Subject Area

Women and Gender Studies

Abstract

In some cultures, the earth, moon, water, and love are associated with the feminine. In others, women and their divine counterparts rule over war, death, demons, and destruction. The duality of good versus evil in feminine figures has intrigued cultures for thousands of years. In fact, the dichotomy of feminine archetypes has provided a basis for speculation and research since the beginning of recorded history.

Lilith, who appears in the world’s oldest text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, is one mythological figure who remains a point of fascination. She is the oldest goddess-demon figure from the Sumero-Babylonian era and the sole surviving demon from the ancient Judaic tradition. Furthermore, Jewish folklore tells us that Lilith was God’s first female creation, Adam’s wife before Eve, thus explaining the inconsistencies in the creation stories of chapters one and two of Genesis. As the story goes, Lilith fled the Garden of Eden when Adam refused to allow her the superior position during sex, hence the formation of Eve from Adam’s rib.

Even though Lilith’s prominence has waned over the centuries, her duality and the duality of many goddess figures have been ever present. In this paper the legends of Lilith, from her first mention in Gilgamesh to references in the modern era, will be discussed. Today, she is the poster child for dark goddesses throughout time. However, she has been sorely misaligned, for Lilith was not always a dark goddess. Originally, she represented the mystery, the strength, and the sexual vitality of womanhood.

Brief Bio Note

Yvonne Wichman traded a corporate boardroom for a college classroom in 1989, becoming a freshman at age 40 and the first in her family to attend college. Today, she teaches composition, literature, and gender studies at Kennesaw State University in Metropolitan Atlanta. Yvonne’s research focus is mythology, specifically goddess motifs in art and literature. She recently appeared in an AIB-TV special, Feminine Representations of the Divine, discussing the Sumero-Babylonian goddess, Lilith.

Keywords

Lilith, Sumero-Babylonian, Mythology, Goddesses, Hebrew, Biblical, Feminine archetypes, Women’s studies, Jewish folklore, Inanna

Location

Coastal Georgia Center

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

4-7-2016 2:40 PM

End Date

4-7-2016 3:00 PM

Embargo

9-18-2015

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 7th, 2:40 PM Apr 7th, 3:00 PM

Lilith: Quintessential Bad Girl or Simply Misunderstood?

Coastal Georgia Center

In some cultures, the earth, moon, water, and love are associated with the feminine. In others, women and their divine counterparts rule over war, death, demons, and destruction. The duality of good versus evil in feminine figures has intrigued cultures for thousands of years. In fact, the dichotomy of feminine archetypes has provided a basis for speculation and research since the beginning of recorded history.

Lilith, who appears in the world’s oldest text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, is one mythological figure who remains a point of fascination. She is the oldest goddess-demon figure from the Sumero-Babylonian era and the sole surviving demon from the ancient Judaic tradition. Furthermore, Jewish folklore tells us that Lilith was God’s first female creation, Adam’s wife before Eve, thus explaining the inconsistencies in the creation stories of chapters one and two of Genesis. As the story goes, Lilith fled the Garden of Eden when Adam refused to allow her the superior position during sex, hence the formation of Eve from Adam’s rib.

Even though Lilith’s prominence has waned over the centuries, her duality and the duality of many goddess figures have been ever present. In this paper the legends of Lilith, from her first mention in Gilgamesh to references in the modern era, will be discussed. Today, she is the poster child for dark goddesses throughout time. However, she has been sorely misaligned, for Lilith was not always a dark goddess. Originally, she represented the mystery, the strength, and the sexual vitality of womanhood.