“Lilith can become a great spiritual teacher for man, sustaining him in a state of clarity, strength, and uncompromised alertness. She requires a man at a very high level. Men of low stature will not be able to contain her.” Ohad Ezrahi.
Deida could not have written The Way of the Superior Man if Lilith was a relevant social influence in the modern era. It is true that connecting with ancient female archetypes, like Lilith, Hathor, Parvati, Athena, Isis, Kali, is fun and also daunting, as they have been tagged in the past with names like lustful, sinful, sacred prostitute, and worse.
As awesome as these archetypes seem to us today, rituals of femininity were primarily concerned with “surrender[ing] themselves and become[ing] lost in the all-consuming bliss of her divine presence as it flowed within them. As alternating rhythms of the cosmic goddess swelled and abated they generated states of ecstatic frenzy within the priestesses and devotees which brought them into resonance with her universal cycles of nature, of birth, growth, death and regeneration.” Sharron Rose.
Pretty scary for those of us who have been raised in a culture of control! But what do we think we are trying to achieve with all our dressing up and partying? Deep inside, we yearn to be neophytes in the temple of the goddess, learning the mysteries.
Control is masculine. Out-of-control control is patriarchy. Luckily for me, my psyche was clear from this modern program that transcendent ecstatic revelry is bad. My faith in the mystic survived suburbia, so when I became an adult I could devote my time to living in a culture where real women are equal to real men, and we are consciously able to celebrate ecstatically together.
To reclaim our femininity we must be free to allow ourselves the gift of living ecstatically. In this way we create space to celebrate our lives and living, guilt-free.
Many rituals celebrate the love of life we call fertility. I want to live in a place where fertility ritual is as important as farming practice. It was once this way in Neoolithic villages. Imagine if our fertility festivals were as big as our farm trade fairs, if we shipped ecstatic dancers overseas like we ship sheep and cattle, if the chemicals sprayed on our fields were inducing love? In every tribal culture you will find this. In every dance there is a celebration of life, and its creation through both woman and man. Each relation with the forest or the field is an ecstatic rapture. Daily offerings are made to the beauty and sanctity of life eternal. Life revolves around giving thanks, making offerings, receiving gifts and communion with Shakti.
It is our survival instinct to love. For this is how we create life.
One tantric path to wholeness is to seek embodiment in a powerful archetype. Tibetan Tantric Buddhists do this by intimately and exactly imagining a buddha whose qualities they wish to emulate. It is a merging of two identities, the buddha and the human who wishes to attain this buddhic state. So if we desire to bring the qualities of the awakened and empowered feminine into our lives, we can meditate on a transpersonal female archetype who is wholly alive with her own power.
Lilith is a Neolithic archetype of feminine power; let’s call on her to help us reclaim ours. She is an original woman. Her story comes from an oral tradition in Babylon and Canaan, first recorded in the Lurianic Kabbalah in the 10th century. This is her story:
“When the creator created human beings, a man and a woman were created equally from clay. But this holy first couple could not work their relationship out, as each one of them wanted to lie above the other while having sex. The woman – who is later known as Lilith – does not surrender, [she] escapes from paradise. Only then does Adam feel lonely and Eve is created from one of his sides, or aspects. According to the Talmudic sages, she is created from his back. If we put the two myths, the Nesirah and Lilith, together, we can see that the Nesirah process begins not in the beginning of all, but only after the escape of Lilith. God the creator accepts it and creates a second woman, Eve, on a non-equal basis. She is secondary in essence…
“Lurianic Kabalah says that the reason for the rejection of Lilith is that Adam (symbolizing masculinity) is not developed enough to accept or understand a woman of her kind, who is higher than him in spirituality. Frightened by her, he rejects her and makes his life with a woman of Eve-kind.” Ohad Ezrahi.
Has it been like this since Eden? I’ve met many men who say they worship the goddess, but cannot recognise her when she is standing right in front of them! This is because they were expecting Eve, in Celtic robes with a crown of leaves, sweetly playing on a lyre, and they got Lilith. What makes femininity so blinding when it is displayed with its natural exuberance, authority and wisdom?
