Lilith and transcendence

When masculine shame is re-visioned, Lilith, even in her embodiment as death and destruction, becomes beneficent and releases a man from the definitions of his ego. Lilith becomes a cosmological principle of manifestation working for a subtler, higher purpose. The succubus is not only a repository for shame, but of the forgotten, true self as well; facing her brings a man into the fullness of his creative life. This, in effect, is the resolution to the myth of Adam and Lilith. Just as with Lilith’s encounters with Elijah, all Lilith requires to withdraw her evil powers is recognition. In other words, the resolution for the battle between the sexes is quite the opposite of fighting - it takes destruction of the other, the absence of self, and therefore - recognition. When a man faces his shame, when he becomes nothing, he discovers the chthonic, spiritual aspects of Lilith. This means that submission is not simply a willing towards death, but rather a willingness towards eternal life - with Lilith as midwife to rebirth. To grow conscious of one’s shadow is to develop a capacity to endure, prevail, live and create. By pushing life to its very extremes, to just the point where death becomes a true contingency - and in facing masculine shame it most certainly can - the submission to death and castration becomes in actuality a submission to love and to life. It is just as Joseph Campbell said, “We seek not the meaning of life, but the experience of being alive.” In the most unimaginable of places (evil), the unthinkable can be thought, the unspeakable can be named, the invisible can be seen and the unhearable can be heard. The demonic becomes daimonic. When shame is metabolized, limitation and death is transformed into an oceanic moment of connection. Outer strength, the kind that identifies with power, becomes inner strength and reconciliation to his human lot. This feeling is described well by Pressfield in the words of a Spartan warrior: “I and every man there were never more free than when we gave freely obedience to those harsh laws which take life and give it back again” (1998: 361).

I n the transformation of symbiosis into a unity with the mother, maternal reverie, the mindful reflection a mother gives her child, becomes the transcendent function, a term that Jung defined as a true labor, a natural “process of coming to terms with the unconscious” (1953: 80) that involves both action and suffering. The transcendent function bridges the yawning gulf between rational and irrational, thinking and feeling, conscious and unconscious. The ego begins to see through the higher consciousness of intuition. The ego stands on the ground of the self, and information passes between them. The individual is empowered by his own consciousness infused by the maternal feminine.

Man’s first natural, instinctual self can be transformed into a spiritual self. Spirit can only be spirit when it is mediated through Mother Nature. The death of the ego is an attempt of spirit to know itself, the only true resolution of dependence on the mother. The self that gradually and painfully emerges from one’s struggle with evil and instinct rises from the ashes of shame. Transcendent spirit wins its independence from every form of externality; otherness becomes a part of the totality of self, consciousness and freedom.

Man also moves towards participation in the created order as an equal, neither superior nor inferior. The emergence of weakness as a permitted masculine attribute depends upon a man’s integrated awareness that he stands as one among a world of interdependent individuals. His shame is not to be feared, for it simply includes him in humanity’s lot, which even God had to join if he were to reconcile himself to his failings towards humankind. Woman can be seen in a new light: rather than seeing the evil succubus, a woman becomes the mother who bears the mystery and misery of life through his seed, as well as providing for his pleasure. Recognition at both the infantile and Oedipal levels of the maternal feminine, described below, are restored:

a simplicity and openness with regard to existence . . . (an) attitude of a being who exists gladly, is unashamed of existing, stands upright in existence and for whom to be and to accept the natural limitations of existence are matters of equally simple assent. Trees and animals are like this.

(Maritain, 1943: 17)

Then he can bond, share, emotionally relate, and reveal himself in full nakedness to a woman - as he is now fully human.

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