Recent Posts

Monday, 7 January 2013

Lilith--for Sarah Six

14th Century Eve

Among the ancient mythologies of the West, and the Middle East is the story of Lilith. Apparently, she is associated with Adam's first wife, in mythology, created from the dirt and not from his ribs.  I shall come back to this point in a minute.

Lilith has been seen in art and literature as a woman of the earth, a demon, a woman who enchants men by sex along and not by the spirit or the intellect.

She is not seen as man's equal and this is the important point. She is seen as something other, a foreign person, and not part of Adam's own person.

Lilith is not Ishtar. She is not to be seen as a god, but a personification of the lower regions which appeal to a man's sexual appetites and physical instincts.

In the Vulgate, the word lamia is used, a demon who eats, or at least destroys her children. Lamia, mentioned in Horace, Keats, and Pope, also regrets the destruction of her children and can only look into her own evil, empty, tortured soul. Lamia is a sex and death creature and so is Lilith.

Now, why I am writing about this is for three reasons. Firstly, some women are Liliths. These are the women who humiliate men, but ironically, are in turn, humiliating by men, as they are or become, only sex objects.

Realizing that the religions  outside of Judaism, in the ancient Near East worshipped fertility and used sex in religious ceremonies, the connection between such Dionysian actions and a certain type of faith is as old as fallen man.

Lilith represents two aspects of the worst in women: power to seduce and the opposite side of the coin, the impossibility of being an equal mate to a man. Lilith either becomes the dark woman who has power over her men, or she becomes, after time, the plaything and simple sex object of those men.

She is conqueror and yet conquered by the very passions which she yields as a weapon.

Here is the crunch. Men like the Lilith types. They are the babes, those women who become mere extensions of men, who are not PERSONS, but merely trophy wives or spiritless females used and using men.

The dumb blond who is smart enough to marry the millionaire falls into the is category, and as long as she is NOT A REAL mate, she is safe. There are some religions who want women to only be Lilith--use your imagination here.

Also Lilith is a symbol of the woman who aborts for her own gain....yet, she laments.

In some of the stories, Lilith makes men impotent if she always has the upper hand, but too often, she plays into the socially accepted playmate, not spiritual soul mate. She can make a man strong and then bring him down. Or she can start off strong herself, but become captive of the very games she plays for power and glory.

Such is a Lilith. Men choose them, as they are enslaved by passion and then enslave in turn, buying love, stopping contradiction and discussion.

In some of the stories, Lilith is like Satan, a demon of light who is really darkness. She becomes a vampire in the western myths, and even a witch.

Second point: Lilith is not Eve. In the ancient myths (none of this is Revelation), and in true Revelation, Eve is made from the side of Adam. She is his equal in status and in dignity. She is his "soul mate", sharing the spiritual life of Adam and helping him attain salvation, if a good mate.

Of course, Eve failed, and led Adam astray. But, deception is an intellectual sin and a sin of pride.

Eve had an incredible intellect. She was not a dumb brunette. She was Adam's equal. She and he work together for good, for God. She uses her brain and is not merely a sexual object, not merely a body which feeds the passion of the man, and in turn, feeds her own.

Eve is maternal. Lilith is not. Eve gives life, and indeed, her name indicates her role. Lilith takes life, including her own, as she lives in misery for all her power.

Third point, using these mythological and real ladies, one has to deal with the psychological realities of Life and Death in the use of power and the abuse of power.

Here is where the artist comes in. A woman who is an artist needs to make a decision on how to use her power. She can use it for good or for evil.

If she is a narcissist, she will use it merely for her own pleasure and position. If she is pure of heart, she will be like the New Eve, Mary, the servant of God, the bride, the Ever-Virgin.

To be a Lilith is easy. One can either yield power or purposefully allow one's self to be manipulated for status, power, money, comfort.  But, Lilith will break and into a million pieces, like the ice-maiden that she seems to be.

To be the New Eve, like Mary our Mother and Queen is very hard. Of course, this metamorphosis entails loving God, loving the Trinity, living the sacramental grace which is called sanctifying.

For the woman who paints, or sculpts or acts, a decision to use power or give it up on purpose can be great temptations. Such self-abuse leads to death of creativity. Lilith can only eat her own children and then lament their absence.

Eve is the First Mother and Mary is the New Eve, without sin, our guide.

Myths can reveal universal truths about ourselves. They can also lead us to the real truth, the Scriptures, Revelation, and the Teaching of the Catholic Church.

Myths are attempts to find truths not yet revealed. Revelation finishes the myths with a deft brush, but we can use these for our benefit. The artist needs to be objective about her art. She needs to break away from being a Lilith, and if she is not, if she is pure of heart and follows the New Eve, the woman artist must expect hatred from the Liliths, who see, but can only mourn their lack of spirituality and offspring.

Eventually, Lilith is sterile and always thrown away by the very men she has made to worship her, as she worshipped her own body and her own power. Idolatry works both ways. But, in the end, only the New Eve, who gave us Life and Love Himself, in the Person of Her Son, through the Father and with the Holy Spirit, only Mary can bring us to freedom and life.

Artists, beware the temptation to be a Lilith. And, if you are not, be strong against those who are...Liliths.

Sadly, the Lilith paradigm is very popular at this time in art. She is a cunning creature, but remember, she lack the soul, the creativity of Eve and especially of the New Eve, Mary.

By the way, not to be too pedestrian, I think a perfect depiction of a Lilith was in Dynasty, the long-running soap on television in the eighties. Take your pick, as many Liliths graced that series, but the main one, was, of course, Alexis. She even causes a miscarriage of her rival, Krystle. Such is the destruction of the Lilith. But, as one can see in this series, Alexis is her own worst enemy.

Choose. be continued....