In some texts she is described as a demon, in others she is an icon of one of the darkest goddesses of paganism. Lilith is one of the oldest known female spirits in the world. Its roots are found in Gilgamesh’s famous epic poem, but it is also spoken of in the Bible and in the Talmud.
In the Jewish tradition, it is considered one of the worst demons, although in other sources appears like the first woman created in the Earth. According to a legend, God shaped Lilith as the first woman. He did it in the same way in which he created Adam, with the only difference that instead of using as raw material only clean earth also used garbage and filth. Traditionally Lilith has been considered to mean “the night”, and it is related to attributes linked to the spiritual aspects of sensuality and freedom, but also to terror.
The name of Lilith comes from the Sumerian word “lilitu”, which means wind spirit or female demon. Lilith is mentioned in Table XII of the Epic of Gilgamesh, a famous epic poem of ancient Mesopotamia dating back to a time around 2100 BC. This tablet was added to the original text much later, towards the 600 a. C., in its later translations to the Assyrian and to the Akkadian. Lilith is also represented by the branches of a tree in a story about magic. It is described along with other demons, although the researchers have not yet agreed to today whether it was a female demon or a goddess of darkness. Simultaneously, it also appears in ancient Jewish texts, so it is difficult to discover who mentioned it for the first time. Nevertheless,
In the Babylonian Talmud Lilith is described as a dark spirit with a dangerous and uncontrollable sexuality. It is said that she fecundates herself with the male sperm that does not fertilize any woman, thus engendering demons. In this way, she is considered the mother of thousands of demons.
Lilith was also known in the Hittite, Egyptian, Greek, Hebrew and Roman cultures. In later times, its legend even reached the north of Europe. It represented chaos and sexuality, and it was said that she had the power to bewitch men. His myth is also related to the earliest accounts of vampires.
Lilith appears in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah 34:14, which describes the desolation of Eden. From the beginning it has been considered a diabolical, impure and dangerous spirit. Genesis Rabbah describes her as the first wife of Adam. According to this text, God created Lilith and Adam at the same time. Lilith was very strong, an independent woman, and wanted to relate to Adam on an equal basis. He did not accept being less than himself, and refused to lie beneath him to copulate. The couple obviously did not work, and they never became happy. As Robert Graves and Raphael Patai wrote in his book “The Hebrew Myths”
Adam complained to God: “My companion has abandoned me.” Immediately, God sent the angels Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof to bring back Lilith. They found her by the Red Sea, a region in which lascivious demons abound, from whom she begat more than a hundred “lilim” a day. “Come back to Adam without delay,” said the angels, “or we shall drown you!” Lilith asked them, “How could I return to Adam and live as an honest housewife after spending all this time by the Red Sea?” “If you refuse, you will die!” They replied. “How could I die,” Lilith asked again, “if God has commanded me to take charge of all the newborn children, and of all the males until their eighth day of life, that of their circumcision, and of all the girls until their twentieth day? However, whenever I see your three names or their equivalents written in an amulet on a newborn child, I promise to forgive your life. “The angels agreed; but God punished Lilith by causing a hundred of her demonic children to perish daily; and when Lilith could not end the life of a human child because of the angelic amulet, she became full of hatred against her own children.
Because of the misunderstandings and misunderstandings provoked by Lilith, God decides to create a second wife for Adam: Eve.
At present, Lilith has become a symbol of freedom for many feminist groups. Thanks to the growing educational level of the population, women understood that they could be independent, so they began to look for symbols of female power. Lilith has also been worshiped as a goddess by some followers of the pagan Wicca religion, created in the 1950s.
The attraction of the character of Lilith has been perceived by some artists, who adopted her as his muse. Lilith began to be a popular motif in art and literature in the Renaissance period, when Michelangelo portrayed her as a half-woman and half-serpent creature. The brilliant Italian artist painted it coiled around the Tree of Knowledge, thus increasing the importance of his legend. Over time, Lilith became even more interesting to the imagination of male artists like Dante Gabriel Rosetti, who portrayed her as the most beautiful female creature in the world. For its part, the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” CS Lewis, was inspired by the legend of Lilith for his character of the White Witch. A beautiful woman, but also dangerous and cruel. Lewis said of the White Witch that she was Lilith’s daughter,
James Joyce’s mind, however, evoked a less romantic image of Lilith, whom he called “the patron saint of abortions.” Joyce introduced Lilith into feminist philosophy, and began the process of her adoption as a goddess of independent women of the twentieth century. As women gained more rights, they began to disagree with a worldview centered on a male perspective, including the biblical account of the creation of man. Lilith’s name appears in a national literacy program in Israel, and is also the title of a Jewish magazine for women. The ancient and legendary demonic woman of the Sumerian myths is one of the most popular themes of feminist literature in relation to ancient mythology.