This is Part 1 in our Lilith Series. Read Part 2 Lilith - The Wild Woman Archetype here.
There are many myths and legends about Lilith, the first woman. She is often portrayed as a demon or a dark figure, but her origins are much more complex than that. Lilith has a long and fascinating history, and her story speaks to the power of the feminine, so let’s get to the root of her appeal.
Who is Lilith?
She isn’t a fabricated entity for one of our latest collections; Lilith is a figure that goes back to ancient times. She can be found in mythology, folklore, and religious texts from many different cultures around the world. Her symbolism relates to owls, serpents and as she is often portrayed as a seductress or succubus due to the themes of sexual pleasure and sexual freedom, usually naked and winged in her own imagery.
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Lilith's seductive and mysterious nature has made her attractive to many people throughout history. Her story speaks to the power of female autonomy, which is a trait that is often repressed in traditional societies. She has been appropriated and demonized in some cultures, but her story still resonates with many people today who are searching for a powerful feminine figure, and you will always find versions of her in occultism and horror.
Where does Lilith come from?
Her exact origins are uncertain, but it's likely she was first mentioned in Babylonian mythology. With a cuneiform tablet found from 2500bc, we come across the tale of Inanna, Lilith and the Hullupu tree. In Judaism, from the Book of Zohar, the Alphabet of Sirach, and Babylonian Talmud text, Lilith appears as Adam's first wife made equally from the same dust as he — becoming a seductive demoness after refusing to do as Adam told her to and forced to flee. Other later cultures also link Lilith to themes of fertility and motherhood, miscarriage, infant death, sexual night dreams, as well as death, exile and destruction. Catholic Pope Innocent I in 405AD made a conscious decision to not include Lilith in the Bible as we now know it.
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The Lilith Sigil featured in our Lilith Collection was created by artist Robert Artisson in 2007 when explaining how to use sigil magick, and has been adopted into our witchcraft community, as well as the astrological symbol for Black Moon Lilith from Johannes Kepler in 1609-1619 (“Law of Planetary Motion”).
Lilith and appropriation; What's the verdict?
In the modern age, Lilith is often seen as a symbol for female empowerment and autonomy; the independent Wild Woman archetype. Many contemporary spiritual practitioners have adopted the figure of Lilith in their own practice, and she has become a powerful symbol for feminist spirituality.
However, some argue that the appropriation of this ancient figure amounts to cultural theft. There is no denying that Lilith originated from Mesopotamian mythology as with the cuneiform evidence, and that her story has been appropriated and interpreted by people in many different cultures throughout history likely due to the documenting and archiving of oral history. Whilst Lilith has been documented heavily for the Judaic faith, evidence has only been shown from 500BC - whereas the mythology involving the Hullupu tree in cuneiform text is from 2500BC. Ancient Sumer history shows us that it is not a closed practice, but Judaism is a closed practice, so it’s important to discuss Lilith with respect. The wild woman archetype is a tale as old as time but majorly gained modern popularity with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés in her 1992 book "Women Who Run With the Wolves".
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Lilith’s sigil, too, is public domain and was shared by its creator. The astrological symbol for Lilith comes from “Black Moon Lilith”. It’s the placement of the hypothetical lunar apogee, or "Black Moon Lilith," in a birth chart that is believed to indicate the individual's unconscious desires and repressed emotions. It is thought to represent an individual's shadow self, or the parts of their personality that they may not be fully aware of or have not yet fully accepted, and so it’s thought to influence an individual's psychological makeup and emotional life. Can you see why we would want to love and embrace these themes ourselves?
Religious stories, history and myths are passed down orally and evolve over time, so there is no one right answer when it comes to the origin of Lilith. Even those who engage with her as a deity have only personal gnosis and no factual evidence. Nevertheless, her story still echoes with many people today and stands as a testament to the power of feminine autonomy.
Lilith's story speaks powerfully to female autonomy and strength — a message that still resonates strongly in today.
If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for an exploration of Lilith in a secular sense; astrologically, as an witchcraft deity, and how the Wild Woman archetype can benefit you in your magickal practice...coming soon!