by John Collier.
Lilit; Arabic: ليليث
Līlīt) is a female
Mesopotamian storm demon associated with wind and was thought to be
a bearer of disease, illness, and death.
The figure of Lilith first
appeared in a class of wind and storm demons or spirits as Lilitu,
in Sumer, circa 4000 BC. Many scholars place the origin of the
phonetic name "Lilith" at somewhere around 700 BC despite
post-dating even to the time of Moses.
Lilith appears as a night demon in
Jewish lore and as a screech owl in Isaiah 34:14 in the King James
version of the Bible. In later folklore, "Lilith" is the name for
Adam's first wife.
Hebrew: לילית; Arabic:
Līlītu, are female or male
nisba adjectives from the proto-Semitic root L-Y-L meaning "Night,"
literally translating to nocturnal "female night being/demon",
although cuneiform inscriptions where Lilit and Lilitu refers to
disease-bearing wind spirits exist.
Another possibility is association not with "night" but with "wind,"
thus identifying the Akkadian Lil-itu as a loan from the Sumerian
lil, "air", - specifically from NIN.LIL "lady air," goddess of
the South wind (and wife of Enlil) - and itud, "moon."
The earliest reference to a demon similar to Lilith and companion of
Lillake/Lilith is on the Sumerian king list, where Gilgamesh's
father is named as Lillu. Little is known of Lillu ("Wind[wer]man";
or Lilu, Lila) and he was said to interfere with women in their
sleep and had functions of an incubus, while Lilitu appeared to men
in their erotic dreams.
Such qualities are further
suggested by the Semitic associations made with the names Lila and Lilitu, namely those of lalu, or wandering about, and lulu, meaning
The Assyrian Lilitu were said to prey upon children and women, and
were described as associated with lions, storms, desert, and
disease. Early portrayals of such demons are known as having Zu bird
talons for feet and wings. They were highly sexually predatory
towards men, but were unable to copulate normally. They were thought
to dwell in waste, desolate, and desert places.
Like the Sumerian Dimme, a male wind demon named
Pazuzu was thought to be effective
Other storm and night demons from a similar class are recorded
around this period:
Lilu, an incubus
Ardat lili ("Lilith's
handmaid"), who would come to men in their sleep and beget
children from them
Irdu lili, the incubus counterpart to Ardat lili.
These demons were originally storm and wind demons; however later
etymology made them into night demons.
Lilith's epithet was "the beautiful maiden," She was described as
having no milk in her breasts and were unable to bear any
Babylonian texts depict Lilith as the prostitute of
the goddess Ishtar. Similarly, older Sumerian accounts assert that Lilitu is called the handmaiden of Inanna or "hand of Inanna." The
Sumerian texts state that "Inanna has sent the beautiful, unmarried,
and seductive prostitute Lilitu out into the fields and streets in
order to lead men astray." That is why Lilitu is called the "hand of
The Lilitu, the Akkadian Ardat-Lili and the Assyrian La-bar-tu like
Lilith, were figures of disease and uncleanliness. Ardat is derived from "ardatu," a title of prostitutes and young
unmarried women, meaning "maiden." One magical text
tells of how Ardat Lili had come to "seize" a sick man. Other
texts mention Lamashtu as the hand of Inanna/Ishtar in place of
Lilitu and Ardat lili.
Lilith is further associated with the Anzu bird, lions, owls,
and serpents, which are animals associated with the Lilitu. It is
from this mythology that the later Kabbalah depictions of Lilith as
a serpent in the Garden of Eden and her associations with serpents
are probably drawn.
The Epic of Gilgamesh,
Gilgamesh was said to have driven Lilith, an Anzu bird, and a "snake
which fears no spell" from a tree that was in a sacred grove
dedicated to the Goddess Ishtar/Inanna/Asherah.
legends describe the malevolent Anzu birds as "lion-headed" and
pictures them as eagle monsters, likewise to this a later amulet
from Arslan Tash site features a sphinx like creature with wings
devouring a child and has an incantation against Lilith or similar
demons, incorporating Lilith's correlating animals of lions and
Lamashtu (Sumer Dimme) was a very similar Mesopotamian demon to
Lilitu and Lilith seems to have inherited many of Lamashtu's
myths. She was considered a demi-goddess and daughter of Anu,
the sky god.
Many incantations against her mention her status as
a daughter of heaven and exercising her free will over infants. This
makes her different from the rest of the demons in Mesopotamia.
Unlike her demonic peers, Lamashtu was not instructed by the gods to
do her malevolence; she did it on her own accord. She was said to
seduce men, harm pregnant women, mothers, and neonates, kill
foliage, drink blood, and was a cause of disease, sickness, and
Some incantations describe her as "seven witches."
space between her legs is as a scorpion, corresponding to the
astrological sign of Scorpio. (Scorpio rules the genitals & sex
organs.) Her head is that of a lion, she has Anzu bird feet like
Lilitu, her breasts are suckled by a pig and a dog, and she rides
the back of a donkey.
Two other Mesopotamian demons have a close relation to Lilitu,
Alu was originally an asexual demon, who took on female
attributes, but later became a male demon. Alu liked to roam the
streets like a stray dog at night and creep into people’s bedrooms
as they slept to terrify them.
He was described as being half-human
and half-devil. He appears in Jewish lore as Ailo, here, he is used
as one of Lilith’s secret names. In other texts, Ailo is a daughter
of Lilith that has had intercourse with a man.
The other demon, Gallu is of the Utukku group. Gallu’s name, like Utukku, was also
used as a general term for multiple demons. Later, Gallu appears
as Gello, Gylo, or Gyllou in Greco-Byzantine mythology as a child
stealing and child killing demon.
