Lilith as Catalyst

Lilith has had many projections made upon her and still does. She is seen as a demon who usurps man’s sperm while he sleeps at night, steals babies, tortures men by their overt sexuality, is wild, undomesticated, ruthless, destroying everything and everyone in her path. A harmful spirit who spreads chaos by casting spells all around her.  She is called ‘Alien Woman’, Impure Female’  – and many other such pejorative adjectives. This is a one dimensional approach though, but sadly, the images remain in the modern psyche.

She challenged the patriarchal authority, and though she was severely punished for this, she knew that her voice was to be honoured and not callously dismissed by those who thought her inferior and of no worth, worth only to be tamed into obedience and submission.

 Counter forces arise naturally when one’s ‘way in life’ is too one-sided, too fixed, too stagnant. Things cannot remain that way forever. I suppose they can if it serves the status quo or entropy. Lilith was such a counter force and thus was a catalyst – for change, for not settling for the status quo. Something in her must have said, no, things cannot always be like this. A real sense of her desire for freedom, not necessarily equality – some desire to stand as her own woman, to be her own ‘authority’ –

This is the energy of Lilith that we can use as a catalyst for our own awakening.

We see this today, strong women who say look at me, listen to me, who courageously write or speak of their pain and anguish in their lives from being oppressed from patriarchy. Their voices are being heard and shared gaining recognition for speaking out, in poignantly expressed lines of poetry, artworks, writings, laying bare and articulating what many times has been impossible to do. We receive a jolt  when we read and remember e.g. the witch hunts from the Middle Ages. We remember the courage of Rosa Parks (1913-2005) refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, and who helped initiate the civil rights movement in the United States. We remember the Quakers. We remember the Black Sash movement here in South Africa, started in 1955, by women, as a protest against apartheid. We remember the Helen Suzman’s of our world, the Ruth First’s, our past public protector Thuli Madonsela who stood up against our ruling party. We remember Malala Yousafzai who took a bullet to her head by the Taliban and young Emma Gonzàlez who stood in silence for over 6 minutes which is how long it took to mow down 17 students at the Parklands School in Florida. Standing up to the NRA no less –

So many many women past and present who said No! and took action. All catalysts for each of us. Lilith was the first. Eve the 2nd …

picture: Sumerin/Assyrian relief of Lilith – though this is in dispute by scholars ..


D: Daimon or daemon





34 Comments on C Catalyst Lilith

  1. I’m feeling the catalyst quality of the image, as well as the story. I love the Burney Relief (~1800 BCE) you use as the featured image. I’m working with this image right now–after dreaming about a large owl when I arrived in Arizona and then seeing one in the wild. A synchronicity, but I’m unclear about meaning so I’m digging around trying to connect the two. Some think the Burney Relief owls symbolize Lilith, but I don’t think we know. Inanna was clearly associated with owl in Sumeria. So back to your piece and the power of saying no. Thank you for all the work you’ve done in clarifying Lilith.

    • Thank you so much Elaine … I remember your writing about the owl dream in Az. A very powerful symbol. As wise as owls? Portent of doom here in South Africa among our indigenous people. I get very excited when I see one! Lilith is mentioned in tye Bible – Isiaah I think but I’d have to look up the reference – as a screech owl in lives in barren lands – something like that.

  2. Hi Susan – well this is enlightening me – I didn’t know about Lilith = shows my ignorance – which is now being covered over slightly … there have always been strong women, but they don’t always show above the parapet …cheers Hilary

    • Thanks Hilary … not many do know about her!!! Though she’s been written about in the theological psychological biblical literature etc! And plenty of strong women in our more recent past! xx

  3. Hi Susan
    I’m fascinated by this series. I’ve never heard of Lilith and hope in a future post to learn where this myth originated. Or, patience not being my strong suit, perhaps I’ll Google it. 🙂 May Women the world around discover the power of their voice, even when it shakes.

    • Hi Janet, thanks for coming by. Tomorrow I’ll be putting up a post on Eve, Lilith’s sister. Many books have been written about Lilith and the psychological implications of her. I too have a book ‘In Praise of Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden & other Stories’ on for about $3.40 as an ebook … maybe read the reviews and see what you think.

      I like what you say about the power of voice even if it shakes …

  4. Susan ~ Yes, catalyst is a good word. At her best, Lilith’s pain acts a catalyst for transforming personal suffering into empathy and compassion for others. Chelsea Manning (once known as Pvt. Bradley Manning), the transgender activist, whistleblower and former soldier who exposed US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq comes to mind. Sentenced to 35 years in prison, she was released after serving 7, with almost a year of her imprisonment having been spent in forced isolation (solitary confinement), something many experts have come to recognize is a form of torture.

