A group of bloggers from around the world participate inWe are the World Blogfest, (#WATWB) and post once a month on the last Friday of the month. It is our attempt to bring and promote good news: a story of a person, or group, or organisation that is seen to be making the world a better place, in so many ways. The blogging also serves to shine a little light on the dark that pervades our planet, and to show that there is much good in the world whether small acts of kindness or on a larger scale …
I love this story that shows business and community in action, caring for our beautiful planet. We’re all aware of plastic, oil spills and trash that lands up in the oceans and threaten coral and sea life. The birds who use the seas and land for food and breeding also get the short end of the stick. SA Plastic refers to South Africa. We cannot emphasise enough how we absolutely have to take care of our own trash, and minimise it in any way we can. Not only for other living sentient land, sea and air creatures, but for ourselves and future generations. And pick up litter when we see it –
#AtoZ Lilith April Blog Challenge Reflections Post
Firstly, a huge thanks to Arlee Bird and all the hosts of the #April A-Z Blog Challenge for their encouragement and support throughout!
I’ve been reflecting on this latest April A-Z blog challenge for several days already. I decided only just before the sign-up deadline to take part. I’d known that April was going to be a busy month, what with being away for 10 days or so during April so I thought this time round I’d give it a miss. Plus, there were ongoing travel arrangements to be made for Europe in June. Plus the usual busyness of everyday life.
But Lilith and the Dark Feminine pressed upon me. The #metoo movement when women were speaking up and out, the political dramas here and abroad, the destruction of Mother Earth were also issues that pressed on me, and had me wondering about this missing archaic feminine energy.
This time round unlike previous April A-Z blog challenges, I created my posts only on the day. In the beginning I’d stated that I would keep my posts to 500 words or less, but this did not happen!
It was worth the sweat for me … I learned SO much from the comments and the engagement of those who came by and I’m still learning. I was challenged and affirmed, broadened and deepened in ways I could not have imagined. I am deeply grateful to all who came by knowing how time is so precious. The A-Z posts that I did follow were wonderful. If I had the know-how I would provide links to them.
I so appreciated the tweeting that many of you did. I would look at twitter occasionally and be amazed at how often my posts were re-tweeted. Thank you!
I would have liked to get to many more other A-Z blog posts even if they did not come to mine. I failed in that regard. I also didn’t put up the icon for each letter of the day as I have up top – for Reflections post.
I’ve gathered from the stats site that there were many 100’s of likes even if not comments. Do the stats mean anything to me? I suppose on some level they do; on another level not so much. All I know is that I LOVED the engagement on Lilith and being stretched in so many ways. I have you to thank for that – thank you!
The above photo of a butterfly wing is one I took a year or so ago which I found on the driveway in Plettenberg Bay. Why do I choose this one when I have plenty of other images? Well, it’s beautiful while sad in a way that the butterfly ‘lost’ a wing. I guess it’s a reminder to me to look for all that has been lost, still to be found. And to find the sacred in the mundane –
Thank you for reading – this post is (just) under 500 words!
I’ve so appreciated your coming by to the April A-Z blog challenge! Thank you so much! You’ve all helped immeasurably in highlighting the necessity of uncovering the wounds of the rejected Lilith and the Dark Feminine and the need to re-claim her gifts, of courage and persistence and willingness ‘to stand on the edge’ inter alia; and putting into perspective the patriarchal oppression – even by women – of this mythological figure, ongoing today as it is in all spheres of life. Your comments always opened the way for further dialogue, further clarification, further questioning, and a further knowing that our voice counts. Your support was wonderful thank you again!
Ally Bean: Eve offered knowledge, Lilith offered emotions? Is that how one thinks about these two female archetypes? Just wandering down my own path of musings …
Genevive: we are creatures of habits and once we get accustomed of wearing a skin which makes us feel at home and comfortable, it is not easy to let go of it.
Jean: 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.
