Observations on The Lilith Archetype

lady of shalot, 1956

lady of shalot, 1956

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As we approach Solstice, the turning year’s deep point, what better than to befriend our Shadow Feminine? Bring her in out of the cold, for Xmas!

My friend Actaeon and I wrote this article together, in 2005, and it is circulated to his students.  He is a homeopathic practitioner and teacher.   It is based on experience and on our field work.  My contribution was also influenced by George Macdonald’s extraordinary novel, Lilith.

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wicked godmother 1956

wicked godmother 1956

Who was Lilith?

The forgotten bride of Adam, she sought to rule and make herself known.  She stood alone, infertile, envious of Eve who bore his children, and she made mischief.  She is regarded as the feminine Shadow!

Historically, women – and the feminine principle – have been severely displaced at levels of creativity, culture and spirituality.  Certain mind-sets, principles and behavioural qualities in the modern woman – observable also in some men – characterize this Archetype:

1) She is manic, chaotic, and probably prone to insomnia.
2) She feels excluded, and doesn’t want to miss anything.
3) In our society she is a product of repression and abuse.  She looks everywhere for healing, but resists the healing process.

haughty, 1957

haughty, 1957

The first two points show a compensatory factor.  The manic process needs urgently to be in on everything, and to be at the centre of things.  As the feminine has been excluded, she feels her right to be included in everything.  The Lilith Archetype becomes obsessed with information and the need to know, but never attains wisdom.  Thus, her energy and envy become invasive.  All things must be hers at any cost;  she must be privy to the neighbourhood gossip – the one who twitches the net curtains, as well as the walking encyclopaedia.

4) The Lilith archetype wants to obtain the creative energy and power of the masculine for herself.  Why?

If the Lilith archetype is a mother, she is not satisfied with the creation and rearing of her child.  As society has undervalued the role of motherhood, she does not feel acknowledged or appreciated in this role.  In a healthy family unit, warmth, love and light shine from the father into the mother;  she reflects this love and light into the eyes of their child.  If the relationship breaks down, there is displacement in the psyche, and anger at the masculine.  Without his protection and support, she feels as a mother, disabled.  Her maternal authority carries no weight or assurance;  she starts to nag.  She, as Peter Gabriel said, “looks for the teeth to match her wounds.”

angry women

angry women

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The feminine role is a dual one.  Interiorly she creates the child in her womb.  Exteriorly, she goes out to work, or expands her creative and evolutionary process.  A man who protects and provides for the former, and supports her independence for the latter, can help her to fulfill both.   The key to this is a couple’s mutual love, respect and understanding as lovers, companions and parents.  But – and this is also due to today’s economic stress – more often in a woman, the one role gets over-ridden by the other, or both are sustained in a tense atmosphere of over-achievement and anxiety.

The Lilith archetype in a creative woman or artist, makes her jealous and envious of male composers, musicians, artists and scientists in the past.  Her traditional confinement to domestic roles, excluded her.  Openly admiring male creative qualities, she subconsciously resents masculine achievement and success.  She now wants that for herself.

The modern Lilith archetype, when drawn to creative men and women, usurps their inspiration and knowledge.  Having no respect for the masculine seed, she ignores its lineage, source and consciousness; the way it interweaves with her own.  Her powers of intuition and gestation became distorted through witch-hunts and repressive values in our history.  If she is unable to access her real nature, she resents the male!   She wants his seed to be her own.

Envy of male physical strength and ability, makes her competitive.  She did not accept her power internally:  nor is she aware of how strong her internal organs are. (Women generally live longer).  Yet, throughout nature, as in society, the balanced union of the male and female powers generates life, love and sanity.  Who cares whether the chicken or the egg came first?

someone's mother 1956

someone’s mother 1956

Secretly believing she is the more intelligent, Lilith may be fearful of the male gaining power and hubris.  The Lilith archetype in countless operatic roles, played her men off against each other.  Her old cliches are: “All he wants is his football and dinner on the table.”  “He’s useless in bed, he lives in his head.”  “He’s supposed to know what I want and how I feel, but I’m not going to tell him, and he should know!”  By conditioning, her collusion with her sisters emasculates and mocks their men, cutting them off from effectiveness, driving them to do office overtime, to computer games or the pub.  “He won’t step in the door – the wife drives him mad, the kids are playing up.”

