The Dark Dawning

The Crone who became Virgin

The New Moon is at once death and preparation for rebirth. As the Moon begins a new cycle, our lady of the night suggests to us that our stories do not end in our times of darkness and perhaps they do not end with death.

The origins of Lilith’s story are not tied to the Abrahamic traditions which adopted her tale to warn men of the kind of female sexual expression they find unacceptable. The origins of her story begin when sexuality was made sacred by the worship of Goddess. Lilith was “the hand of Inanna”. Her role was to lead warriors who had returned from battle, from an intimate encounter with death, to the Goddess’ temples where they were guided through the sacred sex rites to be reborn and brought back to the world of the living. These same “virgins” took care of the dying to deliver them to death so that when they had a good death they could be reborn. What makes them virgins was not that they were untouched; what made them virgins was that they were not owned by any man.

The virgins so intimately aware of the ecstatic powers of sex were also intimately familiar with the final ecstasy. The one owed to us by the pain of being thrust into this world at birth, cold, bloody, and screaming; our eventual demise. Their duty to the dying was delivering them to death as we are greeted by our mother’s embrace. 

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Death is a Goddess, the Dark Goddess is our Mother

Goddess worship not only spoke to us of the animal in each of us, the part of us which bleeds, but also about the illusion that what we are witness to has an end. She speaks of an eternal spiral, our eventual return to that which gave us life so that life can begin again.

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Equipped with the wisdom of the night, Lilith is resurrected. Having gone through a disintegration, a time of darkness to shed the restraints of her former self, she is now whole- a Full Moon. She has sacrificed everything to know herself fully and by doing so has illumined a path which guides us through the dark.

The final tableau in this series depicts Lilith’s return to the world of the living in her magnificent fullness. The images in this post are direct scans of the negatives from the photo session for the final part of the series. The costume and makeup were made by Numi Empire inspired by the Burney Relief which depicts a Dark Goddess thought to be Lilith but may in fact be Inanna. The reference is appropriate as the Story of Lilith is one which would guide us to a time where the Goddess was worshiped and not repressed. Lilith is forever defiant of the powers which prefer our subservience and make us fearful of the hidden mysteries where Goddess is most resilient.

Lilith: From 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.