Screech Owl; Beautiful Maiden; Dark Maid; Flame of the Revolving Sword; Maid of Desolation; Night Demon; Hand of Inanna; The Night Witch; The Howler

No spirit possesses a more fabulous history than Lilith, among the most primordial of spirits and the most modern. Few, if any, are more powerful. Her earliest appearance in recorded history is in Sumeria where she is somehow associated with Inanna. Although identified as a wind spirit, Lilith has profound associations with trees. She is a wild, free spirit who cannot be chained or contained. In the Sumerian myth of the Huluppu Tree, Inanna makes the transition to an urban, settled agricultural environment. When she instigates the chopping down of the sacred tree Lilith calls home, Lilith flees, remaining a spirit of the wilderness.

The Kabbalists identified Lilith as the spouse of Samael, chief of the evil angels. On the other hand, Lilith also reputedly sits at YHWH’s side in Heaven, his consort following the exile of the Shekhina and thus the most powerful intercessor of all, literally able to whisper in God’s ear.

Jewish legend identifies Lilith as Adam’s first wife, the true first female, created not from Adam’s rib but from Earth simultaneously with him. Adam and Lilith’s relationship quickly became contentious. She refused to take direction from him, specifically refusing to lie beneath him during sex. Lilith demanded to be treated as an equal rather than a subordinate, basing her claim on their common origin. When Adam attempted to force her, Lilith uttered the secret, ineffable name of the Creator and flew away, initiating the first divorce.

Lilith makes appearances in Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Canaanite, Hebrew, Mandaean, Persian, Sabaean and Arabic myth and folklore. She may linger in Christianity under the guise of some Black Madonnas. She is an omnipresent figure in Jewish myth and folklore. A book of Jewish fairy tales without Lilith is about as likely as a book of Mexican folklore without La Llorona.

Lilith demands acknowledgement. Her name appears only once in the Jewish Bible (Isaiah 34:14) and even that reference is ambiguous since it may also be literally interpreted as “screech owl.” Lilith is the suppressed goddess who refuses to disappear. If she’s not venerated, then she will be feared.

Spirit of darkness and night, Lilith is both angel and Demoness of conception. Blamed for miscarriage; stillbirth, crib death and infertility, Lilith the baby killer also bestows fertility when and if she chooses. She has dominion over sexual desire, erotic dreams and sacred sex magic. Emphasizing the ambiguity of her personality, Lilith herself has revealed the tools that will guard against her:

• Rue and iron ward her off

• Lilith has vowed not to cause harm wherever she sees her name(s) posted.

• The simplest amulet to prevent Lilith from causing harm involves casting a charcoal circle on the wall. Within the circle write “Adam and Eve, Out Lilith!”

• The Seal of Solomon (hexagram; Jewish star) protects against Lilith and diseases or harm that she causes. For maximum effectiveness, it should be made of iron or fine silver

Lilith once encountered the Prophet Elijah who immediately recognized her and demanded new improved protective measures. Lilith revealed her other names to him and vowed not to cause harm anywhere she saw or even heard those names. Unfortunately, the names were not immediately graven in stone: allegedly thirteen or seventeen names were given to Elijah but more variations exist today. For safety’s sake, these are the possible names:

• Abeko

• Abito

• Abnukto

• Amizo

• Ayil

• Batna

• Bituah

• Elio

• ’Ik

• ’Ils

• Ita

• Izorpo

• Kali

• Kea

• Kakash

• Matruta

• Odam or Odem

• Prtsa, Partsha; Partashah or Partasah

• Prta, Patrota, Petrota

• Podo

• Raphi

• Strina

• Tlto

Lilith despises sanctimonious people and punishes the prudish. She enjoys ensnaring hypocrites but is a protective guardian spirit towards those she perceives as her children, especially her daughters. (See Lilith, Daughters of.) Lilith has dominion over all aspects of sex, fertility and childbirth. She is immensely powerful; potentially vicious and will fearlessly eliminate any evil threatening those whom she guards.

