Some words on Lilith, Adam and Eve

serpentimages (1)

I did it again – I put up a post earlier that was not fully edited. If you receive it twice I am sorry.

Firstly, thank you all who’ve been with me on these posts over the last several weeks. I’ve so appreciated you stopping by and adding valuable comments. I would love to think that others also stop by and read others’ comments – I know that my learning is enlarged so thank you again.  

I thought I’d add this – maybe it could have been used when I introduced Lilith in the beginning with the following, but whichever way –

Lilith first came to my attention many many years ago when Dr. Susan Schwartz, Jungian analyst from Phoenix, Arizona, gave a talk to the Jung Centre here in Johannesburg on ‘Marriage and Divorce and the Nature of Unresolved Psychological Issues therein’.

She said and I quote from her transcript:

‘The Adam and 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 God the authority to correct Lilith and make her obey him (italics mine). The two never work it out, learn nothing about communication skills and separate in mutual frustration. Later, God 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’.

Thus began my research and study and fascination with the biblical story. I was aware that Eve had rebelled by eating the forbidden fruit and the dire consequences of that, felt to this day. But, a wife before Eve? I was intrigued to say the least. I was also much intrigued by the role of the serpent who seemed to be a significant cause in Adam and Eve’s banishment from Paradise.

So, the first two women banished – Lilith to the underworld of the depths of the Red Sea; Eve banished with her partner into another world – all in exile.

I wonder if Adam mourned the loss of Lilith. I think he did in some way. She was after all the feminine side of him – his other half – which he rejected, which even today man tries to find within himself if he wishes to be whole. Women too – He must have felt the loss of her keenly and no doubt felt very alone until God fashioned his second wife. I wonder if he pondered Lilith’s dark chthonic powers and whether that energy that they had between them could have been transformed into something more loving and compassionate. Is it a reasonable hypothesis that he saw Lilith as someone to be tamed, much like mankind has an agenda to tame nature and make her subservient to his demands? –

It is said that Adam and Eve left the Garden bore their expulsion with humility and dignity. Adam had his arm around Eve as if to protect her. As they left the Garden, Eve’s tears fell onto the ground up from which sprung lilies.

I’m concluding this with a recent comment from Deborah Weber on a recent post. 

‘I think of integration, of the light and dark, the divine masculine and divine feminine, as the life-long work we’re here to do – to move ourselves (and our societies) into wholeness. And every time there’s a new reminder of how to look at this, a different avenue to approach this, it feels like a blessing to me. It brings us back front and centre. Wholeness/holiness’.

They are powerful archetypes which can be used as stepping stones and do the work to bring the masculine and feminine into harmony …

with thanks to google images for the caduceus


38 Comments on Some words on Lilith, Adam and Eve

  1. I like the way this post brings out the idea of balancing various things–a man “correcting” or joining together with a woman; humans “taming” nature, good and evil, right and wrong, and the banishment from Eden. I like to imagine that scene of Eve with lilies springing up from her tears (and what an image that is!) in a different way. Perhaps she leaves Eden not so much in sorrow and shame, but rather with purpose–that she is going to a new life. Perhaps the lilies then represent not so much sorrow, but rather a remembrance of things past.

  2. I like having background about your interest in Lilith and Eve and the inspiration you found from Susan Schwartz. I had studied Jung since around 1970, but meeting Marion Woodman at a workshop she gave on the Black Madonna in 1987 lit my fire. I had to learn more about this dark feminine and learn more from Marion Woodman.

    I imagine Adam looking forward toward his new wife and not looking back at Lilith or grieving in any “conscious” way. You imagine him with a little more heart.

    Thanks for keeping the fire stirred.

    • Thanks Elaine. Yes the Black Madonna is especially interesting, which I also had the good fortune to study in a group some years back. Gustavson I think was the author whose book of course I can’t find right now. Ean Begg also wrote on The Cult of the Black Virgin. There is so much to learn about the dark feminine ..

  3. Yes, communication, and I wonder…. Wonder what could’ve been. I agree with Deborah. It just seems so simple, doesn’t it? But, it’s not easy.

    Thanks for the elucidation of thought, Susan.

  4. Nothing wrong with rescue by a prince — a very positive and normal sentiment.

    There is a good condescending and a bad condescending, I would suppose.

    When I walk with my wife in public places, she feels my protection.

  5. Sylvia’s phrase, to bring the masculine and feminine together, makes me wonder in general about the benefits of a shift in manner of phrasing.

    If we think back to the Bible, ALL persons disregarding gender have some divinity. Perhaps we could seek some pedagogic techniques for conditioning humans in early childhood about the beauty and wonder in all of us. Children’s story books, for example.

    • That’s an excellent thought Joseph – children’s story books – though perhaps too often the princess is rescued only by a prince in eg the Hans Christian Andersen’s telling. The Grimm brothers are less paternalistic! I agree both men and women have the divine within – and without ..

  6. Great Susan, another thought provoking post and I enjoyed reading, women still need to be empowered; and that can happen only when they(women) are willing to take responsibility for themselves without giving giving away their power. Few women are lucky for they were able to assert themselves and move on exploring themselves in understanding and evolving their own identity; but majority of them remain still victims of violence, discrimination and inequality. A journey towards healing, integration and wholeness is challenging and it can become a reality only when there is love, acceptance, respect, reverence and mutual understanding…… .. which looks like a dream. Thanks for sharing your post, am enjoying what you write.

