A feminist Jungian interpretation of Lilith, this book is a fun and interesting read and can serve to spark an interest in Lilith for those with no background on her. It is, however, not of much use to those wanting to do scholarly research into Lilith or even just for those seeking a general overview of Lilith. Koltuv falls into the trap that many Jungians do of not clearly distinguishing archetypal connections and historical connections between things which leads her to make claims that are simply not sustainable historically, such as claiming that Lilith appears in Teutonic mythology. (The closest thing to this claim would be her appearing in Ashkenazic myth, which is hardly the same thing as Teutonic.) Also, she engages in the same baseless gender essentialism as do most Jungians, only this time it’s from a feminist perspective instead of the more standard one. The book is not entirely useless, however–it collects many interesting images, as well as fascinating excerpts of various works. Not all of these images and excerpts are directly connected to Lilith, however, and the reader should not assume that they are merely by their being included in this book.
Renee Rosen-Wakeford reviews Lilith—The First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Dark Feminine by Siegmund Hurwitz in the Bkwyrm archive.
Unlike many Jungians, such as Barbara Black Koltuv (author of “The Book of Lilith”), Hurwitz can clearly separate the historical from the archetypal, and he divides this book accordingly into two separate sections: a historical overview of Lilith and a Jungian interpretation of the archetype she represents. His historical section is very good for the most part, but the psychological section is marred by both his anti-feminist stance and the typical Jungian essentialist approach to gender. Hurwitz seems sincerely afraid that women might identify with or draw strength from Lilith, and he goes to great pains to disparage those women who attempt to do so. For instance, he rightly criticizes many feminist writers for their lack of historical accuracy when discussing Lilith yet does not call to task the many non-feminist writers who do the exact same thing. Fortunately, the historical overview leaves out much of his anti-feminism and gender essentialism and serves as a decent survey of previous research on Lilith and her origins.
Renee Rosen-Wakeford reviews Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-De-Siècle Culture by Bram Dijkstra in the Bkwyrm archive.
Although technically this book has nothing to do with the occult per se–it’s a discussion of feminine imagery and misogyny in the art of the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century–it is illuminating for those interested in the cultural milieu from which the concept of the Great Goddess emerged. Whether or not you believe that the ancients actually worshipped one Great Mother Goddess, it’s clear that much of the Wiccan (and general Neopagan) concept the Goddess has been heavily influenced by turn of the century ideas of the Feminine, and a knowledge of these ideas is essential in order to comprehend modern beliefs about the Goddess and why these beliefs often differ from ancient beliefs about individual goddesses. In a few places, the author’s reasoning becomes a bit strained as he tries to discover the connections between various images and ideas, but overall, this is a fascinating survey of the idea of the Feminine in the turn of the century.