    In addition to her lifelong search related to self and gender, as a soldier with access to classified records, she became deeply troubled by the documented cruelties she encountered daily as part of her work. When the executions, torture, and murder of thousands of innocent civilians (“real people”) finally became too much to bear, she released the records to Wikileaks in 2010.

    Since then, and though our system remains largely unchanged, Chelsea’s courageous decision to release those records continues to have a profound ripple effect on some. The first video released by Wikileaks, “Collateral Murder” informed my perspective, opened my eyes.

    • LB – it is right that you/we honour Chelsea Manning. Thank you for bringing her to our attention. I know of her transgendering and her leaking information and her incarceration. Also of your current pres. saying no transgender allowed in the military, navy etc…

      Let’s face it, it’s a pretty messed up world. As you say ‘…systems remain largely unchanged…’. Change is a slow dance for sure, but let’s be part of it.

      Thanks for coming by. I appreciate it …

  5. Lilith sounds interesting, like the way you have portrayed her Susan- bold, courageous and powerful enough to initiate change, loved all the examples of women you have spoken, feels so good to hear these women of substance:) thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Genevive for coming by .. glad you have liked what’s being said about her … her other side/s have still to be told ..

  6. Yes, a woman painted negatively enough by the patriarchy, so much so the image was ingrained in our psyche, damaging as it is to women in general.
    More power to you, and such strength mentioning all those names. Malala, just a child, now a young woman, I guess, returning to the place where she was shot in the head to be silenced, but silenced she was not, and so many others. Thank you for those hair raising, powerful words, and each and every name mentioned here. We’re stronger than we think, just need reminders.

    • Malala returned to her home just recently. A young woman of 19 … some now dead, as our own Winnie Madikazile Mandela, a struggle icon and activist who died yesterday aged 81. She was married to Mr. Nelson Mandela (he was 19 years her senior) our past president but divorced soon after his release from prison. Listening to the coverage of her life has been extraordinary .. revered by many, shunned by many. There is no doubt that she faced appalling difficulties being the wife of Mr. Mandela was he was in prison for 27 years. From brave struggle activist to being convicted of murder and fraud, to being a loving mother and grandmother .. a Lilith incarnate. Thanks Silvia for coming by.

  7. I wasnt aware of Lilith’s strengths and that she was a catalyst for change. Thanks for an informative and insightful post, Susan!

  8. Hi, Susan – I am very inspired about how you are unfolding this story in such a Clever, Captivating and Creative manner. I look forward to Catching more!

  9. I’ve always like the idea of being a catalyst. I don’t think that I am, but I admire any woman who can make change happen. Lilith led the way, and for her troubles is misrepresented in history. Ain’t that just the way?

    • We can each be a catalyst for change Ally Bean, and we are in our ways, whether for good for ill depending on which polarities of Lilith we embrace. Just embracing change is a good start instead of remaining stuck in the status quo 🙂 Thank you for coming by.

  10. I absolutely embrace Lilith as catalyst, and I’m always amazed when people don’t see this as one of her most powerful aspects. She may have been banished, but such treatment was never met with meekness. Brandishing righteous fire is how I love to think of Beloved Lilith, and all the courageous women embodying her spirit in our world.

    • Brandishing righteous fire – what a lovely and apt image Deborah thank you! Meek and mild she was not, and is today not meek and mild. There are other aspects to her .. her polarities that we also own, but I’ll get to that! Thank you for coming by, much appreciated!

  11. A most inspiring and encouraging post, Susan. We need to remember Lilith and the names of these courageous women who carry her spirit. They embolden us to rise above our timidity and complacency. Thank you.

    • Thank you Jeanie – we are emboldened by all who speak out. Although I guess many of us remain silent in part because of timidity, conformity & complacency. We need support of men and women who do not see a strong woman as a threat …

  12. Oh my Goddess Susan, you’re cooking up a storm today. Sister, your alchemical oven is on fire! I love how your fiery words become catalysts themselves, transforming all who visit your, “Garden of Eden” this month. Today your words burn brightly with powerful Crone wisdom! From Waste Lands to Witch Lands to Parklands, strong women are still rising up again and again to corrupt patriarchal authority shouting, “Nooooo!” Women’s voices will never be drown, the tide has turned and it’s rocking fucking the world! In sisterhood and in soul, Deborah.

    • We’re about to have a storm as I write Deborah! Thank you for your encouraging words. Lilith has got me by the short and curlies for sure as all these Lands of Lilith are traversed. I may use that as an ‘L’ post … 🙂 – and laughter for loose language 🙂 I wonder if you meant to say ‘flipping the world’ – what would our grandmothers say? In sisterhood and soul, from my land to yours, Susan

  13. Eve the second. That’s interesting. You listed some strong women as catalysts for a better future. Great reading, Susan.

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