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Fundamentalists, Feminists, and Fang-Bangers:

The Destruction and Resurrection of Lilith from Gilgamesh through True Blood

“I am your Father’s first wife,

who disagreed with the One Above

and gained Freedom in the Darkness.

I am Lilith.”[1]


It has been over seven years since HBO has released a new episode of Alan Ball’s twisted and often ridiculous soap opera, True Blood,[2] and even longer since Charlaine Harris penned a new story for The Southern Vampire Mysteries series on which the program was based.[3] The melodramatic attitude of this pulpy supernatural thriller was an ideal platform to call modern religion onto the floor for the unveiled bigotry and discrimination that it so often teaches. Shifting modern-day culture war tropes into the world of the absurd (e.g. “God Hates Fangs”) opened the door for a discussion about how our faith can continue to construct itself to serve the culture in which it exists, or it can remain stagnant as its life source slowly drains away.

As is typical with heightened reality fantasy television, True Blood eventually devolved into a parody of itself in the last few seasons; however, it was in these easily dismissed seasons that I first met Lilith. Sure, I had heard her name before, equating her with simply another “evil harlot” from religious history among Jezebel, Delilah, Mary Magdalene, and the like. It was in the context of True Blood’s Vampire Bible that I came to know Lilith as the first beloved of God and the first woman of Eden.[4] Lilith: the first woman punished for voicing her opinion and objecting to a man, the first person to become angry with God, a myth so reviled and revered that she would inspire the exact monster that scared you most as a child…no matter which monster that is.

Who is Lilith? How is it that one obscure ancient mythological figure could simultaneously embody the love of God & the fall of humanity, the dangerous wiles of women & the matron saint of Lilithfare, The savage beast & the gentle lover? Is she in the Bible and I never noticed? Was she really a proto-vampire? What caused her fall from God’s grace, and can she be redeemed? In my exploration of these questions, I detail her history and why I believe that her appearance on True Blood is a major step toward her liberation.


Veiled in velvet, is she here?

Leave off, leave off:

You shall not enter,

you shall not emerge.

It is neither yours nor your share.


The sea is swelling;

its waves are calling.

I hold to the holy portion –

I am held in the holiness of the King.

~ Incantation Against Lilith (Anonymous)[5]


Stories that can be linked to the mythological Lilith are found in historical texts dating as far back as, nearly, 3000 BCE.[6] The details surrounding her creation are unknown, likely folklore that survived for years through oral tradition, eventually written down in some of the earliest written texts known to modern scholarship.

Whether or not the story was originally intended for religious purposes, she has spent most of her recorded life inextricably linked to the Abrahamic origin myth of the Creation of the Universe. In an attempt to make reason out of, then, unexplainable tragedy, early religion used Lilith as the villain who could take the blame for infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, maternal death during labor, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Postpartum Depression, and a host of other natural phenomena. Lilith came to represent the danger of feminine strength. She was a tool to subordinate and vilify women who possessed the undesirable qualities of self-confidence and strong-will. These were dangerous indications that a woman was a seductress “she-demon” in search of babies to steal and men to lure into adultery.



The first-known written occurrence of a “Lilith demon” dates to 2400 BCE. A list of Sumerian Kings states that Gilgamesh's father was a Lillu.[7] [8] The “Lilith she-demon”[9] is one of the hero’s obstacles within The Epic of Gilgamesh dated to around 2000 BCE.[10] Ancient tales of Lilith have been discovered on Babylonian terracotta, Northern Syrian tablets, she is mentioned by name in Isaiah 34:14, and she begins to thrive in the Talmud with the details of her origin and dismissal from Eden later being fleshed out by the Kabbalistic Mystics and the Zohar. These stories would spark the invention of religious rituals to protect against a visit from Lilith, which would remain commonplace into the 19th Century.[11]

One would expect a 4400-year-old story with origins in many different cultures to carry glaring contradictions and anomalous details, and to change and evolve over time; but Lilith’s story has remained fairly consistent. Whether these stories were written in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, or Sumerian; each version of her story is remarkably complimentary to the other (bearing little more difference than has long been acceptable in the canonical scriptures). “A citizen of Sumer in 2500 [BCE] and an East European Hassidic Jew in 1800 [CE]…would have readily recognized as most familiar each other’s beliefs about the pernicious machinations of Lilith, and each other’s apotropaic measures resorted to in order to drive her away or escape her enticements.”[12]

Lilith is thought to be the First Woman, and the original wife of Adam.[13] The largest amount of discrepancy lies in her creation story, which is believed to be one of the last details to be added.[14] The Zoharic Mystics say that she was inadvertently created in the same moment that YHWH God created light; an equal and opposite creation, a natural balancing mechanism to the new reality of the universe, if YHWH is light personified, then Lilith is Dark personified. Most, however, believe that she was created from the earth in the same way that Genesis 2:7 describes the creation of Adam. One notable variation on this account claims that, for unknown reasons, God created Lilith out of tainted earth and Adam out of clean earth. [15]

The details vary around her time as Adam’s wife; she was given the gifts of fertility and insight while Adam was given the gifts of creating and naming. She was either pleasant and kind during this time or not. Regardless of the details, she ends up being raped by Adam after she tells him that she doesn’t want to lay on the ground like an animal beneath him, because she is his equal. As Adam forces himself upon her, she shouts God's ineffable[16] name and flies into the air, leaving Adam and the rest of Eden behind her.[17] The order of events of what happens next vary, but some version of the same events take place.

