Lilith is undoubtedly a monstrous lady, usually depicted as a demon. Here name means “night hag.” I’m not doing research for this – just telling you what I know and think about her. She comes from Jewish mythology and has antecedents in older Mesopotamian religions. She’s also been associated at various times (sometimes wrongly) with monstrous Greek demigoddesses.
The most common Lilith origin story is that she was Adam’s first wife, created out of the same earth as him (not from his rib as Eve was). She refused to be subservient to Adam, left the Garden of Eden to have a fling with a rebellious archangel, refused to return, and bore a host of demonic children. In other versions, Lilith starts out as a demon and the demonic children come from her seduction of Adam (or Cain).
References to Lilith in stories and popular culture abound. It’s not uncommon to find her depicted as the mother of vampires (see the disastrous last few seasons of True Blood) or as the wife of Asmodeus or some other Prince of Hell. The most memorable depiction of her that I can recall is Neil Gaiman’s use of her in Sandman #40 in a story adapted from the Alphabet of Sirach.
When we talk about monsters around here, we sometimes talk about their use in stories as warnings. So, my question for you today is: Just what sort of warning is Lilith? Here are a couple of easy ones.
Since I must toss a shoutout to the Feminist Friday crew into the A to Z mix: Lilith is a patriarchal warning to women that tells women they should be subservient to their husbands and tells men they shouldn’t take up with women who view themselves as equal to men.
Here’s a more subtle (and ultimately more satisfying one): She’s a warning to let our sexuality over-determine our behavior. Basically, Lillith is the consequences of sexual lust.
Of course, the answer to the question will depend on which story Lilith is appearing in, and these things are wide open to interpretation. So make up your mind for yourself, and if you come up with something, do share it with us on the thread.
Happy April! I’ll be back Friday, the 24th for U; and I have a fabulous Lord of the Rings post running today at Sourcerer.