Self-realised woman, as the matrix of creation, is the archetypal wild and loving goddess, equal to the god. “Life itself is feminine,” says David Deida, including but not limited to “radiant women, beer, music, nature.” Let’s get radiant…
“This intuitive, spontaneous, impulsive behaviour comes from our feminine essence, and is often judged by our male essence, which thrives on stability and structure. However the enlightened being does not live to please the insecure realities and neuroses of others and does not bow to being controlled. It is more true to say madness arises when there is a need to always feel in control of life.” Shantara Mu Khalsa.
This need to control split the goddess. She who would not be controlled had no choice but to leave. While leaving controlling situations is a good lesson on the tantric path, the risk is that we become split inside. So many times I have left when I could not stay and be free, when there was a masculine essence forcing control on me, but eventually I found that everywhere. I had started out with optimism that I would find the place on this adventure where I could settle with kindred spirits co-creating new earth community. After some time it dawned on me that the god of rationality had penetrated everywhere I went, even the farthest hippy communes, and the oldest intentional communities. It became both a blessing and a curse to seek the next place of peace. I began to understand why the majority of those who sought alternative lifestyles kept to their own private plots, with one foot in, one foot out of the mainstream.
I tried that for a change, but it seemed like only half the solution. Some force I could not deny kept moving me. Sagittarius moon, gypsy moon.
Femininity really wants to stay and be an equal in love. For that, she must be accepted for all she is. Essentially, in leaving each story, I also left a part of myself. I became less and less until nearly nothing remained. When nothing I found femininity arising to meet me in that void. My masculine drive needed stripping away until I surrendered completely, and a new path appeared.
But if I had not kept moving, my wild independent Lilith side would have gone to Sinai, so the one who subjugates herself so she can be loved, Eve, remained. Instinctually, my urge to move maintained my wildness in a society which called for Eve, and rejected Lilith. So it continues to this day.
“Men feel threatened by Lilith. She threatens their position and their self confidence. But we must understand the male paradox regarding Lilith: specifically because Lilith does not accept male domination nor suppress her wild sexuality from bursting forth as does Eve, she possesses an erotic seduction that is very difficult for men to withstand… a man usually decides to suppress his passions, to denigrate Lilith, and to besmirch ‘women like that’.” Ohad Ezrahi.
By embodying Lilith, women have as much power as men. Men, and indeed women who are operating through their masculinity, are invested in continually denying their wholeness – as the wild temptress and the loving devotee of giving life, given to life.
However, when the goddess runs away she also denies her own power.
At the times I acquiesced, I did Eve and rented a nice house. I felt comfortble and responsible and overwhelmed and lonely, frustrated that I was doing everything myself, separated from the magical synergy of life on the path. The main bonus was now no one was besmirching me. I couldn’t stay, I ran away. I sought lands far and wide and elders, who told me it was not time, not time in a transpersonal sense, for the kind of communion I dreamed of.
In the Nesirah myth of Z’A and Nukbah, woman grows through the process of disempowerment to become equal to, even a little bit higher than, man. Interestingly, today in the self-aware circles there are a lot of women complaining that men are just not up to par in awakening. Many more women attend transformational and personal deelopment workshops than men. Where are all the conscious men, the sisters say? This apparent nagging is just to help men wake up too.
Having said that, find an awakening man if you truly desire to embody Lilith. Otherwise you are opening yourself to critisism (or worse) that you are not playing Eve. Fortunately, I found one. At first, he didn’t know himself that was what he was, but I could tell. My feminine intuition operates well.
Eve, of course, was given a whole fig leaf to wear for modesty’s sake, and that is how she went down in history. Shame and guilt? Oh please! Lilith, on the other hand, was conveniently forgotten by all but the Jewish scholars of the Torah, thus written out of history. The ripe and mysterious pantheons of Neolithic goddesses were desiccated into immaculately conceived Mary, segregated even from the most basic biological function of conception through making love.
Who would have thought this all began with an argument about sexual positions?
Making love is what women and men love to do. Making love within is tantric union. Yet there has been a great psychological profilactic thrust upon us to subvert this revelation. Temple priestesses became ‘sacred prostitutes.’ The meaning of virgin was transformed from ‘belonging to no man,’ into ‘making love to no man.’ Due to this historical inversion, women who emboy the original meaning of ‘virgin’ are often labelled ‘slut’ for their refusal to submit. These are the ways we are encouraged to disembody our feminine power.
