a black moon and an imaginary earth

There have been recent themes for me of purification and purgation, accompanied by the physical purification of vomiting and fever associated with a 48 hour infection. More importantly though, it’s been about emotional and energetic purification from negativity.

I realize that I have to be free of such negativity, of the anger and fear which clogs us. To be porous and permeable, unclogged, letting the flow through, is an enormously rewarding, peace giving practice. And with that comes choices, to put the quality of my ambient inner state above distractions and demands which really don’t matter in reality.

Then I remembered stuff I read ages ago by Shakti Gawain about becoming a clear channel guided by intuition, and it all fit. Kinda like letting go into the rain, it feels absolutely great, and gets you soaked to the skin in a good way.

Funnily I also got to read about astrological Black Moon Lilith, and some of what I read I found a revelation. I’d tentatively guess that some issues connected to astrological BML have been at the root of my own negativity.

For those that are unfamiliar with this, Black Moon Lilith is an astronomical point determined by the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. The orbit of the Moon is an ellipse, and unlike a circle, an ellipse has two foci. In the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, the Earth forms one focus, and the other is a point in space. This second focus is called Black Moon Lilith by some astrologers.

picture showing Moon’s orbit and position of Black Moon Lilith – by Waybread, reproduced under Creative Commons 2.5 license

I’ve looked up a number of things on BML on the net. Some I found more helpful than others. Attempts to make her another face of “The Great Earth Mother Goddess” I found over arching, prematurely resolved, and uninsightful. Another article provided interesting background and certainly a valid opinion, but an over all negative one. What really connected was some things shared at Neptune Cafe, especially from Demetra George.

Now Lilith’s origins go back beyond Judaism, but what most people are familiar with is the Hebrew tradition of Adam’s original, equal wife* who would not accept submission beneath Adam, and left the Garden of Eden rather than be bound in a subordinate role. She goes to the deserts near the Red Sea, in the land of demons, and is implacable in her rebellion. Three angels are sent after her to persuade her to return:

  “Said the Holy One to Adam, ‘If she agrees to come back, fine. If not she must permit one hundred of her children to die every day.’ The angels left God and pursued Lilith, whom they overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the Egyptians were destined to drown. They told her God’s word, but she did not wish to return. The angels said, ‘We shall drown you in the sea.’

   “‘Leave me!’ she said. ‘I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female, for twenty days.’

   “When the angels heard Lilith’s words, they insisted she go back. But she swore to them by the name of the living and eternal God: ‘Whenever I see you or your names or your forms in an amulet, I will have no power over that infant.’ She also agreed to have one hundred of her children die every day. Accordingly, every day one hundred demons perish, and for the same reason, we write the angels’ names on the amulets of young children. When Lilith sees their names, she remembers her oath, and the child recovers.”

The Alphabet of Ben Sira, as quoted on  Valkyrie Astrology

According to this narrative Lilith makes her home in the world of demons, in an exile of extremes, her children demon children, doomed to die. Her interest in the affairs of humans is purported to be loveless lust and madness, causing trouble in childbirth, and killing infants. And she’ll take that, rather than go back to Adam, subordinate in paradise. Described as winged and capable of flight, she is sometimes compared to a night or screech owl.

Where the possibility of a redemption for Lilith started to develop its own myth I’m not sure entirely, but I’m presuming it would be the 19th century, and by 1895 the Scottish author George MacDonald had written a phantasy novel named after her, incorporating a version of this motif. As a figure she interested the Pre-Raphaelites, and the poet Robert Browning wrote of her, Adam and Eve in ways which recast the moral qualities of the characters. Clearly she has the makings of a potent anti-heroic figure, at least for a modern, romantic sensibility.

Whether Lilith wants any redemption seems quite doubtful from the accounts, but then in the traditional accounts the story has no end, but is stuck in a narrative cast by the authority she rebels against. But for our modern sensibility her story calls out for some kind of retelling, at least a spaghetti western where a woman with no name rides into town from death valley, or somewhere similar.

There is so much about the figure of Lilith which seems to resonate with denial, inequality, the unfair world, and the choice of selfhood. There is so much that could not be for Lilith. She doesn’t move town and find a more suitable new life, with or without a partner, there is no other town, just the land of demons. And she isn’t left alone there either, she is pursued by her angel bounty hunters with demands and threats and deals. Her children die, demons or no. What she becomes is destructive and malicious, and a rage against the good and the wholesome, the creative and the “natural”, but she is made of the same stuff as Adam, and was his equal, as good as him, but not treated equal, not cast in a world that gave her a place.

As BML is a point in space, the second focus of the Earth Moon ellipse, I think you could also think of BML as an imaginary Earth, the absent Earth, the Earth that just couldn’t be. You know it’s there because the Moon swings round the Earth the way it does, not in a circle. There’s something about Lilith which is about what could never be, and it relates to sex and lust and partnership, the potential of love and self transformed, nature and place in the world, denial and its counter-denial, betrayal and what betrayal engenders, gender and fertility and barrenness.

Whatever Lilith’s real story, and whether she actually wants redemption herself, you start to see that astrologically, for those who feel Lilith’s influence, authentic redemption and peace would surely be an issue.

