Let me begin by saying, I am in no way, shape or form a Christian scholar. I am the quintessential “spiritual not religious” type who looks for Spirit in everything, where I believe it always exists. The interesting parts of the Lilith and Eve story is how I see it present in society as archetypes in our collective consciousness (specifically in Western consciousness where old religious belief systems still serve as an undercurrent foundation.) Today, I focus on the concept; how these archetypes show up in every day life. Whether you or I believe the stories to be true, allegory or just food for thought, I toss out something to chew on to see if it resonates.
I only recently learned about Lilith as a character in Genesis 1:27, before Eve was presented in 2:22.. There are many vantage points to see her story from, and ultimately she was vilified and considered a demon. How often human eyes do this when something doesn’t feed their version of what is right and good. Looking at this from an outside vantage point as to the time and patriarchal culture at the time this was written, I’m not surprised.
Lilith, according to the writing, was created from the same clay as Adam, with equal strength, power and autonomy (vs Eve from the rib of Adam later.) When Lilith was unwilling to concede to always being the bottom of missionary position sexually (and wanted her turn in the dominant position) she ultimately left the garden to be free in the world. There are different takes as to how she ultimately came back (one being brought back by force of three angels, negotiating her way out by not demonizing babies in exchange for her future spawn being born of demon blood, and another where she returns after mating with an archangel and tales of exploration of the larger world outside of the garden.) In the end, she leaves, as she will not tolerate being subservient in the garden.
Enter Eve. Upon Adam’s request that he be given a wife who will stay put and birth babies, Eve was created (again, not out of the same clay, but this time from his rib) in hopes of producing a more docile, subservient woman who could focus on being a wife and a mother to their children.)
Again, how much we believe or don’t believe in the stories or years of perspective on them isn’t the point. The reality is, Lilith and Eve as archetypes present commonly within many women in our society, and the grapple between them often becomes even more pronounced once marriage and/or children come into the picture.
As Applied to Partnership
There’s no doubt in my mind that a cultural shift is happening, bringing the feminine into more natural alignment with the historically masculine-dominated collective. I see it daily in dynamics of relationships, approaches to parenting, and permeating the media. Sometimes it over-corrects to a fault, which happens when any aspect of self is suppressed, suffocated, and has to explode in order to find it’s natural place among all our various pieces of self.
Eve has been revered as the ideal wife and mother that we should all aspire to become, whether we are spiritual, religious or not. An interesting phenomenon I often see, even in the most progressive couples, is a subconscious retraction to this Adam and Eve dynamic once the relationship becomes “domesticated” (and even more so when children are born.) Liberal feminist men will find themselves wondering why the woman isn’t keeping the house clean, even though they both work full time. Fiercely independent women will build resentment that their partners won’t “let” them do what they want, subconsciously putting him in the position of power simply by framing it as a question.
Obviously in a partnership, open communication and flexibility is required. Sometimes there are scheduling conflicts, babysitting plans that must be made, and real money needs to be in the bank. But the subconscious dynamics of the default “man in charge” thing seems to creep in over time for both partners, unless it’s intentionally addressed again and again so both feel they are each a 100% autonomous equal half of the partnership.
Once babies are born, it becomes even more intense (especially due to natural factors like maternal instinct and needing mama/baby time, breastfeeding, etc.) By nature, that places the woman at home (for the tiny duration our society allows for maternity leave), and the man at work. (As a side note – these archetypes aren’t limited to presenting in only hetero relationships. Think “masculine/feminine” instead of “man/woman”. I’ve seen it just as commonly in same-sex partnerships. For these purposes, I’ll continue with the hetero example.)
So now the man is at work, mom is home with the baby, and of course, there’s the house and feeding of food. For any of you who have had a baby, you know the crazy that is trying to take care of all the things, all the time – ultimately without “the village” – and generally things fall by the wayside. We’re already trying to parent out of our natural state, without help from our tribe, in a lifestyle where time is already squeezed to the brim in order to break even financially.
Collective Cultural Eve Structure
Unfortunately, what most commonly gets de-prioritized is the mother’s happiness and sanity. My working theory is this is where the Eve archetype really presents in full martyr-style – the mother is expected to sacrifice herself and her happiness for the good of everyone else. For the family. Put her career and dreams on hold. Don’t go out with friends; that’s selfish. Basically become a shell of her true spirit in order to be a mom. This, to me, is probably the worst casualty of revering Eve as the “good mother” (implying anything other than that is “bad.”)
So what happens as a result? Mom guilt. Resentment of partner (as maternal instinct will probably keep it off the baby.) Exhaustion. A feeling of the true spirit and colorful self withering away into a grey wash in the name of “being a good mom.”
