The Great Suffering: The Teachings of one Who Grew in Wilderness

Our third shoot is a depiction of Lilith's time of solitude and suffering.  This part of Lilith's journey places her in a chthonic wilderness untouched by man. It is a time of great suffering caused by her rebellion against the diminishment of her integrity.  We knew that this scene would have to show her fortitude as she struggles against her disintegration. This is also the time where, according to hebraic tradition, she gives birth to demons, only to then watch hundreds of them die as part of her curse for leaving Adam.

We knew we wanted to depict her as mother, though we do not believe that what she was giving birth to were literal demons.  Rather, she engendered inner knowledge; therefore, this isn’t human birth.  In many cultures, serpents are associated with knowledge, as well as with the moon and her cyclical nature.  We thought it fitting, then, that serpents represent the knowledge which Lilith brings into this world.

Below are images and footage from this shoot, as well as Luna's writing about this part of Lilith's journey.

When the Moon seems to disappear from the night sky the Earth is enshrouded in darkness. It is in darkness that we are most fearful of the things we cannot see. During her life in exile, Lilith steps into a wilderness untouched, unknown, and unobservable by man; her time of darkness. The new Moon.
Lilith has sacrificed the security of a life in the paradise that was the Garden of Eden. She must withstand the consequences of her resolve, the pain of suffering desolation in exile; a purposeful plunge into the depths of inner knowing impregnating her with greater longings. The darkness of the cave is also the darkness of fecundation. Seeds germinate in darkness. In our beginnings we are cradled in the darkness of the womb. 
Caves are often associated with the womb in different myths around the world. It’s not a coincidence that Lilith retreats into a cave during this time when she withdraws into the hidden precincts of her being. The ancients are clear in suggesting that she is entering the Earth’s womb to be reborn. The amnion protecting her is the wisdom of the dark, the light sparked by her intuition is that of inner knowledge. Her flight, the symbolic death or dissolution of her former self. The waning Moon. 
Lilith’s time in the cave is one of incubation and healing from the wounds resulting from her time with Adam and the experience of rebelling against divine law. When summoned by God she refused, accepting greater punishment by agreeing that hundreds of her children would die daily. It’s clear that she believes there is a purpose to her sacrifice. She is the first to assume intentional suffering as the vehicle to transformation, a rite of passage. Here she is an initiate to her new role, her true purpose. Her time of darkness being the trial of her becoming. 
This is a time of great suffering, fantastic suffering; prodigious in it’s purpose. As Lilith sheds her former self she is giving birth to intuitive wisdom, not that of logic or law but rather experience. This wisdom is an affront to a culture which would prefer that we accept “divine” mandates without question. 
This transformation is what makes her unable to return to the Garden of Eden, although stories do tell of her secret visits to Adam. Perhaps this suggests that her connection to Adam is not entirely severed. It is the wisdom of the night which allows her entrance. Once awakened to this wisdom she finds herself at the edge between civilization and wilderness. Her rightful place.

We open ourselves to your teachings. We break as you did allowing the light of inner wisdom through the cracks. With this work we call the voice of inner knowing; birthed and by pain inspired. For you Mother of all, we leave this body – we leave this body of work as an offering. 

Lilith: Myth to Flesh is a collaborative project undertaken by performance artist Luna Duran and photographer Gretchen Heinel.  By undergoing ordeals of the flesh, we aim to understand and communicate the sacred and transformative pain which Lilith endured on her journey from human to goddess.