B: Banishment of Lilith

Lilith was banished – to the depths of the Red Sea in the hopes that she would never arise again. Out of sight, out of mind, never to be seen or thought of again. Under the carpet, under the radar, under everything. Gone, never to return –

Silenced – instigated by her partner when she wanted to experiment in lovemaking positions. Always being in a passive and recumbent position implied male supremacy with which she took great issue. Adam requested the authority to make her obey him. She too appealed for help from the authority to redress this situation. Her plea for recognition was not heard. He too denied her. No! was the resounding answer.

In her rage and bitterness she blasphemed, and for this ultimate outrage, she was banished from Paradise, never to return. Her home, her belonging in Paradise was ripped from her in one fell swoop –

Into Exile …

Have you had the experience of being banished?  Exiled from family, or groups, or country? Or purposefully exiling yourself towards another or group or member of a family, because the relationship was too toxic? Including the situation where one’s country and its rulers are too poisonous? In the 1970’s I left my country because of the apartheid laws and the crushing reality of the majority of our people being so oppressed. I returned though … I remember kissing the tarmac of the airport when I stepped onto solid ground.

History shows that banishment was used to silence those who criticised a ruling party. History is replete with examples of imperial colonialists banishing unwanted people from their land of origin in order to serve imperial ‘ideals’, enabling forced labour and much else.

I reflect of all those who have been displaced through war. Heading for unknown destinations, exile, carrying what little belongings they can. Children strapped on their backs. Fear and confusion their companions, forced to be silent. To the borderlands or even farther afield. Foreign lands. Homesickness. Anguish –

I reflect on those who have had land stolen from them in the historical past and the deep wounds of being forced out of their ancestral lands – history books often banish or distort the truth.

I remember the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt where they had laboured long – and for those of you observing Pesach at this time, Chag Sameach.

We also banish unpleasant thoughts from our mind, not wanting to entertain them because they will make us uncomfortable. We may feel the sort of rage Lilith felt, yet are fearful of expressing it in any way. We may be unconsciously fearful that any displays of anger or rage will result in punishment or rejection and banishment similar to that meted out to Lilith – or Eve. We tame, exile, banish our primal real responses of outrage and collude in some way when we do not speak out. We are exiled from our true authentic selves … 

Thank you for reading!





44 Comments on B Banishment of Lilith

  1. Wonderful post with thought-provoking examples. I’ve never been physically banished, although I’ve backed away from unloving relationships, even if the relationships were old and had once been supportive. I can only think of a few examples. My husband and I were ready to ask for asylum in Canada if he had been drafted for the Vietnam War. He turned 26 right before we were married and was not drafted. That was the cut off age for the draft then. I’ve been fortunate when so many people are not. Your last paragraph grabbed by attention because I have a slow simmering rage about the ongoing needs of my mother-in-law. I’m now regathering forms that she threw out years ago since they’re needed for her Medicaid application. My dream therapist asked me what I do with this anger. I think it sinks into a toxic resentment and also depression. I have some psychological exploration ahead.

    • That’s a tough one you’re facing Elaine. Your dream therapist is right I guess … what do you DO with this anger? Do be careful of and for yourself. It’s happened to me when I’ve had an accident or mishap of some sorts to wonder what the origin of that was. Good luck with the psychological exploration … paint it? Also, that was a cutting it fine in terms of being drafted or not for Vietnam. Thank you for coming by …

  2. Hi Susan – out of sight out of mind … I’ve been through these processes – both self-inflicted and otherwise – but have never quite been banished. It’s sad and difficult … but self-realisation helps … as we know and understand more of who and what we are, and others’ reasons. A learning process in more ways than one. Thanks for this and your amazing commenters and replies by you – cheers Hilary

    • Thanks Hilary for coming by. They are hard to bear, both self inflicted and otherwise ‘banishments’ but as you say or imply it’s a learning process, not only about ourselves but about others too. The comments are always so rewarding, yours too, thank you for your support – so appreciated by me. Will be catching up on other A-Z’ers tomorrow .. Susan

  3. I’ve felt the feeling of banishment off and on throughout my life. I’ve learned to embrace it, and use the sense of not being wanted to my advantage. It’s a challenge to realize that you’re on your own, but it can be liberating. Maybe Lilith never showed up again because she found better things to do with herself than wait around for Adam to wise up!

    • Thanks Ally Bean for your comment. What a challenge to embrace banishment. I have found it very wounding indeed, but after some while I’ve acknowledged my role in being ‘hooked’. Which for me is liberating! Lilith does appear again, and again, and again … I hope you’ll stay awhile for the ride –

  4. Thank you for another very thought-provoking piece, Susan. I had never reflected on banishment previously. Lots to think about.