Sandra: (faerie embassy) sometimes I am so intent on shedding the old and love the exhilaration when it is cast aside and the skin is new to the breeze and life is fresh and a little awkward, and other times I hang on for dear life (of the ego) to the habit not even wanting to peel a little. that both can inhabit me simultaneously is part of the journey …
Hilary: … that puts my present life into perspective … I am shedding a skin to restart anew, remembering myself, yet appreciating what I need to learn in this particular situation.
Donna: It is the shared discussion that leads to a richness of understanding that we could never have reached alone.
Silvia: I too wonder at all the what ifs. What if, for example, Eve was portrayed as being her own being rather than part of the man? Womanhood as a whole may have had quite a different existence.
LB: Maybe the dark, solitary journey of the dark feminine begins with the shattering of illusions and ties (to family, tribe, nation, empire), and it’s in this ripping away and apart that our quest and deeper questionings begin.
Elaine: Looking at recent history, it’s no wonder the Repressed Feminine is enraged. Nature herself is also enraged. This harming of the feminine goes back and back and back. Even with a lifetime of psychological work behind me, I struggle to release myself from my patriarchal values, passed on to me by my mother more than my father. I read this quote from Pema Chodron this week: ““The kindness that I learned from my teachers, and that I wish so much to convey to other people, is kindness toward all qualities of our being. The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve just blown it, when things are falling apart for us. Maitri, or loving-kindness, means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness with others.”
Andrea Mathieson: (very much shortened) This long conversation that you have initiated, Susan, is part of a larger restorative process; what I’m suggesting is that this opening is not just for personal growth. It is not a strictly human issue. I see Lilith’s presence emerging ever more strongly in our consciousness as part of the primal nature of the earth itself. Call this energy the wisdom of creation, the intelligence of nature, or the lumen naturae (light within matter) Lilith is reappearing and must be welcomed and integrated.
Let us be patient with one another
and even patient with ourselves.
We have a long, long way to go.
So let us hasten along the road,
The road of human tenderness and generosity.
Groping, we may find one another’s hands in the dark.
Thank you all so so much for accompanying me and others on this journey!
Yes to You: Lilith Even if the whole earth will fall to pieces, the unity of the psyche would never be shattered. And the wider and more numerous the fissures on the surface, the more the unity is strengthened in the depths’. C.G. Jung
Jean Raffa: We need to see the sacred transforming power of sorrow and grief and rebellion. We need to be reminded that we, ourselves, are sacred beloved souls, loved for exactly who and what we are and were born to be, fully deserving of respect and kindness.
Donna: Retirement Reflections: I agree that we all have a ‘light’ and ‘dark’ side and that the important thing is how we choose to treat each side.
Deborah Gregory: A truly wonderful memorial for Naka and her Ave Maria. What a story, and what a song to sing at the Taj Mahal! Wonderful, much like the lovely choir of voices gathered here in the Garden of Eden in search of the Wild Feminine.
Pam: pjlazos “The sins of the father” isn’t just a quaint concept. Not only do we pass down our DNA, we pass along our thoughts and feelings and prejudices. If the world is ever to change, it needs to start with each one of us
Donna:It is the shared discussion that leads to a richness of understanding that we could never have reached alone.
Elaine Mansfield:When worship of the warrior gods, including Yahweh, destroyed worship of the Great Goddess, they broke our sense of connection and our roots.
Arti: Nature is never narrow.. It’s Mother Nature’s abundance that soothes us always, without question, complaints or judgement.
Sandra: fairie embassy – for years and still hot on the scent of the feminine … my sense is that women do fear loss of control because we are uncontrollable – wild fey turbulent volcanic surging with grace and eddies of calm.
Janet Givens: May Women the world around discover the power of their voice, even when it shakes.
LB:A more conscious Lilith faces the ‘taboo’, suffers and is transformed, experiences the fullness of a life filled with pain and joy, lived on the edges of societal norms, surrenders to God (or Source, or whatever word we use) and returns to the Tree of Life.
