Friday, June 6, 2014

Pagan Blog Project – week 23 – L#1 –Lilith
 Pagan Blog Project – week 23 – L#1 – Lilith

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 one of her myths (which I think is first documented by Jewish Kabbalists in medieval Europe), she was created alongside and with Adam (rather than after him and from him.) She wouldn’t submit to Adam during sex (that is, she wanted to be on top rather than on bottom.) Adam didn’t like that, he whined to God, and then God banished her from the Garden. After that, she got pissed off (and rightfully so. Can you imagine being kicked out of Paradise just for not wanting to be submissive?) and then she roamed the earth, mating with God/Angels/Demons/etc and cursing the children of Adam and his new mate, Eve.

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.”
The earliest mention of Lilith is in the Babylonian story of the Huluppu Tree, where she is living in the tree that Inanna needs to use for her throne. She shows up in the bible as the name of an unclean animal which might be some type of owl-thing because she is often depicted as an owl, with an owl, or making owl-sounds. The Greeks and Romans might have known her as Lamia, which is a monster-creature who attacks children because she has lost hers. Like the Lamia, Lilith is also associated with serpents and sexuality, later beginning to be seen as a succubus type figure.

a gift from my mother...
So Lilith is human, woman, demon, lover, mother, monster, serpent, owl, night hag, succubus, and to some, feminist and heroine. I’ve always loved all of these things about her. I wore a necklace for her for many years (though I don’t remember the last time it even occurred to me to put it on). I remember reading about super sexy and “dark” rituals devoted to Lilith when I was a Baby Pagan. I’ve never worked with her in a formal sense, though, aside from a few botched attempts at sex magic from way before I formally began to practice Paganism. Sure, I’ve read a few books about her over the years (this one in particular is fantastic!) but that’s been the extent to my love affair with this lovely and devastating Lady.

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?

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