Now in the depth of the great abyss there is a certain hot fiery female
spirit named Lilith, who at first cohabitated with man. For when man
was created and his body completed, a thousand spirits from the left
side assembled around that body, each endeavouring to enter, until at
last a cloud descended and drove them away and God said: 'Let the
earth bring forth a living soul' (Genesis 1:24) and it then brought forth
a spirit to breathe into man, who thus became complete with two sides,
as it says, 'And he breathed in his nostrils the breath of life, and the
man became a living soul', and the holy spirit in him spread to each side,
thus perfecting itself. Afterwards God sawed the man in two and
fashioned his female and brought her to him like a bride to the canopy.
When Lilith saw this she fled, and she is still in the cities of the sea
coast trying to snare mankind. (Zohar III 19a)
ne morning I was sleeping late in the cool darkness of my cave. Someone was calling my name, "Lilith! Lilith! Wake up."
Slowly I opened my eyes and looked towards the entrance of the cave. Backlit by the bright sunlight I could just about distinguish the blurred shapes of three winged creatures.
"Go away," I moaned, "I'm sleeping."
"Lilith, wake up. We need to speak to you."
I couldn't fathom which of the heavenly visitors were speaking, perhaps it was all three in unison.
"Leave me alone" I cried. "Please go away."
"Not until we've spoken," they answered. "We've been sent by He Who Must Be Obeyed. We have a message for you."
"Well, tell He Who Must Be Obeyed that if He's got something to say, He should tell me Himself, not send rotten messenger boys."
I recognised their voices. Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof. I'd known them all since the beginning of Time. Senoy was the captain of this grisly gang, the other two were his slimy sidekicks. I felt embarrassed that my cave was such a mess and wished I'd known that they were coming today. I had half-expected a visitation of this sort ever since I'd freaked out on Adam, but I wasn't sure if I was ready for it yet.
My exit had been very dramatic. Lots of steam and a hell-raising, ear-piercing scream. Adam hadn't realised that I could still fly. He thought my wings had been clipped and when I flew out of the Garden in a cloud of chaos, he had looked on, gob-smacked.
"Oh heck, I suppose there's no peace till I've sorted you out. Have a hover in the yard. I'll be out in a few minutes."
They disappeared from view. I got out of bed, plumped up my pillow of softest duck down and straightened the covers. I washed and put on my red velvet gown. Then I carefully applied kohl to my eyelids and tried to do something with my raven black hair, disgracefully dishevelled by the night. I stood in front of the mirror, my only trustworthy companion during these past lonely months, and combed out the tangles. I took a last smouldering look at my own reflection and went out to join the winged triad.
hey'd got a fire going and were pounding coffee beans. The morning sun warmed me, but I had to squint as I looked across the rocky wilderness. Several days had passed since I had last ventured out. There had been a vicious sand storm in the night and now I could see how much havoc it had wreaked. The logs I used for bolsters were scattered and as I started to put them back into order, I wondered if the three goons would help. Then I saw my cotton rugs, crouching behind a giant boulder which had served to stop the wind from stealing them. Senoy and Sansenoy helped me shake out the brightly coloured rugs and lay them over the logs now arranged into a square around the fire.
"So what does the Big Boss want?" I asked, scathingly.
"Peace and harmony amongst all His children. That's all, Lilith. That's all." Senoy tried to sound like a practised mediator.
"Bollocks," I retorted. "You know full well that what He wants is for Adam to become strong and powerful so that he can govern the Master's little paradise. To become in many ways - but not quite - as mighty as Himself. And I'm supposed to volunteer for target practices. No way, JosJ. I'm outta there."
"Oh come on, Lilith. You're such a kvetch." said Sansenoy.
"You've always been a Moaning Minnie." added Semangelof, unhelpfully.
"Like when?" I replied, indignantly. I could feel hot anger surging like lava through my spine. Semangelof had always been so irritating. I could never understand why Senoy and Sansenoy tolerated his company.
"Like the time you wanted to join our football team," he offered. The other angels started to snigger. "You said it wasn't fair that female spirits weren't allowed to play, so we had to humour you. You puffed and panted across the field and collapsed in a heap at half-time. And when we kicked the ball towards you, you flew in the opposite direction. A one-winged bat could have done a better job."