Shilpa Garg: When you mention about integration of the two archetypes, I am reminded of Ardhanarishvara which is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu God Shiva and his wife Parvati. Ardhanarishwar also symbolizes that the male and female principles are inseparable and it conveys the unity of opposites in the universe.
Marian Beaman:Through the women in my family heritage, I saw the feminine face of God, who transcends gender in my opinion. Thus, I was grounded in my ancestry, able to move forward into the light.
Deborah Gregory: Perhaps your “Animus” was out of balance and needed reorienting? While rapt on the wild feminine, Lilith, can be a JOY … there comes a time when the body breaks down, well down to the bone in my case, before we tune inwards. Here’s one of my challenging animus adventures: http://theliberatedsheep.com/animus-diet-part-three/Deborah’s link is pretty powerful, as is all her poetry.
Silvia: We experience her and know her, as we roll through cycles of light and darkness back to light. We owe her more light, more goodness, for she is us, and we are her.
It’s the last Friday of the month in which we post good news from around the world as a way of deflecting from negative news that takes too much space. Our co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion, Simon Falk, Michelle Wallace , Mary J. Giese.Thank you. Do pop by and say hello. Their posts are sure to be inspiring.
The linky link should you wish to join is:
http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=277138 It’s a matter of adding your name to the list, adding the badge in your side bar, posting some good news, saying why it inspires you, keeping it apolitical and non-religious, and a post that shows brother/sisterhood humanity in action. Do share on social media using #WATWB.
Today 27 April, is the day we voted in our first democratic election 24 years ago when Mr. Nelson Mandela became our president. It’s a public holiday, known as Freedom Day (still a long way to go though). The video below is so well worthwhile with live footage over the years. The 2 min video brought tears to my eyes. There’s even a moment of Mr. Mandela doing the jive! And our new pres Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa at the end –
When we have hope. We have everything.
To celebrate Freedom Day, GRID Worldwide have started a new social media campaign called #HopeJoanna… an idea to bring back hope and optimism to all South Africans.
“Let’s not forget about what the cost was. We have had so much adversity and many triumphs. Let’s never forget our struggle for freedom. But let’s love our diversity and let’s move ahead with intention. We are a great nation, never allow insecurity to cloud our resolve. Towards greatness. Share with your own love for our country.”
#HopeJoanna is more than just a campaign. It’s a social movement. And they are inviting each and every South African, to embark on this renewed journey of hope and optimism that we are experiencing in our country.
“We’ve all experienced the highs and lows of our beautiful South Africa. Even through the toughest of times, we have come out triumphant because we as a nation are resilient. And one thing always rings true, that when we have hope, we have everything.
We invite you to share your stories of hope with your fellow South Africans using #HopeJoanna. Let’s remind ourselves of all the wonderful, colourful and diverse things that we love about each other. Let’s come together in hope, because there is no better time than now.”
To kick off the campaign, the team have released an inspirational short film. Watch it below:
I‘m going to post a few of your past reader comments over these last few days of April as a way of putting the X ray onto Lilith. I’ll do that for Y as well, and Z. They will be short excerpts.
Jean Raffa: ‘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’.
Susan E. Schwartz: ‘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’
Deborah Gregory: ‘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.” ‘
Gwynn Rogers: 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.
Silvia (writes): ‘A woman (is) painted negatively enough by the patriarchy, so much so the image was ingrained in our psyche, damaging as it is to women in general’.
Deborah Weber: ‘ 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’.
Elaine Mansfield: ‘My first philosophic teacher introduced me to the idea of daemon around 1970 as we studied Greek philosophy. He had a positive view of daemon as the inner voice that leads us in the right direction. I’ve held on to that and listened for that quiet voice. I’m always searching for a compassionate response to my demons who get out of control when I ignore their whispered needs. Who doesn’t know that sense that all possible demons have invaded and are running the show?’