Lilith leaves the garden in exile, sometimes pregnant with Adam’s baby, sometimes not. She becomes Samael’s (i.e., Lucifer or Satan) mistress. She takes to solitude in the sea[18] where she is, sometimes, thought to have given birth to the ocean life. She is frequently accused of being responsible for tricking Eve into eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God banishes her from Eden and curses her to give birth to 100 children a day who will all die before the day is over – others simplify the curse by making her barren, but the same intentionally inflicted emotional grief and loss is always implied.[19]

She is said to have populated the earth with demons or ghost babies. She lived with Adam in the wilderness as his succubus for 130 years after Caine killed Abel. She had a caring relationship (sometimes sexual, sometimes familial) with Caine sometime after he was banished to the desert.[20] In the 15th Century CE, it was even written that she became the Consort of YHWH after the destruction of the temple.[21] [22]

She is forever grieving the loss of her motherhood and has vowed to take as many babies away from the descendants of Eve as possible. However, she has made an agreement with a messenger from God[23] that if she should hear or see written any of her names, or the names of the messengers, then she will do no harm to the family. She is believed to be able to interfere with a couple’s ability to conceive, and to be able to conceive a demon or ghost baby through a man’s nocturnal emission. Pregnant women are in danger of being killed or losing the pregnancy by her, and newborns were the most vulnerable to her evil. It is believed that when an infant giggles in its sleep or when it is in a room alone, that is a sign that Lilith is there, playing with the child and planning to take its spirit with her.[24]

She is the prototype for many familiar folk monsters, including shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires, witches, La Llorona, and Succubae. She is commonly associated with owls, snakes, rats, big cats, wolves, and dragons.[25] She is often described as having wings, and has been known to transfigure herself into an owl, a wolf, a rat, and a serpent. For 4400 or so years, she has been the source of everything that haunts our dreams.[26]



Early explorations into what would become Lilith began when Rabbis wanted to explain the seeming contradictory accounts of creation as described in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. The thought was that there must be a fragment of the story missing between the two chapters. When “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” (Gen 1:26, NRSV) God created Adam and Lilith, both from the earth and in God’s image.[27]

Despite her early appearance in the creation narrative and the apparent Ancient Near Eastern cultural knowledge of her, she is practically less than a footnote in the Tanakh. Her name appears only once in all of the Jewish and Christian bibles. Isaiah 34:14:

וּפָגְשׁ֤וּ צִיִּים֙ אֶת־אִיִּ֔ים וְשָׂעִ֖יר עַל־רֵעֵ֣הוּ יִקְרָ֑א אַךְ־שָׁם֙ הִרְגִּ֣יעָה לִּילִ֔יתוּמָצְאָ֥ה לָ֖הּ מָנֹֽוחַ׃

“The desert animals will meet together, the jackals, and the demon calling each other friend; Lilith will also settle there and will find her resting place” (My translation). This passage refers to a future time in which the Jewish people will be able to victoriously return from their Babylonian exile to a restored Jerusalem. In this future, Isaiah is prophesying that YHWH will smite Edom, and in its desolation the worst monsters of the Earth, including Lilith, will forever live amongst each other.

Chapters 33-35 of Isaiah are believed to have been added to the book during or after the Babylonian exile.[28] Could it be that the Jews in Diaspora adopted the image of Lilith from the culture in which they were living, perhaps allowing her to become the face of the fabled first wife of Adam? There is no way to know for certain, but one can’t help but take notice of the fact that the first occurrence of Lilith’s name being written in the stories of Israel coincides with 70 years spent living in a culture who had believed in Lilith since ca. 2000 BCE.[29]

Talmud, Midrash, and Jewish Mystics

By the Talmudic period (2nd to 5th Centuries CE) Lilith had fully developed into the infamous she-demon that she is known to be. Excavations of a Jewish Colony in the Nippur region of Babylonia uncovered incantation bowls from the time containing images of Lilith, incantations to ward her off during childbirth, divorce decrees severing her connection to men to whom she had attached herself, and stories reminding its readers of Lilith’s promise to Elijah and the three angels, Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof to do no harm to the children whose parents protect them with a charm.[30]

Beginning around the 10th Century CE, Lilith was solely understood to be a demon who seduces men and kills children:

When the Holy One, blessed be He, brought her up, and she obtained power over all those children – the “small faces” of mankind – who deserved to be punished because of the sins of their fathers. She roams all over the world, then approaches the gates of the Garden of Eden and observes the Cherubim watching over the gates. She sits down there, next to the flame of the sword, since it was from that flame that she originated. When the flame turns around (indicating that the world has entered into a phase of punishment), she rushes off and again goes roaming all over the world to seek out the children who deserve to be punished. And she smiles at them and kills them. [31]

And she [Lilith] goes and roams at night, and goes all about the world and makes sport with men and causes them to emit seed. In every place where a man sleeps alone in a house, she visits him and grabs him and attaches herself to him and has her desire from him, and bears from him. And she also afflicts him with sickness, and he knows it not, and all this (takes place) when the moon is on the wane. [32]

Greco-Roman Mythology

Lilith is also associated with Lamia; לִּילִ֔ית from Isaiah 34:14 is translated as Lamia in the Latin Vulgate Book of Isaiah.[33] Lamia’s vicious sexual appetite matches her cannibalistic appetite for children. A notorious vampiric spirit, she loved sucking blood. According to Siegmund Hurwitz, though they bear different conflicting origin stories and physical descriptions, the Talmudic Lilith relates to the Greek Lamia who were called “child killers” and feared in much the same way as Lilith.[34]

Islam & Christianity

Judaism’s sister religions follow the Jewish account of Lilith for the most part, if at all. Arabic Folkloric tradition tells of the Qarinah, who was rejected by Adam, gave birth to demons, and pursued children. These stories and the stories of Lilith merged in early Islam.[35]

Occult writer, Dion Fortune, highlighted that in Christianity, the Virgin Mary is Lilith’s cosmic opposite. “Now the occultist working under a proper system, knowing that he has got to meet these forces sooner or later, picks them up one by one voluntarily and by means of the appropriate rituals, and synthesizes them within his own nature. He knows too that each aspect has its obverse. The Virgin Mary is reflected in Lilith. The older faiths knew this, but popular Christianity, which has no roots in tradition, has forgotten it. Protestant Christianity threw away its occult aspect at the Reformation.”[36]



From here, most writings about Lilith devolve into absurdist superstations, rituals, and incantations. Between the 10th and 19th Centuries, Lilith remained the child-steeler haunting the homes of young families. Religious texts about her are filled with checklists of rules to follow, prayers to offer, and incantations to perform in order to stay safe. Rabbi Naphtali writes, “Lilith, God preserve us, has dominion over children who issue from him who couples with his wife in candlelight, or with his wife naked, or at a time when he is forbidden to have intercourse with her. All the children who issue from such unions, Lilith can kill any time she wishes, because they are delivered into her hands. And this is the secret of the children’s smiling when they are small – because of Lilith who plays with them.”[37] And according to a Babylonian manuscript, “if you place a needle close to the wick in the lamp which is in the house of the woman in childbed, she will be safe from the entry of Lilith. Also, if she take the measure which is used to measure the wheat, and place it close to the bed, and if Lilith is there, she will sit on that measure and will not move from her place until they remove that measure from there.”[38]

These superstitions would remain in tradition-bound communities through the late 19th – early 20th Century.[39] As gothic horror began to develop in the late 18th Century, Lilith would begin to take on a new kind of fascination. Such fascinations would lead to a host of non-religious superstition about how to kill a demon if you encounter one. I will discuss these in more detail later.


