Steffan Andersson on Lilith


  Apart from Lilith being Adam's first wife, she was also thought of as a demon queen with a following of minor liliths. These could be male as well as female. The origin of Lilith has been sought both in Roman and Babylonian demonology. But the question of origin might be pointless. Trachtenberg, writing about this says: "My point is that it is possible to belabor unduly the search for origins outside of the folk-mind and the folk-tradition." Anyway, Lilith was something like a demon of family life, on the one hand attacking infants and pregnant women, on the other hand seducing men in their sleep "...and cause them to have nocturnal emissions which are the seed of hybrid progeny."

   The male incubi-liliths achieved something similar that served as an explanation for miscarriages. On a Sumerian relief she is depicted as a naked woman having wings and claws [1]. According to J.A. Montgomery: "...the Lilith is associated with the personifications of barrenness and abortion." According to the same writer, she must have been scary to say the least: "...the other evil spirits are most often merely generical (sic.), anonymous, to whom the general compliment of a spell must be paid, but the Liliths are definite terrors, whose malice is specific and whose traits and names are fully known." Well that's about it. There is an article in Folk-Lore 1981 vol. 2 entitled "The Legends of Lilith" of something similar (I haven't read it myself).

   --Steffan Andersson

[1] The identification of the relief with Lilith has been disputed, see next post. [AH]


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