LB: ‘As part of her journey, a conscious, self-aware, and intuitively tuned-in Lilith is capable of deep grief and profound remorse, and is far less likely to personally project or be exploited by opportunistic collective movements’… and in another post: ‘At her best, Lilith’s pain acts a catalyst for transforming personal suffering into empathy and compassion for others’.
Genevive: ‘I think we must learn to acknowledge the demon, address it as it is part of our lives to be able to deal with it’
Susan E. Schwartz: ‘I always find it so intriguing that daimon is so close to demon. We all have to sit and let both seep into our souls and deal with them’… and again in another post ‘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’…
Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments!
I was up early this morning attending to some matters I should’ve done last night. With a mug of hot tea as fortification I accomplished a fair bit. Then I went for a walk – I was in a bit of a day dream and found myself not taking my usual route – I wondered whether to turn back after a while, but I pressed on. It was refreshing. I soon removed my scarf.
While walking, I was wondering what to say in today’s W word for Lilith. She’s around the world in us in one way or the other, we have her in our astrological charts, lunar, her wounds, her strengths, her wildness, and I like that she spent time in the salty Red Sea – salt being one of the three primary alchemical elements, sulphur and mercury the other two. 2 Sundays back when we were at the Plettenberg Bay Nature Reserve I took this short video. My son did the necessary from my phone to put it in a drafts folder for my blog. So, I’m using it today – I like that these hippos were wallowing one moment above water, descending into it the next, not unlike Lilith –
A few women writers from earlier times have defended Eve and her actions. They write from their own perspective and experience and not from that of a patriarchal view. They may not have ‘known’ of Lilith –
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 -1179) was benign to Eve, seeing in her the woman who bestows divinity onto humanity and seeing in her the prefiguration of Mary. Pain in childbirth is not seen as inevitable or a curse. Rather, each time the Mother gives birth, the hidden God is revealed. By giving birth, God’s image is revealed in every child that is born. *
Christian de Pizan (1365 -1430) was disillusioned with the male humanists of the era who had a denigrating view of women. She argues that Eve was made in the image of God and that Adam & Eve’s souls were of equal value. Eve, she writes, since she was fashioned from the rib of Adam, shows that she should be at his side as a companion, not as a slave, and that a master craftsman’s hand must have been at work to make Eve out of Adam. **
Sarah Joseph Hale (1788-1879) contends that Adam needed assistance to cultivate his good qualities and ‘left to himself, his love becomes lust, patriotism (becomes) policy; and religion, idolatry. He is naturally selfish in his affections; and selfishness is the sin of depravity’. Eve took the apple because of her ‘higher faculties of the mind, … desire for knowledge and wisdom,’ and that Adam ate with ‘compliance’, typical of a person of a ‘lower nature’ and motives no higher ‘than gratifying his sensuous inclinations’. ***
If Adam had not taken the apple that Eve offered, would he still be waiting for his supper?
It was 25 years ago when I flew down to Cape Town to be with my mother for her 80th birthday. Her cousin Naka Pillman had also travelled to be with us. Naka died last week a little short of her 99th birthday, so it is in honour of her that I’m writing this.
Naka was a larger than life character. A world traveller, writer, artist, craftswoman, well known in her field and for her contribution to South African history. My mother was looking lovely, happy to have her family with her. Naka was dressed in her usual flamboyant style, wearing cloths from all around the world, bracelets and beads adorning her, wearing a bandana, her wild and curly hair that escaped framing her delicately boned face, her eyes as blue as cornflowers.