This figure was, likewise, adapted
by the Jews as Gilu and was also considered a secret name of
Lilith in the Bible
The Book of Isaiah 34:14, describing the desolation of Edom, is the
only occurrence of Lilith in the Hebrew Bible:
Hebrew: וּפָגְשׁוּ צִיִּים
אֶת-אִיִּים, וְשָׂעִיר עַל-רֵעֵהוּ יִקְרָא; אַךְ-שָׁם
הִרְגִּיעָה לִּילִית, וּמָצְאָה לָהּ מָנוֹח
Hebrew (ISO 259):
morpho-syntactic analysis: "yelpers/desert-beasts meet-[perfect;
3pluralis] howlers/jackals; a he-goat/hairy-one/satyr calls out
to/cries to-[imperfect; 3sing.masc] his mate/fellow. liyliyth
rests/reposes-[perfect; 3sing.fem] and finds/acquires-[perfect;
3sing.fem] a resting-place."
KJV: "The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild
beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the
screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of
Schrader (Jahrbuch für Protestantische Theologie, 1. 128)
and Levy (ZDMG
9. 470, 484) suggest that Lilith was a goddess of the night, known
also by the Jewish exiles in Babylon.
Evidence for Lilith being a
goddess rather than a demon is lacking. Deutero-Isaiah dates to the
6th century BC, and the presence of Jews in Babylon would coincide
with the attested references to the Lilitu in Babylonian demonology.
The Septuagint translates onokentauros, apparently for lack of a
better word, since also the sa
'ir "satyrs" earlier in the verse are
translated with daimon onokentauros.
The "wild beasts of the island
and the desert" are omitted altogether, and the "crying to his
fellow" is also done by the ‘‘daimon onokentauros."
In Horace (De Arte Poetica liber, 340), Hieronymus of Cardia
translated Lilith as Lamia, a witch who steals children, similar to
the Breton Korrigan, in Greek mythology described as a Libyan queen
who mated with Zeus. After Zeus abandoned Lamia, Hera stole Lamia's
children, and Lamia took revenge by stealing other women's children.
The screech owl translation of the KJV is without precedent, and
apparently together with the "owl" (yanšup, probably a water bird)
in 34:11, and the "great owl" (qippoz, properly a snake,) of 34:15
an attempt to render the eerie atmosphere of the passage by choosing
suitable animals for difficult to translate Hebrew words. It should
be noted that this particular species of owl is associated with the
vampiric Strix of Roman legend.
This possibly evolved from the early
5th century Vulgate Bible of the Catholic Church, which translated
the same word as Lamia instead.
et occurrent daemonia onocentauris et pilosus clamabit alter ad
alterum ibi cubavit lamia et invenit sibi requiem
- Isaiah (Isaias Propheta) 34.14, Vulgate
Later translations include:
night-owl (Young, 1898)
night-spectre (Rotherham Emphasized Bible, 1902)
night monster (ASV, 1901; NASB, 1995)
vampires (Moffatt Translation, 1922)
night hag (RSV, 1947)
Lilith (Jerusalem Bible, 1966)
lilith (New American Bible, 1970)
Lilith (The Message (Bible), Peterson, 1993)
night creature (NIV, 1978; NKJV, 1982; NLT, 1996)
nightjar (New World Translation,
night bird (English Standard Version, 2001)
A Hebrew tradition exists in which an amulet is inscribed with the
names of three angels (Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof) and placed
around the neck of newborn boys in order to protect them from the
lilin until their circumcision.
Dead Sea scrolls
The appearance of Lilith in the
Dead Sea Scrolls is somewhat more
contentious, with one indisputable reference in the Song for a Sage
(4Q510-511), and a promising additional allusion found by A. Baumgarten in The Seductress (4Q184).
The first and irrefutable
Lilith reference in the Song occurs in 4Q510, fragment 1:
And I, the Instructor, proclaim His glorious
splendor so as to
frighten and to te[rrify] all the spirits of the destroying angels,
spirits of the bastards, demons, Lilith, howlers, and [desert
dwellers…] and those which fall upon men without warning to lead
them astray from a spirit of understanding and to make their heart
and their […] desolate during the present dominion of wickedness and
predetermined time of humiliations for the sons of lig[ht], by the
guilt of the ages of [those] smitten by iniquity - not for eternal
destruction, [bu]t for an era of humiliation for transgression.
Akin to Isaiah 34:14, this liturgical text both cautions against the
presence of supernatural malevolence and assumes familiarity with
Distinct from the biblical text, however, this passage does
not function under any socio-political agenda, but instead serves in
the same capacity as An Exorcism (4Q560) and Songs to Disperse
Demons (11Q11) insomuch that it comprises incantations - comparable
to the Arslan Tash relief examined above - used to "help protect the
faithful against the power of these spirits."
The text is thus, to a
community "deeply involved in the realm of demonology," an exorcism hymn.
Another text discovered at Qumran, conventionally associated with
the Book of Proverbs, credibly also appropriates the Lilith
tradition in its description of a precarious, winsome woman - The
The ancient poem - dated to the first century BC
but plausibly much older - describes a dangerous woman and
consequently warns against encounters with her.
woman depicted in this text is equated to the "strange woman" of
Proverbs 2 and 5, and for good reason; the parallels are instantly
Her house sinks down to death,
And her course leads to the shades.
All who go to her cannot return
And find again the paths of life.
- Proverbs 2:18-19
Her gates are gates of death, and from the entrance of the house
She sets out towards Sheol.
