The Children of Lilith
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Although White Wolf once more intruded on this territory, the myths of the dark goddess Lilith provide fertile ground for vampire myth-making.Lilith plays a significant role in the origin story as recounted by Mother Viola Johnson, and several other groups also look to Lilith as the progenitor of vampires. Lilith makes no appearance in the Bible, but she is an intrinsic part of Rabbinic lore. Considered to be the first wife of Adam, Lilith has the distinction of being the very first person to be thrown out of Eden. In the folklore which surrounds her, Lilith is believed to have fled the garden and become the mother of demons. She developed over the years into a fearsome demoness in her own right who thirsted for the blood of infants. By other accounts, Lilith attacked mothers in childbed and sometimes young men foolish enough not to discourage her advances. Lilith appears in Babylonian mythology as well, and it's very likely that she was transplanted from this culture to the mythology of the Jews along with a great number of other myths (including the Flood) during the Babylonian Captivity.
Lilith began her mythological life as an evil spirit compared to a screech owl. Over time, she developed into a full-fledged night-demon, the lady of beasts and haunter of waste-places who was blamed for the deaths of infants in their cribs. In recent years, the story of Lilith has been caught up within the vampire subculture and her role as Queen of the Night has been greatly expanded.
The following story about Lilith was recounted to me around 1994 by a member of a Kent, Ohio group. At the time, the group claimed to be several decades old, with adherents in several other states, from New England to California. Although I lost touch with the one member of the Lilitu I had met back in 1997, I have since encountered another group calling themselves the Lilitu (children, or followers, of Lilith). These are located in the Southern US, but seem to have no connection to the earlier group aside from the name.
I have additionally run across a Temple of Lilith in New York City, but because the address seems outdated, have not been able to contact them in order to determine if they are part of the Lilitu or not. Several individuals, such as Mother Viola Johnson in her book Dhampir, Child of the Blood, have theorized that Lilith was somehow involved in founding the first bloodline of vampires. The following story is compelling because it concerns not only the person of Lilith but also the figure of Cain, another mythological person many individuals have cited as the first vampire.
Significantly, there are alternate versions of Genesis in which Cain and Abel are supposed to have twin sisters. Cain's twin is known as Luluwa and Abels' twin is Aklemia. It is presumed that the brothers married their female counterparts and interestingly, the name Luluwa is a variant of Lilith. With that in mind, here is the story built upon my interview with Matthew:
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God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him. Male and female he created him. And he named the man “Adam” because he had come from the clay. Then God placed the man in the garden, in Eden in the East. And he formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air and every creeping thing. And these he brought before the man to name them. And whatever the man called each of them, that would be its name. And God gave man dominion over each named thing.
But the man was lonely, for among all the created beasts, none was a fit partner for him. And so God divided Adam, male and female he divided him, into two whole beings he divided him. And the first, which was Adam, became male. And the second, which was female, was Lilith. And Lilith was the likeness and equal of man.
And God told Adam and Lilith to go forth together in the garden. Lilith walked alongside Adam and saw the various wild beasts and the birds of the air and she called them by name. But the names which she spoke were not Adam's names. He grew wroth with her, as her names threatened his dominion over things. And so Lilith sought out things which the man had not named. To the secret, hidden things overlooked by Adam did she give names. The darkness after the sun frightened the man, and so he had shunned it, putting no name to what he feared. Lilith gave it a name, and she was frightened no longer. And she named the Night and the Moon and all the Stars of the Heavens, in addition to all the secret things. And over these things, did Lilith hold dominion.
Then Adam sought to lie down with Lilith. He stretched her out on the ground beneath him, but Lilith sat up atop his thighs. At this Adam grew wroth and sought to lay her again upon the ground beneath him. Lilith wrestled with Adam and sought to lie with him side by side, as equals. Then Adam grew very wroth and Lilith withdrew to the other side of the garden.
When God came seeking them both in the garden, he found only Adam. And God asked the man, “Where is Lilith whom I made for you out of your own being?” And Adam told God that Lilith had fought with him and refused to lie beneath him as he felt she should. “For do not all the wild beasts in the garden lie with their partners beneath them, the male atop the female?” So God went seeking Lilith. And he found her on the other side of the garden, beneath the Tree of Life.
And God asked of Lilith, “Why have you disobeyed the man I have given you to?”
And Lilith replied, “I have only refused to lie beneath him as a beast lies beneath its partner. I am no beast. Did not you create me yourself from Adam to be the equal of Adam?”
And God was incensed with her boldness in speaking to him this way. And he cast her out of the garden and cursed her: “Because you have shunned the society of man, so will man and his descendents always shun you. Your desire will ever be for the company of man, yet his nearness will ever be loathsome to you. You will never find peace all the days of your life but you will be restless in your very heart. The night alone will comfort you, and to this with its shadows will you cleave. And you shall ever thirst for that blood which you begrudged the man, the blood of your maidenhead.”
And so Lilith left the garden. And she wandered alone in the wilderness, east of the garden of Eden. And before long she found she was with child, from when she had lain with Adam. And when it was her time, she brought forth a son and a daughter, male and female in the image of Lilith and Adam. And God's curse had fallen to both of them.
Then Lilith settled with her children in the land of Nod, east of Eden, and there she taught them all the secret things which she had lain claim to in the garden. And she taught them the names of the Night and the Moon and the Stars in the Heavens so they too could hold dominion over these things and no longer be afraid. And they dwelt in darkness, for the day was the dominion of the man.
And then it came about that Adam and his wife Eve were cast from the garden. And they wandered in the wilderness, wailing that their God had punished them. And Eve bore two sons, the first Cain and the second Abel. And Cain was a tiller of the fields and Abel was a keeper of beasts. And God demanded sacrifices from both sons, so that they may offer up the fruit of their labors to him. And Cain brought forth the fruits of his harvest, and Abel slew a firstling from his flock. And God was much pleased with the blood of the firstling, and he looked with favor upon Abel for this. And Cain, seeing that God so savored the blood, drew his brother into a field and slew him and offered the blood up in sacrifice. And God grew wroth at Cain for murdering his brother and he made him to wander the earth all the days of his life. And neither would the fields yield up their harvest to him any longer. And he put a mark upon Cain's forehead, so that all would know him on sight.
And Cain fled to Nod and encountered Lilith and her children living there. And Lilith looked kindly upon Cain, who had been made a wanderer like herself. And she took him in and taught him the secrets she had gained in the garden. And Cain learned the ways of Lilith and her children so that Lilith loved him as one of her own. And Cain took as his wife one of Lilith's daughters, and she conceived and bore for him a son. And Cain named his son Enoch. And thus through Cain was Lilith's line once more united with the children of man. And in time they lived uneasily among them, keeping separate in their hearts for thus was the curse that God had placed upon them.
Thanks go to Matthew for his insight into this tale.