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Permutations and Transformations of Lilith

 

THE LILITH SUCCUBUS INCUBUS DIRECTORY

 

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Lilith is typical of the demons who were created by sexual intercourse between the daughters of man and the Watchers. They first appeared during the six days of creation as disembodied spirits, and later took physical form. The Book of Zohar says, "Every pollution of semen gives birth to demons." The Encyclopaedia Judaica refers to "the impurity of the serpent who had sexual relations with Eve." The Kabbalah claims that Lilith had intercourse with Adam and produced demons as part of the cosmic design, in which the right and the left are the opposing currents of pure and impure powers, filling the world, and dividing it between the Holy One and the serpent Samael . (Zohar Bereshit 73b., 53 et seq.)

Webster's Dictionary says of Lilith: "Heb. meaning of the night.

 1. Jewish folklore, a female demon vampire.

2. Jewish folklore, first wife of Adam before the creation of Eve." Many legends identify Lilith as the first wife of Adam. These myths claim that God formed Lilith out of mud and filth. She soon quarreled with Adam. Because of her overweening pride, she refused to let him lie on top of her. It is for this reason that she was adopted as the patroness of the lesbians.

She left Adam and fled to the shores of the Red Sea, where she was said to indulge in her sexual fantasies with demons, living among the wild beasts and hyenas. Her presence gave rise to many terrifying legends; she became the chief of Jewish demonesses and was said to prey on newly born children, sucking the life out of them.

She also was known to suck the blood from men who were sleeping alone and is referred to as "the night hag" (Isaiah 34: 14 - And wild beasts shall meet with hyenas, the satyr shall cry to his fellow; yea, there shall the night hag alight, and find for herself a resting place.) Except for this one verse, her name was excised from all Scripture because of her unsavory reputation.

Other legends claimed that Lilith and her accompanying demonesses ruled over the four seasons, as Lilith-Naameh, Mentral, Agrath, and Nahaloth. They were said to gather on a mountaintop near the mountains of darkness, and there celebrate the Witches Sabbath, when they would have intercourse with Samael, the Prince of Demons.

It was because God had had such an unfortunate result with Lilith, after creating her out of mud and filth, that he decided to go to Adam's rib for his next creation, Eve. She was subsequently known as "haw wah," "Mother of All the Living," and also as "the Serpent Mother" because of her later association with Satan. The Prince of Darkness had a number of disguises, but when he incarnated sexual desire, as he did for Eve, he always appeared as a serpent.

Many Sumerian beliefs and teachings were transmitted to later cultures, often assuming new forms and identities. Here are some of the later expressions of the spiritual archetype Lilith represented.

The Sumerians had several demon (a Greek word meaning 'guiding spirit') cults, complete with temples, priesthoods, religious festivals and ritual implements. The Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians inherited these cults and they were later passed down among the Canaanites and the Jews. The Akkadian form was the 'karibu' ("one who prays" or "one who intercedes"), spirits of the air pictured as huge winged creatures who were placed at entrances to palaces or temples as guardian spirits. They were often depicted as female and one of their titles was 'giver of the life-giving water.' They were prevalent in the beliefs and art of the Babylonians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and early Cannanites, and often were carved on the thrones of kings and city gates. The Assyrians called them 'lamassu' and depicted them as bearded, crowned males, often with the body of a lion or bull.

Later the Jews called them Cherubs or Cherubim and made them angels, and they were considered the bearers of the Throne of God. They accompanied the the Ark as images carved in olive wood in the Temple of Solomon at Zion, and were said to be the keepers of the celestial records.

In both the Jewish Book of Ezekiel and the Christian Book of Revelation, the Cherubim accompanied the Throne of God, while in Genesis they were set as guardians of the Tree of Life. The secret knowledge of the Cherubim was first codified as the Merkabah, the Knowledge of the Throne, a mystical teaching which later became the basis for the Kabbalah, with its central symbol of the Tree of Life. Dionysius said the name meant 'knowledge,' and Philo considered them the highest forces of God. The Moslems called them benad hasche, 'daughters of god.' The later patriarchal Jews, not realizing the descent of their own cherubim, labeled the Sumerian Lilith as a demon of the night.

In the mystical Kabbalah, Lilith was transformed into the Shekinah, the female manifestation of God which dwells in man, from shachan, schechinah, meaning 'to reside.' In this guise, she represents the soul of man which has fallen from grace and must be re-united through redemption with the Creator. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown with twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." (Revelation 12:1-2) The Shekinah created the physical universe when it fell from grace, and matter (malkuth) contains within itself the power given to humans to regenerate themselves and attain illumination. The seed of the Tree grows in the Garden within, actualized by the Awakening of the Serpent Power. This is brought about by the Sacred Marriage. Thus, the Shekinah is the Celestial Bride, which must undergo transformation to rejoin God. Since the Shekinah is believed to be bound to this destiny of return, it is also called a liberating angel, which will take the soul of man back to its universal source. Female angels were often called wind spirits, and Christians called the Shekinah the Holy Ghost.