[W]hen we call our magazine Lilith, we are asserting our affinities not only with Lilith, the prototype of equality, rather than with Eve, symbol of inequality, but with all victims of exploitation and injustice as well.

~ from Lilith #1[40]


In the mid-to-late-20th Century Lilith assumed a new place in society. An oppressed community saw past her tarnished image. Focusing on her story before the monsters, before the child-killer, before the succubus. Until then, Lilith represented danger; a cautionary tale which allowed the church to teach male superiority and the obedient woman. In Lilith’s origin story, however, the New Wave Feminist movement found a kindred spirit. For them, Lilith represented the strength, independence, and equality that they were fighting for, and began the process of revitalizing Lilith’s image. She could become an Icon for Feminist Liberation theologies.


The New Lilith

In her study, A New Species: Gender and Science in Science Fiction, Robin Roberts eexplores the relationship between contemporary feminism and science fiction. She observes that “though pulp science fiction itself at first seems an inhospitable place for feminist ideas, the patterns of science fiction provide women writers with the opportunity for radical revision and reclamation.”[41] Lilith’s image rebranding utilized Roberts’ tactics, beginning in 1940 with CL Moore’s Fruit of Knowledge.[42]

Moore continues Lilith’s narrative as the first woman; opting for a more Zoharic creation.[43] Moore’s Lilith takes human form because Adam longs for a mate, she’s a “bad girl” by choice with a passion for both men and revenge, and she is very jealous of Eve. Despite her role as “The Queen of Air and Darkness,” Moore’s Lilith is sympathetic to the reader. Written with a palpable and joyful feeling of power and ecstasy. In this context, Lilith is not exactly an ally to womankind, but instead emphasizes power, action, and choice, not affection. While Eve supports the patriarchy by submitting to Adam, Lilith threatens the patriarchy with autonomy.[44]

In 1987, Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn[45] fully claimed Lilith to be a savior. Butler’s black heroine is placed outside of the context of Eden with the usual suspects. As with the original myth, she is raped by Adam early on and soon learns that it has resulted in her pregnancy. When the resulting child is born a demon, Lilith’s humanity is brought into question. Suddenly, this is not just a story about the patriarchy, it’s a story about belonging and the other. This Lilith is essential to the survival of the community in which she lives, she alone can birth the community back to life. “We…do need you,” they tell Lilith, describing her as “horror and beauty in rare combination,”[46] in a nod to the original myth.

Instead of mourning the loss of her motherhood, Lilith now questions whether or not she even wants to be a mother as she follows along with societies insistence that she “continue the family line.” This Lilith exhibits characteristics that the reader has come to associate with Eve, revisioning Lilith in a way that acknowledges the the modern realities of women and mothers in the twentieth century. In this revision, we are asked to allow space for both self-love and altruism, female desire and motherhood. Lilith’s imperfections are part of her perfection in our eyes. She’s human, not Devil or God; no more fit for idealized fantasy than me. Her character serves to complicate our conceptions of women and mothers; both maternal and sexual, soft and firm, dark and light.


Lilith Fair

As the movement toward reclaiming Lilith’s power and dignity began to take hold, her name began to take hold in pop culture, as well. This time, not as the she-demon of her past, but as a symbol of strength and empowerment. When singer Sarah McLachlan chose to buck industry wisdom by booking a tour consisting of two female headliners and no men,she would go on to invite two more female musicians to join them at their Vancouver concert on September 14, 1996; marketing it as “Lilith Fair” in honor of Lilith’s refusal to be subservient to Adam. The Following three summers, McLachlan organized the Lilith Fair tour, each featuring dozens female solo artists and female-led bands, both known and unkown.[47]The popularity and enthusiasm with which these concerts were embraced led to the tours raising more than $10 million for charity.[48] [49]

By the end of the 20th Century, Lilith had become a symbol of freedom and possibility for a large community of the oppressed and other’d. Lilith had successfully split herself into two disparate personalities. Simultaneously, the icon of autonomy and womanhood, and the Mother of all that is evil in the world. However, just as her surprising affair with God altered the end Lilith’s story in the 15th Century, the storytelling methods of the 21st Century would provide a surprising new twist to the fate of Lilith.


On the last night

When the moon is a sliver of darkness

Comes the final embrace!

Shine black the sun!

Shine black the moon!

The waters rise!

Ahi hay Lilitu!

~ The Rising Tides, Revelations of the Dark Mother[50]


The beginning of the 19th Century would see popular culture provide a new venue for the night demons inspired by Lilith. The Gothic Horror genre, perfected by Mary Shelley, was an ideal arena to turn the myth of Lilith into entertainment. However, it would take some time before she would appear as herself. The shining star of a Lilin monster in entertainment storytelling of that time is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, often thought to be the first Vampire.

While Dracula set the standard for vampiric storytelling and set the rules around vampire mythology, he was far from the first Vampire. He wasn’t even the first vampire in popular fiction. However, the first vampires, as we think of them today, actually walked the earth in the early 17th Century.


Real Vampires and the Rise of Gothic Horror

Scientists used to believe that vampirism was a legitimate malady that one could contract. While it’s true that rare diseases such a porphyria can manifest in symptoms that resemble vampiric behavior; however, it’s unlikely that such a rare disease would cause widespread panic. The more likely culprit is that science didn’t yet fully understand how a body decomposes.

