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Lilith by Sandra M. Stanton


The Book of Genesis, in the Old Testament of the Bible, describes how the world was created. It also tells the story of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman on Earth, and their life in the Garden of Eden. What the Book of Genesis decidedly omits, in the form of a “knowing silence,” is the fact that Eve was actually the second woman on Earth, not the first. Adam had been married before, to a woman who was most definitely not Eve. Her name just happened to be Lilith.

Lilith was the complete opposite of Eve. Adam had been created from the Earth and so had Lilith, while Eve had been created from Adam's rib. Indeed, Lilith had been created from the Earth, just like Adam. However, while Adam had been created from pure dust, Lilith had been brought forth from the sediment and filth of the Earth. The reason for this has also been hidden in silence, and it remains to this day shrouded in mystery.

The marriage between Adam and Lilith was plagued by a multitude of problems, most of them stemming from Adam's patriarchal views towards life in general, and sex in particular. The main problem that the couple faced, which eventually led to the destruction of their union, might be seen in this day and age as amusing. To Adam, however, it meant everything. What made matters even worse was the fact that Lilith refused to recognize the patriarchal power that Jewish Scripture had granted Adam, solely because he happened to be a man. Adam was well aware of that patriarchal power, and he intended to use it over Lilith even then, at the very beginning of time.

That irreconcilable difference came to the forefront during sex, when Adam required Lilith to lay beneath him, subservient and in the missionary position, while he proceeded to have sexual intercourse with, on, and in her. Having sex in the missionary position was the perfect way for Adam to assert both his masculinity and his authority over Lilith. To Lilith, however, it was an affront to her very nature. Since she had been created in the same manner as Adam, she expected that which was rightfully hers. Not only did Lilith expect Adam to treat her as an equal, she demanded it, and she refused to be subservient to him simply because he happened to be a man.

Lilith eventually became so furious with Adam for constantly trying to dominate her that she refused to have sex with him if he continued to insist that he always had to be on top. Adam became furious with Lilith, as well, and he continued to insist that the missionary position be the only position that they used during sex, because he believed that it was his God given right to be on top, and because it made him feel superior to Lilith in every possible way. By refusing to give in to Adam's demands, Lilith became more then just the first woman on Earth; she also became a unique and empowered woman, independent and free in every way, and the kind of woman who would never acquiesce to Adam’s constant attempts at domination, whether they happened to be sexual or not.

Eventually the time arrived when Lilith could no longer live with Adam’s unconscionable behavior, so she rebelled and committed blasphemy by uttering the unspeakable magic name of God, “Yahweh,” out loud. Then, Lilith escaped from the Garden of Eden, using a pair of wings that quite suddenly appeared upon her back, and she quickly flew away.

Even though Adam had been totally miserable in his marriage to Lilith, and even though he was furious with her behavior, he desperately wanted her to return home. Lilith was the only woman on Earth, and Adam had learned about the pleasures of the flesh from her. With Lilith gone, Adam began to realize just how much he actually wanted, and needed, to know those pleasures again.

In reality, Adam may very well have enjoyed those pleasures, albeit unknowingly, when Lilith supposedly went to visit him; but only while he was asleep. It was during those nocturnal visits that Lilith joined the sleeping Adam and had sex with him. This time, however, it was she who was on top, mounting him as he had mounted her and dominating him as he had dominated her, solely for her own sexual pleasure.

Finally, Adam went to God and begged him for his help in getting Lilith to return home to him. God listened to Adam’s plea, and in response he sent down three angels: Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof. The mission of these angels was to find Lilith and then force her, if it became necessary, to return back home to Adam.

The three angels continuously searched for Lilith until they finally located her living in the caves of the desert, which ran along the shore of the Red Sea. It was there, in those caves, that Lilith spent her time having sex with lascivious demons, and she gave birth, day after day, to hundreds of demonic babies that were known as Lilim. The angels tried to reason with Lilith, but Lilith refused to listen to reason, so the angels then began to threaten her. Finally, the angels warned Lilith that unless she returned home to Adam, they would kill one hundred of her sons each and every day.

That threat had little or no effect upon Lilith, who insisted that she would never return to Adam. She then continued, by telling the angels that her primary purpose in life was to harm young children, especially infants. Shortly thereafter, however, something quite unusual happened. For some strange and unknown reason Lilith amended her previous threat, and advised the angels that not one single infant would be harmed by her, if that child was wearing an amulet which had the angels’ images or names placed upon it.

