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Lilith: the first Eve


Dear readers,

I recently read and had some previous knowledge that Eve was in fact not the first mythical woman in the Garden of Eden.  She was preceded by Lilith, who was created as a true equal to Adam, out of the dust of the earth.  What I am not certain about is at what time certain persons in power decided to change the creation myth and kick Lilith out of the garden and replace her with a more submissive female created out of Adam’s rib.  Apparently, Lilith was too vocal and headstrong, menacing Adam’s authority (or lack of self-esteem)!  I just found this image (see reproduction of engraving) which portrays Lilith as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It is an intriguing image, if you consider the symbolism of the serpent.  As far as I know, the snake is a symbol of healing, as well as a sexual symbol, and it is often associated with the unconscious mind. Traditionally, the serpent is portrayed as winding its body around the tree of knowledge.  This could be equated as a symbol of unconscious and powerful energies of the subconscious mind (the snake) entwining the energies of the conscious mind, represented by the tree.  In the image, neither Adam nor Eve seem perturbed by the sight of the large serpent with a woman’s head. Perhaps she is not visible to them, since they are not aware of her presence…

Here is a link to some more information about Lilith’s controversial history:

http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Projects/Reln91/Power/lilith.htm

I am interested in the question of the dark side as related to Lilith as a mythical figure.  Like Persephone, Euridice, or Isis, she is cast into a hellish place – perhaps leaving or being rejected from the arena of the conscious mind to inhabit the subconscious mind.  She, as well as the darker, more potent side of the feminine, have been repeatedly subjected to torture and humiliation throughout history.  There is a persistent theme to a duality of the feminine.  Mary would represent an idealized, purified version of the feminine, and I feel Eve in the creation myth could be identified with Mary, as she has been portrayed by masculine biblical literature.  Most likely, the real Mary was a very different woman, with strengths, ambiguity, and a strong connection to nature and intuition as well as a developed intellect.  Mary Magdalene has been equated to a Lilith-type figure, and I think the emerging patriarchal system at the time was working hard to eliminate a female intelligensia.  Mary Magdalene is said to have come from a wealthy family, was well educated, and she was Jesus’ favorite disciple.  The Bible reduced her to a prostitute to discredit her influence, intelligence and the perpetuation of her teachings.  I feel that Lilith, an earlier strong feminine figure, was similarly discredited because she demanded to be treated with respect and refused to be submissive.

It is also interesting to consider how witchcraft and the persecution that women who were healers or interested in the predominance of a Nature Goddess or feminine godhead have been marginalized since at least the Middle Ages.  I don’t have much knowledge about witches, Wicca, and the like.  I am planning to do some research into this area.  I looked up some definitions, and there is often a highly negative connotation associated with these words.  It would seem that witches are  categorized as being involved in an occult intent on doing harm to others.  While I feel there is sufficient evil in the world as it is, and I would avoid negative energy wherever I encounter it, I am curious as to whether this negative reputation is undeserved.  Many cultures have nature goddesses, and I believe Lilith would count among them.  Because she was rejected, her powers and intentions may have been diverted from their initial intentions.  When any archetype is consciously rejected by a culture, it goes underground and may make mischief to bring attention to itself.  The purpose of that behavior is to push us to recognize and validate that force – bring it to group awareness.  The feminine has much to offer in the areas of healing, emotional awareness, creativity, and finding unity in balance.  Masculine energies are more individualized, and have trouble creating community.  Feminine energies are talented at creating equilibrium, nurturing, and encouraging.  We need these energies in our personal and collective lives.

Perhaps it is time to resurrect Lilith, to bring back an accurate knowledge of Mary Magdalene, and reinstate a widespread acceptance of a feminine part of the Godhead in western religions.  Some progress have been made in these areas, but we are still in the infancy of the re-connection and balancing of the masculine and feminine.  I read that the Roman Catholic Church refuted Mary Magdalene’s reputation as a repentant sinner and prostitute very recently, in 1969.  Gnostic Christians believe that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married, and that she was his favorite disciple.

I truly wish we knew more about these early historical and mythical women, and it is my hope that we will move towards an increasingly motivated personal and collective desire to know and integrate the feminine into our daily lives.  I believe this process will make our lives richer and more fulfilling, and we will feel more empathic and more human as a result of this work.

Please find below a list of books to find out more about these subjects.  I have only read a few of them!

Books about Mary Magdalene:

Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile (2010), Woman witn the Alabaster Jar (1993), the Goddess in the Gospels (1998, and Magdalene’s Lost Legacy (2003) by Margaret Starbird

The Two Marys by Sylvia Browne

Mary, called Magdalene, by Margaret George

Books about Lilith:

Lilith, the Legend of the First Woman by Ada Langworthy Collier (2012)

Lilith, the First Eve by Siegmund Hurwitz (2009)

The Case for Lilith, by Mark Biggs (2010)

Books about the history of witchcraft:

Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History (Middle Ages Series) by Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peters (Nov 29, 2000)

A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, & Pagans (Second Edition) by Jeffrey B. Russell and Brooks Alexander (Mar 26, 2007)

Books about the balance of masculine and feminine:

The Maiden King, by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman

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