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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

LILITH
a.k.a. 'Lilitu'

An Ancient Sumerian Tablet bearing the image of Lilith...
An Ancient Sumerian Tablet bearing
the image of Lilith...
        Although not generally worshiped by Wiccans, she is often acknowledged by other Neo-Pagan Witches - particularly feminist Witches, Kabbalists and those following the Kabbalah - who tend to see her as an arche-typical Goddess representing Feminine Power and dark sexuality.

        Kabbalistic myths of Lilith being Adam's first wife seem to relate to the Sumero-Babylonian Goddess Belit-ili, or Belili. To the Canaanites, Lilith was Baalat, the "Divine Lady." On a tablet from Ur, ca. 2000 BC, she was addressed as Lillake.

        According to Kabbalistic teaching God created Adam and Lilith as twins joined together at the back.   She demanded equality with Adam, failing to achieve it, she left him in anger.  

        This is sometimes accompanied by a Muslim legend that after leaving Adam Lilith slept with Satan, thus creating the Demonic Djinn.

        In another version of the myth of Lilith, she was Adam's first wife before Eve.   Adam married her because he became tired of coupling with animals.   Adam tried to make Lilith lie beneath him during sexual intercourse.   Lilith would not meet this demand of male dominance.   She cursed Adam and returned home by the Red Sea.

        Adam complained to God who then sent three Angels, Sanvi, Sansanvi and Semangelaf, to bring Lilith back to Eden.   Lilith rebuffed the Angels by cursing them.   While by the Red Sea Lilith became a lover to Demons and producing 100 babies a day.   The Angels said that God would take these Demon children away from her unless she returned to Adam.  

        When she did not return, she was punished accordingly. And, God also gave Adam the docile Eve.

A contemporary depiction of Lilith
A contemporary portrayal of Lilith,
who is regarded by many Feminist Witches as an arche-typical Goddess representing Feminine Power
and dark sexuality...
        According to some Lilith's fecundity and sexual preferences showed she was a Great Mother of settled agricultural tribes, who resisted the invasions of the nomadic herdsmen, represented by Adam.   It is felt the early Hebrews disliked the Great Mother who drank the blood of Abel, the herdsman, after being slain by the elder god of agriculture and smithcraft, Cain (Genesis 4:11).   Lilith's Red Sea is but another version of Kali Ma's Ocean of Blood, which gave birth to all things but needed periodic sacrificial replenishment.

Speculation is that perhaps there was a connection between Lilith and the Etruscan divinity Lenith, who possessed no face and waited at the gate of the Underworld along with Eita and Persipnei (Hecate and Persephone) to receive the souls of the dead. The Underworld gate was a yoni, and also a lily, which had "no face."   Admission into the Underworld was frequently mythologized as a sexual union.

It was well into that Middle Ages that amulets to keep away the Lilim (the 'Daughters of Lilith') were being manufactured. Supposedly the Lilim were lusty she-Demons who copulated with men in all their dreams, causing nocturnal emissions.

The Greeks adopted the belief of the Lilim, calling them Lamiae, Empusae (Forcers-In), or Daughters of Hecate. Likewise the Christians adopted the belief, calling them 'harlots of hell', or Succubi, the counterpart of the incubi.  

Celebant monks attempted to fend them off by sleeping with their hands over their genitals, clutching a crucifix.

Men who experienced nocturnal emissions during their sleep believed they had been seduced by Lilith and said certain Incantations to prevent the offspring from becoming Demons.   In the Middle Ages, it was thought each time a pious Christian had a wet dream, Lilith laughed.   It was believed that Lilith was assisted in her bloodthirsty nocturnal quests by Succubi, who gathered with her near the "mountains of darkness" to frolic with her Demon lover Samael, whole name means "poison of God" (sam-el).   The Zohar, the principal work of the Kabbalah, describes Lilith's powers as being at their height during the waning of the moon.

According to legend Lilith's attraction for children comes from the belief that God took her Demon children from her when she did not return to Adam.  It was believed that she launched a reign of terror against women in childbirth and newborn infants, especially boys.  

However, it also was believed that the three Angels who were sent to fetch her by the Red Sea forced her to swear that whenever she saw their names or images on amulets that she would leave the infants and mothers alone.

These beliefs continued for centuries.   As late as the 18th Century, it was a common practice in many cultures to protect new mothers and their infants with amulets against Lilith.   Males were most vulnerable during the first week of life, girls during the first three weeks.   Sometimes a magic circle was drawn around the lying-in-bed, with a Charm inscribed with the names of the three Angels, Adam and Eve and the words "barring Lilith" or "protect this newborn child from all harm."

see also: Demons, Sexual Intercourse with; SEMETIC OCCULTISM


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PLEASE NOTE:
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc



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