With this, all three started to flap their wings and guffaw with laughter. I cringed as I remembered that terrible afternoon of humiliation.
Senoy composed himself. "Seriously, Lilith, the Boss says you've got to go back and sort it out with Adam. The poor bloke is in an awful stew. Doesn't know what he's done wrong."
"I can't go back. It was horrible." I shuddered as I remembered how Adam had put me down all the time, criticised my appearance, even complained about my cooking, while he strutted about as if he owned the place. The only time we ever enjoyed peace and harmony was when I complimented him on the size of the luckless creature he'd slaughtered for supper, which I was supposed to skin, gut and make edible and then serve with a glass of wine. Or if I joined him in the worship of his fabulous phallus, which was the focus of endless fascination for Adam and the source of his greatest pleasure. He would lie in his hammock all day long, dick in his hand, wittering away about the Sun and the stars. His favourite game was making up names for all the birds and the beasts, but if ever I tried to join in, he would dismiss my suggestions as irrelevant. Until a couple of days later, when he would invariably quote me as if they had been his ideas in the first place. All the time droning on about how lonely it was being the only intelligent creature in the Garden.
"He was a vile specimen of humanity and he was squashing me flat." I bit my tongue to stop the tear that was pricking my eye. I didn't want the angels to think me weak or undignified.
The coffee was boiling. I poured it into little china cups and passed them to my guests.
Senoy cocked his head to one side and replied: "There are two sides to every story, Lilith. Adam says that you were always flying off the handle with no provocation and that once you even threw a bowl of hot goulash at him. He says you were a dangerous liability. That you have this uncanny way of reading his mind which is really irritating and that you were always trying to make him feel guilty so you could trap him into doing things he didn't want to do. Like having sex with you, for instance."
I was astonished.
"Is that what you all think of me?" I asked, earnestly. "Tell me, is that why none of you ever made a pass at me?"
There was a hushed silence. Then Sansenoy tried to answer my pitiful question. "Actually, Lilith, all the other spirits were rather intimidated by you. You were very original and funny. Sexy too. But too much of a challenge."
"Such a free-spirit and so fiery." Senoy contributed.
"Too exotic for me" added the loathesome Semangelof.
I shuddered at the prospect of Semangelof's seduction technique, but then a rush of truth washed over me. For so long I had felt inadequate and undesired, and now I understood that these pathetic characters, so eager to show off their puny biceps and triceps, had feared that they would fail to tame my wild spirit. Still, I was a little disappointed that none had ever tried. And perhaps I'd always been afraid that if ever the fires raging inside me were quenched, I might drown instead. Was that what had frightened me about Adam? That he was trying to conquer and crush me too? No, I reflected. Even worse was that Adam didn't seem to have any respect for me at all and had made me doubt my own worth too. The last straw had been when I caught him shagging one of our sheep. I was so disgusted. How could I go near his vile ding-dong after that? Who knows what I might catch? And besides, if a sheep could tickle his fancy, then maybe he found me no more alluring than a raw lamb chop.
But I could hardly share this salacious story with my visitors. It was just the sort of gossip that would spread through the heavens like wildfire.
"Listen, Lilith," Senoy continued, "here's the bottom line. If you don't return to Adam, you're damned to a really rotten time. Floods, famines and pestilence. All that sort of stuff. Meanwhile the earth will fill with the sons of Adam and you're going to miss the show and there' s no one to blame but yourself."
"I am a creature of the Deep," I announced, "and I'm sure I can weather a silly storm or two. And if the sons of Adam are anything like their father, I'd prefer to hang out here on my own. Collecting shells, tending my herb garden, and thinking up stories and songs."
"What's the point of telling stories if there's no one around to hear what you have to say?" Senoy asked with a measure of mean-spiritedness in his voice. "Oh hail, great Queen of the Wilderness. With only bad spirits and beasts of prey for company and nothing but rocks for your subjects, you'll soon run out of plots for your stories and then things will get dull, dull, dull."
In my heart I knew he was right, but still I needed my dignity restored.
"Okay, take this message to the Master. Tell Him I'll go back to Adam only if he agrees to my terms and conditions."
"And what might they be?" asked the angels in unison.
"Got a pen?" said I.
Sansenoy pulled a quill from his feathered wing and handed it to Senoy who began to scribble on a sheet of parchment.