Vampire suspicions were caused by a body not appearing to have decomposed quickly enough, the cover of a coffin seeming to have moved, and the appearance of blood around the mouth and eyes of a corpse after it was buried. Today, science knows that a body will bloat before it appears to decay, sometimes to the point that it might cause an ill-fitting lid to reposition itself. We also know that as a body’s organs liquify they will leave the body through its natural openings, resulting in the appearance of blood around the mouth and eyes.[51] [52]

This brought about new superstitions to combat the night demons. A necklace of garlic around the neck of the body was thought to keep the vampire from rising.[53] A wooden stake through the heart could hold a vampire at bay, but only decapitation and burning were guaranteed to rid yourself of a vampire for good. A host of masochistic rituals to perform in order to keep yourself from being attacked by and turned into a vampire.[54]

Vampire hysteria was so prominent that the Church hired vampire hunters. Vampire hunting became such a frequent career that a legal guide to vampire hunting was written. The Magia Posthuma is widely considered one of the first true piece of vampire literature, outside of the documentation of folklore and myth.[55]


Gothic Literature

As people began to notice that no one had ever actually seen a vampire, the panic began to die down and the vampire began to thrive in Gothic Literature. The 1819 short story The Vampyre by John Polidori is widely acknowledged to be the first true work of Gothic vampire fiction, setting the tone for the stories to come. After The Vampyre would come, Varney the Vampire, and Carmilla, a lesbian vampire story noted for its subtle eroticism and for being the main source of inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.[56]


Bram Stoker combined authentic elements of vampire lore, gothic melodrama, and the primordial battle between good and evil. Dracula was the perfect story for the time to speak to the current unrest around modernization. In this good versus evil story, Stoker was speaking about science versus religion, immorality versus Christianity, and the resident versus the alien. Stoker attempted to consolidate vampire mythology, pulling from many vampire stories of the past. In addition to these familiar themes, he also incorporated themes from Faust as well as details surrounding the lives of two historical figures.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory is infamous for being one of the first known female serial killers. Legend says that she once beat one of her handmaids so badly that she drew blood. Soon, she is said to have believed that the blood held some mystical regenerative powers and had restored her youth. After this Elizabeth abducted, tortured, and murdered over 600 young girls and drinking their blood.[57] His final piece of inspiration has remained prominent in the public consciousness from its first publication.

Vlad the Impaler

Vlad Dracula was a notoriously bloodthirsty and vengeful 15th Century ruler in present-day Romania. He was known for his brutal methods of torturing and disposing of his rivals: preferring impalement on a massive scale. It is in the choice to use Vlad the Impaler’s real name in his story that gives us the strongest connection to Lilith. Vlad Dracula was the son of Vlad Dracul, whose name means both dragon[58] and devil[59] in Romanian. Dracula literally means “son of Dracul,” or “son of the dragon” and “son of the devil.”[60] Whether or not he knew it at the time, Stoker created undeniable evidence that the most famous vampire of all time, Count Dracula, is the child of Lilith and Samael.

Dracula went on to become a critical success, epitomizing the Gothic horror genre. Since its first publication in 1897, barely a year has gone by in which a vampire story hasn’t been published. Noted titles include I Am Legend, ‘Salem’s Lot, Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, The Twighlight Saga,[61] and The Southern Vampire Mysteries.[62]


Lilith in Modern Pop Culture

Lilith Largely stayed out of the pop culture limelight, allowing her children to take that glory through the early 20th Century. As popularity in the New Lilith: Feminist Icon began to appear, her demonic self began to appear lest we forget her true nature. She can be found in popular books such as Lilith (1895), CS Lewis claimed that she was The White Witch in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Sandman #40, and the 2011 play, She Kills Monsters. She has been seen on television and movies such as Supernatural, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Night Angel, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Year One, The Chosen, Bordello of Blood, True Blood, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and a 2001 opera, Lilith. There are also a number of games featuring her as a character such as Darksiders, Borderlands, Final Fantasy, andThe Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.

World of Darkness

The most consequential of these games is a series of table-top role play games that exist in a believable gothic-punk version of modern reality in which the night monsters inspired by Lilith are real but work to maintain their camouflage. At its core, World of Darkness is a central universe consisting of 5 games whose worlds exist among the others: Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, and Changeling: The Dreaming.

The first of these games to be released was Vampire: The Masquerade in 1991. In the backstory of this game, we learn that Lilith’s fate led to her banishment from Eden in this world in very much the same way as has been alluded in the earlier accounts. In the vampire lore of this universe, Lilith does posses many characteristics associated with vampires: immortal, drinks blood, sensitive to sunlight, sleeps underground; however, she is never confirmed to be a vampire herself, she is however, the mother of the vampires. In this game, Lilith is believed to have turned Caine into a vampire after the death of Able, and the rest of the world’s vampires[63] were sired by Caine or his progeny.[64] He seems to have gone to great trouble to include explanations for the majority of well-known Lilith and vampire mythology.

Creator Mark Rein-Hagen embarked on an impressive task of compiling and justifying the different accounts of Lilith throughout history and then justifying that story into generally accepted vampire lore with specific influence coming from The Lost Boys and the film adaptations of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles novels. Rein-Hagen, a self-avowed atheist, said that the key to the success of the game’s storyline is the details that he included from his religious upbringing as a pastor’s son. In an interview on Reddit, he said, “I was trying to shy away from religion. After that [choosing Caine to be the first vampire] I went all in. The game and the world became about religion and belief."[65]

As an aid to helping players create complex back stories for their characters, additional resource materials are available. Amongst these resources are collections of sacred texts that have been written for the reality of the game’s universe. These texts have, supposedly, been lost and this book is a collection of scripture fragments. In keeping with the theme, the books are created with flaws, as though it is a bound copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some scriptures are incomplete or have pieces in the middle missing, some words are written in the text’s “original language” with a footnote that the researcher who compiled the book couldn’t translate it.

