As Mormons, we believe that Heavenly Father presented a plan for his spirit children in the preexistence. In this great Council in Heaven, Jesus was selected to be the one through whom redemption would be brought about through his intense suffering. However, Lucifer would step forward and offer to redeem humanity- if only we would follow him and he would receive all the glory. One-third of the spirits rebelled in favor of Lucifer’s plan.
And that’s how the story goes. That is what we are taught. But what about the rest of the story? What about Heavenly Mother? Where does she fit in?
Recently, it was suggested in another blog post featured in Young Mormon Feminists that Heavenly Mother was Lucifer and that Heavenly Father viewed her as narcissistic and attention seeking. As a result, Heavenly Father turned against all those who were made in Heavenly Mother’s image- namely her daughters. Consequently, Eve was demonized once partaking of the “apple”, and all her female children would be barred from the Priesthood. Man would now rule over us.
According to this particular blog post, this is the misogynistic god we serve. Thus, to seek out Heavenly Mother is to devour the “apple” and toss out the core.
Serpent imagery is found throughout the ancient world, and in fact, is used to represent the Sacred Feminine. But to claim Heavenly Mother appeared in the Garden to deceive Eve to spite Heavenly Father is problematic for a number of reasons. But what if there is another force at work in this narrative? One we haven’t considered?
The question I want to put forth is this: What if it wasn’t Heavenly Mother who deceived Eve, but some serpent-like being impersonating her? In The Mother of the Lord, Margaret Barker asks the following: “Did the serpent have his customary appearance, or was the serpent figure a disguise for another being whose words would have been accepted as coming from the LORD?” (367).
In essence, was there possibly another “darker” feminine presence impersonating our Mother in Heaven? My personal thoughts are, yes. But I do not necessarily believe, as tradition teaches, that “the devil” was male.
The name Lucifer, meaning “light bearer” is historically associated with the planet Venus, the “morning star,” which is also a reference to the Roman goddess of love. Thus, the name Lucifer is indeed feminine.
But was it Heavenly Mother who deceived Eve in the Garden? Again, I say no.
There is an ancient Jewish midrash concerning a she-devil by the name of Lilith. Tradition speculates that she was Adam’s first wife, due to the incongruent references to woman being created twice in the book of Genesis– the first time in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27) and the second time from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22). According to this story, Lilith refused to obey Adam, and so she was condemned for all eternity.
But this is one account. And perhaps this story serves as an earthly allegory for what actually occurred in the heavenly realm, in addition to providing an explanation for Lilith’s jealousy towards Eve.
Raphael Patai, author of The Hebrew Goddess, explains that according to the Kabbalistic Zohar, the Matronit (Heavenly Mother) was banished from heaven and exiled with her children. As a result, Heavenly Father was forced to take Lilith as his celestial mistress (250).
He adds that the return of the Messiah will mark the reunion of our Heavenly Parents, as well as the destruction of Lilith. Of this, Patai writes, “In the Days to Come, when Israel will take revenge on Edom, both she and the Blind Dragon, who arranged the match between her and Samael, will be killed” (251; see also Revelation 12).
Samael is another name for Satan, the “prince of devils,” who was the first husband of Lillith.
And while this may not provide any concrete answers to our earlier questions, it certainly suggests some interesting possibilities for further interpretation.
Up until recently, I remained unconvinced of the Lilith mythos. I thought it was just some story that I associated with the feminist concert festivals that were popular back in high school- the very same concerts I used to turn my nose up at. Even after my spiritual experiences with Heavenly Mother, I never once saw a connection.
Until the following happened….
One day my husband and I were taking our usual walk around the block. As we neared the woods, we stumbled upon this strange looking owl that was just sitting there in the leaves by the side of the road. We thought it might be hurt, and so we had discussed calling the local wildlife refuge to come pick it up.
The owl was white and very ghastly looking. It was just staring at us with intense fear in its eyes. We left and later came back, but when we returned, the owl had disappeared, but left its imprint in the leaves, indicating it clearly was not hurt.
We didn’t know what to make of this for the longest time.
One day, I stumbled upon this verse, which struck me as odd: “Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat-demons shall call to each other; there too Lilith (some versions say the “screech owl”) shall repose, and find a place of rest.” -(Isaiah 34:14, New Revised Standard Version)
Knowing Lilith was historically symbolized by the owl, as well as the serpent, I immediately thought back to the strange-looking owl we saw. Most certainly, it was resting “in its repose,” as one translation noted. And it sure was creepy!