None of those who enter there will ever return,
And all who possess her will descend to the Pit.
However, what this association does not take into account are
additional descriptions of the "Seductress" from Qumran that cannot
be found attributed to the "strange woman" of Proverbs; namely, her
horns and her wings:
"a multitude of sins is in her wings."
"seductress" here does not refer literally to "prostitute" or at the
very least, the representation of one, but one who tempts men into
The sort of individual with whom that text's community would
have been familiar. The "Seductress" of the Qumran text, conversely,
could not possibly have represented an existent social threat given
the constraints of this particular ascetic community.
Qumran text uses the imagery of Proverbs to explicate a much
broader, supernatural threat - the threat of the demoness
Although references to Lilith in the Talmud are sparse, these
passages provide the most comprehensive insight into the demoness
yet seen in Judaic literature, which some speculate to echo Lilith's
purported Mesopotamian origins and prefigure her future as the
perceived exegetical enigma of the Genesis account.
Lilith we have seen, Talmudic allusions to Lilith illustrate her
essential wings and long hair, dating back to her earliest extant
mention in Gilgamesh:
"Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: If an abortion had the likeness of
Lilith its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a
child but it has wings."
"[Expounding upon the curses of womanhood] In a Baraitha it was
taught: She grows long hair like Lilith, sits when making water like
a beast, and serves as a bolster for her husband.”
Unique to the Talmud with regard to Lilith is her insalubrious
carnality, alluded to in The Seductress but expanded upon here sans
unspecific metaphors as the demoness assuming the form of a woman in
order to sexually take men by force while they sleep:
"R. Hanina said: One may not sleep in a house alone [in a lonely
house], and whoever sleeps in a house alone is seized by Lilith.”
Yet the most innovative perception of Lilith offered by the Talmud
appears earlier in 'Erubin, and is more than likely inadvertently
responsible for the fate of the Lilith myth for centuries to come:
"R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar further stated: In all those years [130
years after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden] during which Adam
was under the ban he begot ghosts and male demons and female demons
[or night demons], for it is said in Scripture, And Adam lived a
hundred and thirty years and begot a son in own likeness, after his
own image, from which it follows that until that time he did not
beget after his own image…
When he saw that through him death was
ordained as punishment he spent a hundred and thirty years in
fasting, severed connection with his wife for a hundred and thirty
years, and wore clothes of fig on his body for a hundred and thirty
years. - That statement [of R. Jeremiah] was made in reference to
the semen which he emitted accidentally.”
Comparing 'Erubin 18b and Shabbath 151b with the later passage from
“She wanders about at night, vexing the sons of men and
causing them to defile themselves (19b),”
...it appears clear that this
Talmudic passage indicates such an adverse union between Adam and
A cult in Mesopotamia is said to be related to Lilith by early
Jewish leaders. According to the hypotheses proposed by William F.
Albright, Theodor H. Gaster, and others, the name Lilith already
existed in 7th century BC. and Lilith retained her Shedim
characteristics throughout the entire Jewish tradition.
is plural for "spirit" or "demon". Figures that represent
the shedu of Babylonian mythology. These figures were depicted as
anthropomorphic, winged bulls, associated with wind. They were
thought to guard palaces, cities, houses, and temples. In magical
texts of that era, they could be either malevolent or
The cult originated from Babylon, then spread to
Canaan and eventually to Israel. Human sacrifice was part of the
practice and a sacrificial altar existed to the Shedim next to the
Yahweh cult, although this practice was widely denounced by prophets
who retained belief in Yahweh.
Shedim in Jewish thought and literature were portrayed as quite
malevolent. Some writings contend that they are storm-demons. Their
creation is presented in three contradicting Jewish tales. The first
is that during Creation, God created the shedim, but did not create
their bodies and forgot them on the Shabbat when he rested.
The second is that they are descendants
of demons in the form of serpents, and the last states that they are
simply descendants of Adam & Lilith.
Another story asserts that after the
tower of Babel, some people were scattered and became Shedim, Ruchin,
Alphabet of Ben Sira is considered to be the oldest form of the
story of Lilith as Adam's first wife. Whether this particular
tradition is older is not known.
Scholars tend to date the Alphabet
between the 8th and 10th centuries AD. Its real author is anonymous,
but it is falsely attributed to the sage Ben Sira. The amulets used
against Lilith that were thought to derive from this tradition are
in fact, dated as being much older.
The concept of Eve having a
predecessor is not exclusive to the Alphabet, and is not a new
concept, as it can be found in Genesis Rabbah. However, the idea
that Lilith was the predecessor is exclusive to the Alphabet.
According to Gershom Scholem, the author of the Zohar, R. Moses de
Leon, was aware of the folk tradition of Lilith. He was also aware
of another story, possibly older, that may be conflicting.
The idea that Adam had a wife prior to Eve may have developed from
an interpretation of the Book of Genesis and its dual creation
accounts; while Genesis 2:22 describes God's creation of Eve from
Adam's rib, an earlier passage, 1:27, already indicates that a woman
had been made:
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of
God created he him; male and female created he them."
text places Lilith's creation after God's words in Genesis 2:18 that
"it is not good for man to be alone"; in this text God forms Lilith
out of the clay from which he made Adam but she and Adam bicker.
Lilith claims that since she and Adam were created in the same way
they were equal and she refuses to submit to him:
After God created Adam, who was alone, He said,
'It is not good for
man to be alone.'
He then created a woman for Adam, from the earth,
as He had created Adam himself, and called her Lilith. Adam and
Lilith immediately began to fight.
'I will not lie below,'
and he said, 'I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you
are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the
'We are equal to each other
inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.'
