies now?

    Why do we need her, beyond being able to embrace aspects of our shadows?

    I speculate that there are ancient abilities and currents of energy that we can barely comprehend in our ‘sanitized’ psyches. I also feel you, Susan, are prompted by Lilith calling for a new home in our psyches, a home for forces that are powerfully restorative in ways we can scarcely imagine.

    I mention this because years ago (2004/2005) I spent nearly a year tuning into Gaia, the spirit of the earth, to listen through the lens of 120 individual flower essences for what she would say, on her terms, rather than what I might traditionally look to plants for healing properties. This approach, going directly to Gaia herself and asking what she wanted me to see and hear yielded a huge amount of information that I am still decoding and integrating.

    From these writings, I did publish a small book of poetry called Gaia’s Invitation, 120 poems where Gaia speaks in the first person. I only mention this because there is something I’m sensing of the possibility of a more direct connection with Lilith’s spirit and voice that may be trying to rise in consciousness now. That said, all you have conveyed so far gives us great caution not to dive into her realms energetically without considerable grounding and energetic awareness.

    When I began the communion with Gaia, a brief time each day, I was cautioned at the start to be very, very careful. “Through this connection with deep earth-energies, you will age exponentially if you are not mindful,” was the guidance… I was entering a realm far beyond what I knew, with ancient energies that were exceedingly complex. Sure enough, after several months, I felt quite wobbly and overwhelmed and reached out to a shamanic psychotherapist for some support. With his assistance, I was able to regain my balance and completed the work, though with considerable humility!

    The conversation you have initiated has, I sense, begun to ‘conjure’ Lilith’s energies. I only add these comments to expand the overall discussion, so that we don’t assume we understand the fullness of Lilith’s nature or why she is calling out to you/us now.

    To give you a taste of Gaia’s voice, I’ve added one of the small poems (intuitively selected from the 120). My focus in selecting one of the cards that goes with the book, was on learning something about Gaia’s relationship with Lilith, a relationship that I suspect was very holy and powerful.

    Here’s what came, and a reminder, this is Gaia’s voice speaking. (It’s from the chapter called ‘Living in the Body.’

    The pathways between us
    are fewer than ever before.
    Some are strewn with broken glass,
    others are toxic dead ends.
    Do not despair; we can still meet.
    Our clearest path lies in your body.
    Walk this way with courage,
    and it will lead you Home.

    Thank you again, Susan, for taking the lead in opening this vital vein of feminine energies. May there be healing, growth, understanding and restoration for all of us through this exploration.

    • One further thought…

      I think what I’m trying to say here is that instead of just talking ‘about’ Lilith, I wonder what would unfold if she was directly engaged, with no hubris, no expectations, no prejudices but simply through deep listening and a grounded, open heart.

      What would she have to say if we talked ‘with’ her rather than ‘about’ her.

      And, having said that, I know that it would take considerable inner steadiness on my part to even contemplate such an encounter…

      • Yes, that’s a much braver approach Andrea – I’ll try that … I was thinking of something I wrote some while which I could use … in which post I’m not sure – maybe today’s one ..

    • “The conversation you have initiated has, I sense, begun to ‘conjure’ Lilith’s energies. I only add these comments to expand the overall discussion, so that we don’t assume we understand the fullness of Lilith’s nature or why she is calling out to you/us now.”

      Thanks for this, Andrea. In leaving my comments, I’ve sensed this conjuring of Lilith and have also tried to widen the conversation and scope of our focus and understanding of her. As an archetype, Lilith’s pain and evolving journey toward reconnection and redemption is one I’ve long identified with. If I’m being honest, I also sense the distancing in some of these discussions, with Lilith as ‘other’

      In understanding Lilith, in her fullness as both archetype and embodied energy, I wonder if your study and use of flower essences (as a tool in healing and connection) is similar to my own study of astrology ~ which I see as an intuitive art based, in part, on years of observation and deeper reflection. Astrology is the study of archetypes.

      I also loved your follow-up comments summed up in your question, “What would she have to say if we talked ‘with’ her rather than ‘about’ her.”

      Adding how your poetry feels familiar and is similar to my own. Thanks for sharing.

