A Wiccan Grove

January 25, 2011

Pre-Islamic Goddess Manat, Al-Manat or Manawayat

Investigation of Manat, Al-Manat or Manawayat
by Raven Crone

Arabic pre-Islamic Al-Manat is a very prominent, very ancient deity and her following may have preceded both Al-Uzza’s and Al-Lat’s. Her religious adhereants were widespread, athough She is worshipped as a black stone at Quidaid, near Mecca. She is Ruler of Fate, Luck and Fortune, and She gets Her name from the Arabic word maniya, “fate, destruction, doom, death”, or menata, “part, portion, that which is alloted”.

Manat is known from Nabatean(1) inscriptions and tombs were placed under her protection. People asked her to curse violators of the tombs. She is a figure of death and in some poetry, She is holding out the cup of death.  She is currently venerated as the Vulva of the Goddess in a Sacred Stone at Mecca.

 
At Mecca the Goddess, the Old Woman, is worshipped as a black aniconic stone. The sacred Black Stone now enshrined in the Kaaba at Mecca was her feminine symbol, marked by the sign of the yoni, and covered like the ancient Mother by a veil. No one (men – since women aren’t allowed within the shrine nor near the Yoni) seems to know exactly what it is supposed to represent today.

The Black Stone rests in the Haram, “Sanctuary”, cognate of “harem,” which used to mean a Temple of Women: in Babylon, a shrine of the Goddess Har, mother of harlots. Hereditary guardians of the Haram were the Koreshites, “children of Kore,” Mohammed’s own tribe. The holy office was originally held by women, before it was taken over by male priests calling themselves Beni Shayban, “Sons of the Old Woman.”  From Barbara Walker’s “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:”(2)

So, I was reading along on the web and came across the words:  “The waning moon is shown over her head as the symbol of the Crone-Goddess of Death.”  As a result I tried to find pictures or statues of Manat but there aren’t any.  I wondered why Google didn’t show them.  After all, hasn’t she been around longer than the  Islamic religion?  I thought, maybe they convinced everyone to purge themselves and surroundings when I remembered the Islamic law against music and art (an unbelievable horror to me):

“In the light of this analysis, the prohibition of portraits and music can be easily understood: only portraits which possessed religious sanctity and led people into worshipping them had been prohibited, while music and songs which possessed an element of immorality in them had been forbidden. Both music and image-making, it is clear, were not condemned because of any intrinsic evil in them, but because the former contributed to the polytheistic tendencies of people while the latter was responsible of stimulating base sentiments in a person” source: Islam and the Fine Arts, hosted by crescentlife.com

The stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient sacred stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Stone is roughly 30 cm (12 in.) in diameter, and 1.5 meters (5 ft.) above the ground. (3)

I also thought that women weren’t allowed in the Kaaba but through research, I’ve found that they are, and that they are allowed to kiss it also or more commonly, walk around it, counter-clockwise, seven times.

More news on the current restrictions that are up for women worshiping at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.(4)

But, I’ve degressed and run off at the fingers again, so, back to the subject at hand, Manat.

Manat is connected with the great pilgrimage to Mecca and Her sanctuary is the starting point for several tribes. She is known from Nabatean(5) inscriptions.  Tombs, during her reign, were placed under Her protection.  People asked Her to curse violators/tomb raiders. She is a Goddess of Death, and Maniya (Death personified) is mentioned in poetry as an old woman escorting a person to his or her grave and holding out the cup of death to them. The symbols on the bottom of Her skirt spell Her name in Sabaic (which does not use vowels and is written right to left), M-n-t. The waning moon is shown over Her head as the symbol of the Crone-Goddess of Death.  Manat was very popular in Mecca at the time of Mohammed.

So, where are the hidden pictures, statues, jugs, dishes, mirrors, house decorations, etc.?  Where are the women?  What happened to them?  I even googled pre-islam and islam itself.  No picutres of anything.  How could they wipe out a whole women’s culture?  Seems impossible to me.  I feel the horror. 