But they would not
listen to one another. When Lilith saw this, she pronounced the
Ineffable Name and flew away into the air.
Adam stood in prayer before his Creator:
'Sovereign of the
universe!' he said, 'the woman you gave me has run away.'
the Holy One, blessed be He, sent these three angels Senoy, Sansenoy,
and Semangelof, to bring her back.
Said the Holy One to Adam, 'If she agrees to come back, what is made
is good. If not, she must permit one hundred of her children to die
every day.' The angels left God and pursued Lilith, whom they
overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the
Egyptians were destined to drown. They told her God's word, but she
did not wish to return.
The angels said,
'We shall drown you in the
'Leave me!' she said. 'I was created only to cause sickness to
infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight
days after his birth, and if female, for twenty days.’
When the angels heard Lilith's words, they insisted she go back.
she swore to them by the name of the living and eternal God:
'Whenever I see you or your names or your forms in an amulet, I will
have no power over that infant.'
She also agreed to have one hundred
of her children die every day. Accordingly, every day one hundred
demons perish, and for the same reason, we write the angels' names
on the amulets of young children.
When Lilith sees their names, she
remembers her oath, and the child recovers.
The background and purpose of The Alphabet of Ben-Sira is unclear.
It is a collection of stories about heroes of the Bible and Talmud,
it may have been a collection of folk-tales, a refutation of
Christian, Karaite, or other separatist movements; its content seems
so offensive to contemporary Jews that it was even suggested that it
could be an anti-Jewish satire, although, in any case, the text
was accepted by the Jewish mystics of medieval Germany.
The Alphabet of Ben-Sira is the earliest surviving source of the
story, and the conception that Lilith was Adam's first wife became
only widely known with the 17th century ‘‘Lexicon Talmudicum of
In the folk tradition that arose in the early Middle Ages Lilith, a
dominant female demon, became identified with Asmodeus, King of
Demons, as his queen. Asmodeus was already well known
by this time because of the legends about him in the Talmud.
the merging of Lilith and Asmodeus was inevitable.
The fecund myth of Lilith grew to include legends about another
world and by some accounts this other world existed side by side
with this one, Yenne Velt is Yiddish for this described "Other
World". In this case Asmodeus and Lilith were believed to procreate
demonic offspring endlessly and spread chaos at every turn.
Many disasters were blamed on both of them, causing wine to turn
into vinegar, men to be impotent, women unable to give birth, and it
was Lilith who was blamed for the loss of infant life. The presence
of Lilith and her cohorts were considered very real at this time.
Two primary characteristics are seen in these legends about Lilith:
Lilith as the incarnation of lust, causing men to be led astray, and
Lilith as a child-killing witch, who strangles helpless neonates.
Although these two aspects of the Lilith legend seemed to have
evolved separately, there is hardly a tale where she encompasses
But the aspect of the witch-like role that Lilith
plays broadens her archetype of the destructive side of witchcraft.
Such stories are commonly found among Jewish folklore.
Kabbalistic mysticism attempted to establish a more exact
relationship between Lilith and the Deity.
With her major
characteristics having been well-developed by the end of the
Talmudic period, after six centuries had elapsed between the Aramaic
incantation texts that mention Lilith and the early Spanish Kabbalistic writings in the 13th century, she reappears, and her
life history becomes known in greater mythological detail.
Her creation is described in many alternative versions. One mentions
her creation as being before Adam's, on the fifth day, because the
"living creatures" with whose swarms God filled the waters included
none other than Lilith. A similar version, related to the earlier
Talmudic passages, recounts how Lilith was fashioned with the same
substance as Adam was, shortly before.
A third alternative version
states that God originally created Adam and Lilith in a manner that
the female creature was contained in the male. Lilith's soul was
lodged in the depths of the Great Abyss. When God called her, she
joined Adam. After Adam's body was created a thousand souls from the
Left (evil) side attempted to attach themselves to him.
drove them off. Adam was left lying as a body without a soul. Then a
cloud descended and God commanded the earth to produce a living
soul. This God breathed into Adam, who began to spring to life and
his female was attached to his side. God separated the female from
Adam's side. The female side was Lilith, whereupon she flew to the
Cities of the Sea and attacks humankind.
Yet another version claims
that Lilith was not created by God, but emerged as a divine entity
that was born spontaneously, either out of the Great Supernal Abyss
or out of the power of an aspect of God (the Gevurah of Din). This
aspect of God, one of his ten attributes (Sefirot), at its lowest
manifestation has an affinity with the realm of evil and it is out
of this that Lilith merged with Samael.
An alternative story links Lilith with the creation of luminaries.
The "first light," which is the light of Mercy (one of the Sefirot),
appeared on the first day of creation when God said "Let there be
This light became hidden and the Holiness became surrounded
by a husk of evil.
”A husk (q'lippa) was created around the brain"
and this husk spread and brought out another husk, which was
Adam and Lilith
Adam holding on to a child while Lilith appears on a tree.
The first medieval source to depict Adam and Lilith in full was the
Midrash Abkir (ca. 10th century), which was followed by the Zohar
and Kabbalistic writings.
Adam is said to be perfect until he
recognizes either his sin or Cain's homicide that is the cause of
bringing death into the world. He then separates from holy Eve,
sleeps alone, and fasts for 130 years. During this time Lilith, also
known as Pizna or Naamah, desired his beauty and came to him against
his will. She bore him many demons and spirits called "the plagues
The added explanation was that it was through
Adam's own sin that Lilith overcame him against his will.
