Whether you’re a man or a woman, Lilith in astrology embodies the ‘dark’ aspects of the feminine: subversion, insubordination, deviant sexuality, rebellion and rage. Yet who is Black Moon Lilith and is she friend or foe? Let’s take a deep dive and explore exactly what Lilith means in astrology.
Black Moon Lilith through the ages
Lilith has been with us for over 4000 years and yet there has never been agreement about who she was, or is. Some scholars believe she was originally a Babylonian demon, other believe she may be even older, one of the many goddesses of a theorised matriarchal period transformed into demons as patriarchy took over.
As monotheism replaced polytheism in the west, Lilith was incorporated into the Jewish tradition as the first wife of Adam, who left the Garden of Eden willingly because she was unable to accept a subservient role.
In the modern era Lilith is just as hard to pin down. Do an image search and you’ll find her in many guises: as a vampire, blood dripping from her fangs, as a winged and horned demoness, as a gun toting activist, as a haloed goddess or as a leather clad femme fatale, cigarette hanging seductively from her mouth.
The only thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that Lilith is everything a virtuous woman is not. For many years her story was used in the Judaic and Christian traditions as a means of keeping women in their place. The power of this mythology was such that Lilith was feared by virtuous women for bringing down calamity during childbirth and for stealing children. Women wore amulets to protect themselves against Lilith’s menace.
In modern times Lilith has been claimed by feminism as a symbol of the emancipated woman, free to express her passion as she wills. But does this idealistic view of Lilith capture her true essence any better than the demonisation? Perhaps both views are too simplistic, products of our dualistic morality where everything is either good or evil but never both.
Lilith in astrology: the technical stuff
In astrology, as in mythology, Lilith refuses to be confined to a single version of herself. In fact there are at least three versions of Lilith in astrology! Black Moon Lilith is the one most commonly used, however there is also an asteroid called Lilith, as well as Dark Moon Lilith. Some people even associate the fixed star Algol with Lilith.
Dark Moon Lilith does not exist. Theorised to be a dust cloud orbiting Earth that hid a second moon, it was ‘seen’ by an astronomer in the 1600’s and recorded, but was later discovered to be a smear on the lens of the telescope and proven to be mathematically impossible.
Asteroid Lilith is actually the only solid object associated with Lilith, but it was actually named for a French composer called Lili. Also, as Lilith herself is so ephemeral and difficult to define I can’t really see her there. Still, if you feel drawn to you can check out the position of asteroid Lilith in your natal chart at astro.com by typing 1181 into the manual entry box at the bottom of Extended Chart Selection.
Black Moon Lilith, also known as the lunar apogee, is not an object but a point calculated in space, much like the moon nodes, the vertex and the part of fortune. The lunar apogee is the farthest point of the moon’s ellipse shaped orbit around the earth. It takes about nine years to move around the zodiac and changes sign every nine months or so.
To complicate matters further, if we use Black Moon Lilith as our representation of Lilith in astrology, we are then faced with a choice as to whether we take the Mean or the True lunar apogee. Because the moon is pulled out of orbit by the Sun’s stronger gravitational force it actually has a very irregular and wobbly orbit that is very difficult to predict. The mean apogee is an attempt to simplify this and is used by most astrologers.
Black Moon Lilith represents our darkness
Darkness is essential for life, just as light is. During the night we rest, our planet cools from the heat of the day, moisture is returned to the Earth through condensation, plants, animals and humans sleep and their bodies are nourished and replenished. If Lilith is a creature of darkness then she also contains the seeds of this goodness.
Astrologically Lilith represents the aspects of the feminine in our psyche that are considered by society to be subversive, wrong or unacceptable. This includes promiscuous or kinky sexuality, anger and violence, as well as a rebellious or insubordinate attitude toward the social hierarchy.
From our modern feminist perspective it’s easy to see that mythical figures such as Lilith are a useful tool for keeping women under the thumb, and ensuring that men did not have to support or raise children that were not their own. The qualities of Lilith are not wrong in and of themselves, instead they have been labelled as such in order to maintain social order.
Which isn’t to say that the energy of Lilith can’t be dangerous and self destructive. Astrologically Lilith represents the anger and passion of the feminine which can be used in both positive and negative ways. Unleashing your anger and desire without thought for how it may impact others is unkind, yet trying to suppress it will only make things worse.
Many traditions had specific times set aside during the yearly cycle of festivals to honour the dark aspects of the psyche, such as those ruled by Pluto and Lilith. In Roman times, the Bacchanalia honoured Bacchus, god of wine. According to some sources it was a frenzied night of drinking, dancing and fucking, a giving in to the most primitive or human impulses.
In modern times, the Peruvian culture maintain a tradition of officially sanctioned violence where on a particular day of the year one is encouraged to express aggression and to settle disputes through direct conflict. People are literally killed, and on Christmas day no less!
Reclaiming Black Moon Lilith in your own life
Lilith has much to offer us including freedom from social stricture, independence and a connection with who we really are at the deepest level. If you want to understand yourself warts and all Lilith can help show you the way, although the path she takes you on may lead you through terrain that brings up terror, shame and fury. Understanding her will also help you learn to express your dark side in a healthy way.
Some people don’t experience the Lilith archetype very strongly at all while others, such as myself, feel her as an essential part of themselves and have had to work hard to reclaim her. Those who feel Lilith strongly will usually have her residing in one of the angular houses (1st, 4th, 7th or 10th), or in tight aspect to a personal planet or point.
If you’re interested in understanding more about Lilith’s role in your life I offer a half hour reading specifically covering this dark aspect of the feminine psyche. And it’s not just for women by the way – men also contain the divine feminine, whether they express it freely and openly or not. You can order the reading here.
PS: If you’re keen to find out more about Lilith in astrology, as well as in mythology, I recommend this excellent article.
If you don’t have one yet, you can get a free birth chart at astro.com. To understand how to read your birth chart, and follow the transits in your own life, download my free ebook The Language of Astrology.