Researching further I’ve come to believe that women in that part of the world never had a Goddess.  Inconceivable to me.  I’ve looked backwards as far as the Minaeans and Sabaeans and couldn’t find any art at all that depicted people, much less women.  So, it appears that the Islamic religion has been without women’s input for a lot longer than I thought; even before it became Islam.  It’s really a wonder that the name Manat survived or that women survive there now.

I’m still digging.

I believe that We are All Goddesses and found it amazing (and expected) the correspondences between the Goddesses from different cultures but (unexpected) nothing more on pre-Islamic Goddesses.  I’m beginning to see that the Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions (pretty much one and the same religion as far as I’m concerned) have only incorporated women because of the peoples they conquered and they have fought many years to delete her from the picture (consider the burning times then and now).

So, I’m sorry to say, there’s not much out there about Manat but here are some interesting things that I found on the Web.  Webpages are cited after the information.

Manat in Azerbaijan is a form a paper money.

Manat (ancient Egyptian mnj.t) was a name used for the goddess Hathor. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshiped by Royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hathor

NAMES: Crone, Cerridwen (Celtic), Hecate or Hekate (Greek), Carravogue (Goddess of winter County Meath Ireland), Mórrígan or Morrigu (Celtic), Nemglan (Irish battle goddess), Ala (Nigerian), Ama No Uzumi (Japanese), Asase Yaa (West African), Annis (Celtic, later turned into various evil fairies or ghosts such as Black Ann and others), Badb (Irish), Baubo (Greek). Baba Yaga (Russian), Tripura Bhairavi (Tantric), Cailleac Bhuer (Celtic), The Corrigan (from Cornwall to Breton, France), Elli (Nordic), Grandmother Spiderwoman (Native American), The Hyldermoder (Scandinavia), The Leanansidhe (Isle of Man), Oya (Yoruba), The Muireartach (Scottish Highlands), Changing Woman (Navaho), Ereshkigal (Sumerian), Estsanatlehi (Native American), Kalma (Finnish), Lara (Roman), Lilith (Hebrew), Macha (Irish), Mother Holle (German), Nicneven (Celtic), Sedna (Inuit), Xochi Quetzal (Aztec), The Wyrd, Nox or Nyx (Greek), Snow Queen (versions in Sweden & Japan), Queen of Shadows, Nightmare, Hag, the Wicked Witch.

SYMBOLS: (Depending on the culture) Caldron, Owl, Snow and or winter, Yew tree, Dogs, Darkness, Waning Moon, Dark Moon, Cat, Frog, Raven, Snake, Spider, Ghosts, Triquette, Triple Spiral, )O(
http://community-2.webtv.net/TheObsidianMask/Crone_Goddesses/

Neopagan archetype theory:

Some neopagans assert that the worship of the Triple Goddess dates to pre-Christian Europe and possibly goes as far back as the Paleolithic period and consequently claim that their religion is a surviving remnant of ancient beliefs. They believe the Triple Goddess is an archetypal figure which appears in various different cultures throughout human history, and that many individual goddesses can be interpreted as Triple Goddesses,[6] The wide acceptance of an archetype theory has led to neopagans adopting the images and names of culturally divergent deities for ritual purposes;[17] for instance, Conway,[18] and goddess feminist artist Monica Sjöö,[19] connect the Triple Goddess to the Hindu Tridevi (literally “three goddesses”) of Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati (Kali/Durga). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Goddess_(Neopaganism)

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabataeans
(2) http://www.amazon.com/Womens-Encyclopedia-Secrets-Barbara-Walker/dp/0785807209
(3) http://www.crescentlife.com/spirituality/islam_&_fine_arts.htm
(4) http://www.mujahideenryder.net/2006/09/02/saudi-salafi-scholars-women-not-allowed-near-the-kaaba/
(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabataeans

20 Comments »

  1. Great article, thank you. very well done

    kpr37 ‘black Irish’ pagan, child of the goddess Danu (tuatha De’ Danann)

    would you mind if I linked this, to an article of mine ?

    Comment by Kevin — February 26, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  2. Thank you for your kind words. Please send me a copy of the article (or link) and yes, I give you linking permission.

