Susan Scott is South-African born; with a BA in Clinical Pyschology, and an abiding interest in the work of C.G. Jung, Susan is married with two adult sons. What brought the two of us together? Common interests and mutual affection. Please do check out her blog: gardenofedenblog.com.
I enjoyed Susan’s series of three posts on the fascinating light-and-dark persona of Lilith and she graciously allowed me to reblog them….this is the second of those three (originally posted on 25 May 2015 on gardenofedenblog.com). Here goes….
Please note that I’m regarding the myth of Lilith as just that, a myth. Myths and fairy tales, legends and stories from time past and present, have something of the eternal about them and speak to contemporary issues that we face in our daily lives.
Lilith (first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden according to the Midrash – see previous post) was banished to the depths of the Red Sea to be never seen or heard of again. In one fell swoop, all that she had known, unity in the Garden, was ripped from her.
We’ve all experienced those dreadful times when we’ve been utterly lost in our grief and sadness; personal illness or that of our loved ones; when life is a constant uphill battle and the inner and outer worlds seem to conspire against us.
Sometimes, when in crisis, it is important to do nothing for a while and just sit in the awfulness of it. It is not the time to jump out of the fire to avoid the burning, but to endure and sit in the flames. It is not the time to frantically search for answers, immediate resolution. It is a time for no-action, patience, endurance.
I see Lilith in her exile, in the flames, sitting, with her knees drawn to her chest, her chin resting on her knees, her arms and hands wrapped around her legs. She sits; she doesn’t move. She knows she has to be here; now is not the time for her to escape. For the moment she must just sit, in the flames, and resist the temptation to jump out of the fire and not be burned. She must be burned. But the fire slowly strengthens her. She kindles the fire adding new branches to the furnace to keep the flames burning. She is kind to the fire. She feels akin to it. She stirs the ash. Perhaps she is reminded of things of beauty that were fashioned after being in the fire, beautiful crystal glass work, ornamental beads, clay pots, beautifully crafted and fired, made from the same substance as she. She feels that she is slowly being forged and fashioned, that the fire is strengthening and purifying her. Perhaps she wonders in some way if this is an alchemical process, one that takes a long time and furthermore, she knows not what lies in store for her. She feels in the absolute stillness of doing nothing, a dynamism. She senses the paradox in this, knows that stillness and movement somehow belong together even if they appear to be completely opposite to each other. She feels her blood quicken in some barely discernible way. Her frozen heart is melting. She feels a sharpening of wits, while at the same time a lessening of her previous bonds. She feels looser yet tighter at the same time. Her perceptions and attitude change. She sees that there is more. It seems to be out of her grasp but worthwhile reaching for and waiting for.
Lilith is in the fire and also in the depths of the Red Sea, wet, not only from those watery depths, but also very much from her tears. Tears of rage, frustration, anger and deep, deep sadness at her plight. How in the name of heaven did it come to this? A life of mutual joy and co-operation with Adam was not to be. She was rejected not only by him, but because she used His ineffable name in her rage (according to the legend), she was cast down, discarded, exiled and thus thrown upon herself. Perhaps from her personal experience of rejection, surely the deepest wound to her psyche, she learned never to be the instrument of rejection, hurt and wounding. Her own wounding showed her the path. From her extreme anger, disillusionment and sadness, there was a glimmer of the potential of its opposite, that of compassion and joy.
We are all daughters of Lilith and Eve; they are present in our modern psyche. We feel annihilated sometimes, invisible, unworthy, not free to act or choose, to remain submissive and demure. We lose touch with our earthy and passionate nature, our need for solitude sometimes, our connection with the dark moon.
Highly charged emotions are valuable in that they are meant to disturb us, so that we do not ignore them; that they are brought out of the festering dark. The deepest work is usually the work on the very darkest corner of our souls. Do not reject the corner stone, those other unknown parts of one’s self. ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone’ (OT Psalms 118 vs 22). Destructive tendencies such as self-sabotage can be transformed into something more refined and spontaneous and joyous. Reflection is never easy, yet it is work worthy of the effort for the rising consciousness of the dark feminine and for unity to once more be re-gained.
Like all archetypes, Lilith has two polarities. We may be inclined to call one side positive, the other negative, but this is not wise as it is a value judgment. All modalities of Lilith are experienced within ourselves, her dark and light, her manic and depressive moods, the sinner and the saint, her strengths and vulnerabilities, her wildness and her conformity. The sun and moon, seeming opposites, belong with each other.