Returning to the Neptune Cafe article, Dementra George gives a three fold process to “find and redeem” Lilith:

 “In the first phase we must confront all the ways in which we have been repressed and take a stand to uphold our integrity. The second phase of our archetypal journey leads us into exile of despair over our rejection, where the shadow plots and executes its revenge. And in the final phase of the process, Lilith cuts away the layers that obscure and distort her true nature.”

The article labels these phases “rebellion against subservience”, “flight into exile” and “release and redemption”.

If the Lilith myth and process as presented here speaks to me (and something in me certainly seems to answer to it) it is because it touches on issues of inequality and powerlessness borne in areas of intimacy, sexuality, gender, nature (and Nature), and place in the world.

“When Lilith speaks through us she is the voice who demands absolute equality in whatever situation we find ourselves (relationship, job, family, group, and so on)…. She will not cooperate in her own victimization, and will opt for no relationship as opposed to a bad one. Rather than be dominated and suppressed, Lilith accepts the loss of physical security, loneliness, and exclusion from society. In the forceful outburst of our repressed anger, we have the capacity to see and speak our truth.”

Demetra George via Neptune Cafe

And that may be true, though it makes it sound rather clean. But the level that this stuff works at is already so utterly involved, attached and plumbed in (you would think Adam would be Lilith’s de facto soul mate, but the “rules” have it wired impossibly), that this can’t really be clean. As bright and blissful and ecstatic as the initial potential is, it will be that gut wrenching, bloody and degraded in its denial. But Lilith’s action does not deny that potential, for her equality has to be there for the potential to be fulfilled, but her equality in this situation is made impossible by an imposed authority, whether of “God” or “Nature” or time and space. Lilith’s protest and rebellion I imagine in part as coming from this knowledge of ecstatic potential itself.

The second phase of the “flight into exile” is what happens when the understanding of the potential cannot be forgotten, but the denying “law” cannot be changed. As the potential is so bright, so ecstatic, and portends such union, the denial can only be otherwise. “Like a caged and wounded animal fleeing from its captor, desperately trying to find a hiding place in which to heal itself, Lilith flies off into the desert to seek refuge” as Demetra George says, but we might add “and howling revenge” here.

“Breeding demons” is not a bad way of putting the psychological experience of unhinged betrayal and ripped open rejection and denial of the heart and body’s most intimately sighted hopes and purposes. That these offspring are doomed to die is not finally surprising, for this is not a real world that the experiencer is caught in, but a world of grief and wounding. I remember such a state once, where for months upon months I felt as if I was carrying something dead inside me, where something treasured once grew. The flight is a place of terrible extremity and no rest, and no juggling with façades or mental emotional gymnastics can normalize the defeat, or protect us from the ravages of our own emotions, but it is not a place that we stay.

“Release and Redemption”, Demetra George’s third phase, is a different hope:

“When we are secure in acknowledging and expressing our true self, we do not falsify ourselves in order to be accepted by others. We are then not as vulnerable to becoming entrapped in situations that deny and disempower us, which is where Lilith’s self-destructive cycle begins…. After going to the root and cutting away all of the hidden and distorted aspects of Lilith’s shadow self, who perpetuates the cycle of conflict and separation, the black Lilith places all of our ego attachments into her cauldron for transforming. She then transmutes the poisonous accumulation into the wisdom nectar of lucid perception and conscious participation in unification.”


From my own experience of what sounds like this territory to me, faith in self, and life, opening up beyond social or spiritual fears, letting the juice of the Universe flow through you in dilated, open surrender, dark or light, with trust in it, is part of what leads to a regenerative power which is quite awesome and ecstatic in itself, and mind altering.

Because Lilith’s story as we’d been told it need not be so.

Your selfhood can come through these things, and write a different ending. And maybe that is part of Lilith’s gift. The Demon Queen has an unfinished story, and a story to learn from, draw from, but not one that can be lived by anyone else. Your own story will be different, because it must be the story of yourself, otherwise we haven’t learned the lesson that Lilith gives. You must be yourself, in the whole of your being.

Having recognized the rage, the desert landscape, the deep gut woundings and the hissing curses, along with the strange benedictions that draw aside the veil on a remade, earthly Eden, there is a peace with the world which becomes profoundly possible. An understanding of hurt. A knowledge of the non-necessary, and the naturalness of the “otherwise”. Compassion is too florid a word, but a clear, released quality seems to arise with that recognition.

Idangani Society mask – Brooklyn Museum [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

[minor edit 23nd June 2013]
* it has occurred to me, that just as the pre-Eve Adam could be considered a kind of hermaphrodite, two-in-one being (before Eve was taken out of “his” side, and the two halves separated), Lilith could also be considered a hermaphrodite or two-sexxed being, for they are explicitly made of the same substance.


  1. “Having recognized the rage, the desert landscape, the deep gut woundings and the hissing curses, along with the strange benedictions that draw aside the veil on a remade, earthly Eden, there is a peace with the world which becomes profoundly possible.”

    Your words remind me of my own spiritual journey of arising from the muck that I’ve been thrown into from such a very young age. When we get to a point where we want to be free, the world tries to limit our freedom to the standards set by gods and men. I want all of me and nothing else if that’s the way it has to be. In true freedom and individuality, I can find peace with the world around me, and hopefully allow others to find their own freedom.

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