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Lilith

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Lilith

Winged female DEMON of the night who flies about searching for newborn children to kidnap or strangle, and sleeping men to seduce in order to produce demon sons.

Lilith evolved from Babylonian and perhaps Sumerian demonologies, which included male and female evil spirits that molested children. Lilith figures prominently in Jewish demonology.

Lilith has a female face, wings, and long hair. She flies about at night with a horde of demons, using tens of thousands of names to disguise herself. She visits women in childbirth and sleeping men, from whose nocturnal emissions she creates her demon sons. 

LilithThere are different versions of the story of how Lilith came into being. According to one, she encountered Adam after his split with Eve and had sexual relations with him that produced the demon sons who fill the world. According to another version she was the first woman to have sexual relations with Adam, and thus was his wife. Lilith demanded equality with Adam, and, and failing to get it, she left him in anger. She said the Ineffable Name of God and flew off into the air. Adam complained to God that his wife had deserted him. God then sent three angels, Sanvi, Sansanvi, and Semangelaf (Snwy, Snswy, and Smnglf), to bring Lilith back to Eden. The angels found her in the Red Sea, and threatened her with the loss of 100 of her demon children every day unless she returned to Adam. She refused and was punished accordingly. Lilith took revenge by launching a reign of terror against women in childbirth, newborn infants—particularly males—and men who slept alone. She was forced, however, to swear to the three angels that whenever she saw their NAMES or images on an AMULET, she would leave infants and mothers alone.

This story has Christian versions, in which the name of Lilith varies and the angels are replaced by the saints Sines, Sisinnios, and Synodoros.

A Kabbalistic story tells that Lilith became the bride of Samael (Satan). She will exist until the Messianic day, when God will cleanse evil from the face of the earth. 

Various charms and AMULETS protected the vulnerable against her predations. Women in childbirth were protected by amulets bearing not only the names of the three angels but also their form, wings, hands, and legs, which were affixed to all four walls of the birthing room. The incantation “To her that flies in rooms of darkness—pass quickly quickly Lil[ith]” was said to protect homes. New marriages were protected from Lilith by the tossing of four coins on the marriage bed and saying “Adam and Eve” and “Avaunt thee, Lilith!”

As late as the 18th century, it was a common practice in many countries to protect new mothers and infants with amulets against Lilith. Male infants were vulnerable for the first week of life; girls for the first three weeks. Sometimes a MAGIC circle was drawn around the lying-in bed, with a charm inscribed with the names of the three angels, ADAM AND EVE, and the words “barring Lilith” or “protect this newborn child from all harm.” Sometimes amulets with such inscriptions were placed in all corners of and throughout the bedchamber. If a child laughed in its sleep, it was a sign that Lilith was present. Tapping the child on the nose made the demon go away.

Men who had nocturnal emissions believed they had been seduced by Lilith during the night, and had to say incantations to prevent the offspring from becoming demons. Lilith was believed to be assisted by succubi in her bloodthirsty nocturnal quests, and these gathered with her near the “mountains of darkness” to frolic with Samael. The Zohar describes Lilith’s powers as being at their height when the moon is on the wane.

Lilith also could be repelled by the saying of any of her numberless names. The basis for this comes from the story (probably Christian Byzantine in origin) about how the prophet ELIJAH confronted her as she was en route to attack a woman’s newborn son, and “to give her the sleep of death, to take her son and drink his blood, to suck the marrow of his bones and to eat his flesh.” Elijah forced her to reveal some of her names. Then he excommunicated her.

Lilith probably is related to the Judeo-Hellenistic demon Obizoth, who is repelled by an amulet bearing one of the mystical names of the archangel Raphael.

According to Islamic mythology, her sexual relations with her infernal husband, IBLIS, created the demonic DJINN. 

Lilith-like demons appear in mythologies around the world. She also is associated with other characters in legend and myth, including the Queen of Sheba and Helen of Troy. In medieval Europe she often was portrayed as the wife, concubine, or grandmother of Satan. In the late 17th century she was described as a screech owl (probably originating from a reference in Isaiah), blind by day, who sucked the breasts or navels of young children or the dugs of goats.

Some of Lilith’s best-known names are: Abeko, Abito, Abro, Abyzu, Ailo, Alu, Amiz, Amizo, Amizu, Ardad Lili, Avitu, Batna, Bituah, Eilo, Gallu, Gelou, Gilou, ‘Ik, ‘Ils, Ita, Izorpo, Kalee, Kali, Kakash, Kea, Kema, Kokos, Lamassu, Odom, Partasah, Partashah, Patrota, Petrota, Podo, Pods, Raphi, Satrina(h), Talto, Thiltho, Zahriel, Zefonith. 

 

Sources:  Mercatante, Anthony S. An Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend. Frenchs Forest, Australia: Child & Associates Publishing, 1988. Scholem, Gershom. Kabbalah. 1974. Reprint, New York: Dorset Press, 1987.




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