By divide and rule, the Lilith archetype seeks Kingship/high Priesthood on top of her femaleness, and naturally she detests Eve.  Her efforts to be top dog, cut off her own power and love.  With the erosion of procreative male support from her life, things “don’t happen” right for her.  They seem to break apart.  She is left alone.  “Men are no good.  He hasn’t got a clue.”

Those who are subjected to her barrage, generally shut up or retreat.  Hungry for acknowledgement, the Lilith archetype feels deprived, and thank-you’s are rarely given.  If she gives, it is to promote her situation.  Her gifts may be inappropriate and misplaced.  She is owed something – the residue of past deprivation.  If this self image is coloured by previous-life inferior/superior roles, she may move towards the arrogance of the persecutor or the helpless hopelessness of the victim.  There is no true centre.

What is our centre?  How does it move and prosper? for it is never static.

marrying tetrahedrons: the point from in between

marrying tetrahedrons: the point from in between

The point from in between the worlds is a paradox, which blends the edge and zest of life. A child emerges from a fertile point between the parents.  Creative persons, pioneers and those who are not afraid to feel their love and pain, emerge from the fertile point between established conventions.  They learn to honour this awareness as their own progressive centre.

anangaranga 11 - gaining-restraining

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The Lilith archetype, starved of parental integrity, inhabits a static fantasy bubble.  It just touches Reality’s open hand for which she hungers, but it doesn’t quite burst or free her into her own ‘point from in between’.   Classically, she hovers between isolation and community.  She endures denial and frustration, as she tries to maintain her comfort zone.  Wounded underneath, yet avoiding healing, she wants to appear powerful, dominant and in control …  Knowing she misuses others and herself, she may suffer acutely from shame and disunity.  She is “trapped inside the evil container – a house where mother screams and father shrugs his shoulders … a vehicle where mother is paralysed with father yelling at her because she doesn’t work properly.”

Ultimately disliking herself and what she is doing, Lilith may conceal addictive problems.  Her disguises make crucial issues unavailable for confrontation or clarity.  In dialogue, she may frustratingly lose the thread.  She is not OK.  She plays on this, making other persons feel guilty and responsible for her lack of fulfillment and success.  She may attribute to them all her own power to make herself miserable.  “The world has passed me by!”  This leads to depression, and an inability to discriminate others from herself.  She fears she might pull people down with her.

queen with suitor

queen with suitor

Poor Lilith!   Her roles in theatre, opera and the celebrity industry, are legion:  Salome, Lady Macbeth, Lucrizia Borgia, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy (who would rather watch many men die, than give up her status), Queen Margaret, who took over the land from her King Henry VI and became a war vamp …  We have played or been accused of aspects of all these parts.

King Lear was betrayed by two Liliths, Goneril and Reaga.  His hard heart could not distinguish Eve from Lilith, until he held Cordelia dead in his arms:  “O, you are men of stones.  Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so that heaven’s vault should crack – she’s gone for ever!

Lilith was unrecognised until her process had been lived, right through himself;  his heart and mind were broken open.

Blow winds and crack your cheeks - Lear's madness in the storm.  1987

Blow winds and crack your cheeks – Lear’s madness in the storm. 1987

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In the old days, in villages in India, menstrual rags after use were dug into the ground under stones, so the blood would not attract snakes and particularly cobras!

During a woman’s menstrual flow she is psychically ‘open’.  In matriarchal societies, she withdraws and becomes quiet.  She lets her interior pulse with Mother Earth awaken kundalini shakti in the root.  Fearing the unknown, could some invading patriarch have derived the notion of the menstrual blood being ‘unclean’?

wise earth goddess 1987

wise earth goddess 1987

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(Against the conditioning, that the flow and flux of female blood is dirt and pain … I began to feel my own cycle as a cleansing and renewal, “dropping through”.  The ache had a lunar rhythm, like childbirth;  when I was young, I intuited the way it prepares the bed for the child.  It kept me indoors, to be still, relax into the ache.)

In November 2003, a new outer planet was discovered – far beyond Pluto’s orbit – and announced on 29 July 2005.  It is named ‘Lila’, and presages a revolutionary world view. In mystic circles, the menstrual flower is represented as a lily.  The Graal lineage comes through a dragon race (the goddess Nibiru) whose key females venerated as lilies, were named Lili, Luluwa, Lilith, Lilitu, and even LIL-LET!

Pluto or Hades is our collective unconscious;  and beyond Pluto, the ‘new planet’ is feminine.  In mythology, Persephone daughter of Gaia, became his bride.  She descended into the Shadow and returned to earth as spring.  She goes further than any.  The discovery of planet Lila provokes our transitional time.

