“Layers of mystery here! The story just deepens and gets more unsettling as it goes along. It works on so many levels that you wonder what is real, and what is imagined.”

 - Reader Comments

This gallery of images by the acclaimed artist Lilian Broca will illustrate many of the mythic elements of the story of Lilith.

Lilith and Adam, Co-creators of the first bond-Lilian Broca

Lilith and Adam, Co-creators of the first bond - Lilian Broca

The First Couple-Lilian Broca

The First Couple - Lilian Broca

Adam severs the bond - Lilian Broca

Adam severs the bond - Lilian Broca

Leaving Adam - Lilian Broca

Leaving Adam - Lilian Broca

Lilith, Eve and Adam - Lilian Broca

Lilith, Eve and Adam - Lilian Broca

Nocturnal Visit - Lilian Broca

Nocturnal Visit - Lilian Broca

The story of Lilith dates back to the ancient Sumerian literature and has appeared in epics as old as Gilgamesh. The artist, Lilian Broca writes: “I went to primary sources for the story of Lilith - i.e. post-biblical literature, the Talmud, the Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha.” These striking images were the result of her long time interest in this subject.

According to the myth, God’s first attempt at creating humanity resulted in an androgynous being that was both male and female, joined as one. Could this be a symbol of the integrated personality of Jung, where the male Animus and the female Anima are joined in full cooperation? In the story, however, God thought twice about this model and eventually split the two halves, creating one in the shape of a man, (Adam) and another as a woman (Lilith). Both were said to have been formed from the dust of the earth, and should have been considered equals, but Adam chose to deny the equality of Lilith and strove instead to dominate her. It is here that the rift begins that has wounded both men and women through the ages.

As Jeffrey Smith analyzes it:  “In psychological terms, he (Adam) identified with his own ego, and not with his full self; confronted with his Shadow/Deeper Self, he rejected it, or at least tried to subject it to the demands of his ego. Lilith's response was to fly away…(Adam, after all, lost one half of his own self.)”

When Lilith refuses Adam’s domination, she calls on the ineffable name of God and leaves him. One should note that the inverse was also true, for in leaving Adam Lilith also loses one half of her self. To my thinking, this separation is wonderfully reflected in Carl Jung’s psychology, where the personality has several aspects: The male side or Animus, the female side or Anima and the dark repressed side or Shadow. The work of “integration” according to Jung is to heal the separation between these aspects of the self  and become a fully actuated person where each aspect is accorded equality. The story of Lilith is a perfect illustration of Jung’s “archetypal symbols” reflecting this basic human truth.

To continue with the myth, when Lilith flees Adam, the Hebrew version of  the story casts her in a dark light and shows her fleeing to a cave to mate with serpents and spawn a hundred demons each day. In Jungian terms I see this as the rejected Anima consorting instead with the Shadow, the repository of repressed, negative and undesired traits in the psyche. When God then fashions Eve from Adam’s rib, Lilith, in her agony, returns to prey upon the children of their union. Smith continues to assert:  “If we return to our image of Adam as the ego and Lilith as the Deeper Self, then we find that the ego represses and drives into the Deeper Self what it cannot accept, and what it deems as illegitimate. And what is repressed rebounds on the ego in the form of the demonic, destroying what is acceptable and "legitimate" (symbolized by the offspring of Eve).” -- Jeffrey Smith: www.lilitu.com/lilith/lilit.htm 

To my mind the myth of Lilith appears to be an amalgam of the Anima and Shadow, and may be a powerful archetype for a man who has failed, by other means, to re-integrate his Anima into the self. It is as if the Anima then flees him, as in the traditional telling of the tale, and consorts instead with the Shadow. The resulting union creates a powerful figure that returns to force itself upon him in his sleep, charged with the power and psychic energy of a sexually dominant being. This being, in its alliance with the Shadow, is now fully capable of subduing his Animus, or male egocentric self, rendering it powerless and paralyzed, while the union is forced upon him.

The Artist Lilian Broca sees Lilith in another light. She writes: “Lilith was a powerful female, probably the world’s first feminist.  She radiated strength and assertiveness.  She refused to cooperate in her own victimization.  The ancient Rabbis who acted as the ultimate decision makers as to what stories were to be set in the canon and what was to be omitted, realized that this Lilith could be easily regarded as a role model by women, a condition which provoked too much anxiety in the men to allow such behavior to be encouraged.  Hence, the elimination of the Lilith story from the canon. However, the legend had been altered; in time, Lilith was accused of seducing men with her unimaginable beauty, and men’s nocturnal emissions caused by erotic dreams were attributed to Lilith’s nocturnal visitations.” 

Modern Interpretations:

Lilith is one of many mythical figures reputed to visit sleepers and these images and stories appear throughout all cultures. More than a story, these nocturnal visitations appear to be real events. Modern science has an interesting explanation of the experience and calls it HSP (Hallucinatory Sleep Paralysis). It is a scenario common to about 20 % of the population, and your chances of experiencing at least one HSP event are as high as 80% in a lifetime. The victims report that they awake in the night and sense a presence in the room along with a feeling of paralysis, pressure, (as if they are being mounted) and a smothering sensation. Such experiences may be the root of myths like the incubus and succubus, the Irish “Old Hag”  and the the German Hexendrucken or “Witch Pressing.”  I lived in an Eskimo village for three years while teaching school there and found that the myth even extends into that culture in the demonic figure of Paija, a creature who steals men’s souls in the night. To me the Lilith myth is the more artful and interesting story because of its archetypal qualities.

What is actually happening? Scientists tell us that as the brain begins to fall asleep and dream, signals are sent to the muscles to turn them off, as a safety measure, so the sleeper will not act out their dream. Instead of falling into the dream, however, the sleeper awakes--yet. for a period of a minute or so, the “muscle atonia” (or paralysis) is still in effect. The person finds that they cannot move and their mind, still at the edge of sleep, fills in the details with a dream story that seems completely real. This state of a “waking dream” is known to researchers as a kind of “lucid dreaming,” and it appears to be charged with imagery that is very primal; almost archetypal in quality.

These are the dreams the main character in Dream Reaper experiences, and they also reflect his own internal struggle to re-integrate with his Anima and free the union from contamination by the Shadow. It is this reunion that removes the demonic elements of Lilith and conveys the regenerative wholeness that a fully actuated personality is capable of attaining. Then again... the strange evidence Daniel discovers in the footprints outside his room, and the macabre shadow he sees loping off into the tree line behind the mission hint at something darker that visiting him in the night  To this day there are those who assert this “entity” that comes at the edge of sleep is a real being...

 - John Schettler


“That’s it, he’s done it to me. Now I’ll  never get to sleep! This happened to me once, and when I read this the fear and horror just grabbed me by the throat again--because believe me--whatever it is, this entity is real!”