    • I read your comment late last night Andrea but wanted to wake a little fresher this morning and re-read. Thank you so much for your lovely and thoughtful comment. I don’t mean to highlight only the negative Lilith – and I’m not sure others are either. When I do say about her extremes, I guess this is my way of taking her wholeness very seriously.

      Like you and your experience of Gaia, I think Lilith’s energies are very very powerful. I may be being overly cautious about my approach to her – there is a part of me that is a fraidy cat .. I know that I need to be still more grounded ..

      Comments such as yours Andrea, and others too, make me feel a little braver about writing about Lilith … and I am deeply grateful for this, thank you. Your poem is beautiful. Thank you for including it.

      • Thank you for your various replies, Susan. I do appreciate how specifically you are meeting each woman’s comments. Your thoughtfulness has created a safe and sturdy vessel for us to be with Lilith’s energies.

        Looking ahead, I’m curious whether ‘S’ will include snake energies… a theme that has tracked me my entire life, both in dreams and real-life encounters.

        • To answer your question about the S post Andrea – it will be very much on Lilith in disguise as serpent, entering the garden to approach Eve. As a symbol of transformation, shedding skins … I’ll probably mention about being aware of ‘the snake in the grass’. It’s a HUGE topic –

          Thank you for saying about ‘…creating a safe and sturdy vessel for us to be with Lilith’s energies’. They are real ones and so needed. The myths of our Lady goddesses, they of the feminine principle, Gaia, have much to teach us and guide us in our quest. We can be more open and receptive to their stories and recognise the themes that run through them –

          I so appreciate your comments Andrea – so much, thank you. I truly hope that others, like LB, come by and see them .. but for me, thank you.

  12. I love your husband’s helping hand and the notation of your passage “downhill symbolically all the way, while creeping upwards.” That sounds like the perils of even an “ordinary” day.

    Again today, I learned something new from your post: The bride in a Jewish ceremony wearing an amulet of protection. Ah!

    • I had to smile Marian – the perils of an ordinary day!

      Did you ever wear a St. Christopher? I did – for the traveller to keep him/her safe. It’s just reminded me of something – another tale another time –

      Thank you for coming by 🙂

  13. Wow. That looks like one tough trek! Certainly fitting for today’s post. And I love Deborah’s comment about the outstretched hand of the animus. It’s perfect!

  14. I like it when you say that Lilith’s energy was not a polite energy. I think we not only need this kind of energy more than ever, but also her courage and patience.
    Those are great pics, Susan. Have a fabulous time relaxing and exploring too 🙂

    • Thanks Shilpa – enough with politeness, often a virtue but too often not. Plain-speaking serves us all! The time away is drawing to an end –

  15. I definitely believe in ‘pain, peril, and pilgrimage’. I don’t think the goal of life is happiness or pain-free. Of course I don’t–it would mean I’ve failed, as well as many others. There is a bigger goal.

    Love that Asimov quote. I never heard it before.

  16. Lilith went through the pain and also went through the ‘no entrance’ as in challenging the status quo. I guess you were in good company…

  17. Dear Susan, Thank you for sharing more insights and womanly wisdom as you continue to trek the path of the Wild Feminine. In many ways it feels like you’re walking beside Lilith’s herself, as you navigate her twisting and turning ways. I agree, (she, you, I have taken) the road less taken for sure!

    These words resonate deeply today, “She shows that striving for consciousness is a worthwhile task, even if it meant living in exile.” I hope so, for this has been my own experience and journeying, in many ways, for years. Phew! Patience is something that only now in midlife I’m learning and accessing.

    Loving your fabulous “Silver Fox” hairstyle and your hiking photos. “As above, so below,” I see the animus extending his helping hand. Hmm, your creative fire is ablaze with this challenge, your handsome inner and outer men are certainly there for you! Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

    • Thanks Deborah, I feel somewhat mired in Lilith … my dreams are also attesting to that! I’m waiting to see what tonight’s may bring. Last night was the sleep of the dead thankfully! Thank you for walking this path with me 🙂 Warm blessings to you too! It’s actually cold today and right now pouring with rain. Could even light a fire for warmth!

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