Lilith is an enigmatic figure with multiple identities in astronomy and divergent interpretations in astrology. She is just as mysterious in myth and legend. Astronomically, Lilith has four distinct identities. She is a bright star in the constellation of Perseus, an asteroid in the Main Asteroid Belt, a controversial second moon of Earth, and an abstract mathematical point in space.
Lilith is believed to have emerged from Baalat, Lady of Gebal, at the ancient site of Byblos. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, The Lady, as she was called, was worshiped there 7,000 years ago. Lilith also appeared more than four thousand years ago in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, a poem carved on twelve tablets. Lilith was said to live in a tree with a dragon at the roots and a nesting bird at the top, linking her with intrinsic symbols of the sacred feminine that appear in cultures around the world. Gilgamesh chopped down the tree because the goddess Inanna wanted the wood for a throne. Gilgamesh killed the serpent and caused Lilith and the bird to flee. Lilith, like the later Cannanite Asherah, who was the consort of Yawheh, was nothing less than the Tree of Life itself. Mythically destroying the Tree of Life presaged what has happened to human nature and to our sense of the feminine.
Lilith echoes through the ages like the Crone goddesses from many cultures who guard the portals of life and death. As an archetype, she is similar to the goddesses Persephone, Hekate, Athena, Minerva and the Hindu Kali, to name a few. Lilith is usually depicted with owls, nocturnal hunters, which like serpents, are symbols of hidden wisdom.
To solve the problem of two contradictory creation stories, the Hebrew Talmud portrayed Lilith as the first wife of Adam. Lilith refused to submit to Adam as she insisted they were created equal and simultaneously. She left the garden, seeking her own way. God sent three angels to bring her back, but she refused. According to the rabbis, she was punished for her independence by being turned into a bloodsucking demon.
Lilith left the garden and subsequently her nature and uncontrolled power became feared and was declared evil. Lilith’s story embodies what occurred in myths over time as earlier goddess worshiping cultures were eclipsed by the emerging patriarchy. Once the Tree of Life, Lilith is an example of how many powerful feminine deities became demonized. In modern times, as the pendulum swings back, Lilith has become an icon of feminine strength.
There were two trees in the Garden of Eden. Eve, created to replace Lilith, took the fruit from the other one, the Tree of Knowledge. She has been blamed by the Church, along with all women, for the sins of the world. Decoding the symbolic significance of the serpent, ancient and pervasive symbol of feminine wisdom, is central to understanding the deepest levels of humanity’s story. In Qabalah, the mystical tradition of Judaism, the serpent climbs the Tree of Life to return to the source.
The word myth comes from the root word for “mouth,” as story telling was originally an oral tradition. Myths are sacred stories, and have been the way people transmitted their holiest truths, their understanding of our relationship to the divine, for thousands of years. Myths, legends and fairy tales, which contain principles and morals, are structured in the symbolic language of archetypes. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung observed that archetypes, the intrinsic patterns of human consciousness such as Maiden, Mother, Crone, Queen and Princess, do not cease to exist if we ignore or devalue them. Rather, they become submerged in what Jung termed the Collective Unconscious, hiding underground and becoming strong forces that emerge in dreams, complexes or even psychoses.
Astrologers who use Lilith believe she represents the dark side of the feminine–the feminine shadow, what’s hidden or repressed in both men and women. The interpretation is metaphysical in nature, providing a deeper look at the dark side of our psyche, where much is veiled from normal conscious awareness. Lilith connects us with our own dark side of the Moon. She embodies the powerful and potentially transforming energies of Scorpio, which when harnessed and directed constructively, contain the magic of transmutation.
Psychologically, in all her aspects, Lilith seems to represent facets of the feminine that have been suppressed. Her nature acts like a Multiple Personality Disorder where aspects of the feminine have been splintered, and some of the parts are now labeled good and others evil. How this shows up, individually or collectively, depends on the context. Lilith can be a righteous, avenging angel or a wrathful demon. Sometimes she is angry and spiteful, and sometimes she is empowered to regain her rightful status as an equal partner. Astrologers who use Lilith, in any of her forms, believe she reveals wounds related to feminine power in men and women. Recognizing what has been disenfranchised is the first step toward restoring balance.
Lilith’s fragmented and confusing nature in myth and astrology may reflect the ways our choices have fractured the human psyche, and she may hold a key that could unlock healing insights. Piercing the veil of Lilith’s enigmatic persona may offer modern men and women empowering energy that is much needed in today’s world. Integrating all the parts of femininity, including sexuality and the mysteries of old age and death, could make us stronger and wiser as we face current social and environmental challenges.
Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA www.newworldlibrary.com
About The Author: Julie Loar is the multiple award-winning author of six books and dozens of articles. She has a BS in Psychology, has done postgraduate work, and has been certified in numerous professional training and development programs. Julie was a Human Resources executive in two major corporations, and an independent training consultant, working with large companies. Her latest book, Goddesses For Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around the World, (available at Satiama) has won three national awards.
Her popular astrology feature appears in ATLANTIS RISING magazine, and she is a featured contributor on John Edward’s web site, InfiniteQuest.com where she has her own internet TV show. She has traveled to sacred sites around the world, researching the material for her books and teachings. Each year she leads a sacred journey to Egypt. Visit her at http://www.julieloar.co