lilithLilith (Hebrew: Night-Hag) makes a single, solitary, and brief appearance in the Old Testament, as a wilderness demon shunned by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 34). While not mentioned again in the Bible, she does resurface in the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, in passages clearly based on Isaiah. The Qumran sect seems to have been engrossed with demonology.

In astrology (and astronomy) Lilith, or “Dark Moon”, represents one aspect of the Great Goddess. Black moon Lilith is really a point in the moon’s orbit, not a body in the sky. An ellipse has two focal points, and the other focal point, not occupied by the Earth has been called the Dark Moon, the Black Moon or Lilith. Just as there a “mean” and a “true” Lunar Node, so there is a “mean” and a “true” ellipse and a “mean” and a “true” Lilith. The glyph used for Lilith is a black Moon, as opposed to that used for the real Moon.

Lilith, present in horoscopes, represents jealousy, anger, revenge, rage, witches, psychics, the temptress, sexual passion, and the shadow in your astrological chart. The legend of Lilith serves to demonstrate how, when unchecked, female sexuality is disruptive and destructive. Lilith’s powers are at their height during the waning of the moon, and her association with the owl, a predatory and nocturnal bird, bespeaks a connection to flight and night terrors. “Lilith’s Lantern” is an old Witch-name for the Moon.

In the Hebrew mysticism of the Kabbalah, Lilith is associated with the lunar position on the Qliphotic Tree, the so-called “World of Shells” that contains the “negative” and dark energies. The Qlippoth of Lilith represents worldly pleasures. For women Lilith represents the power she has in her chart. For men, Lilith may also represent hidden powers, struggles, and unresolved issues with the women in his life. For both sexes Lilith shows us what we are most secretive about. October 24th is considered by some to be “Lilith’s Day”.

Lilith (or Lilitu) has over 100 names and variations, and abounds in many mythologies which makes it difficult to pinpoint her exact origin. The ancient Hittites, Egyptians, and Greeks recognized and feared her “dark side”. The legend (like much of Western culture) may have originated in Babylonian religion, then absorbed into early Judaism, and then on into Arabic literature. The liliths are known particularly from the Aramaic incantation bowls from Sassanian and early Islamic Iraq and Iran (roughly 400–800 C. A drawing of a bound lilith or other demon often appears in the center of the bowl. There is a relief of her, from Northern Syria, dated about 2000 BC. She is the most important of a small collection of named female demons in Jewish legend. Lilith’s type is the free and unrestrained animating, pulsating, transforming sexuality that evokes the original orgiastic aspect of The Great Goddess. The Queen of Sheba in the Kabbalah, the Zohar, and Arabic legends” is identified with Lilith, who is also associated with the concubine of Abraham, Hagar “the Egyptian”, whose son Ishmael, having been begotten on the Black stone of the Ka’bah, became the ancestor of the Arab peoples. Arabic legends show Alilat (a form of Lilith) as the daughter of Allah and Goddess of the night, and her symbol is an owl.

Some claim the name is derived from Hebrew layil (night) while others insist that it’s from the Sumerian word lil (wind). She often appears as a hairy night-monster in folklore. Solomon suspected the Queen of Sheba of being Lilith, because she had hairy legs. Hieronymus identified Lilith with the Greek Lamia, a Libyan queen deserted by Zeus, whom his wife Hera robbed of her children. The Lamiae, who seduced sleeping men, sucked their blood and ate their flesh, as Lilith and her fellow demonesses did, were also known as Empusae, “forcers-in”; or Mormolyceia, “frightening wolves”; and described as “Children of Hecate”. Lilith represents the evil or the dark side of the Self that appears to men and women at night in dreams.

Lilith is the woman who refuses to nurture men, and thereby threatens their survival. Lilith insisted from the outset on equal treatment, a fact which caused constant friction between the couple and ended when whe refused the sub-servient “Missionary” position. Ordered to obey, Lilith (considering herself to be Adam’s equal) refused, promptly uttered the name of God, took to the air, and leaving the Garden, settled on the Red Sea coast. Lilith then went on to mate with various demons she found beside the Red Sea, creating countless lilin. Lilith and Satan form an unholy alliance and embody the dark, negative sphere of the depraved. She became a demon in her own right, accompanied by four hundred and eighty hosts of evil spirits and destroying angels. She is constantly howling. Some say, because Lilith left the garden and never ate the forbidden fruit, she is not tainted by original sin, and thus can never die. The legend has found its way into dozens of recent feminist works about attitudes toward and equality for women.

