A: Adam’s first wife, Lilith
In the ongoing April A-Z posts I’ll be writing about Lilith, first wife of Adam, in the Garden of Eden. In my retelling of the biblical story, you’ll gain a broader view of the first two women, Lilith & Eve. Both trailblazers. I’ll focus on Lilith. Hopefully we’ll have a better idea of the value of this myth. While myths and fairy tales may be ancient stories, they are also contemporary ones. The dynamics underpinning them are similar today. The time, place and circumstance may be different but the psychological dynamics and their after-effects are universal.
My posts will not exceed 500 words. It is a stretch and a bit unrealistic to give an overview of Lilith in the A-Z, so my posts will hint at the complexity of this mythological figure and how she is present in our lives, today.
According to the Midrash*, Lilith was born at the same time as Adam, from the same dust and clay and they were born equal. They were happy in Paradise, until Lilith felt she did not want to always be in the supine position when making love. She wanted to experiment but Adam refused, not wanting to give up his ‘superior’ position. Her pleas to Adam were ignored and he begged G.d to make her obey him. This angered Lilith, and she called upon G.d to intervene in the impasse. G.d also did not listen; this further angered Lilith and she blasphemed against Him. He, in turn, aghast at her blasphemy, ordered her out of Paradise into the Depths of the Red Sea.
Banished, exiled …
Dr. Susan E. Schwartz, Jungian Analyst resident in Paradise Valley, US., gave a talk many years ago to the Jung Centre here in Johannesburg on ‘Marriage & Divorce & the Nature of Unresolved Psychological Issues therein’. I’m quoting from her transcript –
‘The Adam & Lilith story represents a stereotype of the masculine and feminine in relationships we see today. Adam expresses no curiosity about Lilith’s needs. He complains to G.d the authority to correct Lilith and make her obey him. The two never work it out, learn nothing about communication skills and separate in mutual frustration. Later, G.d gives Adam another wife and we see the same unresolved issues of the original situation appearing again. Ignored, psychological elements tend to return – Eve also thinks for herself and challenges the masculine status quo by listening to the snake, eating the apple and encouraging Adam to do the same’.
‘Unresolved issues‘ – in our everyday lives. Do they remain unresolved only to ourselves or do we carry them forward in our relationships where they impact negatively, and we wonder why. Too often we do not know where to look for the source of ongoing difficulties within our relationships, whether between parent and child, spouse or partnership or friendships that always seem fraught with ongoing unresolved dramas.
*midrash – an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text. The earliest Midrashim come from the 2nd century AD, although much of their content is older.
*picture at top – I bought this print many years ago in an art museum in London when visiting. The original painting is by John Collier 1887.
Thank you for reading!