by Tammye McDuff
“Half of me is beautiful ~ but you were never sure which half.”
~ Ruth Feldman, “Lilith” ~
Lilith is the most notorious demon in Jewish tradition. In some sources, she is conceived of as the original woman, created even before Eve, and she is often presented as a thief of newborn infants. Lilith means “the night,” and she embodies the emotional and spiritual aspects of darkness: terror, sensuality, and unbridled freedom. More recently, she has come to represent the freedom of women who no longer want to be “good girls.”
In rabbinic literature Lilith is variously depicted as the mother of Adam’s demonic offspring following his separation from Eve or as his first wife. Whereas Eve was created from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22), some accounts hold that Lilith was the woman implied in Genesis 1:27 and was made from the same soil as Adam. Insolently refusing to be subservient to her husband, Lilith left Adam and the perfection of the Garden of Eden; three angels tried in vain to force her return. According to some mythologies, her demonic offspring were sired by an archangel named Samael and were not Adam’s progeny. Those children are sometimes identified as incubi and succubi.
The legend surrounding her has been used by orthodox religion as an example of feminine evil and as an example of feminine power. Both stances, however, miss the mark by a mile. The nuances of Lilith’s story, shared in the early rabbinic interpretations of the Torah known as the midrash, can instead lead the way to a higher and more powerful perspective.
The stories claim that Lilith rebelled, spoke the truth, and chose to exile herself to the kingdom of the demons. She is said to have hated Eve and vowed to destroy all of Eve’s children. Both her anger and her punishment for that vow are said to take many horrific forms. The legend has been used to demonstrate that any woman who refuses to take male orders is demonic.
To move closer to the truth, we must get mystical. The key is in Kabbalah, which uses the Tree of Life to give structure to the story. The tree consists of 10 sefirot, or creative forces, on seven levels linking God with the physical plane. The top sefira, known as Keter or “crown,” represents divinity. On the level beneath that are two sefirot. The second-level sefira to the right is divinity’s first “child,” known as Hokhmah—imbued with wisdom, revelation, and revolution. The sefira to the left is the second “child,” known as Binah—imbued with understanding, boundaries, and karma. Each of the sefira can be positive or negative, according to how it is used.
Each sefira receives the divine breath or light before flowing it on to the next level in a kind of downward zigzag. Each one each one has both feminine (receptive) and masculine (active) in turn, and the feminine was the first aspect to receive the divine light. Lilith represents the breath that filled the sefira of Hokhmah. Legend says she knew the unspoken name of God, which Adam, one step further away, did not. She would have had to bend or bow to Adam to pour her power onto him. Makes more sense now, doesn’t it?
In 1972, theologian Judith Plaskow helped the interpretation of Lilith reach a cultural apotheosis by writing a parable entitled “The Coming of Lilith.” Rather than portraying Lilith as an unruly, evil, child-snatching entity, Plaskow sought to explain her side of the story: Lilith simply didn’t want to be bossed around by Adam, whom she viewed as an equal, so she fled, only to be virulently slandered in her absence. Plaskow’s account ends with Lilith meeting Eve and helping to expand her perspective “till the bond of sisterhood grew between them.”
Men wanted to equate Lilith with ‘fighting dirty’ which is a meaningless concept designed to keep women from developing and utilizing their strength to fight, and a fighter in a good cause.
As the feminist movement grew in popularity, so did Lilith’s positive influence. In 1997, feminists organized the all-female music festival Lilith Faire, invoking Lilith’s name for a progressive cause. Sarah McLachlan, who organized the event, said that after a friend explained the story of Lilith to her, and she felt very moved by it. “I thought, perfect protagonist!” Words were very important to McLachlan, after some consideration she said, “I loved the play on words of ‘faire’ being the sort of old-fashioned type, and fair being equal.” Lilith would have approved.
Lilith is a quintessential Dark Mother Goddess. She expects a lot. Lilith makes you look her in the eye and what she offers you is worth being uncomfortable for … The wisdom that comes from her is a most powerful gift.
To me Lilith represents that bad-ass crone who has survived. She does not give in to victim hood or sit around saying ‘poor me’. When things get tough, I like to think she says “son of a bitch, here we go again”.
This does not mean that she is too proud to ask for help or accept it when it is offered. Lilith found a way to have her happiness by embracing her independence and accepting the consequences of it.
Before getting excited about invoking her, there are few things you should know.
First she demands equality. True equality is hard and we aren’t talking about race or gender equality. To be a true equal you are separating yourself. You will face loneliness, rage, grief and mourning. You can stand strong, but with that you must accept responsibility for yourself and your actions. There will be repercussions.
Secondly, Lilith stands against society. Refusing to allow the attempts of a culture to dominate or change who she is, often times fleeing a situation. This doesn’t mean running away ~ instead it is the example of ‘fight or flight’ in every sense of the word. Sometimes walking away from circumstances so that you can better see the entire situation and distance yourself is the best option.
Thirdly, accepting and being accountable. Taking full responsibility for yourself and your actions is the only way to truly focus on what is important in order to re-enter the world stronger and more bad-ass than before.
Tammye McDuff is co-founder and publisher of These Curious Times, a Paranormal News Network committed to investigating, researching and reporting on the abnormal, the paranormal, and this odd universe we live in Our aim is to deliver intelligent conversation not only to the paranormal community, but to skeptics as well. We have investigative journalists, Masons, international investigators, bonafide psychics and artists whose only desire is to gather pertinent content ~ convey to you, our readers ~ and let you draw your own conclusions.
Supplication to Lilith
Prayers are likened to incantations to invoke a spirit. Lilith can be anything you need or desire. You build her design from deep in your subconscious. The very fears you keep hidden from the world can … and will … be used against you if you tread too loudly in Lilith’s domain.
Lilit are wind spirits. They were believed to carry many things on the winds: good / evil omens; illness / health; intuition/ visions; insight and sacred voice. The use of voice / chant / song is a key element in community with the divine – serving as an intercessor between man and the gods.
Prayer to Layla
By Bruder Isidorus
I draw near to Lilith’s dwelling,
Yea, I hear Lilith calling me,
O may Her sweet voice never fall silent,
O Lilith favor me, draw me to you,
And guide me into Your presence,
Draw me forth with words most intimate,
O Lilith sit by me and reveal to me Yourself,
From beneath Your glorious dark garment,
May I be changed and transfigured,
And mark me with Your holy seal.
O Lilith, press me to Your bosom,
And grant me a unique place with You,
And name me with Your name,
O Sweet Lilith.