On Lilith, gender roles, and embracing the Wild
Originally published via Wordpress July 22, 2018.
Have you guys ever heard of Lilith? I had not until recently when my Reiki teacher who is also a professional astrologer read my natal chart and informed me that my galactic center conjuncts an asteroid called Lilith. She proceeded to tell me that according to folklore (and apparently religious texts), Lilith was a wild woman. She was the first woman God ever created from sediment to be the first wife of Adam. She was created as an equal to him.
However, Adam did not like this arrangement, for Lilith’s wild nature made her unsuitable for her role and Adam could not control her. Okay, so actually, the truth is - Lilith ran away. She ran away because Adam wanted her to make love in a subservient position. She demanded to be either side by side or on top, but he forced her into being beneath him anyways. So she fled. Because she fled, Lilith was transformed into a she-demon and began making with other demons, producing demon children. Three angels appeared to Lilith, telling her to go back to Adam and when she refused, they began killing her children. Obviously super pissed, our girl decided from then on to make it a quest to kill all of Adam’s children and grandchildren. So that’s how it goes.
Meanwhile, God created Eve from Adam’s rib. Eve represented the way that women “should be” and the way they continued to be viewed for centuries after- obedient, demure, gracious, respectful, feminine, subservient. It’s a fascinating story to look at in context of the history of social structure, gender roles, and patriarchy. Lilith was too wild. She would not submit. Thus God created Eve. Lilith was literally demonized for demanding to be an equal to Adam.
Still, despite the whole she-demon thing, I love that Lilith conjuncts my galactic center. After hearing her story, I immediately identified with her. My whole life I’ve been bad at sticking to the “norm” of what young girls should do. My dresses were always wrinkled, my hair all over the place, and for about 8 months straight I wore the same pair of flowy bell bottom Victoria’s Secret sweatpants with alternating tiny shirts in high school. I didn’t care; I thought I looked good.
I can be loud and I can be aggressive with my energy (like I might accidentally hurt you if I get excited to see you), and I still sit with my legs up in a dress which makes my mom get that really tight-lipped look on her face even though I’ll have shorts underneath. “You’re a lady,” she says. So?? What’s really wrong with any of that?
My husband and I have been living with my mom since January as we figure out our next move, and living with her again as an adult has been eye opening, especially when it comes to where my views on gender roles stem from. My mom is an old school traditionalist. She grew up in Soviet Russia and has very specific views on how women should behave and what they should do, as well as what the role of a man in the family should be (or in general.)
This is not to say that my mom isn’t an independent woman herself who came to this country alone at 24 with a child, fighting her way through going to school and working full time to re-educate herself as a computer programmer along which way she met my step dad who helped raise me. My mom is a crafty, creative, strong ass woman. The thing is, she doesn’t necessarily want to see herself that way. She would rather be a willowy, feminine creature that is the perfect counterpart for a strong, capable man. She could do anything she set her mind to (and most of the time she does...within her pre-conceived and self imposed barriers), but because of her limiting beliefs she feels that for certain things, she needs a man to take charge.
There’s nothing wrong with being feminine. Some people just are. But what IS wrong is filling your mind with the limiting beliefs that to be a proper woman, you must behave a certain way and surrender your strength to your “place.” You can’t lift heavy things. (Make your husband do it all himself- although you’re just as strong as a guy your size might be.) You cannot paint the deck yourself, you don’t know how (hire a man to do it for you.) A clean house is your responsibility, and let’s not forget sorting your laundry by color and delicates (After all, you’re a lady now.) You should always be working at a good job with insurance and benefits, but your husband especially should be.
Let me be clear. All of those things can be GREAT if that’s your flow, but when you start assigning gender roles and gender-based responsibilities, I’m out. I think really, that is what kills me. I don’t necessarily think “men are trash,” and should be squashed in order for those roles to be reversed or just strengthened in different aspects. I DO think that there are some people that are total trash, and injustice and abuse goes both ways. Women can be just as horrible as men, and not always because they were driven to that point.
Despite the fact that the patriarchy has dominated our social structure for centuries and has obviously been set in its throne of power since Biblical times, this doesn’t mean that to even the scales you have to completely tip them. Just because Lilith was turned into a demon for denying Adam and her children were killed did not make it okay for her to also kill innocent babies going forward. To create true balance we have to think outside of those very social structures instead of fighting the lines within them. And while men have gotten by with more pay, more opportunities, and more excuses for centuries, you can’t deny that in certain situations, women can get away with a hell of alot more than men can.
Of course there are certain stigmas, like the classic- if a guy sleeps around he is a “player” and might be respected or looked up to, while a woman who does the same is a “whore.” However, if a ship was sinking and there were only five lifeboats, you can bet anything that those lifeboats would be filled with women and children. Regardless of how much more men seem to get, they are raised to believe that ultimately their lives are expendable. Gender roles and expectations have always run both ways, and before we begin demonizing anybody, this is where a very careful evaluation of how we find balance within OURSELVES first comes into play. Every individual is a beautiful blend of both divine masculine and divine feminine energies, and I wish this was where our society would stand.
Every time I hear my mom make a traditionalist gender reference, I feel my insides cringe and feel myself pull more and more in the opposite direction. Of course, there are extremes. There were alot of times as a teenager that I made some awful choices ending in bad situations as a result of fighting this traditionalist control. One of those choices resulted in being raped at the age of 18 because I was trying to prove to myself that I was in charge of my own life, that I could hang out with whoever I want even though I didn’t know these people and was in a city literally across the country from home. Everything comes from somewhere.
Obviously, the answer is not to let your shadow side run wild and pillage and destroy your sense of self-worth in the process. It isn’t to feed the insatiable monster of lust and greed in search of validation for your primal identity (a cycle that is self destructive at best.) It wasn’t right what happened to Lilith, but she did turn to evil to avenge her pain. Her story represents so many facets of injustice, but also what can happen when the wild place within you takes control and goes too far. You can see how this story would be told in some societies as a means to keep women in their place- “Don’t step out of line, don’t be like Lilith.”
I know that having this asteroid appear on your chart can allude to a dark place. It can show us where we hold vengeance and a potential to turn to evil. However, I believe this view on Lilith is rooted in fear. It is laced with the same traditionalism that my mother makes me cringe with. It tells us - be weary, you don’t want to run wild and become a famous she-demon.
But aside from all of that bullshit that transpired to turn her evil, Lilith did not start out that way (and wouldn’t three angels killing your children because you wouldn’t have sex a certain way make you go psycho too?) So to me, I hold on to Lilith as I feel her in me- untamed, wild, and free. Because the truth to this story -before the tragedy that became myth- is that at our core, we are enough. Raw and rugged, accidentally abrasive. Outspoken and expressive.
Putting on makeup is fun. Dressing for the role can be fun. But that’s just it. It’s a role. And it does not define you. So find your core, find your roots. Go back to what feels good and right to YOU. Your style is your style, and if fitted, frills, or fem feels good to you then do it up. But never let anyone tell you how to be a proper lady.
***some of these historical facts were cited from The Llewellyn Journal's article "What Does Lilith Mean in Astrology" by Isabelle Ghaneh.
all photos courtesy of Nick Centore.