The figure of Lilith, daughter of the goddess Mehitabel, is a very complex one. Her image differs from culture to culture, becoming more and more demoniac as time goes on and patriarchal values begin to gain dominance.

In ancient Sumeria she was regarded as the "left hand" of the Great Goddess Inanna. She assisted her by bringing the men to the goddess' temples, to worship her by participating in "Tantric" rites with the temple-women. As a result of this role, Lilith became known as seducer of men and as harlot.

Among the Semitic speaking peoples of Mesopotamia she was first a figure similar to Lil, a Sumerian goddess of destructive winds and storms. When Hebrew/Semitic morals became dominant in the Near East she was equated and merged with Lamashtu, a demonic female spirit (sometimes witch) known in Syria as a killer of children. Here she acquired her characterization as a winged demon of the night (Talmud), as dangerous vampire and succubus (Zohar), as mother of the incubi and as screeching night-owl (Bible).

Other legends show her to be the magically beautiful first woman to share paradise with Adam, a female "made by god" in a manner similar to how the "Lord" "made" the first male. Here, then, she is the original first woman, an independent and free virgin who would not submit to Adam's attempts at sexual domination. After leaving both the first male and the prison of paradise she was replaced by a less independent and less equal Eve, a woman not "made" from the Earth but from a rib of the man Adam. It is said that Lilith is but one of twenty names by which that first woman was known and each name is supposed to contain a "secret of sexual mysticism". These "secrets" most likely represent the erotic teachings and sexual techniques that were taught to initiates and worshippers in the temples of Inanna, Ishtar and Astarte ~ teachings and practices that threatened the new patriarchal leaders and their attempts to make woman into a dependent, monogamous servant of their households. "There is no doubt", says Ean Begg, that the "Queen of Sheeba in the cabbala, the Zohar and Arabic legends" is identical with the Near Eastern goddess 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"( Begg p38)

In the Hebrew mysticism of the Qabbalah, Lilith is associated with the lunar position on the Qliphotic Tree, the so-called "World of Shells" that contains the "negative" and dark energies. Lilith also absorbed the local deities Abyzu and Ardat Lili.


See also Kali

Artwork: "The gatekeeper" by Laura-Doe

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