Given the time of year and the season that's in it, I'm taking this opportunity to share a four part article I published in 2017 on shadow psychology, feminine consciousness and the wild (Autumn/Water element) and wise (Winter/Earth element) archetypes as told through indigenous oral traditions, cultures, myths, legends and folklore. It is a bit of a read but I guarantee you that you will inJoy it, so why not stick on the kettle for a cuppa first…
In Winter 2016 I had a bit of an ole brainfart that I decided to put out there and see what came back. It is in relation to the corruption and destruction of shadow feminine consciousness, which for the purpose of this article I will refer to 'Lilith'. This was something I had been chewing on for some time but had not verbalized beforehand, it was simply a line of enquiry that I filed away for future chewing.
For those of you that are not familiar with the story of Lilith:
In some sources she's described as a demon, in others she is an icon who became one of the darkest deities of the pagans. Lilith is one of the oldest known female spirits of the world. Her roots come from the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, but she was also described in the Bible and the Talmud. In Jewish tradition, she is the most notorious demon, but in some other sources she appears as the first woman created on Earth. According to a legend, God formed Lilith as the first woman. God did it in the same way as Adam was created. The only difference was that in place of pure dust, God also used filth and residue. Traditionally Lilith means 'the night', and she is related to attributes connected with the spiritual aspects of sensuality and freedom, but also terror.
Truth be told, I don't tend to 'do' the whole deity thing, nor the whole deity in humanoid form thing. Everything is energy to me and carries unique signatures or frequencies which I can more closely associate with plant/crystal characters, colors, elements, seasons, sounds, and flavors. For instance, in this case, Lilith’s taste palate would be dark raw spiced chocolate ganache with oak smoked chili flakes, loaded with incredible native superfoods, wild mushroom extracts, and root/sacral chakra related crystal essences - a delight for the senses, with a lingering, seductive, and memorable afterglow that melts upon the tongue, feels like velvet, and expands throughout the entire body - form becoming formless through the alchemy of the mouth, because it is Lilith we’re talking about after all and this energy is both playful and saucy!
Fun foodie metaphors aside, I am also aware that names are helpful ways for people to identify association with a deity/avatar. Lilith is a name I find women speak of more and more regularly in recent years, in fact, her name and the image of ‘the red woman' seems to have become more and more misunderstood and misrepresented, her name a trendy buzz word and her likeness, a brand image for entire movements and agendas. The image of her as the ‘wild woman’ is used in whatever which way people please, and in mainstream culture, she is tamed, manipulated, made bland, and overtly sexualized into that which she absolutely is not - a caucasian disney princess. Few operating in the business of spirituality actually know the energy and meaning of this name and character, and as a result, are merely perpetuating a distorted superficial version of a myth. Inadvertently curating illusion.It’s going into a bakery to order a cake, and being served a photocopied picture of one. It leaves a funny ole taste in the mouth.
So, let’s look at getting into this a little bit deeper, in this case, through indigenous folklore, and see if we can served a slice! With Samhain ahead (the death of the old year and birth of the new), and the introspective hibernation period of the Earth Element/Winter season thereafter (the wise/crone/cailleach/elder aspect in the Celtic Wheel of the Year), it seems like as good a time as any to put this out there for contemplation and consideration. Illuminating the dark/shadow, if you will. Let’s see what takes root and seeds itself thereafter.
To begin, I'm not so much into the 'Lilith 'idea as I am into the other names given to this female deity, purely because the story of 'Lilith' is too similar to that dictated and presented by the ‘business of religion’ - the Catholic church, the very institution that instigated the demonization, oppression and suppression of women/the feminine aspect to begin with. I’m speaking about this from an Irish context of course, and note that in pre-christian Ireland, women were held with equal regard and social standing within the community.
Lilith is a name that has gained popularity in recent years amongst women (and spiritual feminists) worldwide. Is this reverence stemming from the energetic flavor of this character, or embraced as a statement of showing the middle finger to religious (and patriarchal) attempts at taming ‘the rebel woman’, who is reaching folk hero(ine) status feminist and ‘sisterhood’ circles? Where did this start and what is the reference point with this?
According to some sources, 'Lilith' preceded Eve and is referred to as a jilted scorned 'whore'- the ‘bad girl’ you don’t dare to cross swords (or paths) with for fear of being cursed with fifty plagues. The catholic church portrays her as the demon woman who caused 'the fall of man from the grace of god', which quite honestly, is a mighty feat for any one person to achieve, really, gender irrelevant! Other sources portray her as the well of primal indigenous feminine wisdom, the all knowing oracle and seer. More often than not, the associations are normally raw, tumultuous, brutal, bloody, and seem to speak of great chaos, vendetta, war energy/warrior, death, and power play/struggles - not too unlike what women have experienced throughout history. For further reading on this particular aspect, there’s a very interesting article here.
I do experience the teachings of 'Lilith' and acknowledge what ’her’ essence and energy stands for, however when names are necessary as group reference points, I instead chose to work with and refer to this energy through other indigenous names (see below list). Being Irish I work with the Cailleach.
So, 'just for the hell of it', how about we examine the various aspects of this Lilith character through the lens of various indigenous cultures, and perhaps plant a little seed of self enquiry.
For those of you interested, here is a great list of her various indigenous names:
Ala (Nigerian) - The spirits of the dead find peace in her womb.
Ama No Uzumi (Japanese) - A Shinto ancestral Goddess of longevity, protection and psychic abilities.
Asase Yaa (West African) - She represents the womb of the earth from whom we are all birthed and will return to at our death.
Annis (Celtic) - Depicted as a frightening old woman, keeper of wisdom and old ways.
Badb (Irish) - The shape shifting warrior Goddess who symbolises the cycles of life and death, wisdom and inspiration.
Baubo (Greek) - This Bawdy Goddess uses female sexuality and laughter to raise a smile from Demeter,
Baba Yaga (Russian) - In Slavic mythology she is the wild old woman; the witch; and mistress of magic.
Cerridwen (Celtic) - The Keeper of the Cauldron. She represents the wisdom of old age.
Cailleach (Celtic) - Hag and destroyer Goddess who ruled over disease, death, wisdom, seasonal rites and weather magic.
Elli (Nordic) - Goddess of old age, she reminds us that we can remain strong in our years as she defeated the mighty Thor.
Grandmother Spiderwoman (Native American) - An old wise woman who gave man the sun and fire.
Ereshkigal (Sumerian) - As Goddess of the Underworld she is linked with death.
Estsanatlehi (Native American) - Goddess of life, death and immortality.
Hekate (Greek) - Goddess of the underworld and magic.
Hella (Nordic) - Ruler of Helheim, the land of the dead.
Inari (Japanese) - She guides and protects the spirits of the dead.
Kali (Indian) - Goddess of destruction and rebirth.
Kalma (Finnish) - Underworld Goddess of death and decay.
Lara (Roman) - Mother of the dead.
Libitina (Roman) - Goddess of funerals and pyres.
Lilith (Hebrew) - Adams first wife and guardian of women's mysteries.
Macha (Irish) - The wild woman who battles against injustice to woman and children.
Mórrígan (Celtic) - Crow Goddess who understands the nature of death.
Mother Holle (German) - The Wise Queen of Winter.
Nicneven (Celtic) - Goddess of Magic and winter.
Nephthys (Egyptian) - A funerary Goddess associated with death, magic and reincarnation.
Sedna (Inuit) - Mistress of life and death.
XochiQuetzal (Mexican) - Goddess of the cycles of life celebrated on the Day Of the Dead.
Le Grá / In Love