The Changing Portrait of Lilith: From Demon to Hero and Icon

Date: Wednesday May 22, 3:30–5pm


I weave together three threads in this presentation. We see various images and roles of the mysterious and powerful figure of Lilith. She goes from being a demonized projection of women’s fears in the Ancient Near East to a modern feminist icon against patriarchal religions. Then, there is the development of women’s spirituality and feminist movements, which re-imagine and re-image Lilith in innovative and provocative ways. And finally, there is the cultural phenomenon of Tarot cards, which has changed from a recreational card game to an instrument of spiritual advancement and self-discovery. Tarot cards draw on archetypes and are a rich and popular visual medium, yet they are rarely discussed in academic circles. I discuss the above historical and religious-ideological developments. Images of Lilith (particularly in recent author-published Tarot cards) illustrate how people and groups use visual arts to construct meaning and identity. 

Dr. Steven Muir is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Concordia University of Edmonton (Alberta). His research interests include Biblical Studies and Early Christianity, Pilgrimage, Ritual, Women’s Studies, and Western Esoterica.

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