Women without carnal knowledge became currency when secular marriage became a contract. It began as a business agreement between nobility and nations. Love was denied. Sacred union became big business between royal families. Powerful, ecstatic, lustful women were thus perceived as threats to the status quo; if she would not deny her sexuality and her libido she was no good for marriage deals. Forced into the shadow, men continue to “seek her out discreetly. [They] will find her in the prostitute, in the secret lover, in the dark romance, in the internet pornography. She will seduce him in his dreams and fantasies; she will be his femme fatale. Afterwards he lashes out at himself, and at her, and endeavours to establish a society ‘without such disgraceful phenomena’.” Ohad Ezrahi.
This wild embodiment, this libido, this life-force is needed to bring back balance.
My deep connection to the sacredness of life, to nature and the mystical totally immersed me in the quickening power of my teenage body and mind, freeing me up from adult control. There was beauty, love and possibility all around me. I already intuited the spiritual path of free expression, creativity and love – my life was art. In my family home my mother was equal to, and more dominating than, my father. With my connection to nature intact and a noticable absence of tv programming, I had much less to block my psyche, my natural urge to sovereignty and exploration. I was a virgin, and like the virgins of old, I belonged to no one.
Of course, the suburbia I found myself awakening into had decided long ago that a woman’sfreedom of expression threatened the status quo, and that made me an Eve who would not repent. No one mentioned Lilith. She was not in the Bible in the school chapel. There were no role models to support my expression and guide me into my power as a natural woman. So I was just wild, untamed, and perceived as a threat. To try to tame me, labels like ‘slut’ were slapped on me.
Jane, the Prefect, and Anna, the Reverend’s daughter, had many boyfriends but they escaped such labels. I didn’t have any boyfriends, just some encounters with curious boys, which amounted to much less sexual promiscuity than the ‘good girls.’ Those girls, however, avoided such labels.
In Promiscuities (1997) Naomi Wolf says a slut is a label for a woman who is wild and free and powerful, beyond the girly paradigm. Such labels, in fact, had the opposite effect to taming me and I steadily became more free. This is Naomi’s story of Dinah –
“She became the slut because of conditions so tangential that they could almost have never been; or it could as easily have been someone else. She was poor; that is, poorer than the other white kids. And her body changed faster than many of the other girls’. Her breasts were large and high by seventh grade – but that had happened to other girls too. So that was not all; it was how she decided to carry them that did her in.
“It was her posture. She refused the good-girl slump, the binder held across her chest. She would not back down and rest her weight on her pelvis and ruin her line. Instead she flagrantly walked with her spine extended to her full height, her back slightly swayed.
“Knowing the dusty afternoons in the proscenium in her living room, I understood what she was doing with her tailbone tucked under, her torso supple and erect like a figure on the prow of a ship, and her feet turned carefully out: she was being a star.” Naomi Wolf.
Some young women are being stars, and some are athletic artistic anarchists, life force pulsing through our blossoming bodies, deeply connected to feminine magic undulled by suburban mediocrity. I was being a neophyte in the temple of the goddess. And so, just like Dinah, and countless other powerful young women, “class had declared her a slut by fourteen, when she was still technically a virgin.”
What I did not know as a teenager was that the culture I was growing up into had declared all women whores a long time ago, and many believed this despite the Feminist Revolution. I was the heretic, believing that women and men were equal, how I saw my parents, and my relation with boys. Walking my truth in the world, people wanted to ‘put me in my place.’ They still do.
This milieu of love denied is not my place. When will we realise that the splitting of Eve and Lilith, the denigration of femininity, denies power to everyone.
“Our wild aspect, our ancient natural animal side has been rejected and usually seen as a dark shadow that needs to be dominated by the civilized one. But when this wild woman – Lilith – is rejected, she accepts this untrue assumption that sees her as an evil force, and develops a self-image of a Demon. When this happens, an endless struggle between the civilized and the wild aspects within human psychology is perpetuated. Lilith is rejected, and then tries to hit back and dominate men, using sexual power. Men feel disrespected and frightened, and battle back. Humans attempt to dominate nature, and nature pays back strongly through an ecological crisis, shattering the conditions in which life can blossom.” Ohad Ezrahi.