One of the stories she told us was of her then recent trip to India on her own. She rose early to go to the Taj Mahal. She said about the early pink gleaming light as she walked. She said that she went to the very top of the Taj. She was aware of the acoustics right at the top. Gripped by a sudden desire to sing, she asked her guide permission. No no he said, no singing. But she got her way, and sang Ave Maria. She said the air was filled with the sweetest sounds – and while singing, completely unexpectedly, she received an answer to a personal question that had been plaguing her for many years. The voice was clear and commanding … and on that she made her particular life decision …
Ave Maria, maiden mild Oh, listen to a maiden’s prayer For thou canst hear amid the wild ‘Tis thou, ’tis thou canst save amid despair
We slumber safely till the morrow Though we’ve by man outcast reviled Oh maiden, see a maiden’s sorrow Oh mother, hear a suppliant child *
Since ancient times, countries have been been involved in war. Karen Armstrong in ‘The Axial Age’ (known as a pivotal period in history that dates from 800 to 200 BC) writes how in times of need, forces arise to counterviolent times. “One of the things that is very striking is that all the great sages were living in a time like our own—a time full of fear, violence, and horror.Their experience of utter impotence in a cruel world impelledthem to seek the highest goals and an absolute reality in the depths of their beings”.
Your voicesin the comments have made my soul sing, my heart and mind broadened in so many ways, I am so grateful. Thank you so much. You are all sages in our current times, a feminine energy sorely needed as counter-force.
*As sung by Celine Dion. Different renditions use different words. (The Latin is very particular)
I took this photograph in Plettenberg Bay in October last year when I was there. It is a washed up log (still there, I saw it last week). From this angle I can see a creature on the right hand side, with an eye, with its fish tail ending in the middle on the left hand side, embracing the cave – maybe a slumbering serpent underneath –
Does Lilith represent a universal myth? Isn’t she just one of those stories from so long ago? The ‘herstory’ is not a pretty one; full of angst and drama, revenge, entanglement, diminishment, humiliation, unsound, flight and fights. Haven’t we got over these primitive ways of being already? Surely we are more civilised?
Civilisation – where and what has it brought us?
What does rejection of the dark feminine really mean? All that hurt, pain, rage, loss and betrayal – is this really necessary for growth?
Do we keep it buried underground and uphold a veneer of calm in order to appear civilised, for fear that were it to emerge it would erupt into a volcano? I work at a doctor’s rooms on a regular basis as receptionist and managing other rooms things. A patient will come through to the reception area after seeing the doctor to book the operation either for herself or her child in tow. In discussing dates, times, procedures etc, she may say that she is very nervous if she is the one to have it. Of what I ask? Of being under anaesthetic, she responds. O I ask? Why? If I’m under anaesthetic she will say, I have no control. That is always interesting to me though for professional reasons I can’t ask any further much as I would like to. But I wonder what she thinks will happen if she is no longer ‘in control’. Or if she even wonders? Do we have a fear of not being ‘in control’ of our dark energies if we allowed them to emerge? The rage that we feel, the hurt, the anger, the unfairness, the grief –
How much have we all internalised and ‘normalised’ the patriarchal way of life? It goes so far back. It is evident in today’s society, so much harm being done. I remember the rape trial of the ex-president some years ago. The ANC Womens League turned up at the courts daily in their thousands, bussed in from far and wide in support of the then president. They shouted slogans at Fezekile Kuzwayo, known as Khwezi, who brought the rape charges against him, that she was a slut, a whore. The trial was ugly. Zuma’s lawyer, a male, brought in her earlier child rape experiences and concluded that as a 5 year old she must have been willing to have had sex with a man in his 30’s.
In war, rape, pillage, killing of innocents are seen as part of the spoils – collateral damage. The country that steps into a foreign one as an ally, sells weapons to the enemy at the same time. Highest bidder wins each time. Deals go on behind closed doors in the political power boardrooms, each angling for a way to be on top of the pile.
What is our arsenal?
Would the world be wiser and healthier if we brought feminine energy into our lives and became more conscious of the gifts she brings? If she spoke her truth, so too can we.
Is there a way we can repair the wound to both men and women?
‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’: This carries the ‘hidden’ assumption that we love ourselves, and therefore we can love our neighbour as ourself. And being ourself we love ourselves, because we are worthy. We have intrinsic value – each part of ourselves. And we can love the other as ourself. Not loving yourself means not loving your neighbour – is this one of the reasons that we project onto the other, and make it our enemy? To deny this love of self is also to deny compassion towards ourselves and therefore to others. Can the injunction, love thy neighbour as thyself, including the unknown stranger within, help towards healing ourselves and the world?
Is this maybe our arsenal – that we are willing to go deeper into our lunar energy in reclaiming love and feminine wisdom?
We drove from Plettenberg Bay to the George International Airport last Friday to fly back home. This time en route I took photos of two road signs, which I meant to use in my last post. But, since I didn’t I’m using them now. The first one is a little shady –
The Garden of Eden with its 2 trees: one in the centre the other fairly close by. The Tree of Life in the centre, at the juncture of the 4 rivers (Pishon, Gihon, the Tigris, Euphrates), the other The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, its lush fruits for the picking –
Why were they separated?
What to make of the Tree of Life? When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Authority had angels and cherubim swoop down and place flaming swords guarding its path so that they could not make their exit from that Tree. They had to go the serpentine road out of Paradise –
It is said that the reason for this is, now that their eyes were opened and ‘knowing’ good and evil that, had they taken the Tree of Life‘s path, they would have been immortal, and their sins and the sinners would be forever eternal, and never die. Forever living in an imperfect world –
Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and exiled from the Garden of Eden, gave them the opportunity to live in the world and act on their G.d given free-will, to use their discernment and ability to make choices between right and wrong. And maybe, in time, they would earn the right to return and to pluck from the Tree of Life – but, for the moment, it was taboo …
I’ve heard it said that in order to be truly alive, we need to carry within ourselves the seeds of our own destruction. Adam & Eve ingested the seeds which, while they had the potential for good, now also had the potential for evil.
Are we carriers of seeds of self-destruction? It would seem so, the way we’re hurtling towards an uncertain and unstable future. And the plundering of the planet, not recognising it for the treasure it is.
Lilith has taboos against her because of her being seen inter alia as wily, unclean and as a temptress. Yet, we often fail to see beyond this one-sided view of her, and fail to see the need to experience her in all her modalities and her transformative powers, if we can but recognise her also as a Light Bringer –
I’m adding an excerpt from a comment that Elaine Mansfield made on my R post Re-imagining Lilith, today: “Pay close attention to what makes you mad. Watch anger because it’s a teacher. That forever changed my attitude about “negative” emotions. I don’t blast away with rage, but I watch what makes me angry and see if it’s asking me to act or asking me to reflect”.
Did Lilith speak a lying truth in her stating that ‘when you eat of it you shall be like G.d’? Surely this is blasphemous? Yet, it is from this extreme and deceptive statement that the drama begins. In the shaking of the foundations lies the salvation. Her creation was necessary to get Eve and Adam out of the Garden, to exercise their G.d given gift of free-will (such a deceptive gift), for the ego to emerge from its captivity into the world of mind and matter, man and nature, self and other ..
I see Lilith and Eve as two trailblazers whose innocence was sacrificed in order to bring a greater awareness of the meaning of knowledge of good and evil and thus to consciousness. Knowledge obtained is not necessarily happiness or power, but consciousness of sin. There are always consequences – it is not sometimes about how much is gained, as it is what is lost.
There is no such thing as a neutral response to the serpent, at least for me. I remember as a young girl hopping gaily from rock to rock on the shore-line on my way home, when a snake slithered out from the shadows and crossed my path. I almost jumped out of my skin from fright and ran all the way home. That immediate experience of fear stays with me still – and yet, a life-time later, I write about her, have painted the ouroboros (the serpent with its tail in its mouth) from a dream, and continue to experience her in my daily life. Remembering also that Lilith is a light bringer –
The image above shows Hermes, the winged messenger and trickster. The two entwined serpents at the top end of his staffsymbolise good and evil, health and sickness. The staff is rigid, straight and unyielding related therefore to the masculine, whereas the serpents coiled around it are flexible and yielding and therefore representative of the feminine principle. The image of staff and serpents illustrates the union of the opposites (masculine and feminine inter alia) contained therein.
