Welcome back to The Story Behind The Story series. I’ve got a very special guest today, someone I admire greatly. Please give a warm welcome to Susan Scott.
Lilith first came to my attention some years ago when Dr. Susan Schwartz, Jungian analyst from Phoenix Arizona, gave a lecture to the Jung Centre here in Johannesburg on ‘Marriage and Divorce and the Nature of Unresolved Psychological Issues therein’.
She said and I quote from her transcript: ‘The Adam and Lilith story represents a stereotype of the masculine and feminine in relationships we see today. Adam expresses no curiosity about Lilith’s needs. He complains to God the authority to correct Lilith and make her obey (my italics) him. The two never work it out, learn nothing about communication skills and separate in mutual frustration. Later, God gives Adam another wife and we see the same unresolved issues of the original situation appearing again. Ignored, psychological elements tend to return – Eve also thinks for herself and challenges the masculine status quo by listening to the snake, eating the apple and encouraging Adam to do the same.’
I knew of Eve who rebelled by eating the forbidden fruit and the dire consequences of that, felt to this day. Obviously I was intrigued by this story of a wife before Adam and she is there according to the Midrash. I was also very much intrigued by the role of the serpent as being the agent for change.
My re-telling of this ancient myth is with the purpose of looking at it with contemporary eyes. All good myths have something of the eternal about them. My approach is an in-depth psychological one and highlights the value of leaving Paradise. It is seen as the rise from Paradise, not the fall from Paradise.
There are many, many psychological layers to this myth of Lilith, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and I explore them in some detail. Can we relate to Eve’s rebellion and going against the status quo and taking the apple? Can being ‘in exile’ have a positive spin-off? Do we relate to Lilith – regarded as both a blessing and a curse. How do we relate to Adam who rejected Lilith, who blamed Eve and who in both instances rejected the other, feminine part of him. In what way in our contemporary lives are the undercurrents eg repression, rejection, still there, impacting, unresolved, waiting to be acknowledged, uncovered, for wounds to heal, instead of such issues being swept under the carpet in the hopes they’ll never appear again. Anything swept under the carpet, always re-appears, in different shape or form perhaps.
Lilith re-appeared after aeons in the depth of the Red Sea, disguised as serpent, and approaches Eve, her sister …
The symbol of serpent as agent of transformation is a powerful one, in its shedding of skin; analogous to the need of us as individuals needing to shed skin that no longer fits and serves no-one.
My research was extensive, borrowing on many learned and fascinating sources, deepening my intrigue and understanding.
I have been a student of Jung’s teachings and philosophy for many years now. Many other authors of his genre have informed and influenced my life and my writing. Matters of the psyche have always interested me deeply from a young age. Eastern philosophy has also been of interest to me from a young age.
I’d always wanted to create a book of psychological stories as a way of sharing stories in the belief that stories are worthwhile and deserve to be shared. In fact several years ago before the creation of this one, I had several chapters for another kind of book in which a few people from whom I requested their story, submitted same to me. I had the idea of including some of my own. They were amazing and wonderful stories but I came to realise that it was necessary for me to not shelter behind those stories, and to go out on a limb on my own.