Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Two Liliths
The stories about Lilith are many and varied. All of them stretch back into antiquity...to the Greeks, to early Jewish folklore, to Babylon and even early Mesopotamia.
There seems little doubt that Lilith is some kind of demon - but lest we get all she-devil about this, the Mesopotamians (which being the earliest in the lineage would seem to have some say-so about what this tradition is about) held that Lilith was merely the female form of a demon which also came in male and animal form.
There are a couple of interesting parts of all such myths which all come forward into the astrology. The first part is that (according to the Mesopotamians, who thought of Lilith as daughter of their sky-god), Lilith was given free will over infants, and it is through exercise of that free will that she chooses to do evil instead of good.
The second fact which seems highly evocative arises most clearly in the Jewish/Old Testament (and Talmudic) tradition, which holds that Lilith was made from the same clay as Adam so that ol' Adam didn't have to be all by his lonely (humans are not a solitary species!).
When Adam requests that Lilith be subservient to him, she refuses on the (literal) ground that she was created at the same time and from the same clay (earthly, earthy) substance as Adam himself. Of course, he didn't like that much, so after a fight she leaves, refusing to return to the Garden of Eden and eventually hooking up with Archangel Samael.
Meanwhile Adam gets a new wife - Eve. Since she is created from Adam's rib, Eve is a natural 'subset' of Adam (so to speak) and thus theoretically is more amenable to being subservient to him.
A brief disclaimer here: none of this is being said to degrade,denigrate or contradict anyone's spiritual tradition. This is simply what you find if you do the research on the evolution of Lilith as an image.
As for Archangel Samael, though technically a 'fallen angel,' Samael remains in decent graces with the Almighty, serving as the Angel of Death. This is an interesting note in the astrological sense as when we take the whole pantheon of objects together, that connects Samael with Orcus, a TNO named for the god who meets one as they cross over from life into death, reviewing with you there all which by virtue of death can no longer be changed.
In the end, What this amounts to is the 'wedding' of Lilith's 'free will' to ultimate consequences - something to bear in mind, especially since no matter which version of the Lilith myth you read, Lilith chooses to do at least the unpopular thing, if not the out-and-out evil thing.
Yet astrology does run entirely contrary to the socio-historical-religious Lilith standard in one critical and vitally important way: since every chart contains Lilith, that means Lilith cannot be a woman or be merely about women. There is a Lilith quotient in all of us, just as there is an Achilles or Pluto or Mercury or Mars quality in all of us.
And, in point of fact, there are TWO astrological Liliths. If you've followed this blog, you're aware of that by now. So what's the difference and why would they be what they are?
First of all, let's be real here. No one likes to think of themselves as unpopular or evil. Even if we choose to be a hermit, we like to think it's our choice. And nobody, not Hitler, not Genghis Kahn, not Pol Pot - nobody gets up, goes to the mirror and says "Hello, Evil One! What nasty, nasty thing can we do to make this world worse today?"
And this much we do see in the Lilith of myth and legend; whatever Lilith is to us, it's not that thing we like to focus on. Lilith is that primal 'wife quality' of our psyche - the 'other part of us' we have 'divorced.'
In other words, Lilith is that we deny about ourselves. It's our psychological shadow.
The first Lilith is the asteroid Lilith: a member of the main asteroid belt which cycles in a closer orbit than say, Psyche - our mind and the symbol of knowing ourselves (article on Psyche). That Lilith is closer to us than full knowledge of our mind tells us that we are likley to run into that we don't want to be before we find that which we truly are. It speaks to how easy it is to be led astray by our own ignorance, naivete, innocence...all those things we treasure as precious qualities we are 'created with' (the original clay)...once we achieve free will, that is exactly what we can run afoul of.
Because Lilith the asteroid has mass and is tangible, it is something we can 'get a hold of' if we are willing to face our Lilith and understand its nature and how that Lilith free will can take us to where what we have done cannot be undone, equaling consequences. Having an orbital period of 4.36 years, the Lilith of our chart conjuncts TNO Orcus once every cycle. So asteroid Lilith is obviously not just about physical death. It may in fact be part of our learning process - those tough lessons which we come away from saying 'I'm sure not going to do THAT again!'
The other Lilith is a calculated points. Having no mass, this is something we can be aware of, but cannot fully control. Sometimes referred to as the 'Black Moon,' calculated Lilith is the point at which the Moon is at its apogee (farthest point) from Earth.
Looking at this metaphysically, this describes the point at which our feelings and link to mankind and/or social memory are at their most distant from earthly reality.
It's perhaps interesting to note (if a bit disturbing) that many sociopaths and criminals speak of their 'greater perspective' on humankind and how that 'superior vantage point' made them feel 'entitled' to do whatever they wanted with what they thought of as 'lesser creatures.' You know, the rest of us.
Even those of us who aren't criminals seem to have a need to flirt with our 'dark side.'
Some of us just need to learn our limits, others need to take a fall (or hit a wall) where either form of Lilith is concerned.
This conversation isn't about telling you that Lilith is doing anything in particular. This blog is calling to attention the fact that Lilith is alive and well in each of us. The Black Moon - calculated Lilith - is the dark side of societal forces which are always out there. They have influential 'free rein' on life and at times may manifest as forces which call us down on our disruptive behaviors or attitudes.
The asteroid Lilith is our own dark side. It's things we don't like to see about ourselves but which are there, nonetheless.
The real lesson about Lilith is probably that which is most primal: Lilith does represent an equal force to our conscious determination, but it's not always what we think. In symbolizing those forces which test our ability to not just knuckle under and become subservient to conditioning, tradition and habits, Lilith has a healthy function in our life - so long as we don't allow rebellion against all we know is good, worthy and productive to become our way of life.