And as I mentioned previously, it had an intense fear in its eyes, as if afraid of us. Perhaps because it knew of our connection with Heavenly Mother. However, the whole time I stood there looking at it, I was not afraid. It never once tried to hurt us, either. I had a feeling it couldn’t if it wanted to.
An odd experience, yes. But I’ll leave it up to you to decide what it could have meant.
That said, I do not believe for a minute it was Heavenly Mother tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden. If anything, Heavenly Mother was framed and betrayed by her arch-nemesis Lilith.
And according to Patai, Lilith knows her time is short.
Barker, Margaret. The Mother of our Lord: The Lady in the Temple. London: Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2012.
Patai, Raphael. The Hebrew Goddess. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
I belong to YMF group, but this crap about Lucifer = Heavenly Mother needs to go.
If that is your opinion then please share it on your personal blog but do not cause negativity towards YMF.
YMF as a blog has always been kind of an open forum for all sorts of perspectives, (especially less represented ones), to create and stimulate dialogue.
I’ve seen posts against female ordination, for female ordination, against gay marriage, for gay marriage, presenting the Book of Mormon as racist, presenting the Book of Mormon as valuable scripture, etc.
You’re totally welcome to write a blog post and post it on YMF in response to the idea of reclaiming Satan. I’m not the first in YMF to try to talk about Satan in positive ways, and if that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to contact the admins of YMF and post your own response! I would love to read it. 🙂
lucifer is the son of the morning, not the daughter or mother of the morning. Does anyone actually think that our Heavenly Mother, who has the same physical body and spiritual attributes as our Heavenly Father, would rebel and lead one third of her progeny to eternal damnation? Really??!! I’m sorry, but this seems to me to be doctrinal speculation that has no basis in scripture or logic.
Productive, genuine response always takes into account authorial intent. As such, I do not think this article constitute’s a reply to what Meli is doing in her article. Neither do the comments (and especially not the comments. If you pay attention to Meli and what she writes, then you know that she engages in *speculative*, not *historical* theology–––furthermore, she takes Mormon cosmology as a *mythos* that reveals the psyche, not the nature of the cosmos.
No amount of historical “evidence” (and the evidence in this article is scant) or personal experience could undermine or undo the utility of her article, because the utility was to present a *creative reinterpritation*, not a literal proposition about the cosmos.
The indignation you feel at the story she told is yours. And it shows something about you. It shows where you put your trust, what symbols are meaningful to you, and what stories are capable of making you defensive, frustrated, and offended. I’m not here to impose an “ought” on your feelings––but only to say that a proper criticism of Meli’s article would criticize her position on the utility of speculative/creative theologies.
She’s not saying that Heavenly Mother is Satan, she’s saying that a being named Lilith, acting as a demon, impersonated the Mother in the Garden of Eden to lead Adam and Eve astray.
Having said this, there is nothing to back it up but a tenuous chain of “supposes” based on various mythologies. I don’t see an owl found in the woods as tipping the scales here.
Hey, Meli here!
Loved this piece. The Hebrew Goddess has been on my reading list for awhile, and now I have a renewed interest in reading it for sure.
Also found the idea of a female goddess (Heavenly Mother) juxtaposed to a female demoness (Lilith) really interesting. Would love to see that explored more and what that entails, especially in a Mormon context.
That said, I feel like you’re misrepresenting my piece when you say that I’m claiming the Serpent “deceived Eve.” In the myth I was presenting, inspired on some level by Gnostic thought, I was placing Heavenly Father as the Demiurge, the one who’s really doing the deceiving, and the Serpent, our Heavenly Mother, as saving us from his deception.
I have been barking up this tree for awhile now, I am contemplating a similar concept, I wonder if Lucifer, or luci, represents the sacred feminine aspect. By turning the feminine aspect into a demon in modern dogmatic traditions it directs our focus away from the sacred feminine and thus locking our perseptions and focus on the male aspect of consciousness, thereby keeping us locked within this left brain world. Humanity will only experience a world of peace and prosperity once we achieve a balance between the feminine and masculine, a balance between logic and creativity, our current condition shows that we live in a masculine minded reality, with a primary religious, spiritual and physical focus on the masculine aspect. I also wonder if the serpent is, as stated an imposter who decieved Eve and is actually a negative archontic force which also is symbolicly represented as a serpent or a reptile.