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Footnoted song lyrics

We Are Androgynous, annotated

by Alicia Jo Rabins/Girls in Trouble

We are androgynous double-faced beings,
one looking forward and one looking back.
Formed in the light of the throne in the sky,
we are never alone and we never die.

Two forms of dust1, of the one and the many;
a vapor to moisten them both into clay.
Two hands to guide us, to form us and shape us,
until we are ready to walk away.

We are, we are, we are,
we are, we are, we are.

We are androgynous double-faced beings,
torn from each other and rendered in two.
Two flaming swords guard the garden of Eden2,
but I won't go back there without you.3

1 This line is inspired by, and quotes from, my teacher Avivah Zornberg’s book Genesis: The Beginning of Desire. I have bolded the words I borrowed here, in gratitude for Dr. Zornberg’s teachings: “Man, in the midrashic view, is the meeting point of the two kinds of dust, of the one and the many...Rashi comments: For the purpose of creating man, the depths released a vapor that seeded the clouds and moistened the dust, so that man was created...so here, first there was a moistening and then, ‘God formed man.’..What does it mean, to be created by the hands of God, rather than by His word…?” (p. 18)

2 This line is inspired by the Biblical image of a flaming sword that guards Eden so that Adam and Eve (and Lilith) will never be able to return. Genesis 3:24: “God drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.” It also draws on the Zohar, which directly connects the flaming sword to Lilith:  “She approached the gates of Paradise on earth, and saw the Cherubim guarding the gates of Paradise, and sat down facing the Flaming Sword, for she originated from that flame. When that flame revolved, she fled. And she roams in the world, and finds children liable to punishment, and caresses them, and kills them.” (Zohar 1:19b, translation by Patai.)

You may notice there is only one sword in the original text and two in my song, to which I say, oops. For some reason I pictured it as two, and wrote the song accordingly. When I went back to re-read the story again, I couldn’t figure out how to change the lyrics without messing up the entire song. This is the one moment in the GIrls in Trouble song cycle when I allowed myself to contradict the text.

3 I wanted Lilith’s song to end on a note which is simultaneously defiant,  hopeful and (ultimately) loving. Defiant, because why would Lilith want to return to the place where she had been deprecated and scorned? But hopeful too, because I imagine that Lilith was simply before her time, about three thousands years early in her belief in gender equality. After all, her vision of love seems to be similar to ours, when couples wish and expect to be equal, rather than having one person rule over the other. So I imagine that perhaps our modern loving unions are, in a sense, the real-life manifestations of Lilith returning to Eden with Adam: with mutual respect, equal power, and fully in love.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Footnoted song lyrics." (Viewed on December 10, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/node/23220>.

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