Lilith not only embodies people’s fears of how attraction to others can ruin their marriages, or of how risky childbearing and raising children are, but also represents a woman whom society cannot control – a woman who determines her own sexual partners, who is wild and unkempt, and who does not have the natural consequences of sexual activity, children. Through the literature of the Kabbalah, Lilith became fixed in Jewish demonology as the strangler of children and a seducer of men.

The legend has been given added impetus by the Bible’s dual accounts of the creation of the first woman, which indicate to some that Adam had a wife before Eve. Although it is repeatedly cited as a “Rabbinic legend” or a “midrash,” it is not recorded in any ancient Jewish text. Found in The Zohar (a central work in the Kabbalah) Lilith binds together many earlier legends and demonstrates a long and important element of Jewish culture. Usually representing the dark side of the female, she dares to be Adam’s equal, and is tied to both the Devil and the Serpent, as well as Eve. The feminine opposite of masculine order, she is banished from fertile territory and exiled to barren wasteland.

Lilith slept with Adam after his expulsion from the garden and gave birth to the evil spirits. In Islamic tradition, she slept with the devil and gave birth to the jinn (Jinni). In response to Adam’s request, God sent three angels to bring her back to Eden. Lilith refused to return to Adam and vowed that she would harm male infants up to the eighth day after birth and female infants up to the 20th day. Lilith is associated with the death of children and especially with the death of newborn infants. As late as the 18th century, it was a common practice in many cultures to protect new mothers and their infants with amulets against Lilith. Sometimes a magic circle was drawn around the lying-in-bed, with a charm inscribed with the names of the three angels, Adam and Eve and the words “barring Lilith” or “protect this newborn child from all harm. If a child laughed while sleeping, it was taken as a sign that Lilith was present.

A powerfully sexual woman against whom men and babies felt they had few defenses and, except for a few amulets, little protection, Lilith highlights how women, beginning with Eve, use their sexuality to seduce men. Believed to be Queen of the Succubi and matriarch of demons, Lilith has a deadly poison attack she will cast when you get up close.

Lilith was held responsible for populating the world with evil by her insubordination to her husband Adam. In the Darby translation of Isaiah 34:14 the original Hebrew word is rendered as “lilith”; according to Isaiah, when God’s vengeance has turned the land into a wilderness, “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”.

In the Latin Vulgate Bible, Lamia is given as the translation of the Hebrew Lilith. In other translations it is given as “screech owl” and “night monster”. By inventing evil spirits like Lilith, Lamashtu, and Lamia, parents were not only able to identify the enemy but also to know what they had to guard against. Amulets with the names of the three angels were intended to protect against the power of Lilith. In the Middle Ages, celibate monks would attempt to guard against these nocturnal visits by the lilith/succubus by sleeping with their hands crossed over their genitals and holding a crucifix. Men who experienced nocturnal emissions during their sleep believed they had been seduced by Lilith and said certain incantations to prevent the offspring from becoming demons. It was thought each time a pious Christian had a wet dream, Lilith laughed.

In her demonized form, Lilith is a frightening and threatening creature. Inasmuch as female sexuality, as a result of this fear, has been repressed and subjected to the severest controls in Western patriarchal society, so too has the figure of Lilith been kept hidden. Eve and Lilith become inextricably intertwined and blended into one person. It is this Eve/Lilith amalgam which is used to identify women as the true source of evil in the world.

Today the tradition of Lilith has enjoyed a resurgence, due mainly to the Jewish feminist movement of the late 20th century. Ignoring or explaining away Lilith’s unsavory traits, feminists have focused instead upon Lilith’s independence and desire for autonomy. Joining the feminists are neo-pagans, listeners to contemporary music by women (the Lilith Fair), poets, and modern writers who invent ever more stories. Enjoying something of a revival in literature, she has been heralded as a symbol of Mother Earth. Retellings of the myth reflect each generation’s views of the feminine role, and survive because Lilith is the archetype for the changing role of woman.

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