  5. In his beautiful book, “The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture and Psyche”, author, Daniel Deardorff, writes:

    “The choice is a simple one. It is the choice offered to Beauty and her sisters: What do you want? What is your desire? Will you choose the bright bows, buttons, and fine silks of the persona’s bright society? Or the soul’s desire, from which all troubles and sufferings flow ~ a single rose; but not just any common rose, it is the blossom plucked, on pain of death, from the deep forest garden of the Beast.”

    The insatiable need for social acceptance and approval banishes us from God, truth, ‘other’ and ourselves. As part of the collective, we’ve been culturally conditioned to accept superficial, cherry-picked presentations, to deny what’s unpleasant, to stubbornly look away and remain blissfully uninformed.

    It’s not a man/woman thing. One recent and notable example of this was the recent presidential election here in the US, with both major candidates and parties ~including the female candidate~ in service to corporatism, endless war, and empire. In a very real sense, to speak truthfully of this is to risk exile and banishment.

    • Thank you LB for your comment and the addition of Deardorff’s words ring that ring so true.

      The conditioning runs deep and we buy into it and thus collude in the deadening of our souls in the belief that ignorance is bliss. Thus we get what we unconsciously ask for I guess – and wonder why when we finally wake up, any attempt at protest is violently opposed by empire. But always, the question, who do you serve?

  6. I didn’t realize you had left S. Africa, Susan. How long were you gone?
    I think of all the people forced to leave because of race, religion, or whatever. How many times were Native Americans here forced from their land? And so many times, young girls are forced to marry, and then forever banished from the homes of their births because of dowries or other customs.

    • I was away from home for about 2 years living and working in London, a self-imposed exile from the land of my birth. Home always calls though – even the word ‘home’ had a sense of longing in it, comes to mind as I write. Which makes me think of the inner home as well .. 🙂

  7. I love this, Susan. You bring up so many important points.

    “Silenced – instigated by her partner when she wanted to experiment in lovemaking positions. Always being in a passive and recumbent position implied male supremacy with which she took great issue….In her rage and bitterness she blasphemed…”

    I especially love that you show Lilith as an ideal image for an archetypal reality many of us struggle with on a daily basis, not just related to sex, but also in relationships and the institutions of family, religion, education, business and government: the conflict between staying silent for the sake of peace, safety, and perhaps kindness too, vs. giving voice to our pain, sometimes with rage and bitterness, for the sake of assuming our own authority to be true to our own souls.

    Seems like I’ve spent much of my adult life picking my way carefully through the shadowy middle path between this pair of opposites, trying step-by-step to make choices that are right for me without causing undue pain for others. It’s a tough road to travel, yet surely it’s soul-making work, the path to growth and consciousness.

    Lilith seems to personify the risks one takes when choosing this path away from duality and conformity toward becoming oneself, or as Jung called it, individuation. I’ll be thinking about that the next time I come across her. Thank you.

    • Thank you Jeanie for highlighting the tension of the opposites which is like being in the fire. A crucible .. and the need for sitting in it and NOT jumping out of it. But just to sit and feel the conflict and not run away from it until such time as …

      Being an individual, true to one’s self, is a risky business. We each have our dark and light side which Lilith epitomises, and in this is a ‘beacon’ for us in the need to become conscious of those opposites within us all. ‘Soul making work, the path to growth and consciousness’ … thank you for your expressive articulation of that

      Lilith is an archetypal reality for women as well as for men though in a different way I suppose. To be further explored 🙂

  8. Haven’t experienced banishment, but can sure think of applying it to some folks, particularly in social-media circles with all the negative commentary. One more reason to love people like you, Susan — positive, offering something to learn. By the way, I learned a lot about Lilith from you. Fascinating. Thank you

    • Thank you for your kind and loving comment Silvia. Yes, we get it here too. Ongoing. Sometimes deserved, most times not so … especially pernicious when directed against eg rape victims … she must have deserved it etc.

  9. You brought to my attention, the times I have banished myself from toxic and even destructive relationships and situations. I’m grateful that it has not included my family although my former in-laws finally pushed the exit button. There is, certainly, a feeling of despair and yet beyond those emotions, one finds healing. I’m forever happy that I have the strength to walk away.

    Enjoying your A-Z as always.

    • Thanks Marsha for coming by. I too have used the exit button and it is liberating if only to reflect afterwards how it was that I got caught or ‘hooked’ in it. The despair in the midst of it was dreadful and very painful. In laws (outlaws) must have been especially difficult and tricky. It’s not easy to walk away but sometimes we DO know that this far and no further. It takes strength and courage to ‘unhook’ oneself …

  10. I have never been banished from anywhere but would like to banish certain people from my circle of friends for the toxicity that they add in my relationship with them.
    And I would like to banish some negative thoughts that refuse to go away. 😐

    • You are another fortunate person Shilpa! I also have the every now and again experience of wishing certain people to disappear off the face of the earth – some of our politicians for example. Toxic relationships are difficult indeed – thank you for coming by.

