Ask Ivor

Sheldon asks about Lilith.

Lilith is a character of Jewish folklore, a demon, similar to the Babylonian-Assyrian "night monster," Lilit or Lilu. Lilith is a vampire, said to be particularly dangerous to children.

It is also said of Lilith that she was Adam's wife, before the creation of Eve, but that she refused to submit to Adam, instead vanishing into the upper air, from which she comes to haunt the night.

In the Kabbalah, Lilith, queen of the demons, hungers not only for blood, but also spilled semen, which she uses to produce more demons.

Ivor asks himself: "According to a Sumerian fragment, Lilith is also the name of a young maiden known as the 'hand of Inanna,' sent by the Goddess Inanna into the streets to gather men for the temple... isn't all of this demon stuff just another example of the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition giving the female deity a bad rap?"

No. Inanna is regarded by some as more or less synonymous with the Paleolithic Goddess, but whereas the Paleolithic Goddess was worshiped as Nature, Fertility, and Life, Inanna is known as "lady of battles"; she is represented on a lion, with a weapon in her hand. Inanna wrathfully turns over her son (who is also her lover) to the demons in the Land of the Dead, because of his refusal to show proper respect.

Such corruption of Goddess-spirituality began long before the Judeo-Christians arrived on the scene. Inanna, Ishtar and Ashtoreth became subordinated to male deities like Enki and Baal, and such things as prostitution, genital mutilation, and child sacrifice entered into pagan worship. The Judeo-Christian attitude toward paganism was not a disparagement of the feminine, but an aversion to immorality.

The Judeo-Christian God, Yahweh, unlike the Sumerian God Enki, does not strive to subdue the Creatress; he is the Creatress: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Ge 1:27). The pronouns may be confused, but the idea is clear: Yahweh is as much female as he is male.

Nor does Yahweh, like the Canaanite God Baal, inspire his followers to burn their children in the fire as sacrificial offerings (Jer 19:4-5); rather, he commands his people to protect the underprivileged: "Do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood" (7:6).

Yahweh is both a father-figure and a mother-figure: in the book of Isaiah, Yahweh assures his people that he will not forsake them: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast? ...I will not forget you! ...As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you" (49:15; 66:13).

The incarnation of Yahweh, Yeshua (Jesus), lamenting over the hypocritical religious leaders of his day, cried out, "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Mt 23:37).

The Odes of Solomon (1st century) contain this wonderful imagery: "The Son is the cup, and he who was milked is the Father, and the Holy Spirit milked him, because his breasts were full, and it was necessary for him that his milk should be released, and the Holy Spirit opened his bosom and mingled the milk from the two breasts of the Father, and gave the mixture to the world without their knowing, and they who receive in its fullness are the ones on the right hand."