L is for . . . Lilith

lilith__wallpaper_by_donatelladrago-d34eemj

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.

LWhen 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.

Lilith Image by Deviant Artist donatelladrago. A to Z art by Jeremy of Hollywood Nuts.

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21 Comments

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  1. In the Vampire Masquerade: Bloodline RPG, the legend is that Lileth and Cain had a thing going, and somehow they brought about the race of vampires. (been a while since I played.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May it be that Lilith is a remembrance of times when women had more power and lead not only their family, but their people as well? A time when society was matriarchal and so more female oriented?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! It may be.

      It may be that Lillith morphed into a demon about the same time the male priests took over the ancient temples.

      I wasn’t there, and am not a religious historian, you understand. But thanks for this comment! There is more here than can possibly be suggested in 400 words, and you went right where I hoped someone would go with this!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this reblog. Thank you even more for reading the thing. And LOL, are you referring to Lilith as a goddess, or to Part Time Monster as a goddess? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My reply to @hannahgivens immediately below was actually meant for you, because I am late answering the threads and in a hurry and got crossed up. But I think that response works equally well for both of your comments. Thanks so much for visiting and reading on one of the two days when I have an A to Z post here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The story of Lilith, as I have heard it, is of the Adam and Eve origin. In the story, as I understand it, she was unable to have children, as she was not a participant in the ‘original sin’. Therefore, she became bitter toward Eve’s ability to become and mother and eventually became the patron deity of infant death and stillborn children.

    This is very dark, of course, but still a good story. The good thing about looking back at the legends of the Gods and Goddesses in our time is that we have a choice in what aspects of these deities to uphold and which to reject (modern science and forward thinking helps a little with this).

    I am a mother and the thought of glorifying a deity who has, historically, been tied to the death of children is way too morose. However, I recognize that the darker aspects of Lilith were born in a time when women were something powerful that was to be contained. Thus, the Lilith Story did serve as a warning to the dangers of empowered women.

    In today’s time, it is hard to meet a woman who doesn’t personify the Lilith Spark. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing to be empowered women and we have truly come so far. So, I say, it’s time to rewrite this legend (with a little help from the Lilith Fair girls of days gone by). After all, even the meekest woman today, has a little bit of Lilith within her spirit…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve not heard that version. Every one I have heard involves Lilith being gone before Eve enters the picture.

      And yes, the connection to the deaths of children is disturbing, especially for people (like me) with children and grandchildren in their lives.. Thanks so much for that comment. Much food for thought here.

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