The concept of female wind spirits who originally brought man spiritual inspiration and guidance, only to later become identified as evil spirits, passed from Mesopotamia into the surrounding cultures. When we examine some of these, we can see the echoes and transformations of Lilith in many different forms.

In Egypt, female winged spirits called Serefs ( or Sphinxes, by the Greeks) guarded the temples of the gods, only to later be called evil genii. The Great Sphinx was called the Lord of the Two Horizons, Guardian of the Gate to the Underworld. The age of the Great Sphinx shows the antiquity of this symbol.

Other Egyptian winged female spirits included Isis and the Ba. Isis, Queen of the Moon, represented esoteric spiritual knowledge and was the consort of Osiris, the Regenerated One, Lord of the Underworld.

The Egyptian 'Ba,' representing part of the human soul, was drawn as a bird with a woman's head, and was depicted flying though the Underworld to seek spiritual knowledge and power while the body of the priest lay as if dead. When the priest did die, his spirit would follow the familiar Path of the Two Horizons.

The three Strigae (night spirits) who attended the Greek Goddess Hecate were three beautiful maidens with magical powers (a form of the Three Fates), who were later described as owl-like creatures with the heads of women. They flew over the earth at night searching for the souls of the dead so they could carry them to the Underworld. Later manifestations of these Strigae were the Sphinx, the Harpy and the Gorgon.

The Greek Sphinx was a female winged wind spirit born of the Titans Typhon and Echidna. The name 'sphinx' derives from 'sphingeing,' meaning 'to hold tight.' Originally, the Sphinx carried the souls of the dead (and those of the living who dared the journey) to the Underworld, but later it was called a monster who carried off children and other unfortunates.

Greek Harpies were originally three beautiful winged maidens born from the same parents and having the same duties as the Sphinx. The Harpies (Harpyiai) were storm spirits called the hounds of Zeus who snatched people and carried them down the dusky Path to the origins of the backward-flowing ocean. The Harpies, like the Sphinxes, were transformed over time from winged maidens and became a birds with women's heads.


Harpy

Another form of the three Harpies were the three Gorgons, also daughters of the Titans Typhon and Echidna. The Gorgons (from Gorgo, Gorgopis, meaning `Grim Face') were also originally described as beautiful maidens with golden wings, whom later myths changed into monstrous women with snakes for hair. Their blood could kill or raise the dead, and falling on the ground engendered serpents. The Gorgons guarded the gate of the Underworld and had a dark, hidden face. To lift the veil and look upon that face was to see the future and one's death (revelation, 'to draw back the veil'). This hidden face was represented by the Mask of Hecate, and appeared in rites that used the menstrual blood of the priestesses. The power of the Gorgons was anciently represented by a spiral, and they were associated with serpents as healers.


Gorgon

The Persian Senmerw, which was equivalent to the Egyptian Seref and the Greek Sphinx, became the Griffin of Greek myth.

Some form of the Griffin, half eagle and half lion (sometimes with a serpent's tail), was known in many countries. To the Persian Magi, and their descendents, the Fire Worshippers, the Senmerw guarded the sacred cauldron or furnace of the Mysteries, symbolized by a cup of fire. The Griffin symbolized the spirit of man united with the material world, the Sacred Marriage. For the Greeks, the Griffin guarded the Holy Grail and the Tree of Life, and became associated with the emerald and its healing powers. The Griffin was said to be the embodiment of the goddess Nemesis guardian of Karma, and turned her Wheel of Fate. Like its forbears, the Griffin also guarded the Path to Enlightenment and would only let worthy souls pass. Heroes and Heroines were said to ride the Griffin to the home of the gods.

Some have speculated that the sculpted grotesques (from the initiatory images eerily half-seen by torch light on old Italian grotto walls) and chimeras that decorated Gothic churches, often mixed with the gargoyles (from 'gurgulio,' 'gargouille,' meaning 'throat,' which were originally long-necked dragon water spouts), were later representations of the Griffin, added to churches because of the Griffin's role in protecting against evil.

A grotesque on a Templar building in France served as the model for the French occultist Eliphas Levi's famous rendering of the Baphomet, the "hidden face of God" to the Templars, the Horned God to Witches and the "sphinx of the occult mysteries" to magicians.

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