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Lilith Mashkim Ninanna

Contemporary neo pagan ideas of Lilith tend to see in her a sort of spirit of joyous ecstasy and female sexual potency. In the same vein there are also attempts of merging Lilith with Belili and Baalat given the motive of both names referring to a ‘beautiful maiden’. In fact these epitaphs refer back on Astarte-Ishtar as the Queen of these restless and disturbing spirits.

Lilith herself is a truly dangerous spirit, the Queen of lilins – she, herself the ecliptic daughter of Ishtar. Lilith is a volatile venusian potency balanced in itself, but prone to sow disharmony and frustration. She is a witch-protector, but is also a mother who feeds upon her own. Her mystery speaks of the beginning before beginnings and her grace is fear and tears. Her kindness is the black holes of exploding stars...

If we look at the Ugarit texts to our disposal, like Maqlû and of course the story of Gilgamesh it will appear that Astarte-Ishtar is in truth the Queen of the ‘beautiful maidens’ –the hostile as well as the benevolent ones – as they complete her totality.

Lilith, like Astarte-Ishtar possesses wings. The presence of wings suggests several matters; the relation with the winds being one – the connection with the Netherworld being another. The latter motive is found in the poem of Ishtar’s decent to the Netherworld where we read that the inhabitants are ‘clothed like birds, with wings for garments’. There is a agility to move between states and realms by spirits and divinities possessing wings.

Demonesses in general possess wings and in this case the winds take prime importance. In Mesopotamia the winds and their spirits were of great importance. The winds brought omens, blessings, demons – and illness. A cold northern wind in the night would be judged as inauspicious as the cool eastern breeze during the day would be seen as a welcoming spirit host blowing over the land. Maqlû speaks of Ardat-lili as an ‘ice woman’ and Lilith being an ice cold wind from the north. We find here the lilin spirits defined by ice, coldness and nocturnal winds. We all have witnessed cold winds blowing in the night that bends the branches on trees and generate a certain atmosphere of threat and danger. This is the winds from the wings of Lilith as she searches a window or door welcoming her.  

Some states that Lilith gave birth to the moon – but this is incorrect, the lilin’s are spirits that carry the winds of nocturnal Venus. They thrive in the light of the moon – the divine eye that watches over them – but the idea that Lilith is a moon goddess is most likely incorrect even if the beautiful maidens drench themselves in the silvery waters of the moon...

She is the beautiful maiden that dominates lions, like Astarte-Ishtar - this theme carry deep meaning – and one of them being a spirit that dominates the powers of the royal crown. We might understand this to take place in Astarte-Ishtar being the powers in the royal crown and the lilin being the forces that supports – and in case of rebellion, attacks. This means that the harmful effects of lilin in our life are always a consequence of welcoming these spirits in by allowing ‘the lion to go wild’...

In the Ugarit texts to our disposal we find the word KI-SIKIL-LIL-LA, being mentioned as a call for the ‘beautiful maiden'. Actually this is a word of power replicating the magical nature in the screech of owls. We see this charm or parts (Kilili) of it being used in reference to the spirit Orina lili who is said to be the ‘queen at the window’, used both to appease this spirit and drive it away.  A sick person seeing an owl at its window can be sure that he is haunted by lilins and can use the window for reciting counter conjurations to expel the spirits of disease. The illness implied would further support the connection with the Netherworld and the realm of Death.

It is not uncommon to see Lilith being referred to as a protective goddess, a joyous ecstatic force. Concerning Lilith’s joyous nature let us have a look at the Ugarit text speaking of the variety of demonesses and hostile influences and see how she is perceived:  

3. In all evil, your formula is life, 0h Marduk...
6. In the street, they (the demons) are produced by the Earth...
7. ... everything evil, every baneful thing,
8. every mortal thing,... to the Netherworld return
10. All evil, all sickness, which in your flesh or your muscles is
11. that the Enchanter of the gods so that the Sage asalluhi, from
your body he could make them...
16. Many are his maladies: I do not know all their names. They are
20. Ea has created them, the Earth has made them grow great...
22. the evil-redness, the evil-yellow, the ahhazu,
23. ... the fever, almu and allamu, the migraine and the headache
26. the evil alu...
27. the sassatu, the astu,
28. the labasu and the ahhazu, the hayattu, the
29. and the lilitu, the catarrh and the influenza

As we see, Lilith is mentioned together with a host of spirits that are hostile to human well being, further down we also find spirits like Namtar, epidemics and Unna, fever, being mentioned as demonic winds.   

Spirits like Lilith, Lamasthu, Agrat and Mahlat are all seen as spirits that are ‘going around the house’ and try to enter a household and cause premature death of males and infants – or a general wreaking of soul and spirit – especially of males. We are speaking of the phenomena we know as succubi.

Speaking of Lilith and Ardat-lili they are in our texts referred to by the same word, namely the Ishtar epitaph, Kilili – and seen as an owl sitting at the window. It is said that these owls sitting at the window provokes maidens to leave the bedchamber so they can feed upon the male. These spirits are aggressive virgins as recounted in one text translated by Landsberger in 1968:

Maid who (un)like other women no man impregnated,
Maid, who (un)like other women no man deflorated,
Maid, who in the lap of a husband had not had her sexuality
Maid, who in the lap of the husband did not remove her
Maid, whose pin was never loosened by a handsome man,
Maid in whose breasts was never (any) milk.

As we see, she is a sexual predator – translated into the power of sexual frustration. It is interesting to note that Astarte-Ishtar by sharing the word Kilili with the Lilù spirits and Lilith reveals a connection met in the nocturnal birds. In Maqlû 3 we also find the Ištaritu (votary of Ishtar) among the persons reputed to master the arts of sorcery and witchcraft.

It is here, where Astarte-Ishtar ad Lilith flows into One we find the sexual potency in full splendour. In this they are the erotic spark that enters dreams and eclipse the Sun - the succubi that seduces under a black moon and the divinity that make fertile land and flesh. On her own Lilith is the frenzy of sexual frustration, the cold embers of dead stars and the memory of blood on fire brought in cold windy nights where the tree branches scrapes at the windowpane seducing you to open up... 

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