"Firstly, that he should stop acting like a macho git when I'm around. And not try to squash me because he won't get much fun out of a doormat. Got that?" I paused to let Senoy catch up. "I don't need precious rocks or fancy frocks - well, not that many and only from time to time - but I do need to know that he loves and honours me and then there will be peace in our tent. He can make full use of my wisdom and wit, but he has to accept that I have dreams of my own too."
"That's all?" asked Semangelof, sarcastically.
"And lastly, this. Tell him that our sheep are to be skewered only when they're basting on a hot barbeque!"
"What does Adam get in return?" asked Senoy with caution.
"He gets me. His muse to amuse. And my undying loyalty and devotion"
"But Lilith, how can he assert dominion over all the fish in the sea, all the birds and the beasts and the insects too, if he can't make you submit to him too?"
"Now that," I concluded "is his problem, not mine."
nd so I sat in my cave by the shores of the Red Sea, with the company only of bad spirits and a bunch of beasts of prey, tending my herb garden, telling my stories and waiting, patiently, to hear what Adam had to say.
Months went by and I heard nothing. I could resist the temptation no longer. I flew back to the Garden of Eden and found Adam lying in his hammock with a ram's horn by his side. I transformed into a serpent, with shining scales of emerald green and slithered up the trunk of the tree on which his hammock was slung. As I crawled closer, I felt almost swollen with compassion for this brute, ravaged by his own teeming insecurity, and I convinced myself that I was willing to give it another try.
"This is Lilith" I hissed. "Are you missing me?"
Adam growled menacingly and his dark brown eyes were shining with rage.
"Why should I miss you, you scaly witch? You're just a waste of space. You mean nothing to me."
I ignored his greeting and continued: "Did our heavenly hosts deliver my message? I thought it might have got lost in the celestial post."
"Why do you have to go telling everybody our business, bitch? You make me so mad. I never want to see your ugly face again."
"Is that all you have to say?"
"As far as I'm concerned, you are redundant and repulsive. And if you want my respect, you'll have to earn it. You're too fragile for me. Piss off."
"You think you're so magnificent, Adam, but it's going to be mighty lonely on your own."
"Who's on their own? There are plenty of dames to take your place."
Adam pointed towards a nearby waterfall. I looked over and saw Eve bathing in its gentle cascade. Shit. I hadn't anticipated this. A strawberry blonde from bimbo city, but her curves were in all the right places. It seemed so unfair. How did he find another mate so soon?
"You know something?" I retorted venomously. "You're a bully and an inconsiderate, vicious pig. I never want to have anything to do with you again."
hocked by the audacity of my own outburst, I recoiled into the long grass, and weaved my way furiously towards the babbling brook and the dappled light of an apple tree, heavy with its ripe, luscious fruit.
"Eve," I called. "I'm up here."
"Up where?" Eve said with a startle.
"In the apple tree."
"Oh." She looked up vacantly. "Who are you? How do you know my name?"
"Mine is the voice of wisdom, Eve. I know all that there is to know. Eat one of these cool, crisp apples and you can too." Eve drew closer. She seemed like a nice enough chick, but still, you know what they say about a woman scorned. I was salivating in anticipation of the sweet taste of revenge.
"I can't do that" she protested, "the Boss told us not to touch the fruit on that
tree. He said it was poisoned."
"You believe everything that tyrranical Megalomaniac tells you? He just wants to keep them all Himself. They're delicious. Come on, Eve, take a bite."
Hesitantly, Eve's hand reached towards the fruit and plucked it from the tree. I quivered with delight. As I snaked away on my slimy belly, I could hear her high-pitched, slightly nasal voice, coaxing and cajoling. "Go on Adam, darling. Don't be scared of what the Master said. He's just a voice inside your own head."
knew that as soon as they crunched into that sweet, ruby red apple they would be forever cursed with the certain knowledge that they were only tiny specks in a giant cosmos, an almost insignificant part of a glorious infinity, scarcely a breath on the face of eternity, and then they would bow low with shame at their own impotence and their lack of importance in the overall scheme of things. They would glimpse the fragility of their own existence and henceforth, whenever two beings would meet, one would be impelled to try to submerge the other.
Then I returned to my wilderness and the rest, as they say, is history.
© Naomi Gryn 1997. All rights reserved.