According to Rabbinical mythology, the Talmudists say that Adam had a wife before Eve, whose name was Lilith. Refusing to submit to Adam, she left Paradise for a region of the air. She still haunts the night as a spectre, and is especially hostile to new-born infants. Some superstitious Jews still put in the chamber occupied by their wife four coins, with labels on which the names of Adam and Eve are inscribed, with the words, “Avaunt thee Lilith!” The fable of Lilith was invented to reconcile Genesis i with Genesis ii. Genesis i represents the simultaneous creation of man and woman out of the earth; but Genesis ii represents that Adam was alone, and Eve was made out of a rib, and was given to Adam as a helpmeet for him.
In Eden Bower D G Rosetti says “It was Lilith, the wife of Adam … / Not a drop of her blood was human, / But she was made like a soft sweet woman.” Goethe introduced her in his Faust . The mage is introduced by Mephistopheles to various apparitions on Walpurgis Night in the Hartz Mountains. Presented with a whirling crowd, Faust asks: “Who's that?”; Mephistopheles replies: “Her features closely scan - ‘Tis the first wife of the first man”. “Who, say you?” asks Faust; and the Spirit answers: “Adam's first wife, Lilith. / Beware - beware of her bright hair, / And the strange dress that glitters there: / Many a young man she beguileth, / Smiles winningly on youthful faces, / But woe to him whom she embraces!”.
In Assyrian demonology, a female demon appears, represented as winged, with dishevelled hair. Such demons were banished from Hebrew religion, and hardly appear in the Old Testament except in poetic imagery. But these ‘hairy ones', nocturnal ‘goblins', are exactly like the Arabian jinn . They haunted waste and desert places in fellowship with jackals. There is a Mohammedan story of Bilkis, Queen of Sheba, who married Solomon. She had hair on her ankles and was thus shown to be a jinniyyah by descent. The Arab writers say that Lilith was an evil spirit, the first wife of Adam, and that her children were the jinns or devils. She is said to have had 784 children, as the letters of her name have this numerical value. Her name is found in the Assyrian inscriptions as Li-lit , ‘the black', an ‘evil spirit'. She was said to have stimulated ‘nocturnal impurities', and to have been more especially dangerous to married women at the birth of their first child, upon which occasion the Arabian nurses still throw stones at the foot of the bed to drive her away.
The night devil of Isaiah xxxiv, 14, she was especially feared in Babylonia where a special class of priests, the Ashipu , were employed to ward off the harmful effects of witchcraft. Her designation was originally applied to certain spirits of the northern Semites; it was only later that it was applied to the person of Lilith of the Talmud, the first wife of Adam. She may be equated with the ghoul of pre-Islamic myth and with Ninlil , the Babylonian goddess. A very common practice, constantly found in the Mesopotamian exorcism tablets is that of the use of magic knots. These were tied by the ashipu for the protection of a pregnant woman. A magic knot could be tied by a sorcerer or witch to invoke spirits and to gain power over an enemy. By loosing of the knot the power of an evil spirit was broken. One of these maqla tablets, directed against witchcraft, ends with the words, “Her knot is loosed, her sorcery is brought to naught, and all her charms fill the desert”, where the desert symbolizes the underworld.
Rabbinic literature is full of the doings of Lilith, who bore Adam devils and spirits. Whoever slept alone in a room was likely to be beset by her. The Rabbis believed, too, that a man might have children by allying himself with a demon, and although they might not be visible to human beings, yet when that man was dying they would hover round his bed, to hail him as their father. At the funeral of a bachelor the Jews of Kurdistan cast sand before the coffin to blind the eyes of the unbegotten children of the deceased. Among the Jews in Palestine, Lilith (or the evil eye in general) is averted from the bed by hanging a charm over it consisting of a special cabalistic paper in Hebrew together with a piece of rue, garlic, and a fragment of looking glass. It is said sometimes that women find their best gowns, which they have carefully put away in their bridal chests, have been worn by female spirits during their confinement, because they did not utter the name of God in locking them up. On the first possible Sabbath all the relations assemble in the woman's room and make a hideous noise to drive away the evil spirits.
