“I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.” ~ Goethe
Too frequently in popular culture, Lilith has been feared as some kind of “man-hating baby-eating succubus” and misunderstood as an archetype that only applies to women. However, Lilith’s energy, while raw and sometimes sinister, is hardly completely malevolent, and in truth has a much more universal relevance. The energy of Lilith is being reexamined not just in a broad cultural context, but also in astrological application.
Lilith first gained attention in the sky in the late 19th century, when a German scientist proposed that there might be a second Moon in Earth’s orbit; this second Moon was later called Lilith, or Black Moon Lilith. Because Black Moon Lilith is a hypothetical Moon, many astrologers do not avail themselves of her – and historically, when they have, they’ve fallen back on tropes dictated by patriarchy: “Lilith for a woman symbolizes her destructive tendencies; Lilith for a man symbolizes how he deals with women in power.” Recently, however, more astrologers are beginning to abandon this static approach and utilize the (very timely) egalitarian potential of Lilith, which deals not only with breaking down gender constructs but with accessing a part of us that is powerful and bloodthirsty, which many of us deliberately make inaccessible. Unlike Pluto – which deals with dark matter that can be harnessed to an extent but is still largely out of our control – Lilith and all she embodies are very much within our control: some of us suppress it, some of us overextend it, and some of us are unaware we even have it. Lilith is our drive to get what we want and deserve no matter what; conversely, she is also the very real and very human power we have to hurt and destroy.
Understanding the role Lilith plays in your natal chart and understanding the role you play in your social context enrich one another. Lilith as archetype has loaded connotations for women. According to the mythology, she refused to be Adam’s sexual subordinate, for which she was banished from Eden and replaced with the more submissive Eve. She is exactly what women in most societies are instructed, admonished, shamed and threatened not to be. For many women, acknowledging that they have Lilith-esque impulses is difficult and dangerous enough; harnessing them into a constructive outlet is harder still. It would also behoove men to examine how Lilith affects them. In general, men have been socialized towards violence in a more Martian-Plutonian way: going to war, dividing and conquering, searching and destroying, all in pursuit of ultimate power. When this is not possible on a large scale, some men do the next best thing, which is to apply the vocabulary of war and domination to one’s immediate environment and those closest to them. This latter application is the territory of Lilith.
A relationship of any kind is a balance of power. In intimate relationships, the shift of the balance can one of the most exciting parts; however, it becomes destructive when the shift comes at the expense of one partner. Looking at the sign and house of Black Moon Lilith in your natal chart (as well as any major aspects to other planets or angles) shows you a continuum of behaviors that can either empower you to feel like an equal in a relationship or to make emotional mincemeat out of your partner or yourself. (Free sites like astro.com allow you to plug Lilith and many other hypothetical bodies into your natal chart.)
A woman with Black Moon Lilith in Aries in her 12th House, for instance, may likely have very strong opinions but will train herself to suppress them for fear of being seen as a “harpy,” a “castrating bitch,” or any of the other choice euphemisms for a woman who has an opinion or speaks above a whisper for any reason. Her lack of assertiveness can hurt and ultimately disempower her, especially in a relationship where she may defer to her partner even if doing so goes against what she actually feels or believes.
A man with Black Moon Lilith in Capricorn in his 1st House may feel that despite how hard he works or tries to prove himself, he does not get the respect and recognition he deserves from his peers, or at least what he has come to expect that he deserves, and he could attempt to reclaim some of his authority by brusquely assuming the dominant role in his relationship, to the point of controlling his partner.
The shadow sides of Lilith thrive in prescribed gender roles like acidophilus in yogurt. But once we deconstruct these shadows, a whole new context for understanding and utilizing Lilith opens up to us. The woman who has been taught that impassioned expression of strong opinions is “unbecoming” to women can learn that she has the right to express her needs. The man who feels innately entitled to authority can learn that respect is earned. With these realizations, healthier and more constructive patterns can take shape, and the balance of power in their relationship can be leveled to where both partners feel like full and equal participants.
Lilith is inescapable, but she is not uncontrollable. Being able to face her – and further, to hold yourself accountable for the hurt you are able to cause – makes you that much more empowered to become an instrument of inspiration for real depth and understanding.
About the Author
Lucy Goldstein has been studying astrology since the tender age of fourteen and has been semi-pro for the past year and a half. She firmly believes that astrology imitates life and can be applied constructively not only to real people, but also to unpack long-standing cultural memes; she demonstrates this in her blog, Lucy Looking Upward, and in the advice she dispenses.
Image Credit: Lady Lilith, painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (published under Creative Commons license)