"Lilith" from Michelangelo's "The Temptation of Adam and Eve".
common iconographic depiction of the serpent of Eden in late
Medieval and Renaissance art.
Older sources state clearly that after Lilith's Red Sea sojourn, she
returned to Adam and begat children from him.
In the Zohar, however,
Lilith is said to have succeeded in begetting offspring from Adam
during their short-lived sexual experience. Lilith leaves Adam in
Eden, as she is not a suitable helpmate for him. She returns, later,
to force herself upon him.
However, before doing so she attaches
herself to Cain and bears him numerous spirits and demons.
Samael and Lilith
The mystical writing of two brothers Jacob and Isaac Hacohen, which
predates the Zohar by a few decades, states that Samael and Lilith
are in the shape of an androgynous being, double-faced, born out of
the emanation of the Throne of Glory and corresponding in the
spiritual realm to Adam and Eve, who were likewise born as a
The two twin androgynous couples resembled each other
and both "were like the image of Above"; that is, that they are
reproduced in a visible form of an androgynous deity.
Another version that was also current among Kabbalistic circles in
the Middle Ages establishes Lilith as the first of Samael's four
Lilith, Naamah, Igrath, and Mahalath.
Each of them are
mothers of demons and have their own hosts and unclean spirits in no
number. The marriage of Samael and Lilith was arranged by "Blind
Dragon", who is the counterpart of "the dragon that is in the sea".
Blind Dragon acts as an intermediary between Lilith and Samael:
Blind Dragon rides Lilith the Sinful -- may she be extirpated
quickly in our days, Amen! -- And this Blind Dragon brings about the
union between Samael and Lilith. And just as the Dragon that is in
the sea (Isa. 27:1) has no eyes, likewise Blind Dragon that is
above, in the likeness of a spiritual form, is without eyes, that is
to say, without colors.... (Patai81:458) Samael is called the Slant
Serpent, and Lilith is called the Tortuous Serpent.
The marriage of Samael and Lilith is known as the "Angel Satan" or
the "Other God," but it was not allowed to last.
To prevent Lilith
and Samael's demonic children from filling the world, God castrated
Samael. In many 17th century Kabbalistic books, this mythologem is
based on the identification of "Leviathan the Slant Serpent and
Leviathan the Torturous Serpent" and a reinterpretation of an old
Talmudic myth where God castrated the male Leviathan and slew the
female Leviathan in order to prevent them from mating and thereby
destroying the earth.
After Samael became castrated and Lilith
was unable to fornicate with him, she left him to couple with men
who experience nocturnal emissions.
A 15th or 16th century Kabbalah
text states that God has "cooled" the female Leviathan, meaning that
he has made Lilith infertile and she is a mere fornication.
The Two Liliths
A passage in the 13th century
document called the Treatise on the Left Emanation says that there
are two Liliths, the lesser being married to the great demon
In answer to your question concerning Lilith, I shall explain to you
the essence of the matter. Concerning this point there is a received
tradition from the ancient Sages who made use of the Secret
Knowledge of the Lesser Palaces, which is the manipulation of demons
and a ladder by which one ascends to the prophetic levels.
tradition, it is made clear that Samael and Lilith were born as one,
similar to the form of
Adam and Eve who were also born as one,
reflecting what is above. This is the account of Lilith which was
received by the Sages in the Secret Knowledge of the Palaces. The
Matron Lilith is the mate of Samael. Both of them were born at the
same hour in the image of Adam and Eve, intertwined in each other.
Asmodeus the great king of the demons has as a mate the Lesser
(younger) Lilith, daughter of the king whose name is Qafsefoni. The
name of his mate is Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and their daughter
Another passage charges Lilith as being a tempting serpent of Eve's:
And the Serpent, the Woman of Harlotry, incited and seduced Eve
through the husks of Light which in itself is holiness. And the
Serpent seduced Holy Eve, and enough said for him who understands.
And all this ruination came about because Adam the first man coupled
with Eve while she was in her menstrual impurity - this is the filth
and the impure seed of the Serpent who mounted Eve before Adam
Behold, here it is before you: because of the sins of
Adam the first man all the things mentioned came into being. For
Evil Lilith, when she saw the greatness of his corruption, became
strong in her husks, and came to Adam against his will, and became
hot from him and bore him many demons and spirits and Lilin.
This may relate to various late medieval iconography of a female
serpent figure, believed to be Lilith, tempting Adam and Eve.
The prophet Elijah is said to have confronted Lilith in one text. In
this encounter, she had come to feast on the flesh of the mother,
with a host of demons, and take the newborn from her. She eventually
reveals her secret names to Elijah in the conclusion.
are said to cause Lilith to lose her power:
lilith, abitu, abizu,
hakash, avers hikpodu, ayalu, matrota…
In others, probably
informed by The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, she is Adam's first wife. (Yalqut
Reubeni, Zohar 1:34b, 3:19 )
Lilith as Qliphah
Adam, Lilith, and Eve,c. 1210 AD
Base of trumeau, left portal, West
Façade, Notre Dame, Paris.
Lilith is listed as one of the Qliphoth,
corresponding to the Sephirah Malkuth in the Kabbalistic Tree of
The demon Lilith, the evil woman, is described as a beautiful
woman, who transforms into a blue, butterfly-like demon, and it is
associated with the power of seduction.
The Qliphah is the unbalanced power of a Sephirah. Malkuth is the
lowest Sephirah, the realm of the earth, into which all the divine
energy flows, and in which the divine plan is worked out. However,
its unbalanced form is as Lilith, the seductress.
world, and all of its pleasures, is the ultimate seductress, and can
lead to materialism unbalanced by the spirituality of the higher
spheres. This ultimately leads to a descent into animal
The balance must therefore be found between Malkuth
and Kether, to find order and harmony.
