Like many deities, I feel as if Lilith is very often misunderstood in Neo-Paganism. I don’t mean this as a judgment statement – what a person does in the privacy of their own personal practices is their (and their Spirits and Gods’) business. What I mean by that is that Lilith is so ancient, and her myths and folklore are so incredibly varied and so very far removed from contemporary society, that there is a lot of room for confusion.
And rightly so. Lilith and her stories are and always have been clouded in mystery and shadows and in darkness. Her name is one that for thousands of years has been whispered in fear and respect. Since the dawn of time she has shown her face to the lucky (or unlucky?) inventing and reinventing herself, her stories, and her image.
Aside from the Greek pantheon (Athena, Hermes, and Artemis when I was a kid), Lilith was one of the very first deities who caught my attention. I remember being absolutely in love with her in high school. When I was going through my own anti-establishment rebellious phases against the patriarchy and institutionalized religion, she was a heroine for me. I just loved that she was a strong, powerful woman who didn’t take shit from anybody, not even God-the-Father.
In other myths her offspring become so numerous that God kills (or sends angels) to kill them before they overtake his beloved humans. In her rage and anguish she curses the Children of Man. She sneaks into nurseries at night and kills babies by stealing their breath. (An early explanation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.) It is even said that the word “lullaby” comes from a prayer said over children to protect them at night, and that the word derives from the name “Lilith.”
|a gift from my mother...|
It’s not that I stopped loving Lilith. Nothing will ever get me to do that. It’s that working with her almost seems impossible. She is so outside of everything orderly and orthodox. Her myths don’t mean any less to me these days than they did fifteen years ago, but what could I, a married woman, a Child of Eve, offer to her, the First Woman, the Original Witch? What could I offer to her, the Lady of Nightmares, and the Owl, screeching in the night?