I actually didn’t realize this influenced me so much until just now, when I was typing up an email to Rachel, who is the Widow in my show.
I am passionately, intensely, and irrevocably curious and excited about Judeo-Christian mythology and its influence on the modern world. I am especially fond of the pre-Biblical character Lilith, first wife to Adam, born of the dust he too was born from, spurned and exiled because she refused to be subordinate to him. (In the myth, she refused to lie under him during intercourse, but I like to think that’s more of a metaphor than fact. Point is, she didn’t want to be bossed around just ’cause she was a lady.) The myth continues that, embittered, Lilith became a demon consort to the Devil and who, forbidden from keeping her own demonic children, would steal and devour the children of others. She is often pictured as the snake who offered Eve the apple in the Garden. She is awesome, and I have a lot of opinions about her, and about why she is the way she is, etc. Being named after another misunderstood woman myself, I tend to gravitate toward the type.
So, for a chunk of my high school existence, I decided to fill my head with all the knowledge on Judeo-Christian mythology that I could possibly find. In my search, I found Michelene Wandor’s collection of poetry, Gardens of Eden Revisited. It is, more or less, a series of conversations between Lilith and Eve, and it is incredible. It has very much influenced the way I see myself as a woman, my ideas about womanhood, and the kind of feminism I support.
An excerpt from Lilith, the poem:
Eve’s children people the world
Lilith is never allowed to keep her children
Eve cares about everyone
Lilith cares about art
Eve is never alone
Lilith cannot rely on anyone
Eve has never had the luxury
of a dark night of the soul
Lilith has never known her own hearth
the two women meet for the first time ever
in Gardens of Eden
where they cultivate new plants
and find there are alternatives
to being fed up
this is the story of Lilith
who cannot exist without Eve
This is probably one of my favorite pieces of poetry ever; I have it, hand-written, hanging on my studio wall. For me, it details the balance between differing kinds of womanhood and how…well, it takes all sorts!
But now, after seeing how I’ve set up the characters of the Witch and the Widow, I see, very clearly, the influence that this book of poetry has had on my life. What a huge impact…who knew!