Hades and Persephone 1957

Hades and Persephone 1957

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In hyperactive modern life, who are wearing the LIL-LETS?  TV presenters, fashion gurus, polititians, powers behind the throne and business:  the high fliers, generally.  We are all aware of female ruthlessness in the media, and in the worlds of finance and crime.  We see women under repressive political and religious systems, becoming tyrants at home.  They may breed killer sons, by reinforcing unconsciously inherited attitudes.  We see the archetype in our families:  mothers and grandmothers who are intrusively possessive or who, despising the aging process in themselves, pass on this attitude to their daughters, and become sour, withdrawn and tight.

Men and women suffer aspects of this archetype in ourselves – anxiety, loneliness, insecurity, jealousy, hyperactivity, lethargy and being ‘not good enough‘.  The surgical nip and tuck craze bears witness to this.  A daughter of Lilith measures and compares herself with others, seeking inclusion.

talking

talking

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Single mothers are rich pickings for the Archetype! … It may breed a mistrustful mindset through daughters and grandchildren.  The Archetype in a mother or a partner can cause grown men and sons to withdraw – even into the tragedy of self-destruction.  These factors coalesce in the subtle genetic structure, and lead to infertility problems down the line.

The feared and devouring Feminine at every level, is Lilith.  Having gleaned what she thinks is enough, she will be off with the next craze or fad in town;  there is nothing more to gain from this or that person.  Failure and fatigue follow her around, and drain off positive qualities in her relationships.  It is difficult for her to be honest about this, because she is clever at camouflage.  She may dissemble, insist and believe that all is sweetness and light.  If you don’t supply what she wants from the sperm-bank, then watch out, guys!  She’s after your bottomless wallet.

Bothwell and Mary 1957

Bothwell and Mary 1957

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What is the solution to the dark Goddess within our soul?   Who will turn to face and commit to her sterile, disabling force?  While she assembles data from all and sundry to support her case, there is no commitment or devotion to any one thing.

The Gurdhieff teaching refers to our “Chief Feature”.  It takes courage to turn – metanaoia – to look her in the eye.   .  The Chief Feature is a negative intensity or ‘hideous creature’ within ourselves which we cannot bear for others to see, and try to keep concealed at all costs.

Behind every Shadow stands the light.  In every method of therapy or esoteric work worthy of the name, the key to the Spirit is through the monster guardian or Dragon within the soul.  This is commitment.

goddess with triton 1957

goddess with triton 1957

Dragons are serpents with wings and fiery breath, who guard the jewel.  They symbolise subtle currents of power – leylines – through the earth and through the psyche and through our body as acupunctural meridians.  A warm Dragon breathes fire and flame like a sword.  A cold Dragon coils and creeps along the ground, worm-like, with flickering tongue.

The snake is associated with woman:  the paradox of her primordial knowledge, with her capacity to betray or beguile.  Just as the venomous potency of a snake or scorpion reverses homeopathically, to heal, so Lilith may turn herself around.

kundalini shakti 1988

kundalini shakti 1988

How?  She is out in the cold, and frozen, and needs to be warmed right through.  Who will lie with her and warm her with his body? – for he receives at first, contempt.  Can he provide for AMMA and AIMA – the light and the dark womb?  The one nurtures his seed.  In the other is hidden the key to her evolution.

sleeping beauty, 1956

sleeping beauty, 1956

Centuries ago, the black madonna was walled up, who had something to say.  Allow her to arise into life creatively!  Then her expression is no longer distorted.

What in our life is dark, and cries out to be converted to light and awareness?   With hindsight and courage, a painful or broken love affair expands our heart towards unconditional love – we are not alone in this.  Without Lilith emerging to the passion of truth and light, the picture would be incomplete!  Let her awakening turn the dragons of the past.  Let our relationships become sacred, bestowed to future generations.

he and she tao, 2007

he and she tao, 2007

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The Role of Adam with Eve and Lilith

When a man’s awareness embraces the light womb and the dark womb, he is fertile.

The Lilith drama is enacted within our psyche.  The way our interior male and female personas clash and pass judgement, reflects our external social inheritance.  When we begin to commit ourselves to reveal, to see and heal, it starts at home:  with our nearest and in our inner life.  Lilith’s transformative potential is towards soul growth and maturity:  Eve’s is given to her children.  Am I both?