Ancient Sumerian and Babylonian legends dating as far back as 3,500 B.C.E., describe Lilith as a winged female demon, who existed primarily to kill infants and endanger the lives of women who were going through childbirth. These legends explained that Lilith, the Demon-Goddess, was also associated with several other harmful spirits known as the “Mazakim.” Archeologists became aware of the Mazakim when they discovered a group of Assyrian, Hebrew and Canaanite inscriptions which contained incantations within them that were used as a way of protecting children from the Mazakim.

As a female Demon-Goddess, Lilith appeared to be closely related to Lamashtu, an evil female demon who was believed to kill children, and to eat the flesh and drink the blood of men. Lamashtu was also believed to make pregnant women miscarry and to cause them to have nightmares. Those particular characteristics were almost identical to the ones belonging to another female demon, the Libyan Serpent-Goddess Lamia who, like Lamashtu, was believed to murder children. More then just murdering children, however, Lamia was also able to shape-shift, and appear in the guise of a beautiful young woman so that she could easily seduce young men.

During the Middle Ages, the Latin Vulgate Bible stated that the Libyan name "Lamia" was the exact translation of the Hebrew name "Lilith," which also had other meanings that included "screech owl" and "night monster."

Whether demons actually did exist, or whether they did not, really doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is the fact that certain powerful people frequently used these "demonic women" as a way of explaining those forces that otherwise could not be explained. Indeed, Lilith and the Mazakim were all blamed for causing the deaths of newborn babies. Those powerful people were intelligent enough to realize that by blaming the natural deaths of those infants upon demons, it would appear as though they had miraculously discovered a way to explain the unexplainable.

Blaming “demons,” rather then admitting that they did not know what was wrong, seemed like the perfect way out for those powerful people, since by doing so they also gave the infants’ parents an actual villain to blame. Not only did those powerful people blame the deaths of those infants upon Lilith and the Mazakim, they also offered parents a way to guard against that very threat. By placing amulets with the names or the likenesses of the angels upon their children, parents were able to feel the power that came from their taking a pro-active role in protecting their children from demons such as Lilith.

Since Lilith was believed to be a demon, an assortment of demonic attributes, including licentiousness and lust, automatically became associated with her. Throughout the Middle Ages, blaming Lilith or other demons for a wide variety of offences became a very common thing to do, and Lilith’s offspring, the Lilim, quickly became identified with succubae, which are the female version of incubi.

During the Middle Ages, it was widely believed that succubae copulated with men while they slept, and it was that which caused men to have nocturnal emissions, or "wet dreams." Celibate monks, terrified by the possibility of having “wet dreams,” used whatever means they could come up with to protect themselves, which included holding a crucifix in each of their hands while crossing them over their genitals, whenever they went to sleep.

Once again, when it came to explaining “wet dreams,” the powerful people in society used Lilith and other female demons as a way of explaining what frequently happened, quite naturally, to most young men. Modern medicine now explains that "wet dreams" are a very common occurrence, and one that normally occurs in many, if not most young men, at some point in time during their teens or early twenties.

The Kabbalah, the ancient Hebrew Book of Mysteries, described Lilith as a strangler of children and a seducer of men. Those attributes immediately gave Lilith her own chapter in Jewish demonology. In fact, the Kabbalah actually chose to go one step further, by claiming that Lilith was actually the partner of Samael (the Devil). Once Lilith became known as the Devil’s feminine counter-part, she automatically took on the role of the negative counterpart of the Shekhinah, or "Divine Presence," who is believed by many to be the mother of the House of Israel. In modern times, many Jewish liberals and feminists alike, look upon the Shekinah as being the feminine side, or feminine part of God.

When Lilith had sex with the demons, or with the devil, she gave birth to well in excess of the one hundred babies that the angels had threatened to kill each and every day that she remained apart from Adam. Lilith, however, did not waiver in her decision, and she continued to give birth to well in excess of one hundred Lilim every single day. Once Judaism realized exactly how many Lilim there actually were, it took it upon itself to use that particular number as evidence, which proved to everyone that Lilith was populating the entire world with evil.

