E : Eve, Lilith’s sister

In an earlier post in this thread of Lilith, I mentioned Lilith & Eve in the Garden of Eden as being the first trailblazers. Please remember that I am treating this story as a myth for the purpose of extracting some psychological meanings from the acts of Lilith who challenged Adam, and Eve who disobeyed the prohibition of not eating the apple.

Many authors, historians & theologians who have written about the fall from Paradise, view it as the rise from an ouroboric, unconscious, innocent and childlike state; that something had to happen to precipitate Eve & Adam’s departure from the Garden. For Paul Tillich (Western theologian), the Fall represented ‘…a fall from the state of dreaming innocence…’ ‘…and awakening from potentiality into actuality; and that the ‘fall’ was necessary for the development of humankind, a symbol for the human situation, not a story of an event that happened ‘once upon a time’.

I imagine Lilith in the depths of the Red Sea pondering her Fate and that of Eve. She temporarily shed her pain and anguish and returned in disguise as a serpent (I’ll write later of Lilith as serpent and symbol of transformation) and tempted Eve to take the apple. I imagine Eve being presented with a choice – to remain forever dependent in the Garden or to experience the world beyond, even given the very high stakes.

She took the apple, chewed and swallowed it, pips and all. And gave it to Adam to do the same. The digesting came later but the immediate consequence was the Authority admonishing Adam for eating the apple. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. This issue of blaming and not being accountable continues today in all spheres of society.  Even worse, denial –

From a world of perfect (unconscious) unity, they were immediately thrust into a new world, that of duality. Thrust into a world of as yet unknown opposites. To experience pain and pleasure, life and death, good and evil, divinity and mortality. Now they were fixed by time and space, fixed by corruptible bodies whose forms would not endure.

Is there meaning in disobeying injunctions and expulsion from Paradise? Are there times in our lives when we go against the taboo? A few myths come to mind – Bluebeard’s wife using the key she was prohibited from using to open a certain door which she did while he was away a’hunting, and discovering his dreadful secret. Psyche going against Eros’ injunction to not look upon him in his aware state. Anthony Stevens writes about breaking the taboo* : ‘Expulsion from Paradise results in contact with the real world and a development in consciousness’. ‘Disobedience is about defying the dominant male, refusing to be subordinate and coming to selfhood. It is a necessary step on the path to individuation, the realisation in consciousness of one’s full Self-potential’. **

“The Garden is a metaphor for the following: our minds, and our thinking in terms of pairs of opposites – man and woman, good and evil -are as holy as that of a god. Joseph Campbell

Thank you for reading!

*Anthony Stevens: Ariadne’s Clue: A Guide to the Symbols of Mankind

** Robert Johnson: She: Understanding Feminine Psychology









34 Comments on E Eve Lilith’s sister

  1. Another wonderful post about breaking out of Paradise. Thank you, Susan. I’ve long held that Psyche’s breaking of two rules–don’t look at her beloved Eros and don’t open Persephone’s Box of Beauty–were essential for moving her toward consciousness and wholeness. Living with the opposites and making choices is how we move toward consciousness. I spent many years with a male teacher who had a patriarchal streak along with great kindness and inner depth. I’m grateful for all I learned from him, but looking back, I wish I’d broken more rules.

    • Those are wonderful examples Elaine thank you! Persephone’s Box of Beauty … we have to break rules and taboos that do not serve us or any one else! Many of our dearly beloved men and mentors retain that WASP or patriarchal attitude yet have an inner depth and kindness. Maybe sensing their feminine within? – not yet fully embedded and embodied?

      I so appreciate your coming by thank you!

  2. I remember one of my brother arguing with in our early days of adolescence that all misery was caused by eve because she broke the commandment and also made adam disobey the commands…. I continued to listen to the similar kind of statements sometimes even in the sermons and it appeared that eve was the reason for all the problems created in the world…. of course later on I heard and also read that God has given all of us the freedom to choose and hence blaming is not allowed. We are now responsible for every choice we make in our lives… disobedience, as a necessary step to the path of individuation is something I never heard. the story of lilith as Eve’s sister is new to me and I am also enjoying the discussions…in your comment section… Thanks for sharing, every post is a learning experience for me susan:)

    • That is a lovely lesson to have learned Genevive, that because of free choice, blaming is not allowed. I wonder how many have heard that wise message …We ARE responsible for the choices we make – though we often make them unconsciously as I do when eg over-eating. I can ‘blame’ no-one but myself if there’s to be any blame – healthier that I look to the source of my hunger, which is surely not food. The comments really do widen the lens for me and I’m glad for you too. I SO appreciate your coming by ..thank you.

  3. Hi, Susan – Thank you for providing another very thought-provoking read, and for inspiring such truly insightful comments. The pieces are cleverly coming together.

  4. Hi Susan – gosh I’m glad I’m not the only one floundering here … and now I’m piecing the pieces together somewhat – and understanding Lilith in the story – not her … the puzzle is starting to come together … thanks for this and your intelligent commenters – cheers Hilary

    • Floundering? Nice F word Hilary, I may use it for F … the whole story of Lilith is a puzzle and it takes ages to put the pieces back together. The comments are so valuable – Thank you for coming by and have a great weekend! Susan

  5. I wonder if Eve and Adam actually lived in the Garden of Eden. That was just a lie presented us to perpetuate blame on the female sex, as well as to guiltily accept authoritative figures. What if by eating the apple, Eve set forth in motion for humanity to go into the Garden of Eden.

