Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lilith, Eve and The Black Madonna

(Image from here - click to enlarge)

I just finished the Virgin a Day meme that Rebecca was hosting.  It was a great experience for me focusing on The Black Madonna and Her many representations.  It made me stretch because I still instinctively recoil from patriarchal religions and "their" images and "their" interpretations of those images. Writing about The Black Madonna finally forced me to take Her out of the Catholic church and reclaim and interpret Her for myself - I had to find my voice about Her and say what I felt, what I thought.  And put it down in writing, not just let it float around aimlessly in my little brain.  And then let anyone who was interested read what I had written.

I would be exposed.

Writing does that.

And now I have to go a little further with my interpretation of The Black Madonna.

She is The Earth.  And Earth, to me, is Female.  She is how Life is manifested here as human on this planet.  I don't like the word God or even Goddess; I prefer Life - Infinite and Eternal in all its expressions everywhere.  It's one of the reasons I like the term Tao.

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

Mary, The Black Madonna, The Goddess (insert name here), are the human faces of Earth, who has many, many faces or facets, not just the human one. She is here to teach us about Life via Her prism, Her Being - just as Life projects itself through Her, perhaps as our Star-Sun, teaching Her about itself. Our direct experience of Her gives us a glimpse of and some knowledge of Life. And, hopefully we gain Wisdom.  Others' interpretations are not mine, but may lead me to the direct experience of Her.  I have to remember this because, otherwise, I tend to get exasperated and start rolling my eyes when I read some of those interpretations.

The "official story" of Lilith and Eve is one of those interpretations that really gave my eyeballs a workout.  Now that I've found an alternative to the "official story," it has opened the door to other ways of perceiving these two women/female archetypes.  Humor has always been a good door to open when I find myself in that place of impatience and judgment. That is how I found the following article.  I enjoyed it and the entire thing is worth reading.  I've only excerpted the final part of it.

Lilith, Eve and The Black Madonna - One and the Same (not the name of the story).
Having failed in the attempt to reconcile the original pair God then provided Adam with a new mate in the form of Eve whom God fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs. This would make Eve the first trophy wife.  ** 
Lilith however, like most maltreated wives wasn't about to let the matter end there.  According to the original version of the story, Lilith was said to have returned to the Garden of Eden in the form of a snake.  A spokesman for snakes however denied that any snakes had been involved and in a subsequent version of the story Adam claimed that Lilith had returned in the form of a serpent instead. Seeing how it is that even to this day people cannot agree on exactly what a serpent is, this version of the story is the one that has stuck.  
The story goes on to say that Lilith took Eve aside and that Lilith persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge which then awakened Eve to the realization that what was going on in the Garden of Eden was all an illusion.  A modern version of events would probably have it that Lilith persuaded Eve to take a women’s studies course at the local community college which awakened Eve to the realization that she shouldn’t be accepting less pay as a woman for doing the same job as a man. Either way, the party was over and God voided Adam and Eve’s lease, casting them out of the Garden of Eden and into the wilderness where Lilith was already homesteading. 
Which is supposedly how we all ended up in the mess we find ourselves in today; it was the woman's fault. 
Ever since this eviction from "Paradise" the patriarchal churches have vilified and defamed Lilith as demon and pariah, but what exactly was Lilith's crime? Undiplomatically, Lilith had asserted the claim she and Adam were created equally and should be treated equally, thereby challenging outright the male hegemony on which these churches have based their authority.  
Lilith is the primeval free spirit and to some, the first feminist, an idea that still does not go over well today. The message in the story of Lilith, the "screech-owl", is about having a voice and using it. Lilith continues to speak and sometimes even scream against the continued misogynistic calumny that is railed against her. 
This Goddess refuses to go quietly away.

(Image from here)

And lastly, a poem (h/t Hecate) which is perfect for the image at the top of the page.  

Fearful Women

Arms and the girl I sing - O rare
arms that are braceleted and white and bare

arms that were lovely Helen's, in whose name
Greek slaughtered Trojan. Helen was to blame.

Scape-nanny call her; wars for turf
and profit don't sound glamorous enough.

Mythologize your women! None escape.
Europe was named from an act of bestial rape:

Eponymous girl on bull-back, he intent
on scattering sperm across a continent.

Old Zeus refused to take the rap.
It's not his name in big print on the map.

But let's go back to the beginning
when sinners didn't know that they were sinning.

He, one rib short: she lived to rue it
when Adam said to God, "She made me do it."

Eve learned that learning was a dangerous thing
for her: no end of trouble would it bring.

An educated woman is a danger.
Lock up your mate! Keep a submissive stranger

like Darby's Joan, content with church and Kinder,
not like that sainted Joan, burnt to a cinder.

Whether we wield a scepter or a mop
It's clear you fear that we may get on top.

And if we do -I say it without animus-
It's not from you we learned to be magnaminous.

Note:  I happen to love Lilith.  On my old blog, I posted about Her and many years ago, I wrote a long poem about Her (you can find the link to the poem in the post).

** I think Lilith could be the Founding Mother of the First Wives' Club.


  1. Reading your blog is like being in a classroom I want to be in. LOVED that poem about many layers, oh, it is perfect. You are amazing Kathy♥


Oh, look Toto - we have visitors!