The Book of Nod

The Book of Nod begins with Caine, Able, and Adam in the land of Nod.[66] Caine is despondent that Abel’s sacrificial offerings always find favor with YHWH, but Caine’s never do. Upon further consideration, Caine comes to realize that the problem with his offerings is that he is supposed to sacrifice the first of his heart. The first of his heart will never be sacrificed through his crops, for his brother will always hold the most high place in his heart. And so, it with great pain that he sacrifices his brother, his heart's first love, to YHWH God and is banished to the desert.

Lilith comes upon him wandering the desert, alone and distraught, and tends to him and cares for him. She clothes him and nourishes him with her blood. Her blood embraces him,[67] awakens him, and hardens him.[68] He rejects some attempts at reconciliation from God’s messenger angels and takes his new gift as a duty to protect the descendants of Shem.[69] After the flood the descendants of Shem are eliminated and from that point, his only life goal is to wreak havoc on humanity, claiming Lilith as his, now, sworn enemy.

That is the extent of Lilith’s involvement in this scripture, aside from her name being mentioned from time-to-time, but the rest does continue to connect dots between Lilith and modern vampire lore – much of that taking place in the footnotes. This vampire world consists of a variety of vampire clans and bloodlines, amongst them are many of the terms that are commonly associated with Lilith: Nosferatu, Lamia, Brujah, Gangrel, Gargoyle, and Laibon.[70] It also pulls in known gods and demons from other cultures such as Baal.

Revelations of the Dark Mother: Seeds from the Twilight Garden

In true biblical fashion, The Book of Nod is not the only account of this Vampire Gospel. Revelations of the Dark Mother: Seeds from the Twilight Garden compiles more scriptures along with other worship texts consisting of rituals, rites, incantations, and psalms. The majority of these recovered texts are presented as having been written by Lilith, except for "The Genesis Fragments," which are written in 3rd person narrative form about Lilith’s time in Eden. The worship texts are intended for use by those beings who follow Lilith rather than Caine.[71] Like The Book of Nod,Revelations of the Dark Mother is incomplete and annotated, but it does consist of long-form editorial notes throughout, which is unique between the two.

This is where clarity around Lilith’s origin, history, and desires. It opens with "The Genesis Fragments," nine companion pieces to the existing stories of creation. One of these comes before Genesis 1, the next 6 fragments occur between Genesis 2:4 & 2:5, the final two give additional detail to the accounts of the creation of Eve, the fall, and the exile.

In this account of the beginning of time, an entity more powerful than God called The Ancient One opens Its eyes and in that moment the Elohim[72] are brought into existence. Leaning into the henotheistic[73] nature of the Biblical Genesis account, we read of all the gods who are created in this time. YHWH[74] holds a special place because He[75] was the first born of all the Elohim, in addition to him, we read of Bes, Dionysus, Baal, Lucifer, Gabriel, and Astarte among others created in this moment.

Because of His favored status, YHWH gets the best land for his garden where her creates all things that lead up to humankind. Adam and Lilith grow out of the earth from the seeds of the Trees of Life and Knowledge, watered by YHWH’s tears. Adam and Lilith live together in harmony for some time. Lilith creates the wolf, the lion, and the owl, and when YHWH tells Lilith not to take fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, she obeys. When the fruit falls from the tree of its own accord, she views this as a reward from YHWH for obeying his request, and she takes the fruit from the ground and eats it.

The fruit awakens her, she knows that she is naked, but she doesn’t care. She can see how she can fasten tools to help them live a more comfortable life. Lilith’s clear superiority over Adam causes him to mope and avoid being around Lilith. Instead, he seeks companionship with the beasts. YHWH tells him that the beasts are beneath him and that he should seek companionship with Lilith.

Lilith is not interested in sleeping with someone who has been engaging in bestiality, and she is even less interested in laying in the dirt with him on top of her as he was used to doing with the animals. When he tries to force himself on her, she fights him, each drawing blood that falls to the ground causing thorns and briars to grow up from the ground, entangling their feet. As she loses her battle with Adam, she screams out YHWH’s “special secret name” and is lifted up to the heavens with YHWH. In the Heavens Lilith tell Him how she learned His name and pleads her obedience, creating from the Firmament of Heaven a new breed of flower as a gift for him – the fruit of Knowledge has made her as an Elohim.

YHWH’s anger fades, and he takes Lilith as his Consort for seven days and nights. Unable to share power and knowledge with her, YHWH banishes Lilith to the desert between the gardens to live out the rest of her immortal life. She journeys through the desert with YHWH’s child growing in her belly,[76] taking nourishment by drinking her own blood. She journeys through the harsh desert until she comes to the Endless Sea throwing herself to the bottom where she becomes the Mother of the Sea. In her time under the sea, she learns to hone and use her newly acquired powers until she feels ready to return to land.

She visits the gardens of the other gods and makes her way back to the gates of Eden where she finds Lucifer[77] guarding the gates, tasked to keep her from entering. Lucifer could sense that her heart and spirit were true and good. Although, he didn’t let her in, he did take her as his lover, gifting her command over the darkness and a garden of their own. Lilith desired to grow Trees of Life and Knowledge as she remembered from Eden, but could not succeed, so she went back to Eden to ask the trees how it is that they grow.

This time, Lucifer does let her in, with little persuasion, she transforms herself into a serpent so that YHWH won’t notice her.[78] She collects the information that she was looking for from the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, but before she can leave the Tree of Knowledge, Eve sits beneath the tree. Eve noticed her and took pity on her, saying take the fruit and have your eyes opened.

Of course, we know how this story ends, YHWH throws a fit, curses Lucifer, Lilith, Adam, and Eve, destroys the garden and exiles all four of them from Eden forever. YHWH calls the rest of the Elohim to witness his decree and curse upon which they agree to Lilith & Lucifer’s punishment but say that Adam and Eve should be destroyed. As they attempt to smite the couple, they shield each other from the oncoming danger, creating Love for the first time. Their Love saved them from the wrath of the Elohim and because of this, they were granted a stay of execution. Adam and Eve went to the land of Nod to begin their family and Lucifer and Lilith journeyed to the Endless Sea to build a new garden. And raise their six children.

