Palpable Power: Lilith’s Role in Relationship Dynamics

“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

LilithToo 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 GoldsteinLucy 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)

Comments

  1. To find Lilith in your chart at astro.com: click on “Extended Chart Selection” and near the bottom there will be a list of “Additional objects.” You can click on Lilith there. Mine is in Leo in my 12th house.

  2. great article ive always been interested on this particular asteroid.

    i have lilth at 17 degrees libra 5th house ..anyone know what this means ?

  3. Woaa..this is a cool article! And Jeff, you just spoil yourselves with Lilith in Leo 12th. That isn’t a very proud placement I think :)
    especially for drama

  4. For me, Lilith rears her ugly head at the times when I seem most unaware or uncontrolled. She’s a “blurter.” When she gets out, she blurts out too much information and is not in control. She’s honest, but needs a few weeks at charm school. Thanks for the great article.

  5. This is a great article, very interesting! I only wish you had listed more sign and house placements because I have Lilith in Libra in the 3rd and have no idea how to interpret that.

  6. VirgoWoman says:

    Is there a good link somewhere discussing the synastry for Lilith placements in a relationship?

    I have Lilith in my 10th house Cancer with no other planets/influences there. I am Virgo Sun, Moon, Pluto, 12th house.

    The new man in my life has Lilith, Sun, Ascendant, and Mercury in his 12th house Capricorn.

    Our Lilith’s are in opposition and I can find any articles on how that might affect us.

  7. VirgoWoman says:

    Sorry, I meant “can’t find any articles”, not “can”.

  8. too bad that the author didnt want to explain all the positions of lilith, i have it on my 10th house, in scorpio, trining my mercury mars in pisces :)

  9. Facebook User says:

    Lilith in Cancer 16° (4th House)…

  10. Lucy Goldstein rocks! Her website is off the charts. I am a fan.

    Also, um, I’ve Lilith in Virgo, almost 11 degrees :).

  11. In the ninth. Sorry.

    Excellent article.

  12. Yeah, I got Lilith in Libra in the 8th House… Talk about intense power struggles!

  13. Textbook definitions of every Lilith natal placement plus Lilith in synastry are obviously beyond the scope of an introductory article. Please judge Lucy’s post on its own merits, not on all that it does not include.

  14. aww thanks souls siren :)

  15. Soul’s Siren, I deleted your comment because copy-and-pasting several paragraphs of another author’s work is a copyright violation. As an alternative, you can post a link to the article that you’d like another reader to view: Lilith in Libra.

  16. Facebook User says:

    Jeffrey Kishner,

    I completely agree to the whole idea of having to post EVERY single Lilith on Sasstrology, that would take up so much time and energy… but it would be interesting to see an article about Lilith and some romantic strong connection to another aspect or two, kind of like that moon/mars article recently posted. I think most of the ladies here would enjoy something like that since V-Day is coming up lol

  17. Lilith conjunct my Sun in Aries in the 8th house. Nice article Lucy :)

  18. I just found a new blog: The Lilith Pages.

  19. Oh, I know The Lilith Pages. Marina and I are simpatico, natch. We both have terrifyingly strong Liliths in angular houses.

  20. sorry Jeff and to everyone I hope I’m doing this right. Just go to this webpage http://sanjaperic.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/all-about-lilith/
    it gives you some very accurate info on your Lilith placement after you’ve figured out where that is of course. Bye

  21. VirgoWoman says:

    Just out of curiousity I wanted to look at Lilith’s placement for Amy Bishop, the Harvard-educated PhD university professor who is in the news for killing 3 of her coworkers last Friday after she found out that she was not getting tenure. I seriously think this is an extreme example of Lilith’s ability to show herself as psycho biotch from hades and not care who gets hurt.

    Amy’s sun Taurus (stubborn) and Lilith placement Capricorn (material wealth and power) is interesting. She has Mercury square Lilith (irreconcilable conflict between need to communicate intelligently and the need to accept and adapt to one’s dark side). For last Friday, Amy’s chart also shows Mercury transit square her Sun (being too forceful in getting one’s way) and shows Mars transit square Sun (force of will, dislike of restraint, physical-mental-verbal confrontations likely, and general tendency to “fly off the handle”).

    Always good to be aware of your Lilith placement, especially when you’re not quite feeling like “yourself”, especially if you’re feeling uncharacteristically – and irrationally – mean or vindictive.

    Shame on Amy. My heart goes out to all the families she’s hurt and it’s also sad to witness someone’s own self-destruction. She was implicated in shooting and killing her brother when she was 20 (cleared as an “accident”) and implicated with her husband for a bombing attempt (also cleared of those charges).

    Very odd to see women “monsters”.

  22. i have a question when i go to astro.com to find my lilth placment there are 2 to choose from lilith and asteroid 1181 which one do i use?

  23. Memaid- the Lilith in the “additional objects” box is Black Moon Lilith, which is a hypothetical Moon. That’s the one I was writing about in the article, and that’s the one you want to look at for the purpose of the themes discussed here. Asteroid 1181 is Lilith the asteroid, which is a real asteroid.

    If you’re so inclined, you might want to check out Marina Caruso’s most recent blog post at The Lilith Pages (http://lilithpages.blogspot.com/), where she explains some of the astronomical and symbolic differences between all the bodies in the Lilith family (real and hypothetical).

  24. thanku lucy for clearing that up in that case i have a lilth in pisces house 10 trine pluto in scorpio (5th house)

  25. @ Jeffrey or anyone else who can shed some light…

    I have my Lilith in Gemini 13 degrees, 18′, 18″, and it appears to be in the 12th house, with my Sun and Chiron altogether. I read the description for Lilith in Gemini on the blog suggested by the uppercase link and wow! truly truly true!

    I have planet multiplicity in my houses, namely Moon and Jupiter in the 10th House (in Pisces), Venus and Mars in the 2nd house (in Leo), Uranus, Saturn and Neptune in the 6th house (in Sagittarius the first two, Neptune in Capricorn), does having several planets in a house complicates the business in general? meaning do the influences annul each other? because i read my chart’s description and sometimes the explanations disagree with one another…i’d be happy if someone could clue me in a little!

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