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May 21, 2008

LILITH

Another awesome installment the evil slut art series from our awesomely sexy guest blogger, Chiquita. (This one is my personal favorite because... it's about me! I'm such an egomaniac). Well, okay it's not the real actual present evil slut Lilith - it's the original evil slut Lilith. She was even more evil and slutty than ours is!



If you’re at all familiar with Biblical lore, you probably already know a little bit about Lilith. But for those of us [heathens] who don’t know much about her background and wonder why doing a search for “Lilith” yields a great deal of images of various works of art, let’s take a look at this particular bad girl. (After all, it’s only right to pay homage to the lady of the night when she’s playing co-host to my guest articles, right?


Lilith, by John Collier


Lilith is the penultimate bad girl. According to Talmudic lore, she was created from dust just like Adam and was actually Adam’s wife before Eve. In the Bible, God makes male and female at the same time, on the sixth day:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26-27 NIV]


Eve didn’t come until later; in the Bible, she didn’t arrive until after Adam had been given dominion over all life on Earth and God had rested on the seventh day.

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” [Genesis 2:18 NKJ]
…but for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam [Hey! Like Rip van Winkle!], and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. [Genesis 2:21-25 NKJ]

What about that first woman conveniently left out of the Bible? The Talmud calls her Lilith, Adam’s first wife and equal. She wasn’t “comparable” to Adam, or a decent helper, because she didn’t want to help him; she wanted to be his equal in everything. She refused the missionary position and refused to submit to Adam.

“Why should I lie beneath you,” she demanded, “when I am your equal since both of us were created from dust?” [Seductress]

She left Eden, and left Adam. God noticed Adam didn’t have a wife, so he supplied the more submissive Eve, using Adam’s rib so she couldn’t use the excuse of equality. The Alphabet of Ben Sira expounds more:

After God created Adam, who was alone, He said, 'It is not good for man to be alone.' He then created a woman for Adam, from the earth, as He had created Adam himself, and called her Lilith. Adam and Lilith immediately began to fight. She said, 'I will not lie below,' and he said, 'I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one.' Lilith responded, 'We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.' But they would not listen to one another. When Lilith saw this, she pronounced the Ineffable Name and flew away into the air. Adam stood in prayer before his Creator: 'Sovereign of the universe!' he said, 'the woman you gave me has run away.' At once, the Holy One, blessed be He, sent these three angels Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, to bring her back. Said the Holy One to Adam, 'If she agrees to come back, what is made is good. If not, she must permit one hundred of her children to die every day.' The angels left God and pursued Lilith, whom they overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the Egyptians were destined to drown. They told her God's word, but she did not wish to return. The angels said, 'We shall drown you in the sea.’ 'Leave me!' she said. 'I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female, for twenty days.’ When the angels heard Lilith's words, they insisted she go back. But she swore to them by the name of the living and eternal God: 'Whenever I see you or your names or your forms in an amulet, I will have no power over that infant.' She also agreed to have one hundred of her children die every day. Accordingly, every day one hundred demons perish, and for the same reason, we write the angels' names on the amulets of young children. When Lilith sees their names, she remembers her oath, and the child recovers. [Lilith (Wikipedia)]

Lilith didn’t just disappear, though. She shows up in several legends. According to one, she went to the Dead Sea and started a huge orgy with lots of male demons until God sent a few angels to put a stop to it. She didn’t see why she should have to, so she bargained her way out; she’d stop having lots of sex and procreating more demons if she was allowed to plague Adam and his descendents. Somehow that was allowed, so she throttled children in their sleep (the first incidents of “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”) and caused men to have wet dreams. She went after Adam himself—when he went to the desert, she made him have wet dreams, too. She cut a pretty powerful figure in mythology: even God was weak enough to succumb to her wiles:
She cast such a potent spell on the almighty that he abandoned his lawful wife, Israel, and set Lilith up in her place, thereby precipitating the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Folk tradition decreed that only the coming of the Messiah would put an end to her depredations. We’re still waiting; Lilith and her train of femmes fatales have struck deep roots in Western culture.

Almost all legends surrounding Lilith have made her a demon. According to Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love, Lilith undid all the positive advances of women in other legends (such as Inanna/Ishtar, Aphrodite, and the prehistoric Venus-type goddesses). She was bisexual, notorious for smooth-talking men into having sex with her and then leaving them impotent or dead (or both), she stole children, and preferred young, sweet [underage] boys. She was portrayed as a screech owl and Lady of the Night; not for nothing is she proclaimed queen of the vampires: she’s been depicted as half woman, half owl, drawing on the legend of the strix.

She is also reputed to have been the snake in the Garden of Eden who gave Eve the apple.


She’s captured the imaginations of men through the ages, from ancient Sumerian reliefs to full sculptures on Notre Dame to paintings by John Collier, Michelangelo and Dante Gabriel Rosetti:



The Burney Relief: Queen of the Night




Adam, Lilith and Eve, Notre Dame



Lilith in The Temptation of Adam and Eve, by Michelangelo




Lilith, by Dante Gabriel Rosetti


And she’s also been mentioned as the wife of Samael (Satan), and she’s featured in the symbol of the Church of Satan:



Seal of Baphomet


Lilith wasn’t a woman to be crossed. Created by a society that was intolerant of women exerting their equality, her legend became one in which she has been a monster of the night—an old wives’ tale to keep women in line. Her value to us today lies in her question:
“Why should I lie beneath you,” she demanded, “when I am your equal since both of us were created from dust?”

The ultimate seductress, Lilith always had Adam’s heart:
"But though Adam's lips said Eve, his soul always echoed Lilith."


If you enjoyed this, check out the first two installments: Artemisia Gentileschi and Madame X. And stay tuned for Part 4... Jezebel. (Come on, you know she was gonna do both of us! Lilith can't have all the fun!)

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1 comment:

Chiquita said...

Oh, Jezebel, you make that sound so sexy. ;)