She tells her own version of the incident with Caine. In her version, she is significantly less nurturing to Cain. We see a description of what the fictional editor notes as “vampire boot camp.” Lilith’s description of Cain’s time in her garden amounts to near torture, and it leaves the read unsurprised that he claimed her as his sworn enemy. “Caine possessed the mark of death. So I took him into my garden and I taught him…I taught him lessons of pain. Alone he was, in darkness. Although bathed in light, he walked in shadow and wrapped his arms against the cold.I took him in with words of succor. With words of surcease… ‘Son of my birth-mate, struck down by my first lover. You have no secrets here, you have no sins here, so come ye naked into my home. As you are now, so I once was.’…For him I made my garden a place of horror, betraying him even as he had betrayed his flesh. I gave of my blood and anointed him with it, that he might become abomination unto my dwelling.”[79]

Caine returns to the garden of Lucifer and Lilith after being gone for an unspecified amount of time, but what seems like a good deal. He brings along the clan of his progeny, and together they attack the garden killing all of Lilith and Lucifer’s children and flee. In her despair, Lilith curses Caine: “All curse the House of Caine!...Let them be consumed! [she proceeds to name a curse for each of the tribes of vampire which we are supposed to believe all stem from Caine like a proto-Jacob.] And cursed be their father [Caine], their thrice-damn’d father, All suffering be upon the Father of Night for he is the flame in the fields of D’hainu!...Only Nosferatu and Toreador shall be spared, for they veiled the faces of the slain ones.”[80]

This is a version of Lilith who finds the holy in her suffering. Like the self-flatulating practices of medieval monastics, she finds a kind of meditation in her pain. We are intended to believe that those for whom these texts are sacred, those who worship Lilith over Caine or YHWH or whoever else, follow in her belief in a tortured existence. As evidenced in the editorial notes, and the rituals in the collection, it seems as though this sect of vampire has become radicalize and fanatical in their innate superiority. From The Rite of Caine Part II: The Rite of Revenge: “The particulars of the Rite vary. In all cases, the surrogates [hypnotized humans who have been unknowingly participating in this ritual] meet painful, gruesome deaths. their bodies are rent asunder. Their blood is used to fertilize the plans. Their cries become a chorus, often rising and falling with the rhythm of the drums. From their vantage point, the priestess and priest make certain that the surrogates perish slowly.”[81]

In the final few texts, we see some psalms. The Lament for Lucifer; Malediction: Queen of Hells; Owl, Cat, and Serpent; and Rising Tides. It’s in these texts that we see Lilith’s true humanity, just as it was shown to us in Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn. These psalms give voice to Lilith’s many losses, her never ending pain, sorry, and grief. She mourns the loss of her birth-mate, her lover YHWH, her nephew Caine, her many children (the six slain, and those she has never seen), her husband Lucifer absent since the death of their children. This text honors that heartbreak, and I think that’s what Lilith’s theology of pain is about.

Come, descend, fragments of sorrows,

Ye cracked and imperfect bygone masters

Come and embrace the cry of Lilith,

I call for death

I will for death.

For my heart has been torn

And my love has been torn.

I cast aside my cloak of night

And plunge into the seas

Where no light can comfort me

And no words can succor me

And no lies can bend me

And I will dwell at the left hand of death.

For I am the mother whose babies were slain

And I am the lover whose heart was torn

And I am the sister whose body was rent

My heart and my garden are ashes now

Let my howls carry them away.[82]

This Lilith carries with her the drive and the will of a mother’s love. A mother who will never stop fighting to protect her family.

Mother is coming

Mother is here.

With her lessons of madness

And hands full of blood

She comes to make the world anew

And her chariot is pain and horror.[83]


True Blood

In 2001, Charlaine Harris published Dead Until Dark, what would become the first in a 13-book series officially called The Southern Vampire Mysteries, but known among fans as the Sookie Stackhouse Novels.[84] Harris contributed her own artistic choices to her vampire mythology, however, she and the World of Darkness admit that her stories borrow heavily from the social structure and traditions found in Vampire: the Masquerade.[85] Harris’ world seems to take place sometime in the near future of Vampire: the Masquerade. Set in Bon Temps, LA in a world where vampires exist.[86] As in Vampire: the Masquerade, the vampires have been secretly living among humans without humans knowing it. In the world of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a synthetic form of blood is invented that can nourish and sustain a vampire, allowing them to no longer rely on human blood for their existence. As the series begins, vampires have recently “come out of the coffin” to live openly among humans with the advent of "Tru Blood."

Lilith never appeared in The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Although, given the close relation between the worlds of the two, one would be forgiven for assuming that Lilith is linked to the origin of vampires in this world, too; likely through Caine. However, by the time the HBO TV adaptation of the series, True Blood had progressed to season 5, they had mostly used up the stories that had already been written; so they were going to have to create something new.[87]What better place to look for inspiration than in the same source that provided first inspiration. The characters on True Blood were already living in a Vampire: the Masquerade adjacent world; it would only make sense that there might be more tradition from World of Darkness that is useable.

Seasons 5 & 6[88] – The Lilith Arc

As we enter this story arc we are aware that a rogue organization of vampires, who call themselves the Sanguanista Movement, are opposed to the idea of mainstreaming.[89] We are taken to The Authority[90] where they are actively combating the Movement's attempts to sabotage mainstreaming.

The Sanguanista Movement is a vampire religious extremist group, holding to the words of the Vampire Bible as literal and true. The Vampire Bible claims to be the Original Testament, and says that before Adam and Eve, God created Lilith. God created Lilith in God’s image and they were both vampires. Next, God created Adam and Eve as sustenance for them.

The literalist view asserts that they should take dominion over the earth: no longer live in secret, but also not in harmony. Treat humans as food and nothing else. The mainstreamers believe that the bible isn’t meant to be taken literally, but rather to be interpreted and adapted as times change. In this, we have a classic fundamentalist vs. progressive religious argument in a way that we’re used to seeing on this show.

As the story continues to unfold, we learn that the majority of the members of The Authority have only been pretending to be pro-mainstreaming and instigate a coup in an attempt to change official vampire policy.

