In the Midrash story of Lilith, she is the first woman, and refuses to have sex lying beneath Adam; in a fury she speaks the holy name of God, sprouts wings, and flies into the wilderness. She is pursued by three angels who are supposed to collar her and haul her back. They do not succeed, but kill her children; in retribution she is said to kill human children. In Christian lore of the Middle Ages, she returns to the Garden as the Serpent who tempts Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
As I said just yesterday to someone who was trying to evangelize me, “What’s so bad about that?”
In any case, Lilith is older than all that. She first appears in Sumerian and Babylonian myth as Lilitu. Her relationship with Inanna/Ishtar is ambiguous…sometimes she is an antagonist, getting in the way of what Inanna wants, and sometimes she is an ally, described as “the hand of Inanna” or “the hand of Ishtar.” I think it’s possible that there may be some connection between Lilitu and Ninshubur, Inanna’s trusty sukkal and defender, described as the Queen of the East, ie the queen of spirits.I am a devotee of Ishtar, and I know something about her habits. She is wrongly described narrowly as a “goddess of love” and/or a “goddess of war,” but she is actually a Goddess of civilization, the arts of civilization, and everything which weaves the social fabric and keeps it from rending.
Lilitu is a divinity of wilderness, outcasts, decay, waste, decomposition, and animal lust. She’s also a Goddess of freedom at all costs, one who would leave Paradise rather than submit. She will not be trammeled by anything, least of all social niceties or social rules.