  11. Susan, Gratefully I don’t think I’ve felt banished in my life. But I am aware, painfully. how often that happens to others around me, in very subtle ways. Due to differences that shouldn’t matter.

    • You are fortunate indeed Beth to not have that happen to you – I am not sure I understand your last sentence though? I’ll think some more about that … thank you for coming by.

      • I feel people are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) impacted because of their race or religion, And it shouldn’t matter…

        • Thanks Beth – it is sad that differences in eg religion or race do seem to matter to others – and that they let the one know in subtle and unsubtle ways 🙁

  12. I enjoyed your post. It is too bad that God and Adam could not compromise a bit with Lilith rather than banishing her. Sadly, we see that mindset in parts of the Middle East and among some religions. Actually, if I think about it, women really have not been able to speak out for centuries.

    Because of the dynamics in my family, my brother and I never felt like accepted members of the family. There were many dynamics involved. Also, moving from one state to another as a child, being accepted was a problem as I didn’t stand up for myself or speak up. I think this is why I still don’t join groups. Then later, I went through a divorce from my ex-husband. It is interesting the lessons we learn. Plus, I’m learning to stand up for myself… Better Late than Never!

    It is an interesting and thoughtful post. Thank you!

    • Thanks Gwynn for coming by – it is true, sadly, that in parts of the ME and elsewhere women have been and are still horribly oppressed. Oppression though still happens in our so called civilised society though in more subtle ways .. in all walks of life.

      The dynamics in your family situation are ones that many share I would imagine. Always being on the move, not fitting into schools etc. It was so in my instance – at last count around 11 different schools. A parent or both not accepting the individuality of their children also happens too often and is hard to bear. Keep on standing up for yourself Gwynn; I’m right behind you 🙂

  13. I’m beginning to like Lilith. A role model she is. Banishment–definitely. Some resort to banishing rather than civil discourse. Sigh.

  14. Though I left my left my Mennonite community in my early twenties, I was never banished or shunned. Very fortunate.

    The only thing I want to banish from my life today is unpleasant thoughts or actions, Susan!

  15. The first thing that comes to my mind with the word banished, is Romeo’s speech when he learns he must leave Verona. I always seehim lying on the floor pounding and kicking like a two-year-old having a tantrum. LOL

  16. When Lilith was banished she still exerted an influence. Even though turned into a negative figure, or they tried to distort her into this, she persisted. It speaks to the value of the one on the edge, the sidelines and the power they have nonetheless. It is a hard place to be…

    • Her persistence against all odds and the projections put upon her is admirable. I like how you say about her being on the edge. It gives the necessary tension .. Thank you Susan for coming by.

  17. Magnificent post, Susan. My thoughts went first to the many refugees, hundreds of thousands wandering, simply to stay alive. Then soon turned to the banishment we do to ourselves, often fearing the same cause: survival. Who was it once said, if we fear death we can’t really live. I understand that now. Thank you.

    • Thank you Janet for coming by. Survival – such real hardships for many in their exile that for we who live in relative comfort and security is hard to fathom. Yet we do it to ourselves in less covert ways …

  18. Dear Susan, This is absolutely fantastic! Yes, I know ‘exile’ of the wild feminine well and resonate deeply as I wandered myself (allegorically) through T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land, alone, shunned, abandoning all my faith and hope … and yet without such a vexing experience I wouldn’t have felt the liberation and joy of ever entering the second half of my life. In pure synchronicity within the poem he writes, “April is the cruellest month.”

    The depth, richness, insight and courage of your words are plain to see. Just excellent! I will need to reread this post because one cannot digest such richness in one sitting alone! Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

    • Thank you Deborah for your always welcome and very complimentary comments. And thank you too for sharing your personal lived experience of being shunned, yet coming through it to express yourself as the depthful and beautiful poet you are ..

      April being the cruellest month – starting off with April Fool, which makes me think of the Fool Tarot card. Faith & doubt (strange bedfellows), hope – didn’t Eliot write about wait without hoping?

      I excerpted it – such beautiful words.

      ”I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

      Blessings to you xx

  19. Superb interpretation susan, loved reading every sentence from this post, and could relate to it easily, yes there have been moments in life where I felt banished when a few of my own were toxic.. its a challenging experience to move away exclude oneself but again i feel if I do not do it I would be exiling myself from being true to my identity:) very reflective post, am glad to have connected with you, as this post triggers a lot of my past experiences in life… thank you for sharing!!

    • Thank you very much for coming by Genevive. It’s tough having those experiences as I also know – from experience. Life is a long lived journey with all its triggers… as I write this though I’m thinking of the rose … is it more beautiful without its thorns? No … it needs its thorns even if they make us bleed.

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