Episode 18: Lilith, Eve & the Serpent
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What are the formative birth stories of your life? This is an important question to ask yourself as you prepare to give birth. You may think about the birth stories of your closest friends, family members, ancestors, and even media portrayals of birth. These stories influence and affect you, some in positive ways, some in not so positive ways. One kind of formative birth story that gets overlooked is the creation story. We are only as good as our creation story allows us to be. Yes, creation stories show us where we came from, but they can also show us where we're headed. They embody the full spectrum of human potential—what is the fullest measure of my creation and how can I rise to that?
Stephanie was raised in the paradigm of Western Christianity and was brought up with the story of Adam and Eve. As an adult she has studied many other creation stories, including evolution, and has made peace between these seemingly contradictory stories. Eve particularly was the most prominent female icon that she had been encouraged to emulate. There were so few female role models provided scripturally or historically, so Eve really stood out! But even though Eve was so revered, paradoxically she is punished for the choice she made. Why punish her for doing something good? If she was so righteous, why does she disobey God's command? Stephanie was determined to figure her out.
Other areas of interest were happening in Stephanie's life, including yoga teacher training which opened up the topic of Kundalini Shakti—the mystical feminine power represented as a serpent. It felt like a contradiction to the snake represented in the garden as Satan or evil. How does Eve get caught in the middle of these two interpretations? Was she tempted by the Devil or deeply in tune with her internal feminine power? Until Stephanie could crack this mystery she felt limited in her potential.
Stumbling upon the myth of Lilith shed profound light. The Midrash says that Adam had another wife named Lilith before Eve came alone. Lilith and Eve lived in the garden quite happily until the day that Lilith desired more equality in their relationship. Lilith sometimes asked to be on top when they made love but Adam refused. Over time, Lilith was done trying. She called out the forbidden name of God, causing her to grow wings and fly out of the garden. This angered Adam who also called out to God demanding help. God sent seraphim to chase after Lilith who then punished her. She was cursed to become a succubus who would seduce men in their sleep and prey upon newborn babies.
You can look up artwork and depictions of the Adam and Eve story and likely come upon a serpent with the face of a woman. This is where Lilith comes into play. The myth continues by saying that Lilith came to Eve in the form of a serpent, mentoring her to partake of the fruit. This was when things began to resolve in Stephanie's mind. We have been taught to spurn the serpent, when all along the serpent is actually our feminine power! And what if Lilith and Eve are not two women, but one. What if they have been separated out from one another. Eve represents the acceptable woman: long suffering, patient, kind, loving, supportive, and obedient. Lilith represents the demonic woman, or the succubus, but really only seeking equality with her partner, having sexual desire, emancipated, free-thinking, and independent. One was good, one was bad. But the serpent heals this rift. How ironic that we've been encouraged to be like one of the biggest rebels of scripture! Eve is a badass! Especially when she's merged back together with her Lilith counterpart!
Let's take a minute and list some qualities that we learn from these two archetypes and how it translates into the birth space.
Eve qualities: innocence, obedience, hard-working, responsible, commitment, dutiful, pre-pubescent, non-sexual, good girl, nice, etc. How can this serve us in the birth space? Preparing very thoroughly for birth, a high capacity to persevere and endure, grounded and committed to seeing it through, saying "YES," and obedience to self.
Lilith: flaming red hair, curves and sex appeal, wrapped in a snake, naughty, bad girl, rebelliousness, wanting equality, etc. How can this serve us in the birth space? Firing a bad provider, not putting up with abuse, determined self-advocacy, saying "NO," being loud and making noise, and embracing the animalistic.
Now here's a homework assignment for you! On a blank piece of paper create three columns with Eve, Lilith, and the Serpent at the top of each one. Take the time to write out your own qualities of each archetype. Then, google search these images and compare and contrast their visual representations. Observe their movement and body language. Bring it all together in how they can play an important role in your birth space.
For more information on Stephanie's work, visit bhavabirth.com