Another similar monster was the Greek Lamia, who likewise governed a
class of child stealing lamia-demons. Lamia bore the title "child
killer" and was feared for her malevolence, like Lilith.
different conflicting origins and is described as having a human
upper body from the waist up and a serpentine body from the waist
down. (Some depictions of Lamia picture her as having wings and
feet of a bird, rather than being half serpent, similar to the
earlier reliefs of Greek Sirens and the Lilitu.) One source states
simply that she is a daughter of the goddess Hecate.
Lamia was subsequently cursed by the goddess Hera to have stillborn
children because of her association with Zeus, alternately, Hera
slew all of Lamia's children (Except Scylla.) in anger that Lamia
slept with her husband, Zeus. The grief caused Lamia to turn into a
monster that took revenge on mothers by stealing their children and
Lamia had a vicious sexual appetite that matched her cannibalistic
appetite for children. She was notorious for being a vampiric spirit
and loved sucking men’s blood.
Her gift was the "mark of a
Sibyl," a gift of second sight.
Zeus was said to have given her the
gift of sight. However, she was "cursed" to never be able to shut
her eyes so that she would forever obsess over her dead children.
Taking pity on Lamia, Zeus gave her the ability to remove and
replace her eyes from their sockets.
The Empusae were a class of supernatural demons that Lamia was said
to have birthed. Hecate would often send them against travelers.
They consumed or scared to death any of the people where they
inhabited. They bear many similarities to lilim.
It has been
suggested that later medieval lore, succubae, or lilim is derived
from this myth.
Karina of Arabic lore is considered Lilith’s equivalent.
mentioned as a child-stealing and child-killing witch. In this
context, Karina plays the role of a "shadow" of a woman and a
corresponding male demon, Karin, is the "shadow" of a man. Should a
woman marry, her Karina marries the man’s Karin. When the woman
becomes pregnant is when Karina will cause her chaos.
try to drive the woman out and take her place, cause a miscarriage
by striking the woman and if the woman succeeds in having children
then her Karina will have the same number of children she does. The
Karina will continuously try to create discord between the woman and
Here, Karina plays the role of disrupter of marital
relations, akin to one of Lilith's roles in Jewish tradition.
Lilith in the
Classical German period
Lilith's earliest appearance in the literature of the Romantic
period (1789-1832) was in Goethe's 1808 work Faust Part I, nearly
600 years after appearing in the Kabbalistic Zohar:
Who's that there?
Take a good look.
Lilith? Who is that?
Adam's wife, his first. Beware of her.
Her beauty's one boast is her dangerous hair.
When Lilith winds it tight around young men
She doesn't soon let go of them again.
(1992 Greenberg translation, lines 4206–4211)
After Mephistopheles offers this warning to Faust, he then, quite
ironically, encourages Faust to dance with "the Pretty Witch".
Lilith and Faust engage in a short dialogue, where Lilith recounts
the days spent in Eden.
Faust: [dancing with the young witch]
A lovely dream I dreamt one day
I saw a green-leaved apple tree,
Two apples swayed upon a stem,
So tempting! I climbed up for them.
The Pretty Witch:
Ever since the days of Eden
Apples have been man's desire.
How overjoyed I am to think, sir,
Apples grow, too, in my garden.
(1992 Greenberg translation, lines 4216
Lilith in the
Lady Lilith by Dante
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which
developed around 1848, were greatly influenced by Goethe's work
on the theme of Lilith.
In 1863, Dante Gabriel Rossetti of the
Brotherhood began painting what would be his first rendition of
"Lady Lilith", a painting he expected to be his "best picture
Symbols appearing in the painting allude to the "femme
fatale" reputation of the Romantic Lilith:
Accompanying his Lady Lilith
painting from 1863, Rossetti wrote a sonnet entitled Lilith, which
was first published in Swinburne's pamphlet-review (1868), Notes on
the Royal Academy Exhibition:
Of Adam's first wife, Lilith, it is told
(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive,
And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
And, subtly of herself contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
The rose and poppy are her flower; for where
Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent
And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?
Lo! As that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went
Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent
And round his heart one strangling golden hair.
(Collected Works, 216)
The poem and the picture appeared together alongside Rossetti's
painting Sibylla Palmifera and the sonnet Soul's Beauty.
the Lilith sonnet was renamed "Body's Beauty" in order to contrast
it and Soul's Beauty. The two were placed sequentially in The House
of Life collection (sonnets number 77 and 78).
Rossetti wrote in 1870:
Lady [Lilith]...represents a Modern Lilith combing out her abundant
golden hair and gazing on herself in the glass with that
self-absorption by whose strange fascination such natures draw
others within their own circle."
- Rossetti, W. M. ii.850, D.G. Rossetti's emphasis 
This is in accordance with Jewish folk tradition, which associates
Lilith both with long hair (a symbol of dangerous feminine seductive
power in both Jewish and Islamic cultures), and with possessing
women by entering them through mirrors.
The Victorian poet Robert Browning re-envisioned Lilith in his poem
"Adam, Lilith, and Eve". First published in 1883, the poem uses the
traditional myths surrounding the triad of Adam, Eve, and Lilith.
Browning depicts Lilith and Eve as being friendly and complicitous
with each other, as they sit together on either side of Adam.
the threat of death, Eve admits that she never loved Adam, while
Lilith confesses that she always loved him:
As the worst of the venom left my lips,
I thought, 'If, despite this lie, he strips
The mask from my soul with a kiss - I crawl
His slave, - soul, body, and all!