Hippocrates, the father of western medicine (4000BC), is represented to this day as a healer carrying a staff, around which is wound the serpent. Aesculapius, the ancient Roman god of healing, is symbolised by two serpents, representing the principles of sickness and healing entwined around his staff. Serpents were also renowned for their ability to seek out healing herbs and plants for the treatment of illness in the human population.
Moses in the desert and his bronze serpent – an interesting paradoxical story –
While the Buddha was sitting under the Bo tree after his years of trials tribulations and travelling, now to receive his enlightenment, Mara sent down a bolt of lightning to strike him down dead. But, at that moment, the King of Serpents, the cobra, emerged from the shadows to offer the Buddha its hood for protection. That which is most low, is the very serpent that saves the Buddha.
That which can kill can also cure –
What has this to do with Lilith and our lives today?
The serpent sheds its skin, as we do too. Weshed skins when we emerge from our various experiences of life events, all our stages and phases – baby hood to adulthood to old age and death. Marriage, divorce, grief, illness, joy, retrenchment, success – the list is endless. Each phase requires a stretching out and a shedding of a skin that no longer fits. Nature does this automatically, like the butterfly, emerging from its cocoon. We as humans need to work at it. Our old skin, or attitudes, beliefs, conditionings that no longer serve their function, need discarding, so that a new skin can grow to meet the requirements of an impermanent inner and outer world. We are sometimes loathe to shed our old skins, even if they do not fit. We are more familiar with our comfort zones – habit plays its part –
There are so many stories in the literature that tell of women’s harrowing descents into the underworld, scathed and scarred from the storms of sorrows they’ve endured, to return, transformed – Isis, Inanna, Penelope, Persephone, Demeter to mention a few –
‘Where there is sorrow, there is Holy Ground’ – Oscar Wilde
Lilith, her myth and symbolism, represents for me the serpent as the primordial feminine, as do other myths of this ilk, eternally emerging from the devouring darkness, renewing, shedding skins. Yet, by using the sameenergy as that of the darkness, she creates, more into her own being each step of the way –
The first two pictures are of the ouroboros, one a painting, the other a clay ‘fashioning’ from some while back.
This last one was using my left hand when my right hand was out of action ..
Can we look the hooded cobra in the eye?
Thank you for reading! Each time I promise myself I will keep these posts to 500 words or less – I fail each time –
What do we really mean when we re-imagine Lilith? A woman who wanted creative communication and expression with Adam? A woman who was betrayed by both Lilith and G.d? A woman who returned to the Garden of Eden in order to tempt Eve to take the apple from the tree that was prohibited to her, in the guise of a serpent no less. Maybe she suspected that Adam would shun her again if she approached him; the risk in approaching Eve seemed a better one – another woman after all, with a certain receptivity – Were they both rebels? With or without a cause?
What was her politic? Was she standing up for herself? Did Lilith choose wandering in the wilderness as a preferred way of life to one of subjugation? Did she want to right the wrong of her expulsion and repression done to her by rising after her long and arduous reflection in the Red Sea? Could Eve’s eyes be opened so that she would not suffer a similar fate – that of having no choice? What did the seeds of the apple represent that Eve took, bit and chewed and swallowed? Were those seeds of potential? Another way of life, of growth, one away from dependency where all their needs were met and choice of self-determination was not a possibility? Was Lilith offering a natural instinctual gift from nature? Did she sense that Eve, like her, may well have had a sense of being weighed down in this patriarchal atmosphere, with little chance of becoming her own person? Did she have an instinctual knowing that Eve would never be free to meet her own feminine ego had she remained stuck in the status quo?
