A Biography of Lilith Script
A 35 min film by Lynne Sachs
MUSIC: Pamela Z sings “Bone Music”
NARRATION: When God created Adam from the earth, he realized that it was not good for man to exist alone, so he created a woman out of dirt and impure sediment just as he had created Adam. He called this woman Lilith. Alphabet of Ben Sira, 800 C.E.
NARR: Like a beast, she sat when making water.
NARR:Unwilling to give up her equality, she disputed with Adam the manner of their intercourse, wishing to lay on top during the sexual act. But Adam would not agree.
Lilith Speaks to Adam (song and recitation by Cherie)
Just when I am on my way to becoming,
My eyes open and you are there.
Is Eden large enough for the two of us?
Wherever I turn,
There are branches pulling at my hair.
Earth between my toes and under my tongue.
I slither and sometimes I use my wings.
Let’s slither together.
Earth becomes dirt becomes dirty.
Bent knees turn into corners.
Am I not right for this world?
Before you, I did not know I was I.
Now this I is part of my unbecoming.
NARR: Lilith was not only disappointed — she was angry. She called out the unspeakable Name of God and flew from Eden to the Red Sea, a place full of evil demons. There, she howled her hatred of mankind through the night and vowed vengeance because of the shabby treatment she received at the hands of Adam.
No Kingdom There (from Isaiah 34)
Streams turn to pitch.
Soil into sulfur.
“No Kingdom Here.”
And all the goats called Evil cry out
LYNNE: From the Zohar, I read these words, it’s Lilith:
I flew up to touch the small faces
But he tore me away.
He made me crawl below
And then I saw I was nothing.
I had no beauty.
I flew up again to touch the small faces,
To melt inside their eyes.
But the guards barred my way,
And he slapped me
And cast me into the sea.
An owl perched on a tree above
Blinks, shivers and flys into a cloud.
NARR: There in the waves of the Red Sea, she engaged in unbridled promiscuity.
TEXT: A single drop of Lilith’s menstrual blood is enough to poison a whole town. Kabbalistic legend, 12th Century
NARR: She was unable to bear human children and had no milk in her breasts.
Cherie’s Interview: So you get your bookings weekly and you hit all your Podunk towns from New Jersey, you work from nine to two. Can you hear me? The pay is very good. 10 to 15 bucks an hour, and it’s kind of cool in New Jersey because all you do is dance. You keep your clothes on. There’s not a lot of pressure, but you feel the pressure because every other dancer is hustling. The men come in there because they are horny or lonely. The lonely ones always found me. I guess they’re all lonely. I got to hear their sad stories about their wives, their rotten jobs and their poor economic situation. They plied me with liquor. You had to B drink. That means for every drink you get a kickback. They put little straws in the drinks to keep track. I wasn’t good at that.
NARR: Eventually, God sent three angels, Sanvai, Sansanvai and Semongolof, after Lilith. They found her by the sea and threatened that if she did not return , 100 of her demon sons would die everyday. She refused. Lilith preferred her punishment to living with Adam.
NARR: Back in Eden, Adam was overcome by a feeling of isolation when the animals came to him in pairs to be named. So God took one of Adam’s ribs, made it into a woman and brought her to Adam. Adam said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman. Her name will be Eve.”
NARR: As we all know, Eve disobeyed the will of God by eating an apple from the tree of knowledge. Some say it was the serpent who encourged her, others claim it was Lilith. God punished Eve for her transgression: “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Cherie Interview: I’ve never had any true relationship with men. My criteria for being a mother is having the stability to play that role fully. I don’t think I could do that as a single mother. I am too ambitious and eccentric and creative to give up who I am and what I’ve done in my life. By doing that I gave up the role of mother because I could not have done it alone.
TEXT: It is forbidden for a man to sleep alone in a house, lest Lilith get hold of him to steal his seed. Babylonian Talmud, 6th Century
SYNC: Lilith with three Angels talking in car:
Angel #1: Why do you need all this stuff for children? You don’t have any children Lilith. Isn’t that right?
Lilith: All the world’s children are my children.
Angel #1: All the world’s children are Eve’s children. It’s time you got that through your head.