- Browning 1098
Browning focused on Lilith's emotional attributes, rather than that
of her ancient demon predecessors.
In modern occultism
The depiction of Lilith in Romanticism continues to be popular among
Wiccans, feminists and in other modern occultism.
Few magical orders dedicated
to the undercurrent of Lilith, featuring initiations specifically
related to the arcana of the "first mother" exist.
that use initiations and magic associated with Lilith are the Ordo
Antichristianus Illuminati and the Order of Phosphorus (see excerpt
below). Lilith appears as a succubus in
De Arte Magica.
Lilith was also one of the middle names of Crowley’s first
child, Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley (b. 1904,
d.1906), and Lilith is sometimes identified with
Babalon in Thelemic
A Chaos Magical rite, based on an earlier German rite,
offers a ceremonial Invocation of Lilith:
Dark is she, but brilliant! Black are her wings, black on black! Her
lips are red as rose, kissing all of the Universe! She is Lilith,
who leadeth forth the hordes of the Abyss, and leadeth man to
liberation! She is the irresistible fulfiller of all lust, seer of
First of all women was she - Lilith, not Eve was the first!
Her hand brings forth the revolution of the Will and true freedom of
the mind! She is KI-SI-KIL-LIL-LA-KE, Queen of the Magic! Look on
her in lust and despair!"
- Lilith Ritus, from the German by Joseph Max
A 2006 "creative occultist" work by ceremonial magickian
Tyson, titled Liber Lilith, details the "secret" cosmology for the
'Mother of Harlots' and spawn of all night-breed monsters, Lilith.
The book was allegedly saved from the ashes of Dr
John Dee's library
at Mortlake in the 1580s.
In modern Luciferianism, Lilith is considered a consort of Lucifer
and is identified with the figure of
She is said to come
from the mud and dust, and is known as the Queen of the Succubi.
When she and Lucifer mate, they form an androgynous being called "Baphomet"
or the "Goat of Mendes," also known in Luciferianism as
the "God of Witches."
Writings by Michael W. Ford, including The Foundations of the Luciferian Path, contend that Lilith forms a part of the "Luciferian
Trinity" consisting of herself, Samael and Cain. Likewise, Lilith is
said to have been Cain's actual mother, as opposed to Eve.
here is seen as a goddess of witches, the dark feminine principle,
and is also known as the goddess Hecate.
Many early writers that contributed to modern day Wicca expressed
special reverence for Lilith.
Charles Leland associated Aradia with
Lilith: Aradia, says Leland, is Herodias, who was regarded in
stregheria folklore as being associated with Diana as chief of the
witches. Leland further notes that Herodias is a name that comes
from West Asia, where it denoted an early form of Lilith.
Gerald Gardner asserted that there was continuous historical worship
of Lilith to present day, and that her name is sometimes given to
the goddess being personified in the coven, by the priestess.
idea was further attested by Doreen Valiente, who cited her as a
presiding goddess of the Craft:
“the personification of erotic
dreams, the suppressed desire for delights”.
In some contemporary concepts, Lilith is viewed as
the embodiment of
the Goddess, a designation that is thought to be shared with what
these faiths believe to be her counterparts:
Inanna, Ishtar, Asherah,
Anath and Isis.
According to one view, Lilith was originally a
Sumerian, Babylonian, or Hebrew mother goddess of childbirth,
children, women, and sexuality who later became
demonized due to the rise of patriarchy.
Other modern views hold
that Lilith is a dark moon goddess on par with the Hindu Kali.
In modern Western astrology,
"Dark Moon" Lilith, is not an actual phase of the moon, but is the
empty focus of the ellipse described by the moon's orbit (the other
focus occupied by the Earth).
Dark Moon Lilith is often employed in
astrological chart readings.
"The Dark Moon describes our
relationship to the absolute, to sacrifice as such, and shows how we
The moon's hypothetical apogee point (the point at which it is
furthest in its orbit from the Earth), is known as "Black Moon"
Lilith. It is said to signify instinctive and emotional intelligence
in astrological charts.
asteroid 1181 Lilith is also sometimes used in astrology.
Western Mystery Tradition
The western mystery tradition associates Lilith with the Klipoth of
Samael Aun Weor in
The Pistis Sophia Unveiled writes that
homosexuals are the "henchmen of Lilith." Likewise, women who
undergo willful abortion, and those who support this practice are
"seen in the sphere of Lilith."
Dion Fortune writes, "The Virgin
Mary is reflected in Lilith,"  and that Lilith is the source of
"lustful dreams." Indeed, if one meditates on negative (or
inverted) Binah, one readily finds Lilith; to worship Lilith is to
use the power of the Holy Spirit for negative purposes.
1. Hurwitz (1980)[page
2. Sayce (1887)[page needed]
3. Fossey (1902)[page needed]
4. Patai (1942)[page needed]
5. Raphael Patai p. 222, The Hebrew Goddess 1978, 3rd
enlarged edition from Discus Books New York.
6. T.H. Jacobsen, "Mesopotamia", in H. Frankfort
et al., Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure of
7. Hurwitz p.50
8. Goddesses and Demons: Some Thoughts by Johanna
9. Black, Jeremy and Anthony Green. Gods, Demons,
and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. Austin, TX:
University of Texas Press 2003. p. 118
10. Patai p.222
11. Erich Ebeling and Bruno Meissner, Reallexicon
der Assyriologie, Walter de Gruyter 1990[page needed]
12. S.H. Langdon p.74
13. Hurwitz p.58
14. Kramer translates the Anzu as "owl," but most
often it is translated as "eagle," "vulture," or "bird
15. "Inanna and the Huluppu Tree": One Way of
Demoting a Great Goddess by Johanna Stuckey
16. Chicago Assyrian Dictionary 1956. Chicago:
University of Chicago.