There are many modalities of Lilith that we experience within ourselves. Her dark and light side, her manic and depressive moods, her sinner and saint qualities, her strengths and vulnerabilities, her wildness and her conformity. Her capacity for love and fear, for interdependence and independence. We may be inclined to call one side positive and the other negative, but this is a value judgment. The opposing polarities belong together and each requires the other for its wholeness. If we consciously bring her out of the shadows, we will be more whole and thus empowered.
We have every right to fear the darkness of Lilith and her rage, but rage has meaning and purpose. Highly charged emotions have a vibrational pattern; they are valuable in that they disturb us – they are meant to. They help to illuminate and elucidate those highly charged feelings and emotions that lie festering in the dark, and to bring them out into the open. The darkest corner of our souls is where the hardest work needs to be done. That which wasrejected and repressed will become the corner stone. Psalms 118 vs 22: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone’. I like to think of the feminine principle, repressed and rejected for aeons, being resurrected and finally and taking its rightful place.
Quo Vadis: ‘whither goest thou?’ – Peter’s question to Christ –
In yesterday’s P post, two commenters Andrea and LB wondered if there was too much talking *about* Lilith instead of having a conversation *with* her in order to better connect with her ‘vital vein’ of feminine energies. So, I’m going to write of an experience of mine about 4 or 5 years ago. The small group I was in at the time met once a month and we took turns at being facilitators.
The facilitator provided crayons, pen and paper and gave us 20 minutes to write or draw or whatever we felt like doing and thereafter discussing it. I lightly shaded 3/4 of the A4 paper with a black crayon and drew a shadowy outline of the Black Madonna over the shading. I added a rough sketch of a fountain to the side of her that had crystal clear sparkling water. I had a dialogue with this Goddess.
This is what I wrote:
“Black Madonna, Lilith, Isis, Hecate all in the dense forest. There is no clear cut path.
“Me: O divine Goddess! So far yet so near! Beckoning –
“Black Madonna: ‘Do not be afraid my child. Enter into the mystery. Know your womanhood and be joyous in it.
“Me: I’m not sure I know you my lady, or I have forgotten.
“BM:Merely forgotten my child, but enter and you can reclaim me – and yourself.
“Me: But it looks so dark and shadowy where you are, my Black Madonna. I’m afraid I will get lost and not find my way back again.
“BM: By being lost you will be found. It is always like that. I know you have always reached for the heights. The way to the heights is through the depths. Into the dark cavern of your soul. When you go there, you will shine a light on the darkness, and the darkness will begin to fade. I am the feminine principle, and with your help my child, by being in touch with your own soul, we will bring balance into the world and ease the suffering of both men and women. Come now and quench your thirst and drink of this crystal clear water”.
Over the next several days and weeks I spent a little while journaling on this, even though my resistance to this was strong. The image was powerful but I knew to not fixate on it. If anything, it pointed to something beyond. It demanded my attention and further exploration. Some sort of juncture maybe, a little bit of consciousness coming to the fore. Matters of soul importance came into clearer focus somehow. Similarly with dreams –
I feel very strongly the value of restoring, re-gaining, re-member-ing, re-cognising our lost Ladies of the Night, out of sight somehow, in the pregnant darkness where the soul resides, yet waiting patiently in the shadows, waiting to be reclaimed – to come towards the Light – and to be seen –
I feel very strongly about Lilith, a companion to me who encourages me to be braver and speak my truth. I feel the urgency of the restoration of the deep abiding feminine principle, if only to myself. But also with the hope that both male and feminine energies can be integrated and co-exist. For the betterment of ourselves and our beautiful planet. So, with my unconscious complexes in hand and always asking questions, yet with no expectation that there is an answer, I pay attention to my life and what is going on innerly – and outerly. And sometimes I just be –
Thank you for reading! I really appreciate your coming by and leaving comments. More than I can say –
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).