    • Thank you Genevive. You said it so well re women not giving away their power – and, I would add, to use that power for themselves and the greater good. May the dream come true – that both men and women meet the challenge of love and respect, reverence and understanding towards each other for the dream of wholeness to come true.

  7. Communication, or lack thereof, seems to be at the root of all problems going way back.
    Such an interesting topic, Susan. I could see how one gets pulled into wanting more study. To bring the masculine and feminine into harmony would likely solve so many of the world’s problems, something to strive for going into the future. We’ve made some progress, but so much remains to be done. So much misunderstanding and, as your post shows, lack of communication still remains. Thank you for this.

    • Thanks Silvia – you’d think communication would be easy! I think it is getting better as you say and it is surely something to strive for.

  8. I really like the beautiful symbolism that begins and ends this post (the visual and the metaphor of the sprouting lilies from tears). As usual, you have transported me from my desk and made me think deeply. One of the things that popped into my mind, with our recent Supreme Court Ruling on same-sex marriage and the advent of our Chicago Gay Pride Parade, is how beautifully the LGBT community challenges masculine/feminine stereotypes in so many different ways. Thanks Susan!

    • Thank you Stephanie – and there’s a thought about the LGBT community challenging the stereotypes! I hadn’t thought of that – just maybe, something more will come of this i.e. to look at masculine and feminine stereotypes differently and more wholly!

  9. Dear Susan,

    As always a good read.

    There will always be those, man, women or god that will want us to do as they say for their own sakes.



    • Thank you dear Robert – we have to say no thanks to those that want us to do something against our own sakes and for theirs – a tax revolution for starters?

      Cheers to you and my thanks as always.

  10. I feel so fascinated by these series of posts, Susan, I hope you’ll continue your investigation of feminine and masculine. It made me reflect on relationships and I can see why that quote spurred your interest in this topic. Love your writing style. I want to share your posts with a group of women on facebook. I hope it’s OK.

    • Thank you Gulara. Am now at desk about to check your lovely posts. Yes, you are welcome to share them thank you for asking.

  11. Hi,
    Today, more than ever, the acceptance curve between men and women is growing thinner in my opinion and the gap cannot be overlooked. Somehow competition is making men and women turn away from each other. We just don’t seem to be getting it and again I turn back to your last posting about The Art of the Dark Feminine which has given an excellent explanation for the twists and misunderstanding in this myth with Lilith, Adam and Eve.

    It was indeed a very interesting series and I am happy that I have followed it.


  12. Thank you Gillian, lovely comment. And the images portrayed are very real. I’ve heard the flaming swords were placed at The Tree of Life (or The Tree of Wisdom as some say) in order to prevent entry or exit (not an option for Adam and Eve) until one has learned or integrated the meaning of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    Re Deborah Weber’s comment – yes it is our individual task thereby adding to the collective in a meaningful way. I guess I could say that the individual and the collective, or the conscious and unconscious make up the whole.

  13. Interesting, as usual Susan, and Weber’s response made me think if that is meant on the individual level or not? I see very elderly couples bravely trudging the dusty and busy roads round here, heavy with construction traffic, huge tankers rushing by, and yet he holds her hand, as she trusts his fading strength as once they did when their garden bloomed with youth and beauty. These are the lower working class Christian couples at the end of their days. By comparison I attended a meeting in an upper exclusive multi-residence of aged parents who had sold-off or moved out in favour of their younger generations making use of what was once their lost establishments. This group really seemed to be in a ‘waiting-room,’ padded with comfort and security. Then I felt thankful for insecurity for the devil of the serpent that keeps us on the edge of paradise. But the discerning factor is not to enter through the gates where ‘Sylvia’ the reptile slumbers in a look of peaceful innocence, for she too has her partner, and he sleeps on the opposite side of the beautiful path that leads to divine harmony. Did they tell you that two angels with flaming swords guard the gates of eternal paradise; they forgot to mention t that two guileful serpents sleep each side of the entrance to divine peace.

    Thank you Susan

  14. I love Deborah Weber’s wise comments about integration and wholeness, and the lifelong work to reach divine masculine and divine feminine.

    Deborah’s comments remind me of a prominent philosopher and religious thinker. Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue makes a distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relation.

    Also, noteworthy, Patricia Garcia in her Mother’s Day Poem, at her WALK ON site, give a pathetic description of the I-It relation that women have been and are subjected to all over the world.

  15. I love your inspiring posts. But I do wonder… once that bite was eaten out of the apple… will any of us ever be whole again? Will we always repeat our mistakes? What and when will we gain from these cycles in life? Soooo many questions! Thank you!! 😉

    • Thanks Gwynn … it’s our individual task to search for wholeness, sometimes only a little bit at a time is achieved and never wholly perhaps, but each little bit adds to the whole, individually and collectively. Questions are good – even if we don’t know the when how where and if! That is the mystery?

  16. It’s amazing what inspires us to a long journey of learning and growing. Sometimes, what others would consider insignificant changes our lives. I love hearing how one talk, years ago, did that for you.

  17. The integration of two images illustrates balance in the power of myth: yin and yang, light and dark, masculine and feminine. I am sure you are familiar with the mythology of archetypes in Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, and I may have mentioned it earlier. If so, I’m just like you today, repeating myself. And no harm done as far as I can tell – ha!

    • Thanks Marian – yes Joseph Campbell’s books are wonderful. We need – each of us – to find our own myth within the myth. Re: reference to repeating myself just like you today – did you receive earlier post? Ooosh – 🙂

  18. Finding balance seems to be key and essential in many situations. Another thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

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