That conclusion, however, causes some interesting questions to be raised, including exactly where all that evil came from, and why it was Lilith, rather then any other of the “Mazakim,” who was designated to be the creatrix of all the sins in the world? Outrageously enough, all the sin and evil in the world appears to stem from Lilith’s refusal to be subordinate to Adam, and from her refusal to have sex with him in the missionary position. Lilith was the first woman on Earth, and in that extremely short period of time she had already encountered the extremes of blatant sexism.

It was for that reason, and out of necessity, that Lilith rose to the occasion and did what she had to do, by becoming the world’s first feminist. In reality, Lilith was blamed for all the evil in the world solely because she wanted her independence. The patriarchal forces that ruled Adam, in their quest for the domination of the female species, demanded that men always remain on top; and they looked upon Lilith’s emancipation as evil personified.

Those same patriarchal forces also claimed that Lilith was willful and disobedient. Throughout history, whenever women have demanded their independence and the right to use their own free will, they have also been called willful and disobedient. It was for that reason that those “demonic” women were perceived by the patriarchal society as a constant threat to the divine power of masculinity, as it had been defined and determined, in no uncertain terms, by men.

Those same patriarchal forces looked upon Lilith as a sexually powerful woman, who used sex as a way of controlling her masculine prey. Men, not wanting to appear weak, asserted the claim that Lilith was a disruptive and destructive force. Then again, one tends to wonder exactly how much truth exists in a belief that has exclusively been created, once again, in no uncertain terms by men.

It is very interesting to note, especially since there has been a recent interest in Lilith, that the Old Testament of the Bible only mentions Lilith once, and then only in the translation in 1890 by J.N. Darby, which refers to her as being anything but a seductress or a demon. Instead, she appears to be quite the opposite. In the Darby translation, the original Hebrew word "Lilith," is mentioned at the point in time when God’s wrath turned the earth into a wasteland. It was then that Isaiah stated "there shall the beasts of the desert meet with the jackals, and the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; the lilith also shall settle there, and find for herself a place of rest." (Isaiah 34.14) It becomes quite evident, when the name Lilith is seen in that context, that the Old Testament was referring to a very different meaning of the word “Lilith” which, when seen in the Darby translation, meant “night spectre,” although it could just as easily have meant "screech owl," "night creature," or "night hag."

Whenever men’s minds turn to Lilith in her Demon-Goddess aspect, they automatically become terrified that she will use her strong sexual powers to control them. It is from Lilith, as well, that the deep dark fears that men frequently feel whenever they have to deal with women, or with female sexuality, stem.

Patriarchal societies have continuously attempted to suppress it. Then, when they finally realized that they were unable to suppress it, they attempted to find a way by which they could at least control it, so that they could keep Lilith, and the freedom that she represents, out of harms way.

Unfortunately for them that kind of thinking will not work. The problem lies in the fact that Lilith is there, and has always been there, lingering just around the bend, a shadow seen out of the corner of your eye, an unknown but powerful force and a strong nameless persona that the patriarchal fanatics always seem to attack whenever they feel the need to prove that women represent the true source of evil in the world.

If men would only look at Lilith once and for all in an open and honest way, then they might actually see her for what she truly is. Lilith is actually an aspect of the great Creatrix Goddess, which men only began to call a Demon-Goddess after she had asserted, and then won, her female independence. As such, and by seeing her in this light, not only does Lilith create life, like the Hindu Dark Goddess Kali, who is also a Goddess of Creation and Life, she destroys life as well, bringing with her all the necessary death, disaster and pain. It all makes perfect sense when you think about it. Since death cannot exist without life, then life too is meaningless without death.

It is through Lilith, as well, that women are able to come to terms with the darker sides of their innermost selves, with their own unfulfilled desires and the many dark and painful experiences that they have always had to face, each and every time that they have tried to gain equality with men. There can be no good and bad, black and white, or right and wrong, since human life has many unique and varying qualities to it, and it is Lilith, donning the mask of the dark anima, who teaches women how to take those special qualities and then use them exclusively to their own advantage.

Lilith is not a Demon-Goddess, whose sole existence is centered upon the destruction of everything that is held sacred by men, although she is a Goddess of Creation and Life. Rather, she has been put here to help men understand that their lives will never be the way they wish them to be, until they start treating women honestly and openly, granting them the freedom and respect that they deserve. Men really need to begin their education, using Lilith as their teacher, because until they do, their lives will never be totally complete.

Painting of Lilith
by Sandra M. Stanton
Used with Permission

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