The Story of Lilith the Seductress

It’s a pretty good bet, that many a parent has sung a lullaby to their children. The tradition of a lullaby was started because of one demon seductress, Lilith or Lilitu. She is thought to be a Mesopotamian demon with long hair and wings, which come to men in the middle of the night, to take their sexual energy, harm pregnant women, steal male babies, and drink their blood. This legend is where the first record of vampirism supposedly comes from. She is depicted as a half woman, half snake being, called a Lamia. The earliest inscription of Lilith is in the epic poem of Gilgamesh, around 2000 BCE. Some say she is the mother of all demons. Through history her role in various religions has changed.

In Jewish medieval lore Lilith was the first wife of Adam. Both she and Adam were made from the dust of the Earth so Lilith thought she was equal to Adam.  Lilith refused to lie beneath Adam, and he refused to be on bottom, so Lilith calls upon Gods name, leaves the Garden of Eden, and flies across the Red Sea to consort with Samael, a well known Demon, and bears him children, known as Lilin. 

Adam is left with no suitable helpmate, so he asks God to bring Lilith back to him. God sends three angels, Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, to bring her back. They are bid to kill a hundred of her children a day until she returns. Lilith refuses, and as God has already made Eve for Adam, she retaliates on the angels by saying she will torment the children of Adam and Eve for eternity, and only the names of the three angels being invoked will save them from her. 

This story has merged with Jewish tradition and amulets bearing the three angels names are worn around a male baby’s neck until they are circumcised. Traditionally a male child’s hair is not cut until the age of three hoping to confuse Lilith into thinking the child is female. To guard against her, young men would hang a script on their walls or door saying” Adam and Eve may enter here, but enter not Lilith the Queen.”  The Bible says she dwells with jackals and hyenas in the God-forbidden Edom.  In the Jewish book of Zohar, it is said that because Lilith will steal a sexual release from men to have her children, that Adam practiced celibacy for a long while, keeping Eve from him. 

There are many different roles that Lilith plays in history. Some think that because she was Adams first wife she remained free of Original Sin. She could have been the serpent that tempted Eve to eat of the fruit on the tree knowledge. She is thought to be the embodiment of the Goddess Innana who went to the underworld to see her sister. In order to reach Ereshkigal Inanna had to leave something behind to be allowed entrance through the seven gates of hell. When she reached the final gate she was left with nothing to protect herself with and was killed. However with the help of Enki was able to return to life so long as someone went to the underworld in her place. In the end it was Inanna's husband, Dumuzi and his sister who each spend half a year in the underworld so that Inanna could remain with the living.

In modern magic, Lilith’s name is invoked in a ritual called Lilith-Ritus credited to Soror Hachel. Lilith is the primal feminine aspect of dark sexuality, and what many consider “dark” magic. Noted satanist Aliester Crowley wrote a poem to her. He believed that Lilith created Adam from clay and taught mankind sexual magic, and could be summoned as both a lover and a teacher. He also claimed this was written in a rediscovered Gnostic grimoire found by German occultist Karl Steiger.

Today Lilith is seen as a symbol for feminine freedom. Feminists are inspired to think that Lilith left Adam because he tried to assert his dominance over her. She is seen as a powerful woman. Lilith Fair, the all female festival organized by singer/songwriter, Sarah McLachlan, which ran from 1997-1999, is named for Lilith of the Bible.

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