17. Dalley, Stephanie. Myths from Mesopotamia:
Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh and others. Oxford
University Press, Oxford. 1991
18. Hurwitz 64
19. Hurwitz p.34-35
20. AncientNearEast.net. Lamaštu (Lamashtu)
21. Britannica, s.v. "Lamashtu"
22. Margi B. Lilith
23. Hurwitz p.39
24. Hurwitz p.40
25. Hurwitz p.41
26. Summers, Montague (2003). Vampire: His Kith
and Kin. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 356. ISBN
27. "The Old Testament (Vulgate)/Isaias propheta".
Wikisource (Latin). http://la.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Old_Testament_(Vulgate)/Isaias_propheta.
28. "Parallel Latin Vulgate Bible and Douay-Rheims
Bible and King James Bible; The Complete Sayings of
Jesus Christ". LatinVulgate.com. http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=0&b=27&c=34.
29. Hurwitz p. 53-54
30. Leick 1998: 30-31
31. Hurwitx p. 54-55
32. Hurwitz p. 54
33. Humm, Alan. Lilith in the Alphabet of Ben Sira
34. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 174
35. Segal, Eliezer. Looking for Lilith
36. Schwartz p.7
37. Schwartz p 8
38. Schwartz p.8
40. Patai p.229-230
41. Patai p.230
42. Patai p231
43. Patai p232
44. Patai p.231
45. Patai p244
46. Humm, Alan. Lilith, Samael, & Blind Dragon
48. R. Isaac b. Jacob Ha-Kohen. Lilith in Jewish
Mysticism: Treatise on the Left Emanation
49. Humm, Alan. Lilith picture: with Adam & Eve
50. Lilith Amulet-J.R. Ritman Library
51. Humm, Alan. Kabbalah: Lilith's origins
52. The Lilith Myth
53. Hurwitz p. 43
54. Hurwitz p.43
55. Hurwitz p.78
56. Hurwitz p.136
57. Hurwitz p.137
58. hurwitz p.138
59. The Feminism and Women's Studies site:
Changing Literary Representations of Lilith and the
Evolution of a Mythical Heroine
60. "Lilith's Cave," Lilith's Cave: Jewish tales
of the supernatural, edited by Howard Schwartz (San
Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988) 
61. Seidel, Kathryn Lee. The Lilith Figure in Toni
Morrison's Sula and Alice Walker's The Color Purple
63. The Invocation of Lilith
64. Barbelith Underground
65. Tyson, Donald.LIBER LILITH:A Gnostic Grimoire
66. Stills, Robert. Church of Lucifer
67. Ford, Michael. Black Witchcraft: The
Foundations of the Luciferian Path
68. Grimassi, Raven.Stregheria: La Vecchia
69. Leland, Charles.Aradia, Gospel of the Witches-aAppendix
70. Lilith-The First Eve/Published at Imbolc 2002
71. Grenn, Deborah J.History of Lilith Institute
73. Hurwitz,Siegmund Excerpts from Lilith-The
76. R. Buckland
77. Joëlle de Gravelaine in "Lilith und das
Loslassen", Astrologie Heute, Nr. 23.
78. Margi B. The Angelic Influence [unreliable
79. Martha Lang-Wescott
80. Pistis Sophia Unveiled by Samael Aun Weor,
page 339, at Google books
Psychic Self-Defence by
Dion Fortune, page 126-128, at Google books
82. Gnostic teaching's course on Kabbalah: Klipoth
Siegmund Hurwitz, Lilith, die erste Eva: eine Studie uber dunkle
Aspekte des Wieblichen. Zurich: Daimon Verlag, 1980, 1993. English
tr. Lilith, the First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of
the Dark Feminine, translated by Gela Jacobson. Einsiedeln,
Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 1992 ISBN 3-85630-545-9.
Archibald Sayce, Hibbert Lectures on Babylonian Religion (1887)
C. Fossey, La Magie Assyrienne, Paris 1902
Raphael Patai, Adam ve-Adama, tr. as Man and Earth; Jerusalem: The
Hebrew Press Association, 1941-1942.
Talmudic References: b. Erubin 18b; b. Erubin 100b; b. Nidda 24b;
b. Shab. 151b; b. Baba Bathra 73a-b
Kabbalist References: Zohar 3:76b-77a; Zohar Sitrei Torah
1:147b-148b; Zohar 2:267b; Bacharach,'Emeq haMelekh, 19c; Zohar
3:19a; Bacharach,'Emeq haMelekh, 102d-103a; Zohar 1:54b-55a
Dead Sea Scroll References: 4QSongs of the Sage/4QShir; 4Q510
An overview of the Lilith Mythos including analysis of the Burney
Kramer's Translation of the Gilgamesh Prologue. Kramer, Samuel
Noah. "Gilgamesh and the Huluppu-Tree: A reconstructed Sumerian
Text." Assyriological Studies of the Oriental Institute of the
University of Chicago 10. Chicago: 1938.
Hurwitz, Siegmund. Lilith. Switzerland: Daminon Press, 1992.
Jerusalem Bible. New York: Doubleday, 1966
Lilith's Cave: Jewish tales of the supernatural, by Howard
Schwartz (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988)
Patai, Raphael. The Hebrew Goddess, 3rd enlarged edition New York:
Discus Books, 1978.
The Witch Book, by Raymond Buckland, Visible Ink Press (November