Lilith resists attempts to classify or pigeon hole her. She breaks boundaries like the chains she abhors. Her name is synonymous with “witch.” She is frequently depicted as a vampire or succubus. She is a Queen of Demons and an Angel of Prostitution. Lilith leads 480 hosts of destroying angels and dangerous spirits. (The number is derived from numerology based on the numerical value of the letters in her name.) Yet 13th century Spanish Kabbalists described Lilith as a ladder on which one can ascend to the rungs of prophesy.


Lilitu (Sumeria); Lilis (Yiddish)




Lilith possesses many forms, appearing as an old crone or beautiful young woman. She may appear as a woman from head to waist; flame underneath. Lilith dresses in crimson. She wears forty ornaments less one. Her hair may be black or red but it will be distinctive, either because it is beautiful or because it is disheveled or both. Amid cultures where women’s hair is traditionally bound and/or covered, Lilith’s is loose and long. She manifests in animal form too, typically as a large black cat, black dog or owl. Even when in human form, Lilith may display bird’s feet, claws or wings.

A seventh century BCE tablet from what is now Northern Syria depicting Lilith as a winged sphinx is accompanied by an incantation in a Phoenician-Canaanite dialect intended to assist birthing women: Oh, Flyer in a dark chamber, Go away now, oh Lili!


The Sumerian Burney Plaque, (circa 2300 BCE) is generally identified as Lilith. It depicts her as a winged naked bird woman holding the ring and rod of power and flanked by owls. Her taloned feet stand atop reclining lions.


A flaming sword; Lilith’s myth contains mysterious references to hands:

• In Sumeria, Lilith is the Hand of Inanna.

• In the Kabbalah, Lilith is known as the Handmaid.

Decorate her altar with images of hands, especially the hand-shaped amulet called hamsa.


Black, red


The moon is Lilith’s lantern; her power increases with the waning moon. Lilith is also the name given to three distinct space phenomena: Earth’s hypothetical second moon (Dark Moon Lilith); the apogee of the moon’s orbit (the furthest point from Earth) and an asteroid


Algol, known in traditional Jewish astrology as “Lilith’s Star”.


Lilith has associations with air, water, earth and fire. Hebrew myth has her created from earth. In Sumeria, she began her incarnation as a wind spirit. She manifests as fire. The Zohar, holy book of the Kabbalists, explains that Lilith is nourished by water while the south wind spreads her influence. Lilith is as frequently found living in wells as she is in trees.


Lilith loves all wild animals but has a special affinity for jackals, hyenas, wild cats, black cats, black dogs, ostriches, snakes, dragons, spiders, and unicorns.


The owl is her sacred bird and messenger.


Lilith rides a dragon in which form she may also manifest.


Lilith rules solstices and equinoxes and is associated with the zodiac sign Scorpio.




Lilith is happiest in desolate wilderness, far removed from civilization. She loves forests, crossroads, seacoasts and especially the desert. When Lilith fled from Adam, she went to dwell in a cave in the desert on the shores of the Red Sea, reputedly still her favourite place. When she approaches people, she makes homes for herself in trees and wells. Provide them for her to keep her close.

It is difficult to imagine a spirit with more media presence than Lilith. Her appearances are too innumerable to list: Lilith herself or characters named in her honour appear on stage, screen and television. She appears in poems and novels as disparate as Goethe’s Faust or Marie Corellis The Soul of Lilith. Lilith is a constant presence in comic books, most famously as Marvel Comics’ Lilith, Daughter of Dracula, which emphasizes her vampiric reputation. Lilith is also Vampirella’s mother. The television series Supernatural features a vicious killer Demon named Lilith. The subject of many paintings, she was a great favourite of Pre-Raphaelites like John Collier and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Lilith Magazine, the feminist Jewish magazine, was founded in 1980.


Frankincense; plates of jam; tea; doll babies and images of the animals she loves; trees; create a wilderness for her. Offerings may be placed on an altar or outside.



Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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