You cannot negotiate with Lilith, and if you are wise, you don’t try to.  But the shadow feminine may be encouraged, to realise herself.  The Kundalini serpent trapped through centuries, lies under the stone.  The stone cracks.  She is only the shakti interned;  it turns.

serpent egg 1987

serpent egg 1987

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Turning towards the Light, or metanoia, a man and a woman look into each other’s eyes.  They are liberated into heart centre.  It awakens and opens.  At this point of stability, they each embrace Her dual nature.  She bears his children, and attends to the active evolution of her soul.  The man she loves, protects and provides for this, in whatever way.  When he holds both sides of the vessel steady with her acceptance, both are nourished;  their agreement turns towards the Light.

They honour each other for their childrens’ children.

Triads and the Yin Yang Symbol The positive feminine accepts her duality:  the infant life within her and the soul's own life.  She helps her partner to hold her creative polar polarities - her own development and the needs of her family - in the Yin Yang symbol.  Both are nourished within himself also. The sphere or globe is the ovary.  Two dynamic sperms swim around a global womb, like whales.  One is black with a white light inside.  The other is white with a black light inside.  These are the dynamic of transformation.

The positive feminine accepts her duality: the infant life within her and the soul’s own life. She helps her partner to hold her creative polar polarities – her own development and the needs of her family – in the Yin Yang symbol. Both are nourished within himself also.
The sphere or globe is the ovary. Two dynamic sperms swim around a global womb, like whales. One is black with a white light inside. The other is white with a black light inside. These are the dynamic of transformation.

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lady with gift

lady with gift

The Role of the Feminine within Herself

Sometimes, as the pain of her existence becomes crucial, and thus unbearable, Lilith will allow her unmasking, a veil at a time.  “She is a child.  Let the child grow up and become a woman, and she will step over the dragon guarding her, and speak her truth.”

It is the dismantling of a scaffold.  With her willingness to stop blaming others – including herself! – and to become response-able, vulnerable, the crooked ways begin to flow straight.  For the Archetype is transpersonal.

She turns, changes and becomes conscious.  From the collective unconscious, blighted seeds, twisted roots, half-forms and abortions stretch out tentatively from the dark … becoming whole, engaging life. They seek the light, the sun’s lamp which at first entering their limestone cave, stumbled and cast grotesque shadows.

The serpent within the Stone is a deep, fertile underground river.  She flows and carries nourishment as the venoms disperse.

serpent and soul 1987

serpent and soul 1987

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In a controlled therapeutic dialogue towards simplicity, is TRANSFORMATION.

The Lilith Archetype, if ‘understood – stoodunder‘ can open the door to freedom and expression of the true feminine.  She can integrate with Eve.  At first she was trapped.  Then she no longer ran away, but became herself set free … from here … in here.

“Be still, and know That I AM.”

Actaeon and Jane
August 2005

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self portrait, left & right hands/brain

self portrait, left & right hands/brain

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“Then the Old man of the Earth stooped over the floor of the cave, raised a huge stone from it, and left it leaning.  It disclosed a great hole. 
“‘That is the way,’ he said. 
“‘But there are no stairs!’ 
“‘You must throw yourself in.  There is no other way.'”

George Macdonald, The Golden Key

Fontanel - Chakras tarot Keys 2013

Fontanel – Chakras tarot Keys 2013

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2013. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

6 thoughts on “Observations on The Lilith Archetype

  1. Thank you dear Jane.
    Have just downloaded ‘Lilith’ on my Kindle. And look forward to a good read.
    Your blog comes first and I will settle with it later when all is quiet.
    May your goat’s hoof guide you to your very own secret meadow.

  2. Fascinating post and a lot of new information for me about the Lillith archetype. As a gay bipolar scorpio male I found much in your words that resonate within me personally, especially the deeply transformative aspects of the darkness that empowers and is alone yet seeks inclusion. I see these things in myself, as neither/both/and male/female. Boundaries dissolve tho energies remain.
    Thank you,
    Steve

    • I am very touched by your comment, Steve. My colleague whom I wrote the article with, is a gay Capricorn man with the moon in Leo! Nearly ten years ago, we wrote a book/documentary together, which explores “a journey into sexual and spiritual reality” with poetry, ideas and drawings. It was based on a mens’ group which he was running at the time, and what they shared – I was their “Yin”. We plan to revise it in the new year, and put it online, for the gay community.

  3. Pingback: Mysteries of Isis – The Squid and the Lighthouse | janeadamsart

  4. Pingback: Mysteries of Isis, part 5 – the Cosmic Apple | janeadamsart

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