We may note that Asmodeus was the counterpart of Lilith, as being dangerous to women. Cognate with the concept of Asmodeus is the curious Arab belief in a female demon accompanying every woman, and having as many children as her counterpart. Just as Lilith took the place of Eve, evidently this spirit is intended, in one of her phases (that of bearing children), to do the same for each man. She is very dangerous to pregnant women and newly married people; that is to say, just as Asmodeus becomes jealous of interference with his rights, so does this female spirit admit of no dallying with other women. She is said to destroy the creative power of men and to make women barren, and to her is due epilepsy as the penalty for pouring water over the threshold of the door without naming God, on a Friday, or to quench the fire. She may appear as an owl, a Jewess, a camel, or a black man. There is a story that Solomon once met a singular looking woman and asked her whether she was jinn or human. She answered that she was the female spirit “ … that puts hatred between husband and wife; I make women miscarry; I make them barren; I make men impotent; I make husbands love other men's wives, women other men's husbands; in short, I do all contrary to the happiness of wedded life”. In The Testament of Solomon, one Obizuth is the name of the female spirit that visits women in childbirth, and if she is lucky she strangles the babe.
According to Rabbinical tradition among the Jews, Lilith has her strange story thus related in Jewish legends. “When the blessed God created the first man, whom he formed alone, without a companion, he said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone': and therefore he created a woman also out of the ground, and named her Lilith. They immediately began to contend with each other for superiority. The man said: ‘It behoves thee to be obedient; I am to rule over thee'. The woman replied: ‘We are on a perfect equality; for we are both formed out of the same earth'. So neither would submit to the other. Lilith, seeing this, uttered the Shem-hamphorash ”, that is, pronounced the name Jehovah , “and instantly flew away through the air. Adam then addressed himself to God, and said: ‘Lord of the universe! The woman whom thou gavest me, has flown away from me'. God immediately dispatched three angels to bring back the fugitive. He said to them: ‘If she consent to return, well; but if not, you are to leave her, after declaring to her that a hundred of her children shall die every day'. These angels then pursued her, and found her in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters in which the Egyptians were to be afterwards destroyed. They made known to her the divine message, but she refused to return. They threatened, unless she would return, to drown her in the sea. She then said: ‘Let me go; for I was created for no other purpose than to debilitate and destroy young infants; my power over the males will extend to eight days, and over the females to twenty days, after their birth'.
“On hearing this, the angels were proceeding to seize her and carry her back to Adam by force: but Lilith swore by the name of the living God, that she would refrain from doing any injury to infants, wherever or whenever she should find these angels, or their names, or their pictures, on parchment or paper, or on whatever else they might be written or drawn: and she consented to the punishment denounced against her by God, that a hundred of her children should die every day. Hence it is that every day witnesses the death of a hundred young demons of her progeny. And for this reason we write the names of these angels on slips of paper or parchment, and bind them upon infants, that Lilith, on seeing them, may remember her oath, and may abstain from doing our infants any injury”. Another rabbinical writer says: “I have also heard that when the child laughs in its sleep in the night of the Sabbath or of the new moon, the Lilith laughs and toys with it; and that it is proper for the father, or mother, or any one that sees the infant laugh, to tap it on the lips, and say, ‘Hence, begone, cursed Lilith; for thy abode is not here'. This should be done three times, and each repetition should be accompanied with a pat on the mouth. This is of great benefit, because it is in the power of Lilith to destroy children whenever she pleases”.
Lilith warrants special attention, not only as principal female demon, but because, unlike others mentioned, she was conceived to possess human rather than animal form, and also on account of her prominence in the later Jewish literature. According to Rabbinic teaching Lilith was the night demon par excellence . By a mistaken etymology the name was supposed to be derived from the Hebrew word lailah , (‘night'), a derivation favoured by the similarity of the two words, and also by the fact that Lilith was supposed to be specially active at night-time. Modern scholars prefer to associate it with the Sumerian word for ‘wantonness', and explain her as the demoness who inspires lust. However, it is very probable that she is referred to in Psalm 91 where the psalmist says: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night”.
In the Rabbinic literature Lilith is usually portrayed with long flowing hair, and as possessing wings. She is the queen of the Lilin , which form one of the great classes of demons. It is enjoined that a man should not go out alone at night because an evil spirit, Agrath bath Mahlath , (to be identified with Lilith), together with eighteen myriads of destroying angels, roams about and is permitted to destroy anyone whom she meets. Though specially dangerous to children, the Lilin also attack men. Thus the injunction that a man be forbidden to sleep alone in a house, lest, ignoring this warning, he be seized by Lilith. Formulas for exorcizing Lilith are given. This Jewish conception of Lilith appears to have much in common with the empousa of the Greeks and with the strix and lamia of the Romans. Whilst the name and leading characteristics were clearly derived from the Babylonian demonology, the conception may also have been influenced by Persian ideas.
