Many years ago I had an encounter with an owl that led me to the Goddess Lilith, catapulting me on the journey that has been my life these past 25 years. In that time, Lilith has been one of my main guides and allies. Can I tell you in one sentence what that means? No. It is too complex and revealing and anyway, the power would be lost in the telling. But I can tell you some things. And in that telling I can understand it better myself. Because that is the way story always works. And that is why we tell stories.
Recently I began a class with a group of women around regaining our pure female power through and with the goddess Lilith. Since I met Lilith when I turned 29, the year of my first Saturn return, and I am now 54, moving toward my second Saturn return, I see this is a sort of culmination and review for myself. As always with Lilith, I do not realize I have agreed to a major transformative journey until I am already on it. But once I am on it, I realize I was longing for it. That is how Lilith works with us—coming up from behind and before we know it, enveloping us in her mystery. Thank goodness her mystery contains two strongwoman arms and a comforting, feathered cloak she wraps around us as we move through the darkness.
Through my own personal journey with this class I can speak to you some of what the Goddess Lilith has meant to and means to me. That is—besides everything.
But everything is nothing until you understand some parts.
And Lilith defies definition. She is pure experience.
Using Welcoming Lilith, we are exploring our relationship to this uncompromisingly potent Goddess.
But I have written about Lilith elsewhere too.
Below is an excerpt from Ode to Minoa, the novel I wrote about a Snake Priestess named Aureillia in Bronze Age Crete. Aureillia is a Snake Priestess who experiences a series of trance visions. The trance visions are accessed through the bite of a snake, whose venom, when taken in small doses, acts as a hallucinogen.
Disturbed by what she has been made to see in her visions and the prophecy she delivered to community as the culmination to those visions, she flees her village and ends up in an isolated cove by with a cave looking out upon the sea. There she encounters the Goddess Lilith for the first time.
I include her first meeting with Lilith here as a way for you to meet her as well if you have not already.
This is too large to be an owl, I thought to myself, backing into the cave.
She came to land in the entryway. A magnificent, winged woman.
Long, thick, black hair. Strong, dark eyebrows. Bright green eyes. Beaked nose above small, pink mouth. Skin of copper-red.
She wore no clothing, exposing her breasts between two enormous feathered wings, whose span filled the opening of the cave. She had hairy legs and clawed feet of an owl.
Moss and cedar, her fragrance permeated the dense air of the cave. I stared at her, backing away until I reached the wall behind me and could go no farther.
“Who are you? ”I asked.
“I am Lilith,” she said. “Keeper of secrets.” She lowered her wings and approached me, looming very tall above me. “I have come that you may give me yours.”
“From where? From where have you come?”
“From the future, the past and the now,” she said.
I tried to back away farther, but there was nowhere to go. Lilith turned and walked toward the fire. She sat herself down in front of it, her feathered back to me.
“I know,” she said to the fire, “the form is difficult at first.”
I stood looking at her back, how the feathers—which from a distance had looked black and grey but were actually black and brown with flecks of white—hung around her like a shawl.
“You will soon become cold in that corner,” she said. “Come, sit across the fire from me.”
I walked to a place directly across from her, the fire between us, and sat down.
“Your sleep needs guarding,” she said, poking at the fire with a large stick, bringing up sparks. “For this purpose I have come.”
I sat up, watching her through the fire until I could not sit up any more and let myself lie down and then, finally, surrender to slumber. My sleep was again fitful, waking me. Every time I awoke I would see her, sitting in the same place, awake, watching me, the fire blazing high between us.
In the morning, as the sun rose, she left—flying away, her wide wings spanning the horizon. At sun’s setting she returned, clutching food within her clawed feet.
All through the nights to follow she would sit across the fire from me. When my dreams woke me, I would sit up and stare into the red flames she kept burning tall. No words passed between us. Though the form I still found difficult, her dark, silent presence offered me comfort.
One night I awoke in panic, gasping for breath, I tried to rid myself of the horrors of my last vision, which had replayed inside my dreamtime. I shook my head and covered my eyes. I stood up and paced and circled on my side of the fire.
“Tell it all to me,” Lilith said, breaking the silence between us. “Tell me all your secrets. I shall hold them for you that you may live a human life.”
So it was that I began to tell Lilith my secrets. Each night, after I had eaten, I would sit across the fire from her and tell a story. I started with the first vision, then moved on from there, closing my eyes to better remember. I could feel how the words that left me reached her differently—how the passage through the fire changed them, how they arrived to her polished—burnt clean.
At first I was hesitant, not wanting to let them go, uneasy with their form after they left me. As we continued to work, however, the sense of relief became larger than that part of me that longed to cling. I began to look forward to my nighttime storytelling, yearning to reveal myself further; shed another layer.
I could feel how Lilith absorbed them, how she was able to hold them within herself without becoming altered by them. Each time I would complete a cycle, she would nod her head and say, “This too, shall come to pass.”
“Where do you go,” I asked her finally one night, “when you leave here?”
“My home is in the Red Sea,” she said. “I go to attend to the many matters of my children.”
“Children? Have you many children?”
All who discover the murder of the Goddess are my children. I come to assist them through this most difficult discovery. You, Aureillia, are my child.”
“Are there many like me?”
“Many, and yet, too few. There is much work to be done.”
“What kind of work?”
“What is broken may be repaired,” Lilith said, then low, almost in a chant, “Gather Her many pieces. Make Her whole.”
“Gather her many pieces,” I repeated. “Not gone forever?”
“Nothing gone forever.”
“Of course,” I said, looking at her. A current of feeling filled my being. It was so strong and possessing, I had to stand up to contain it. I stood up. I let it radiate through me. I gasped in the joy of it; the feeling of hope.
“But how?” I asked.
Lilith looked up at me with a half smile. “Yes,” she said, tilting her head to one side, “How?”
Excerpted from Ode To Minoa by Theresa C. Dintino
A Meeting with Lilith in the Cave
Perhaps you would like to journey to meet Lilith in the cave by the sea to see what it is she has to tell you. Maybe there is something you wish to tell her, to have her hold, to have her transmute through the fire? Maybe you need to hand over some of your worries, some of your pain, some of your burden. Maybe you simply need to be held by this most powerful Mother.
Go to the cave, call her in and wait.
I wish and send blessings to and for you on this most sacred journey.
~Theresa C. Dintino
© Theresa C. Dintino 2017