The demon Lilith has returned for Supernatural’s final season and is causing as much trouble as her character from real folklore once caused.
Well, Lilith has returned. I almost forgot about her, but it brings back memories of evil Sam that I kind of missed, and of Season 4 when I was at the peak of my Supernatural obsession. In case anyone forgot who Lilith is here’s a brief recap.
Lilith played a role in Supernatural during the “Dean’s going to Hell” storyline, making her first appearance in “Jus in Bello” as the demon that held the contract on Dean’s soul. She later had a larger role in Season 4 when she became part of the masterplan to free Lucifer from the Cage. Tricking Sam into killing her and unknowingly breaking the final seal, happily dying as a sacrifice to her master.
In the mythology of the series, Lilith was originally one of the first humans ever made by God. Her soul was then twisted into becoming the very first demon by Lucifer as his proof to God that humans were unworthy. The results of these actions caused Lucifer to be locked away and for Lilith to be sent down into Hell as the 66th seal on his 600 sealed lock.
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As the oldest of the demons, Lilith was the most powerful, even more so than Cain and the other Knights of Hell. The four demons that follow her, I guess you can call them her siblings, were Azazel (the infamous “Yellow Eyes”), Ramiel, Asmodeus and Dagon, who reigned as the Princes of Hell.
When Supernatural drew their outline for Lilith they combined the image of her as both a seducer of men and destroyer of children into the character. Lilith is said to be the first wife of Adam before Eve, but that she left him and eloped with the archangel Samael. Lilith’s few sexualized interactions with Sam in the show were intended to be a nod to her relationship with the fallen angel.
Dark Goddess or Sumerian demon?
This woman has an origin story about as complicated as a comic book character. Believed to have first appeared in the Sumerian myth “The descent of Inanna” as a spirit known as the “dark maid”, there’s been much debate over how the poem portrays her. Is she meant to be a demon or a Goddess?
In the poem, she’s linked with both wind and nature and is represented by the branches on a tree. An image that’s been argued to show her position as a wilderness Goddess. However, instead of spirits, she’s described alongside other demons. Her name which stems from the Sumerian word ”lilitu”, is associated with both wind spirits and female demons, and is often translated to “night monster”.
Goddess or not, it didn’t matter in the end. She appeared as a much clearer representation of evil in Babylonian texts as a winged demon that attacks infants and pregnant women, causing stillbirths and crib death. Cursed with uncontrollable desires, and dangerous sexuality, she would fertilize herself with stolen male sperm in order to create demons. Becoming the mother of evil.
The first woman
Despite having such a heavy presence in Biblical history, Lilith only has one official Bible reference. Located in Isaiah 34:14, she’s mentioned among a list of nocturnal creatures who will haunt the kingdom of Edom. Although the “the Lilith” in the text is a bit ambiguous, there’s some debate over it referring to a screech-owl rather than an actual person.
During the Middle Ages, however, Jewish literature began naming Lilith as Adam’s first wife before Eve that left the Garden by choice. As opposed to Eve, made from Adam himself, Lilith was made from the same soil that made Adam and this, in her opinion, made them equal. When she was expected to lay beneath Adam during intercourse or to be subservient to him in any other way, she refused and left the Garden.
Three angels, Senoi, Sansenoi, and Sammangelof, were sent to bring her back and threatened to kill 100 of her children every day if she did not return. In retaliation, she promised to rob other children of life, once again being responsible for stillbirths and crib death. However, she agreed to spare the lives of those that wore amulets bearing the names of the three angels.
In one version, she later returned to Adam only to grow angry when she saw that he had replaced her with Eve. In an act of revenge, she mounted Adam (a biblical way of saying rape) while he slept and became pregnant with demons who would become the incubi and succubi. In some versions, it is the angel Samael who is the father of her children.
The story of Lilith’s creation is first recounted in The Tales of Ben Sira written in the 10th Century B.C. but there is evidence that her story existed earlier than that.
Symbol of Independence
In recent years, Lilith has gone from a demonic child murderer to a symbol of female empowerment and independence. Despite the controversy around it, Lilith’s rebellion against Adam and her refusal to submit has made her a symbol of free will that many women have latched on to over the years. Who doesn’t want to just run away every now and then?
Many feminists see Lilith as not only the first woman but as the first independent woman. When put in a modern perspective, Lilith’s role in the creation story looks and feels very similar to the actions of women fighting against oppressive societies. In her desire for independence and freedom from her husband, she committed an act deemed a sin/crime by those around her and was ultimately shunned, then replaced.
Don’t miss the next episode of Supernatural on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. EST on the CW.