Alone among the spirits known through Jewish tradition, Lilith retained her position during the Middle Ages, and indeed strengthened it by virtue of the closer definition of her activities. Originally a wind-spirit, derived from the Assyrian lilitu , with long dishevelled hair, and wings, during Talmudic times the confusion of her name with the word for night transformed her into a night spirit who attacks those who sleep alone. Laylah appears also as the angel of night, and of conception. Out of the assimilation to one another of these two concepts grew the view that prevailed during the Middle Ages. Though Lilith and the popularly derived plurals, the lilin , and the liliot , appeared often in nondescript form, merely as another term for demons, as when we are told that the liliot assemble in certain trees, the lilits proper possessed two outstanding characteristics in medieval folklore which gave them distinct personality: they attacked new born children and their mothers, and they seduced men in their sleep. As a result of the legend of Adam's relations with Lilith, although this function was by no means exclusively theirs, the lilits were most frequently singled out as the demons who embrace sleeping men and cause them to have nocturnal emissions which are the seed of a hybrid progeny. It was in her first role, however, that Lilith terrorized medieval Jewry. As the demon whose special prey is lying-in women and their babes, it was found necessary to adopt an extensive series of protective measures against her.
All sorts of means are used to circumvent the malign influences of Lilith and her demons and both men and women appear to be in need of this protection. According to the usual amuletic practice, wearing an amulet inscribed with her name protects against her activities and this practice accounts for the numerous amulets thus found inscribed. Amulets inscribed with the name of Lilith alone can possibly have been worn by men and indeed could be worn by everyone with advantage at all times but those inscribed with the alternative names of Lilith or with the names of the angels sent in pursuit of her, were intended to be of use to women only, particularly near the time of their delivery. The usual custom was to write these charms on pieces of paper and hang them around the mother's bed and even until recent times, the ‘Song of Degrees' (Psalm 121) was thus written and used. Metallic amulets inscribed with this psalm were worn by men as well as women at all times and became an article of decoration. They are extremely common.
Elijah the Prophet, that great performer of miracles, on one occasion encountered Lilith, doubtless secure in the fact that he was himself originally an angel and so immune from her attentions. Elijah's angelic name was Sandalphon , and he is one of the greatest and mightiest of the fiery angelic hosts. He imposed restrictions on Lilith's activities which, after dire threats, she was compelled to accept. The most important of these conditions was that if any of the numerous names of Lilith were inscribed near a childbed, and particularly if the inscription of Psalm 121 was associated with it, Lilith would be compelled to abandon her right to injure that particular mother or her child. In addition, the names of the three angels who were sent to recall her to her wifely duties and whose message she disobeyed were to be equally effective in neutralising her activities.
We have seen that Lilith undoubtedly derives from very ancient sources, appearing as Lilatu , ‘a female demon' in Assyrian literature and earlier still as Lillaku in Sumerian tablets of the story of Gilgamesh in which she was supposed to have lived in a willow tree. A connection between these similarly named demons can scarcely be denied. According to David de Pomis (Venice, 1587 CE) Lilith is a wild animal, or an evil spirit, or, as some say, a bird, which flits about alone at night and fills the air with wailing. Solomon ben Abraham (Salerno, 1160 CE) said that Lilith “grows out of the wind just as the salamander grows from the fire”. Lilith represents the classical example of the succubus in Jewish mythology. The incubus is a spirit which, taking the semblance of a man, has intercourse with mortal women. The succubus is a similar spirit which in the form of a woman behaves in a like manner with mortal men. The Hebrew Lilith was regarded as queen of the succubi by the theologians who spent much time investigating such matters. St Augustine states that “devils do indeed collect human semen, by means of which they are able to produce bodily effects”. St Thomas Aquinas did much to prove that incubi and succubi were demons sent to tamper with frail humanity. But in the 17th century CE Peter Sinistrari made the unorthodox claim that such visitants were not demons but semi-angels who honoured mankind by contact, echoing Gnostic ideas. Many renowned people, including Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Plato, have the distinction of descent from such unnatural unions, which is not impossible when one takes into consideration that Hieronymus relates a story of a young woman who called for help against the attack of an incubus, which, on being pulled from under the bed where it had rushed to hide, proved to be none other than the good Bishop Sylvanus.