These fundamentalist vampires love Lilith with all of their immortal beings. They keep a vial of her blood, said to be the last remaining piece of her, prominently displayed in their worship space. They believe that it is her will that they should reject mainstreaming. Eventually, Lilith is resurrected: come to lead a new vampire to fulfill her destiny.

Much fighting ensues between the many vampires who want to be the one whom Lilith leads, but in the end she deceives the fools and leads our lead character Bill to drink the whole vial of her blood. In so doing, Bill experienced the true death and was resurrected as Lilith reincarnated in Bill’s body…Bilith, if you will.[91]

Bill has now been possessed with the powers of Lilith, he has strength that he’s never had before, he survives a stake through his heart, and is unburdened by the burn of silver. He has the power of telekinesis and telepathy, he can enter houses without being invited in, and he keeps having the same vision of the future. A room filled with good mainstreaming vampires, many of them his family and friend meeting the sun together. He becomes consumed with his quest to decipher the vision and stop the death of the vampires.

Meanwhile, everyone in The Authority has met the true death and vampires have gotten the word that it’s open hunting season. Many have begun making baby vampires but neglecting to teach them how to be a vampire before leaving them on their own. As the end of the story arc approaches, Bill, still determined to save the vampires in his vision, has discovered a way that vampires can walk in the sun without burning – permanently, and he is desperate to find a way to synthesize the blood that causes that reaction and get it to the vampires in danger.

In his final attempt to protect his fellow innocent vampires, he drinks the last vile of day-walking blood. Using his powers of Lilith and his added ability to walk in the sun, he works his way into the facility where the vampires are soon to meet the sun. In the sacrificial decision worthy of any good savior story, Lilith in Bills body walks into the room where her children will soon die a terrible death. Bearing his naked body to the room full of vampires, he invites them all to drink Lilith’s blood from his body so that they will be able to survive the sun.

The plan works, all the mainstream vampires were saved by the blood, but Bill was drained. Although he does pull through with the help of some faerie blood, Lilith does not. Without her blood coursing through Bill's veins, she can no longer embody him, and all of her blood is now gone. She made the ultimate sacrifice to protect her children. Lilith’s life’s desire, to finally realized in the moment of her true death.

Weep, O you sullen nightmares,

For the dancing gods of flickering screens shall lead you to oblivion.

Mother is coming

Mother is here.

All this shall pass away.[92]



In Lilith, we find a unique mythological character. Someone real, someone human. Not in the way that we’re supposed to see Jesus as being human. Lilith is a real human with real flaws. She’s a real woman with real struggles, struggles that many of us can relate to. She’s been other’d, outcast, and abused. She’s had motherhood seized from her grasp time and time again, and she has been abandoned by multiple romantic partners.

She is a symbol of autonomy and strength, and she has seen her reputation tarnished because of it. She was cursed by God to be the Mother of all the Evil Spirits on earth, and she’s the person held responsible for God’s actions. Over the course of her approx. 4400-year existence; she has survived her unfair fall from Eden, serving as an example – a cautionary tale of what could happen to women who “don’t know their place.”

She has long lived on as the symbol of death and tragedy, fear and pain. She is the night monster, the vampire, the werewolf, the serpent, the cause of that which goes bump in the night. She is the reason that couples fight and break up. She is responsible for infertility and miscarriage, premature birth and postpartum depression. She shouldered these burdens for years, never complaining until she was seen.

In the 20th Century depictions of a New Lilith, we are reminded of her journey and her struggle. Her abuse and her persistence. We have come to know a Lilith is the savior, not the villain. This is a Lilith who excites us with her power, who saves her people by becoming the only mother of the whole community. This is a Lilith who chooses to sacrifice her immortal life to save the immortal lives of her true descendants; the mainstreamers, the innovators, the liberators.

In this New Lilith for such a time as this, we are left with a strong powerful female deity who represents the liberation of the oppressed. She is the ideal religious figure to fight for social justice because, “as you are now, I once was.”[93]


End Notes

[1] Sam Chupp and Andrew Greenberg, The Book of Nod, ed. David D. Gragert (Clarkston, GA: White Wolf Game Studio, 1997), 26.

[2] True Blood ran from 2008-2014 on HBO. Production Details, “True Blood,” IMDb,

[3] The last book in the series was published in 2013. Charlaine Harris, “Sookie Stackhouse,” Charlaine Harris - The Official Site of the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author, n.d.,

[4] As told in True Blood episode 5.2.

[5] Anonymous, “Incantation Against Lilith,” Poetry 199, no. 6 (March 2012): p. 583,

[6] Raphael Patai, “Lilith,” The Journal of American Folklore 77, no. 306 (1964): pp. 295-314,, 295.

[7] One of four Sumerian demons belonging to the vampire or incubi-succubae class (The Sumerian King List [1939] p. 90, no. 131).

[8] Thorkild Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List, ed. John Albert Wilson and Thomas George Allen (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1939), 18, no. 37.

[9] ibid., p. 90, no. 131.

[10] Samuel Noah Kramer, Gilgamesh and the Huluppu-Tree; a Reconstructed Sumerian Text, ed. John Albert Wilsor and Thomas George Allen (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1938), 1-2.

[11] Patai.

[12] ibid., p. 312.

[13] or Ish.

[14] Sometime between the 6th and 13th Centuries (Patai, p. 300).

[15] Another prominent account says that YHWH created two pairs of partners, each attached to themselves upon creation & later split by Y. In this account, Adam and Eve are born partnered to each other and Lilith and Samael (i.e., Lucifer) are partnered. However, accounts that create her in this way tend to vary, significantly, from the more commonly accepted events of the “first wife of Adam” narrative. Not only does this version negate the account of Gen. 2:21-23, but it also creates a narrative in which Lilith and Samael are evil from birth, wreaking havoc in Eden and tempting Adam and Eve into infidelity before leaving the garden to spread evil into the world. A little lazy if you ask me; this feels like an attempt to create an evil character without needing to explain why.

[16] Sometimes “secret.”

[17] Patai, pp. 300-302

[18] Typically thought to be the Red Sea.

[19] Patai, pp. 301-302, 307-308.