    • A lot of blame has been passed onto women for Eve taking the apple. But looked at another way she does as you imply, facilitate going forth into the 2nd Garden of Eden. Thanks Su-sieel for coming by.

  6. A lot of of symbolism here indeed. I think the saying goes, only those who try resisting temptation know how strong it is.
    Our minds and hearts are called in the wrong direction constantly. Interesting — the Lilith and Eve story, Lilith’s name almost completely gone from mention today.

    • Thanks Silvia – I imagine that for all of us who are addicted in some way or the other, whether food, drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, being control freaks, whatever, the temptation for that must be huge and resistance sooo difficult ..

      Plenty on Lilith coming up!

  7. Thanks for another interesting and thought-provoking post, Susan.

    In our search for wholeness and wisdom, our larger consciousness always comes at a cost. Once we know, we become responsible for choosing ~ without blindly (and unconsciously) deferring to external sources and systems. Ignorance is bliss, which makes denial and deferral tempting alternatives ~ as you’ve rightly pointed out.

    In understanding the symbolism of the story as it relates to this ongoing process of becoming conscious, Edward Edinger (in “Ego and Archetype”) takes it a step further in saying ” . . . the myth symbolizes the birth of the ego. The effects of this birth process is to alienate the ego from its origins. It now moves into a world of suffering, conflict and uncertainty. . .”

    We leave the garden and the womb and enter the world, where we’re constantly challenged to be in the world but not of it. It’s why Jesus told his followers to ” . . . be wise as *serpents* and harmless as doves.” Which leave no room for war hawks or the weapons of war and oppression our worldly rulers and systems would have us believe in and defer to.

    • Thank you LB very much for coming by. Becoming conscious of the conflict in making a choice is an achievement. Making that choice and knowing that one bears the intended or unintended consequences of it is a huge responsibility. We are not free of that responsibility much as we would like to believe otherwise.

      Edward Edinger’s quote is so apt. Thank you for it. The time may come when a well developed and healthy ego can be in service to the Self. This is our task.

      As is Jesus’ saying to be of the world yet not in it… ‘and to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves’.

      Will the day ever come when the lion will lie down with the lamb? I wonder …

  8. I think there is some perverse happiness and immense curiosity to break taboos or giving in to temptation.The craving and desire is so powerful that one forgets the consequences.

    • I agree Shilpa – Oscar Wilde said ‘The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it’ – when I look at delicious things to eat, yielding is easier and instant gratification is my ‘reward’ .. for a moment .. the desire/craving is large indeed, maybe masking other kinds of desires? But becoming conscious of the conflict is an achievement.

  9. Perhaps taboos are meant to be broken, so that human beings can move forward into better places– leaving behind that which doesn’t serve them, acquiring that which does serve them? A thought.

    • Who/what do you serve – the famous question asked by the wounded king of one of the knights of the Round Table. I would look it up if I could Ally Bean but right now there is no electricity! But always an important question, thank you. If the electricity comes back on tonight I will look it up .. (someone’s cable has been damaged due to construction where I live – dim light from my computer and battery running out!)

  10. Excellent post. I’ve been reading about taboos in ancient communities and how those who broke them were handled. Fascinating insights, Susan.

  11. I had never heard of Lilith prior to meeting you and reading your first book so your stories are intriguing to me. Lilith’s determination to do things her way and to encourage others to break out of the “mold” actually is very necessary. We learn from the good and the bad. We experience much by questioning authority. Thanks for the education, Susan. I’m enjoying your posts.

    • Thanks Gwynn – we can also question our own authority I guess. Keep things fluid and flowing instead of too fixed and too firm?

  12. Dear Susan, Great read! I’m loving your whole “Lilith” theme. Just the mythological and numinous image of Lilith returning as serpent to seek revenge on the patriarchal authority fills my heart with joy! So when “choice” presents itself and Eve chooses life outside her beautiful cage, Eden is abandoned (yippee!) forever.

    From this moment, in a flash! We move from unity to duality, to divided world and divided self. My Jungian studies have helped me greatly to understand the Yin/Yang energy in the world and self. Thank you so much for sharing your own deep studies, insight and Crone wisdom with us. Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

    • Thank you Deborah for your comment. Duality is the condition of consciousness. How could we know light without knowing darkness is my first thought. Was Lilith seeking revenge? Was she more compassionate towards Eve, wanting her not to suffer subservience in the Garden as she did? Was there a second Eden awaiting? Is unity possible (again) at some later stage? All warm wishes to you –

  13. I think we are all tempted by certain taboos and curious about others. Tell someone not to do something and often they will do it or deeply ponder doing it. I think it’s a natural human trait. The Lilith angle is interesting.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  14. Dear Susan;
    The garden also represents the feminine. It seems the feminine is most pervasive in this story and her search is what brings consciousness. But we also need the relational balance of the masculine and that seems to be also what the myth is telling us…

    • Thanks very much Susan, yes I plan to use the garden in some way in the G post & the masculine has to be brought in – maybe in tomorrow’s post, still to be drafted 🙂

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