The succubus has always been a rarer phenomenon than the incubus. There are far more male than female devils. Pico della Mirandola tells us that he knew an old man of eighty-four years who had slept for half his life with a female devil; and another of seventy, who had enjoyed the same advantages. Sprenger reports that a German magician “had carnal connection with a woman before the very eyes of his wife and friends who were present during this action but were prevented from seeing her form”. Gregory de Tours tells of a holy bishop of Tuvergne, Eparchius, who had also been exposed to the temptations of a demon. He awoke one night with the thought of praying in the church; he arose and left for the church; on arriving he found the basilica resplendent with an infernal light and filled entirely with demons, who committed the most horrible deeds in front of the altar; he saw Satan in women's clothes sitting in the bishop's chair and presiding over these immoral mysteries. “Infamous whore”, he cried, “thou art not satisfied with poisoning all and everything with thy pollutions, thou even defamest God's sacred spots with thy loathsome body”. “Since thou give me the name of whore”, answered the prince of demons, “I shall present you with many instances of it and will make you lust after the body of woman”. Satan disappeared in a cloud of stench but he kept his word and poor Eparchius felt the torments of the fleshly appetites every night until his death. The similar temptations of St Anthony are too well known to need repeating. Despite the saint's advanced and revered age Satan did not disdain from decorating his lonely hermitage with obscene and passionate pictures.
In The Sayings of Rabbi Eliezer , Samael (Satan) is charged with being the one (in the guise of a serpent) who tempted Eve and seduced her. In Jewish tradition Lilith was the bride of Samael. She predated Eve, and had relations with Adam in Paradise. According to Rabbi Eliezer, Lilith bore Adam every day 100 children. The Zohar describes Lilith as “a fiery female who at first cohabited with Adam” but, when Eve was created, “flew to the cities of the sea coast”, where she is “still trying to ensnare mankind”. In the Cabala she is the demon of Friday, and is represented as a naked woman whose body terminates in a serpents tail. The rabbis regard Lilith as the first temptress, as Adam's demon wife, and as the mother of Cain. In Talmudic lore, as also in the Cabala, most demons are mortal, but Lilith will “continue to exist and plague man until the Messianic day, when God will finally extirpate uncleanliness and evil from the face of the earth”. The scholar Scholem says in an article that Lilith and Samael “emanated from beneath the throne of Divine Glory, the legs of which where somewhat shaken by their joint activity”. It is known of course that Samael was once a familiar figure in Heaven, but not that Lilith was up there also, assisting him. Lilith went by a score of names, some of which she revealed to Elijah, when she was forced to do so by the Old Testament prophet. Moses Gaster in his Studies and Texts in Folklore lists some of these: Abeko, Abito, Amizo, Batna, Eilo, Ita, Izorpo, Kea, Kokos, Odam, Partasah, Patrota, Podo, Satrina, Talto . Another listing is given by Hanauer in his Folklore of the Holy Land , namely: Abro, Amiz, Amizu, Avitu, Bituah, Ik, Ils, Kalee, Kakash, Kema, Partashah, Petrota, Pods, Raphi, Satrinah, Thiltho. Other sources provide: Abyzu, Ailo, Alu, Gallu, Gelou, Gilou, Lamassu, Zahriel, Zephonith. The name of the land to which Lilith betook herself in her flight from Paradise is recorded as Zamargad , near the Red Sea, where she set up her abode and mated with the demons who were well known to be living on those shores.
Her principal copulation there was with the archdemon Beelzeboul. The fruit of their union, a nameless male demon, yet writhes, enchained by King Solomon, at the bottom of the Red Sea. Of Lilith's other numberless progeny few are known. Yet obscure texts do name one son and a daughter, Hurnim and Hurmiz respectively. Also, Arabian tradition tells of a lone daughter of Adam who emulated her nefarious practices. This daughter of Adam, Anak , is apparently to be blamed for belief in talismans and other evil practices. This lady, so it is said, was the first “to reduce the demons to serve her by means of charms”. God had given Adam a sprinkling of magic words, just to enable him to control a few spirits, and these words he communicated to Eve. She preserved them quite faithfully until Anak extracted them from her while she slept. It is not stated how this robbery was effected; perhaps the words were impressed in cuneiform characters on clay tablets, or she may have extracted them as did Isis from the great Sun god Ra ; however, once Anak was in possession, she “conjured evil spirits, practised the magical art, pronounced oracles, and gave herself up openly to impiety”. Interestingly, the name of Lilith survives in an ancient curse of Coptic Christian origin. This text on parchment, preserved in the Louvre, is uttered to separate a man from a woman. It comes from the tenth century CE. The utterance, to be written on a blade-shaped parchment goes: “ Tartari, Saro, Ptha, Astabias, Thatha, Eibethatha, Lahkimaia, Kaha, Alaha, Lilith, put hatred and separation, put hatred and separation between Sipa son of Siheu , and Ouarteihla daughter of Cauhare. They must not be able to look at each other's faces, yea, yea!”.