[20] ibid., pp. 301-303

[21] It is unclear to me whether this coupling happened after the destruction of the first temple or not until the destruction of the second temple.

[22] Patai, pp. 310-312

[23] Usually Elijah.

[24] Patai, pp. 296-299, 303-305

[25] Siegmund Hurwitz and Robert Hinshaw, Lilith, the First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Dark Feminine(Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 2009), 31-61.

[26] Patai, p. 296.

[27] Wojciech Kosior, “A Tale of Two Sisters: The Image of Eve in Early Rabbinic Literature and Its Influence on the Portrayal of Lilith in the Alphabet of Ben Sira,” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues, no. 32 (2018): pp. 112-130,

[28]Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination CWalter Brueggemann (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 165-166.

[29] Patai, p. 295.

[30] ibid., p. 299.

[31] Joel Hecker, Nathan Wolski, and Daniel C. Matt, trans., Zohar Complete Set (Stanford, CA: STANFORD University Press, 2018), 1:19b.

[32] ibid.

[33] Augustin Calmet et al., Treatise on the Apparitions of Sprits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, Et Al(Charleston, SC: Brett R Warren, 2015), 353.

[34] Siegmund Hurwitz and Robert Hinshaw, Lilith, the First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Dark Feminine(Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 2009), 43 & 78.

[35] Robert W. Lebling and Tahir Shah, Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014), 37.

[36] Dion Fortune and Mary K. Greer, Psychic Self Defense: The Definitive Manual for Protecting Yourself against Paranormal Attack (Newburyport, MA: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2020), 126.

[37] Patai., p. 304.

[38] ibid., 305

[39] ibid., 304

[40] Mary Jane T. Gibson et al., “Letter to the Reader,” n.d.,, 4.

[41]Robin Roberts, A New Species: Gender and Science in Science Fiction (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 40.

[42] C. L. Moore, “Fruit of Knowledge,” in The Best of C.L. Moore (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976).

[43] Zoharic Mystics put Lilith’s birth ahead of Adam’s at the same time as the creation of light.

[44] Susannah Heschel and Aviva Cantor, “The Lilith Question,” in On Being a Jewish Feminist (New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1983), pp. 40-50, 45.

[45] Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1987).

[46] ibid., 161.

[47] Donna Freydkin, “Lilith Fair: Lovely, Lively, and Long Overdue,” CNN (Cable News Network, July 28, 1998),

[48] Lara Pellegrinelli, “With Sales Lagging, Lilith Fair Faces Question of Relevance,” NPR (NPR, July 19, 2010),

[49] Gil Kaufman, “Lilith Fair at 20: Sarah McLachlan & Co-Founders Look Back on the All-Female Festival That Smashed Touring's Glass Ceiling,” Billboard, July 5, 2017,

[50] Phil Brucato and Rachel Udell, Revelations of the Dark Mother: Seeds from the Twilight Garden, ed. Janice Sellers (Clarkston, GA: White Wolf Publishing, Inc., 1998), 121.

[51] The likeliest actual disease to be confused for vampirism is Tuberculosis.

[52] Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death Folklore and Reality (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 102-119.

[53] Originally, this practice was used to mask the smell of the body as it decayed. (Barber, pp. 166-177).

[54] Barber, pp. 154-165.

[55] Katherine M. Ramsland, The Science of Vampires (New York, NY: Berkley Boulevard Books, 2002), 166-67.

[56] ibid., pp. xiv-xviii.

[57] ibid., pp. 103-104

[58] Lilith is often referred to as a dragon.

[59] Or Lucifer, Samael, or Satan.

[60] Ramsland, pp. 6-7

[61] Which breaks nearly every accepted rule about vampire lore.

[62] Ramsland, p. 1.

[63] Called “Kindred” in the context of the game.

[64] Called “Childer” in the context of the game.

[65] Mark Rein-Hagen, “R/Iama - I Am Mark Rein•Hagen, World Creator and Game Designer. AskmeAnything.,” reddit, 2014,

[66] The land where they lived after Eden.

[67] The term the game uses to indicate that a human has been turned into a vampire.

[68] It’s worth considering if this is another example of Samael & Lilith creating a vampire together. In some midrashim it is suggested that Satan came to Eve as a snake sometime after they were expelled from Eden, and in her sleep, he impregnated her with Cain. Considering Dracula translates to “son of dragon” and “son of the devil” it’s plausible to conclude that the combination of Lilith & Samael will always create a vampire.

[69] The third son of Adam and Eve, usually believed to have been born after Abel’s death.

[70] It also clarifies that the terms succubus and vampire should be treated as interchangeable classification of night demon.

[71] It is noted in Revelations of the Dark Mother that the worshipers of Lilith are not limited to vampires, although it seems that only vampires worship Cain.

[72] Hebrew, Proper Noun, Masculine, Plural meaning God. Usually translated as “Shining Ones” in the context of the game, but not always.

[73] Belief that multiple gods exist, even if you don’t worship all of them.

[74] Called Jehovah in the context of the game.

[75] YHWH is intentionally and specifically physically male in the context of the game.

[76] I suppose it’s technically possible that it is Adam’s baby, that version of events does exist in folklore; however, Lilith is quite certain that she was made pregnant by YHWH, not Adam in this narrative.

[77] Or Samael.

[78] It’s worth noting that the physical description of the serpent sounds like a dragon; this fits with the legend that serpents had the physical description of a dragon in Eden & was cursed with the loss of its legs & wings after the fall.

[79] Brucado and Udell., pp. 77-80.

[80] ibid., pp. 88-89

[81] ibid., p. 95

[82] ibid., p. 107.

[83] ibid., p. 119.

[84] Harris.

[85] Joseph Laycock, Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015), 153.

[86] As with World of Darkness, we will soon learn that all the other night monsters are real in this world, too.

[87] Not that they ever hesitated to stray from the novel, anyway.

[88] True Blood (HBO, 2012).

[89] Meaning vampires living peacefully among humans.

[90] The vampire governmental system in the context of the show.

[91] Actually, I won’t; but they did call him that on the show.

[92] Brucado and Udell., pp. 119-120

[93] ibid., 79

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