Angel #2: We’re concerned with what you’re eating in reference to our children.
Lilith: I don’t care who I am eating!
NARR:The angels Sanvai, Sansanvai and Semongolof came back once again and spoke to Lilith on behalf of God: “You must stop haunting expectant mothers and newborns, giving them the sleep of death, drinking their babies’ blood, sucking bone marrow, eating flesh. When you see a mother wearing an amulet with your image or hear her singing our names — Sanvai, Sansanvai and Semongolof — you must stop your violent acts. That is your contract with God.”
Mothers singing incantation using Angels’ names:
Swny Swswny Snygly Soon Sosoony Snygly
Sideros Smamit Swny Swsny Snygly Soony Sosoony Snygly
Swny Swsnny Sngrw Soony sosoony sangro
O Sergius, Sideros, Swny Swswny Sngrw
Soony Sosoony Sangro Sanvai, Sansanvai, Semongolof
TEXT: When Lilith finds no children born, she turns on her own.
Numbers Rabbah, 11th Century
LYNNE:Mother Speaks to Baby
I’m learning to read all over again,
A face, this time, connected to a body.
At first, I feel your story from within–
Nose rubs against belly, elbow prods groin,
Your silent cough becomes
A confusing dip and bulge.
You speak and I struggle to translate.
I lie on my side, talk to myself,
Rub my fingers across my skin, from left to right.
I read out loud,
And I hope you can hear me.
I’m learning to read all over again
But this time I have a teacher.
TEXT: In ancient Babylonia, expectant mothers believed that Lilith could be trapped under a bowl inscribed with a formula against her. Alphabet of Ben Sira, 8th Century
LYNNE: Birth Poem
At last, nine full moons leave bare
The dust against the sky.
Air fills up with brightness.
A clumsy babies drops.
Dice on a betting table
Or rich, ripe fruit atop worn grass?
TEXT: A circle is drawn around a mother’s lying-in bed, and a magical inscription against Lilith is chalked upon the walls of the room.
Elijah Levita, 15th Century
Cherie’s Interview: At the time, keeping a child was just as absurd as everything else. I made an excellent choice because I’ve just been a person living on the fringes of society, battling to keep myself alive. To put a child through that would have been immoral. That’s how I felt then and that’s how I feel now.
TEXT:Lilith comes to earth to fornicate with men who experience nocturnal emissions or masturbate.
Demons and spirits born from this union are called “the plagues of mankind.”
The Zohar, 13th Century
Demon children born from a man’s adultrous encounters could make claims on their father’s property.
In Jerusalem, therefore, some burial societies forbid children from attending their father’s funeral. The evil spirits of their illigitimate brothers and sisters may be lurking about the open grave. Sephardic Burial Practice
Lilith Niggun Music
LYNNE: Mother Speaks to Baby
A smile comes over your face.
Lips flutter, flutter, quiver, turn up to touch cheek.
I know, am told, have heard — that
In the dark, under your cradle,
There in the empty space of dust between
I catch the reflection of my face in her eyes.
I am a snake, a spider,
The flame of a burning sword,
A feather that tickles at the nape of your neck,
Broken glass and nakedness.
I touch your nose and her spell is broken.
Something lost and nothing gained.
For a moment your head swishes between ears.
To say no, to resist and then to sink into
Nothing more than a pillow.
TEXT: If a child laughs in his sleep, especially on the night of the full moon, this is a sign that Lilith is tickling him.
A mother will do well to tap her child on the nose and say “To her that flies in rooms of darkness, pass quickly, quickly, Lilith. You have no inheritance here.”
Emek ha-Melekh, 17th Century
Cherie Interview: I’ve always been a dance and I loved that. I spend a lot of money on costumes and carefully selected my music. Then I had inspiration when I was up there. The guys didn’t like me too much when I was up there dancing. I was in my own little world.
Durme Durme Music
Cherie Interview: If I could tell a different story and have a different history to tell you, playing another role, the mask, the social games, that was what I got paid for. A lot of places didn’t want me back because I wasn’t making money for the house. It was my life. That’s how I supported myself. I never thought of it. It kept me sane. If I zeroed in on what the job really was, it’s very degrading to women.