Amulets to protect pregnant women and women in child-bed were as common among the Hebrews as among pagan nations. Wallis Budge gives details in his treatise on amulets. They were written upon parchment, and also upon the door and walls of the chamber wherein the woman lay. And if they were to be really effective, the texts had to be written in ink in which holy incense had been mixed, and even the copyist had to be a man ceremonially pure and a believer. One of the most important and powerful child-bed amulets is contained in the rare Hebrew work generally known as the Sepher Raziel , ‘The Book of Raziel', bequeathed to the faithful by the preceptor angel of Adam himself. This amulet contains figures representative of Adam, Eve and Lilith. Above these are the names of the three angels sent after Lilith, Senoi, Sansenoi, and Semangeloph. There seals are given. The Hebrew text says that the woman will be protected by the name of God from all the evils and calamities which are enumerated therein. This amulet had a double purpose. The three figures of the angels and their names and seals protected the newly born infant and its mother. And the text warded off any and every evil which Lilith might attempt to do to either. Contained in the text are the names of the Seventy Great Angels whose protection is secured by the amulet.
Two other amulets are illustrated in the Book of Raziel. At the four corners are the names of the four rivers of Paradise, Pishon, Gihon, Prath and Hiddekel. Inside two concentric circles is the Hexagram, or so-called ‘Shield of Solomon' and fourteen groups of three letters and the words “Go forth thou and all the people who are in thy train”, and permutations of the initial letters of the Hebrew words for ‘holiness' and ‘deliverance'. Between the circles are the names of Adam, Eve, and Lilith, the three angels, and also that of the angel Khasdiel, with the words: “He hath given his angels charge concerning thee, that they may keep thee in all thy ways. Amen. Selah.” Another amulet is similar, except that the two triangles of the hexagram are arranged base to base. In the inner circle are fourteen groups of three letters which have esoteric significations.
Concerning apotropaic procedures to ward of the influence of Lilith and her cohorts, Gershon Scholem describes an antidemonic rite both ancient and curious. He says that until quite recently, and indeed occasionally to this day, Jewish burials in Jerusalem were often marked by a strange happening. Before the body was lowered into the grave ten men danced round it in a circle, reciting a psalm which in the Jewish tradition has generally been regarded as a defence against demons, i.e. Psalm 91, or another prayer. Then a stone was laid on the bier and the following verse (Genesis xxv, 6) recited: “But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away”. This strange dance of death was repeated seven times. The rite, which in modern times has been unintelligible to most of the participants, has to do with Cabalistic conceptions about sexual life and the sanctity of the human seed. Here we have an entire myth, the object of which is to mark off the act of generation from other sexual practices, which were interpreted as demonic in nature, and especially from onanism.
According to Talmudic tradition, demons are spirits made in the Friday evening twilight, who, because the Sabbath has intervened, have received no bodies. From this later authorities drew the inference, implicit in the Talmudic sources, that the demons have been looking for bodies ever since, and that this is why they attach themselves to men. This entered into combination with another idea. After the murder of Abel by his brother, Adam decided to have no further dealings with his wife. Thereupon female demons, succubi, came to him and conceived by him; from this union, in which Adam's generative power was misused and misdirected, stem a variety of demons. The Cabalists took up these old conceptions of demonic generation in pollution or other practices. They are systematized in the Zohar, which develops the myth that Lilith, queen of the demons, or the demons of her retinue, do their best to provoke men to sexual acts without benefit of a woman, their aim being to make themselves bodies from the lost seed.
To the Cabalists, the union between man and woman, within its holy limits, was a venerable mystery, as one may judge from the fact that the most classical and widely circulated Cabalistic definition of mystical meditation is to be found in a treatise about the meaning of sexual union in marriage (Joseph Gikatila, c.1300 CE). Abuse of a man's generative powers was held to be a destructive act, through which not the holy, but the ‘other side', obtains progeny. An extreme cult of purity led to the view that every act of impurity, whether conscious or unconscious, engenders demons.
