Friday, October 15, 2010

Who was Lillith?

Lillith, the woman...the goddess...the devil?

All kinds of demons and devils have been given her name, which were the myths told through the Talmud .  Were these myths an amalgam after Jews saw the sculpture that was depicted yesterday?  The clay plaque from Mesopotamia is from the Old Babylonian period, c. 2000-1600 B.C. and tribes of Semitic peoples definitely travelled in that area at that time.  (This art was made that long ago!)  The goddess depicted must have had a story of a woman with bird feet (why we may wonder) and horned animals on each side of her (or under her feet), and don't miss the wings!  Another plaque depicts her much the same, standing nude and looking directly at you. 

She is mentioned in the Gilgamesh story about Inanna as a young goddess finding Lillith in the Huluppu tree which Inanna was growing in her garden.  There are also two other beings in the tree: a snake who could not be charmed who made its nest in the roots of the tree, and an Anzu-bird with its young in the branches of the tree.  Lillith is referred to as "the dark maid" who build her home in the trunk. The three beings in the tree keep Inanna from harvesting the wood for building her throne and her bed, until Gilgamesh comes and clears them away for Inanna.   This story was told on Sumerian clay tablets which predate the Talmud, and have been interpreted from cunieform writing.   (Wolkstein and Kramer in Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, 1983) 

In a paper on the subject of feminist theology, Deborah J. Grenn, of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, has argued that Lilith was a mother goddess whose demonization was designed to keep women alienated from their own 'original sources' of power and spiritual authority. The case is argued for "a reinterpretation of the divine as embodied by the Semitic goddess Lilith, she who has been represented and misrepresented in a variety of sacred texts". (Kohenet Deborah J. Grenn. Lilith's Fire: Examining Original Sources of Power Re-defining Sacred Texts as Transformative Theological Practice)

I don't think I'll go much further with the scholastic pursuit of Lillith's story.  I like finding that among all the more modern interpretations, there still exist a few that allude to her authentic myth.

So here it is the first day after the first frost warning.  Being warm inside a building while cold blows outside has begun.  This signals the way nature lets me really know of the change that astronomical events gave my brain several weeks ago.  Now my body knows also, as well as my house plants that have been outside in their pots all summer.  Time for them to come inside.

Next goddess to share...

Let's mix tree roots and trunk with yogini and see what we get...

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Thanks for making this a more personal connection by saying what you think. I'll post your comments for others to see soon!