Do you remember the pastimes of the temple priestesses? Do you remember dancing and singing in the temples? Wooden temples, circles in meadows, stone acropolis, groves of ancient trees, grandmother’s cottage, on granite under stars… Remember Wiccans dancing ecstatically beneath full moons, Dionysians drinking wine and playing music in the temples, Eleusinians secretly gathering in rapture for initiation ceremonies, peasants running into the bushes with lovers at Beltane, Dakinis sprinkling juice in tantric rituals. These are tales of wild humanity in thrall of the pleasure of being alive.
This is what we love! Wild dancing, singing and fun!
Being wild together is one way to energize our feminine side. A safe space to accept our wildness into is essential. Women need to do this together with other women, and gain the trust and sisterhood to bring this juicy, innocent wildness into the public arena. Women have been conditioned to be wild in the presence of men, in the bedroom, the strip club, at the drunken social gathering (often creating danger), but to mistrust the presence of other women. Our attention so directed because we are entrained to see men as our safety and support. Thus it was so for many dark ages; other women were competition to our survival.
Back then, sadly it was so. It is no longer true that women need men to survive, and that we cannot trust our sisters. Now it is more true to say; as we don’t come together as a collective deeply connected to our feminine, we are dying.
“Until now, power has been defined exclusively in masculine terms. If you look up the word ‘power’ in the dictionary, the definition is given as the ability ‘to do, to act, to accomplish, to wield command or control over others’. The masculine power system has given us the miracles of science and the marvels of industry. It has enabled us to create an unprecedented standard of living and have opportunities beyond our grandmother’s wildest dreams. It was a brilliant strategy for us to collectively take on mastering the masculine power system some fifty years ago, to level the playing field between men and women and emancipate ourselves from the tyranny of oppression.
“Though there is still a long way to go, especially on a global scale, we have become the most autonomous, free, independent, educated, and powerful generation of women in recorded history. In fact, the yearnings we have for self-expression, spiritual partnership, creativity and contribution, are high quality problems we’re now navigating as a result of unprecedented success at mastering power in the masculine. It is an odd paradox that the kind of power that has brought us to this point is not the power we now need to move forward.” Katherine Woodward Thomas.
It is a challenging concept for most of us; that there is another kind of power which we ought to be mastering… yet not mastering, as mastery is a masculine concept. It is more challenging for men to acknowledge that they have feminine side which needs honouring. Even men who think they are ‘in touch with their feminine’ are often only accepting Eve, the soft romantic view they have of womankind.
Women, we have a responsibility to embody Lilith, so we all may evolve. Lilith is free from concepts of hierarchy and control. She knows she is equal, but different. She loves to make love – to life, and she knows her worth.
Most modern psychologists accept that expressing our emotions is good for us. We are used to doing this with cognitive therapy, such as counselling, affirmations, talking about how we feel. Cognitive therapy is well within the masculine healing archetype. What many practitioners now find is that bodywork and expressive therapies are more effective at moving deep emotions, than talking about them. Simply, it’s easier to dance and sing and scream it out of our psyche. Movement is Shakti – dancing, swimming, nature walks, art, bodywork, yoga, singing, making music, self-pleasuring and making love. What we really need cognitive therapy for is – if we can’t yet connect with expressive therapy, it can help us feel safe to try new things.
The ancient stories of the eternal goddess and the god who is reborn, celebrated in temples and rituals across the planet, are a reflection of the natural phenomena of the elixirs of life present in tantric union. Somehow expressive therapy re-enacts this, and reconnects us to ancestral roots. Whether the union we practise is dancing, kriya yoga or running orgasmic energy through our bodies, we are awakening Shakti, the archetypal goddes of the nectars of all life. In our embodiment of the juicy Lilith archetype, or Pele, or Yeshe Tzyogel, we are reclaiming the power of this archetypal feminine within ourselves. Once we activate this in union with Shiva, the eternally present consciousness, we are reborn.
Goddess is only relevant here on Earth. It is from Earth that we humans look, and see the blessed duality of goddess and god. Goddess only comes from Earthly perception; goddess is born from this Earth. She is within us. We are goddesses birthing. Guided by the goddess? Relinquish control and be welcomed into the realms of feminine power. This is how it has always been… we just forgot that we die and we are reborn in the loving arms of the goddess.