March 27, 1998CE
Thank you for the reproduction of the Burney Relief (Lilith #LIL). It is a fair imitation of the original, though personally I would have preferred a rendition that included the wear and damage of the original.
In 1977 I founded the first Lilith-centric Wiccan coven in the Orange County (Southern California) area. Over the past 20 years we have collected a wide variety of books, in many languages (mostly German, Hebrew, English) for theological and psycho-analytical study.
This letter is to object to the card about Lilith that you included with the replica, as well as to what is written in your catalog about Lilith, and what is on your World Wide Web site about Lilith. All three are fundamentally, radically wrong.
The catalog states that "Archetypally, Lilith is the first feminist." This is not correct. The Lilith archetype, according to the person who coined the word "archetype" (Carl G. Jung, The Archrtypes and the Collective Unconscious, Princeton & London, CW, Volume IX) and some of his noted Jungian followers (Siegmund Hurwitze at al), Lilith is archetypically the Dark Mother in Her Lamashtu aspect, and the Seducer in Her Ishtar aspect. This dual aspect occurred very late in Her history: up to the Talmudic-Rabbinical period, She was only, archytipically, a terrible mother Goddess.
The catalog and card then claim that Lilith was / is a "Sumerian, Hebrew, and Muslim Goddess." The Muslim part is not correct. It also failed to mention the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites (among others).
The card claims that Lilith was "referred to anciently as the hand (maid?) of Inanna." Inanna and Ishtar are generally considered to be the same Goddess (Sumerian and Babylonian, respectively), but their aspects and attributes differ enough to consider them separate individuals. The connection to Inanna is extremely weak: in the Labartu text, Lilith is the "chosen confidante" of Irnina, a Goddess who is related to the Sumerian Inanna.
The card then states that the word "Elohim" is both feminine and masculine. This is not correct. You are confusing the suffix "-hin" with the suffix "-him." The word "Elohim" is masculine plural. By the time the Elohist wrote Genesis, the word had become singular. This is demonstrated by the use of the phrase "Elohim bara." (Gen 1:1) If it had been plural, "Elohim barim" would have been used.
Then the card and catalog states the most outlandish claim yet: that Lilith is a "Goddess of child-birth." Good grief. Lilith is the Goddess of child death. The vast amount of ancient literature available about Her is from amulets, plaques, and bowls inscribed with incantations (Shiptu) are protection against Lilith, by banishing Her from the area around ones’ house and birthing bed.
The card and catalog then state that, in the Burney Relief, Lilith is holding "the rod and ring of Sumerian royal authority." This is false. Only one Assyriologist (Henri Frankfort) makes this interpretations, but most others (Opitz, Contenau, van Buren) state that the objects Lilith is holding are "unknown."
The card and catalog state that Lilith in the Burney Relief is wearing "a stepped crown." This is not correct. Assyriologists identify Her headgear as a turban.
Finally, the card and catalog state that Lilith is "guarded by the bird of wisdom and the king of beasts." This is not correct. No where in the ancient texts does one find that Lilith is "guarded," or needs "guarding." The night owls symbolize Lilith’s connection with the night (emphasized by Her identical wings in the Burney Relief). Lions were sacred to Ishtar (among others).