Abraham Saba, an early sixteenth century CE Cabalist who had come to Morocco from Spain, was first to establish a strange connection between this conception and a man's death. All the illegitimate children that a man has begotten with demons in the course of his life appear after his death to take part in the mourning for him and his funeral. For all those spirits that have built their bodies from a drop of his seed regard him as their father. And so, especially on the day of his burial, he must suffer punishment; for while he is being carried to the grave, they swarm around him like bees, crying: “You are our father”, and they complain and lament behind his bier, because they have lost their home and are now being tormented along with the other demons which hover bodiless in the air.
According to others, the demons claim their inheritance on this occasion along with the other sons of the deceased and try to harm the legitimate children. Those who dance seven times round the dead man do so in order to form a sacral circle, which will prevent these unlawful children from approaching the deceased, sullying his corpse, or doing other harm. Hence the verse from Genesis about the ‘sons of the demonic concubines', whom Abraham sent away lest they harm Isaac, his legitimate son. A similar rite, in which the bier is set down on the ground seven times on the way to the cemetery, has the same purpose. Most important of all, the Cabalists strictly forbade the children, and especially the sons of the deceased from escorting him to his last resting place. In his lifetime, it was held, a pious man should expressly forbid ‘all his children' to follow him to the grave; by so doing, he will keep his illegitimate demonic offspring away and, in case any of them should nonetheless get through to his grave, prevent them from endangering his true children, begotten in purity. It is known that some Jews in their lifetime sternly ordered their children not to make the slightest plaint or weep until the dead body in the cemetery had been purified by washing, cleansing, and the cutting of the finger and toenails, because the unclean spirits are thought to have no further part in the body, once it is cleansed. Another noteworthy rite is connected with similar conceptions. Especially in a leap year, the Cabalists fasted on Monday and Thursday of certain weeks in the wintertime, in order to ‘correct', by special prayers and acts of penance, the taint which it is said a man inflicts on his true form by involuntary ejaculation in the night and by masturbation.
But it is not only in unlawful sexual practices that Lilith takes a hand. Even legitimate union between man and wife is endangered by her, for here too she tries to infringe on the domain of Eve. Accordingly, we find widespread observance of a rite recommended by the Zohar, the purpose of which was to keep Lilith away from the marriage bed: “In the hour when the husband enters into union with his wife, he should turn his mind to the holiness of his Lord and say: ‘Veiled in velvet - are you here? / Loosened, loosened be your spell! / Go not in and go not out! / Let there be none of you and nothing of your part! / Turn back, turn back, the ocean rages, / Its waves are calling you. / But I cleave to the holy part, / I am wrapped in the sanctity of the King.' Then for a time he should wrap his head and his wife's head in cloths, and afterwards sprinkle his bed with fresh water”.
The symbolism of erotic demonic activities is encountered down the ages, even by such as the venerable Doctor Dee in his workings with Edward Kelley. On 15 August 1584 CE their first Prague action began with an extraordinary series of alchemical visions. Madimi appeared, in apocalyptic mood: “Woe be to women great with child, for they shall bring forth monsters … Woe unto the Virgins of the Earth, for they shall disdain their virginity, and become concubines for Satan”. According to Cabalistic tradition, quoted by Dion Fortune, Lilith taught wisdom to Adam; and he could not forget her. This writer also quotes another tradition which holds that it was Lilith who performed the office of the Serpent in tempting Adam to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. A rare illustration of this appears in Queen Mary's Psalter (1553 CE). In The Secret Doctrine , Madame Blavatsky regards Lilith as having appeared in the primordial ages, and describes her as “An ethereal shadow … an actual living female monster millions of years ago”. She is linked by the theosophists with the planet Saturn. The importance attached to Lilith in witchcraft is attested by Doreen Valiente, who regarded her as one of the presiding goddesses of the Craft, calling her “the personification of erotic dreams, the suppressed desire for delights”. According to Gerald Gardner there is a tradition of the continuous worship of Lilith to the present time in witchcraft, and that hers is the name sometimes given to the Goddess being personified, in ritual, by the coven Priestess. Leland in his Etruscan-Roman Remains identifies Lilith with Herodias, or Aradia. He notes that she is mentioned in the old Slavonian spells and charms, and therein has twelve daughters, an instance of the witches thirteen perhaps. In Irish tradition Lilith gives her favours especially to ‘celibates, mystics and hermits'. Yeates calls the Sidhe her ‘children'. In Voudoun she is assimilated with the loa Erzulie. Modern magicians have deliberately used the mechanism of intercourse with spirits in their rituals of magica sexualis . The activities of such as Crowley and his adherents are perhaps too well known now from published accounts to warrant any exposition here.
Author: Anthony Roe, Published at Imbolc, 2002