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JSmith: Lilith

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.mythology,alt.pagan,talk.religion.misc
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: JSmith: Lilith
Date: 22 Nov 1995 07:59:51 -0800

[from Babalon-L: Jeffrey Smith ]

Of the all the figures in Midrash,  it is Lilith who is most
clearly  Babalon.  It might therefore be helpful to investigate her. 
Lilith, aside from a stray reference comparing her to a "screechowl"
(the translation is debatable),  does not appear in the Bible
itself.   It is in Rabbinic midrash (presumably relying on earlier
legends) that we find the full delineation of Lilith.
The rabbis  began with the Biblical reference to man's first creation
as a bisexual being--"male and female He [God] created them [the
first human]".   Some of the rabbis found in this image something
similar to what Aristophanes proposed in the Symposium:  a dual
bodied being later divided into two who must thereafter seek 
each other out.   But others tried to take into account the later
creation of Eve detailed further on in the text.  If woman
was created from Adam, after his initial creation,  than what
happened to the female created at first?   The answer,  according
to the Midrash,  was that she was Lilith;  created with Adam,
she refused to comply with Adam's demand that she submit herself
to him, and in the end fled from him by using the Ineffable Name.
Adam then complained to God about his loneliness, and the creation
of Eve followed,  together with the "Fall" and the Expulsion from
Eden.   Adam, blaming this on Eve,  separated from her,  and for a 
time reunited with Lilith,  before finally returning to Eve.  (The
details of this first soap opera are reported with various 
embellishments.)   Lilith bore Adam a number of children in this
interval,  who became the demons.  After Adam's reconcilation
with Eve,  Lilith assumed the Queenship of the Demons;  in some
versions she is the consort of Samael,  in others she remains
unpartnered.  As Queen of the Demons,  she kills babies in their
cribs (apparently this was the folk explanation of SIDS),  but
only in the first days of their life.   Her greatest opportunity
is with infant boys before their circumcision on the eigth day,
and in Germanic lands  Jews developed the custom of the "Watch-night"
to counter her,  a semi-magical vigil around the crib on the night
preceding the performance of the brit milah.   In addition to this,
she still produces children,  according to a much later Kabbalistic
elaboration.  These demons are the children of men, as her original
offspring were the children of Adam,  Lilith being impregnated by
the semen produced by masturbation and nocturnal emissions.

As may be surmised,  the Rabbinic sources do not present Lilith in
a favorable light (although Adam does not come off too well either);
they were content to see her as filling out the Biblical picture,
and as the archetype of the "bad woman".   Later,  mostly Gentile,
writers connected her with the Harlot/Folly figure of Proverbs
(most intelligently,  Charles Williams's portrait of Lily Sammile
in _Descent into Hell_),  and leave it at that.  Modern feminists,
especially Jewish feminists,  have tried to show her as une femme ideal,
drawing particularly on her spurning of Adam's attempted dominance,
and tried to establish her presence among the planets.   But  Lilith's
Babalonic identity goes further than that;  and the full legend can
profitably comment on Babalon.