By nature, I’m probably 75-80% Lilith. Like most women in the West, the nagging desire to get married and have kids sure did a number on my ability to just live, love, and flow without an end-game. Some of that was intuition (the tapping into my future child) and some of that was insecurity that I would never “get” a partner, and of course, what would that say about my own value? The insatiable search for a partner to validate me caused me more strife, created more insecurity and more throwing self-respect out the window in the name of being wanted.
If Left Unaddressed…
I had a pretty progressive husband by all counts. He knew me before I was a wife or a mother. He knew me as the fiercely independent spirit that I am (while still grappling with that Eve-society need). I gave up my business, my dreams, my lifestyle, and way too much of myself when we discovered we were pregnant. The subconscious Eve presented, and I was in such a whirlwind that I couldn’t recognize what was going on, and I fell right under it.
In turn, my defense mechanisms started kicking in. It started feeling like I was fighting for my very soul’s survival. While in retrospect, I don’t think it was truly under threat, the perception of that inside of me created some severe defenses which lashed out, over-corrected and attacked upon the smell of danger. When someone with a lot of natural Lilith succumbs to the pressure of Eve society, bad things happen in the body and mind.
Eventually my body started to break down. I was a numbed-out robot on autopilot, just trying to get through the day. I was under chronic stress, exhaustion from the anxiety presenting as white-hot rage, and barely breathing under the depression. I feared I may have lost myself for good, and no matter how much therapy I did, communication techniques we tried, and rationalizing my mind that I was doing the right thing, the body doesn’t lie.
I blame my ex-husband for none of this, as this drama played out on top of him. This was about me not stepping up and being who I truly was as a partner and mother, and unwilling to admit the truth to myself that while we were clearly spiritually chosen to be our son’s parents, being in a partnership with each other was not reasonable. I was too scared to look at it, so it built up within me until it popped.
I had a “come to Jesus” meeting with my Higher Self one night, after I was crazy triggered by some event that had happened in the day. I asked for clarity – finally. I thought I’d been trying to find the answers, but I was too afraid to go to the place where the actual healing lay. As soon as I really asked, I got a full-blown lecture from my true spirit.
“You are NOT down for the count Meghan Shannon! You have so much to do in this lifetime and you know it. You are a person who believes in following your heart and intuition, and you’re doing none of those things! You’re out of integrity and you know it. What kind of mother can you be from here, functioning the way you are? What kind of model are you teaching your son? Sacrifice the self at all cost, even though it’s actually making it worse? Is this what you want him to think a partnership looks like? You’re teaching him what to expect out of women! Do what you need to do, and have some damn faith for once. Everyone will be okay. Everyone will be so, so much better in fact. Stop fucking around, and do what needs to be done. You’re happiness counts too.”
The Hardest “Being in Integrity”
Well damn, that was between the eyes. Deciding to get divorced was hands down, the hardest ‘being in integrity’ I’ve ever had to do in my life. And it exploded – ungracefully and inappropriately timed – because I had let it build too much to stop the internal pressure. I learned so much of what not to do, both to myself and to a partner, and I will forever be grateful to my ex-husband, for whatever aspect on a soul-level my agreed to ride this process out with me for the good of our child.
And we are okay. We are so, so much better. Our son is an amazing, loved, brilliant being. He’s getting his real mother, not the archetype fed to him from old religion and society. That’s who he signed up for, and that’s who he deserves.
Since the divorce (and all the lessons that came with it) my Eve belief system from society has pretty much released. I am clear I don’t want any more children, nor to do I have a desire to marry again. I am clear that any relationship I’m in needs to be open, and respectful of my own sexuality as it varies from the hetero-norm. I’m clear that I will always need a room that is mine, and that a functioning partnership should make me feel more free, not less. It requires levels of emotional maturity and impeccable communication with all things. It requires me to be willing to stand in who I am and let a partner do the same, working together with that same intent in mind.
I’m not saying people should run out and get divorces. I’m saying to the women who may be grappling with the internal Lilith and Eve within themselves, don’t pretend it’s not in there. Suppressing Lilith in the name of Eve makes it worse, and eventually will explode and cause damage without your consent. Use the nurturing mother and supportive partner aspects of Eve, and keep the fierceness of the empowered feminine alive and well at the same time.
Be bold, and put everything on the table for communication. Everything. Talk about open relationships if that’s what your feeling. If the communication isn’t to that point, then work on that. Do whatever you need to do to be able to be yourself, be real, and create a space so your partner can do the same. No one owns anyone. Every person is 100% autonomous and choosing to share in an experience together so they both grow, creating something greater than they could have done individually. Isn’t that the whole point of a relationship?
So pay attention to your body and spirit. Do not ignore the warning signs. Your partner probably wants the real you anyway. And if they are not a match, better to be real about that than to live a lie in an uncomfortable comfort zone.
Big love everyone:) You have the right to be who you are.
~ Meghan Shannon Elder @wildspiritualride
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