There are two foci in the legend:  Lilith's position as the original mate
of Adam,  and her later vocation as the destroyer of children.
	As Adam's "other half" (literally),  the whole Adam must include her.
The androgynous/hermaphroditic Adam-Lilith in union was the original form
of humanity.  Thus Lesson 1:  Babalon is a vital part of ourselves, and must
be integrated into our Selves if we are to be whole.
	The legend does not say whether this dual human being was joined
side by side or back to back.   If  back to back,  then Lilith automatically
becomes Adam's Shadow,  and just as automatically something which Adam had
to deal with, even though he could never actually see her, always there and
always out of sight, and always to be cooperated with.  (The same is of
course true of Adam as viewed from Lilith's perspective.)  Side by side,
the same applies,  although not in such a pictorially dramatic and literal
form.   Such a conjunction is not conducive to procreation (the unitive
emotional side of sex would be rendered in this instance moot),  and thus
the two halves were divided.  Adam could see Lilith not only front to front
but also in the round (and she him);  but now he must make an effort to unite
with him.  And here he blundered;  instead of accepting her as an equal,
he attempted to dominate.  (One form of the legend puts this in openly sexual
terms:  he insisted on utilizing only the classic man-on-top/woman-on-bottom
posture.  Other forms of the legend depict the error as mutual:  she tried
to dominate as much as he.) In psychological terms,  he identified with his
own ego,  and not with his full self;  confronted with his Shadow/Deeper Self,
he rejected it, or at least tried to subject it to the demands of his ego.
Lilith's response was to fly away:  she literally rose above Adam (now
shrunk to the confines of his own ego, not his full,  Lilith inclusive self)
with the power of the Name.  The Ineffable Name is the core of Being, and the
generative power of the Cosmos:  this indicates how strong the energy
must be which allows the liberation of the Deeper Self from the ego, and
how potentially catastrophic.  (Adam, after all, lost one half of his own self.)
	Into the picture now comes Eve, the "mother of all living" (Chavvah,
derived from Chai, life, is the name in Hebrew;  the connection is lost in
the Greek-derived version found in English Bibles.)  But at first,  she
is not this;  she merely Ishah, Woman,  as he was to her Ish, Man.  The 
Biblical text directly speaks of her being an "extension" of man.  The
verbal usage in Hebrew portrays this almost directly:  Ishah is simply
extended Ish,  Ish with the female ending tacked on, so that we could
render it "female man".   The English pairing woman/man  mirrors this
("woman" derives from "wife-man").  And then, Scripture continues with the
image of man cleaving to woman as one flesh:  recreating, in other words,
the orignal Androgyne.  (It may be noted at this point that in some
versions of the bisexual creation,  Lilith does not appear.  In this tradition,
Eve is the original female half;  the creation from Adam's rib is
the separation into two individuals;  there is harmony between the sexes,
albeit apparently at the cost of the female accepting the dominance of the
male.)   Ishah is created from Ish's rib,  from a part close to the heart
(in Biblical terms,  the seat of the emotions, will, and soul),  and
especially personal and intimate;  in tactile terms even more intimate than 
the genitals.  (Is not touching somone's else's breast almost always
indicative of some emotional bond--the most intimate being the child feeding
from his mother).  We see here God (reverting to the Midrashic context)
giving Adam another Lilith,  another half of himself.  And, because of the
previous history, it must be done on the sly,  with Adam in a deep sleep,
so he does not conciously realize that Eve is Lilith.
	Then comes the business of the Tree of Knowledge,  in which
Adam's first patriarchal effort proves disastrous.  (Note the Biblical
text:  Adam extends the original prohibition, and in doing so leaves
Eve believing that the extension is also Divine in origin.  The Midrash
picks up on this;  the snake shows Eve that the extension (not to touch
the Tree) can be flouted with impunity,  which leaves her to believe that
the entire prohibition will not be enforced.  And the rest is "history".)
For our purposes,  it is necessary only to note that Eve,  the second Lilith,
is the one that leads Adam into attaining the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
He is thus made into a spiritually aware human being, because of his
Deeper Self--only now,  he does not realize that Eve is himself, and the
consequences are a cosmic catastrophe, at least on one level.  So  he goes
into a pout, and leaves Eve.  But it is at this point that Eve gains her
name in the Biblical narrative.
	The second focus of the Lilith material is the contrast between
her offspring and those of Eve.   Lilith bears demons;  Eve bears humans.
Lilith is impregnated by sex that is nominally unfruitful,  male autoeroticism,
unpartnered.  Eve is impregnated by sex that is normal and procreative
in the normal, partnered way.  And Lilith is tries to destroy the 
offspring of her rival.  Lilith becomes the repository and incubationary
of the male sexual drive that can not be satisfied by normal means.  It
is sex without love,  without mutuality,  for the sake only of pleasing
one's ego:  the male complement of the Whore.   If we return to our
image of Adam as the ego and Lilith as the Deeper Self,  then we find
that the ego represses and drives into the Deeper Self what it cannot
accept, and what it deems as illegitimate.   And what is repressed rebounds
on the ego in the form of the demonic,  destroying what is acceptable
and "legitimate" (symbolized by the offspring of Eve).  The lesson is, of
course, that had the ego not tried to reject its own products,  the demonic
would not destroy the remaining offspring, and instead been harmonized,
the illegitimate with the legitimate.
	There is a limit to Lilith's power of destruction:  when the child
under goes the initiation of *brit milah*, circumcision; which symbolizes
in two tradtional phrases,  being "sealed into the Covenant" and "coming 
under the wings [protection] of the Shekinah".   By the marking of its
member,  the child becomes a member of the Community of Israel,  both in
its literal aspect and in its Kabbalastic aspect ("Community of Israel"
being one of the terms denoting the Shekinah).   This rite is applicable
to infants and to adult converts (to whom the phrase "coming under the
Shekinah" is often applied), and it is the essential rite of initiation
into the Community.  (That the brit milah is exclusively performed on
males can be ignored in our context, as can be seen by the fact that
woman can circumcise:  they can initiate, and only someone already
initiated can initiate.)   The infant/convert is married to the Shekinah.
(Cf.  Zipporah's circumcision of Gershom in Exodus,  and her reference
to "Bridegroom of blood".)    The Arabs delay this rite to the onset
of maturity (we are leaving out the practice of "female circumcision"
which is actually contrary to Islamic law and teaching),  but Judaism
recognizes that children are part of the Community, and can be initiated
as well as any adult,  even if they have can not take on adult responsiblities.
(The ceremonies of bar/bat mitzvah mark this stage, which has legal
but no spiritual ramifications,  just as the 18th and 21st birthdays
have in Western practice.)  The circumcised child is literally the
Child Crowned and Conquering,  even if he and every one else is unaware
of it.  He has married the Shekinah,  and the physical mark upon
the sexual organ is one sign of this.
	And what is the Shekinah?  And why does the marriage to the Shekinah
put an end to the power of Lilith?  Because the Shekinah is Nuit,
and the Child has thus attained Nuit,  and (on the symbolic level at least)
put Babalon/Lilith back into Her proper place, as part of the Child's own Self.
For Lilith  when recognized/integrated as one's Self  loses her destructive
power,  or rather the power is properly directed and recognized as fruitful.

Further cogitations welcome.

May the Divine Compassion be upon you and upon us all.
Jeffrey Smith

Political correctness is the antithesis of artistic enquiry.
    ---I. Stern

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