    Comment by ravenbird — February 27, 2012 @ 1:07 am

  3. I have a book about petra the town of the goddess. You must go there where Mohamed was so afraid of…Al Manat. Yes we have goddesses in islam and islam is afraid of goddesses olso maria.

    Comment by Grauls l — June 23, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  4. I heard Manat corresponds to the Greek Goddess Nemesis. you can search for her image instead.

    Comment by Shakoor Saafir — August 20, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  5. Thank you for the offer for me to research Nemesis. I was really not looking for a Greek equivalent. I was looking specifically for Manat.

    Comment by ravenbird — August 20, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  6. ive been searching for information about manat, but so far no luck :(

    Comment by maya — September 19, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  7. I understand. I couldn’t find much of anything either. Censorship at work again but fortunately She hasn’t been eliminated. I think “they” have found that they still need women. Must really urk them.

    Comment by ravenbird — September 19, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  8. Please share with us the name of the book. I’d be interested in reading it. I would love to go but travel is pretty much out of the question at this time. And, Islam isn’t the only nation afraid of the Goddess. So is America and it’s various oppressive religious nations. Thank you for your input.

    Comment by ravenbird — September 19, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  9. Check this out, you may very surprised. :) : http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/arabtriple.html Thanks so much for a wonderful read which is very well researched. :) Have a great day.

    Comment by BracGypsy — September 21, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  10. Thank you for the lead. I was really trying to find the archaeology of Al Manat. Where are the ancient sculptures, pictures, reliefs, pottery, weavings, etc? Do women even exist within Islam or are they so suppressed that they have no household arts? Where is Al Manat?

    Comment by ravenbird — September 21, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

  11. You’ll have better luck tracing back the names of other goddesses in the region which might have formed a combined divinity with this one. There are lots of these throughout the ANE. I’ve been doing this kind of research for a while. Its tricky but its not impossible. Also, check out google scholar.

    Comment by Katie Anderson — October 11, 2012 @ 1:28 am

  12. Have you got any idea of where to start? Whom to start with to find her? I personally couldn’t find anything about any woman/Goddess. I really got the feeling that there just aren’t any women in this religion or country. Well, I know there are because they just tried to killed one: Malala Yousafzai. Thank you for your thoughts on the matter.

    Blessed be Malala Yousafzai and all Your works.

    Comment by ravenbird — October 11, 2012 @ 5:11 am

  13. .:.

    the Goddess of the Black Stone is not Manat but Al-Uzza and Manat is still venerated in the form of Lalla Mimouna (“Lady Luck” or “Lady Fate”) in North Africa and the Middle East

    the original colour of the Black Stone was red and it was sad to have become black over time

    in legend it was said to have been an emerald fallen from heaven but this may have been post-Ptolemaic in origin since it was during the reign of the early Ptolemies that the first emerald mines in the world were discovered

    the West Semitic name of Manat was Ashima (“Destiny”) and She was worshipped by many of the West Semitic peoples and later by the Samaritans

    ___

    The custom of laying a table for Mimouna or any other avatar of Fate or Luck is a remnant of a belief-system which preceded that of the Amorites and which can be found in many cultures throughout North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and even India.

    It is often held on the sixth night after birth.

    In some communities in Greece there is a low table prepared for the visit of the Fates with a glass of milk, a bowl of honey and 3 silvered almonds.

    Cushions are placed around this table to make the divine visitors comfortable. (See also Nornagest and numerous folktales).

    A similar tradition exists in parts of India where the Fate goddess is called Sashthi (“the sixth”) because it is held on the sixth night.

    This was also often associated with the naming of the newborn (itself often considered to be prophetic).

    There is no connection with any form of demonology except in the prejudices of the later religions and sects who have made claim to a monopoly of the sacred.

    SOURCE :

    Mimouna, Manat and Gad
    Haaretz – Israel News

    http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/lady-luck-1.217597

    .:.

    Comment by Jonah — October 17, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  14. Thank you for your very well received reply. Unfortunately your statement: “Manat is still venerated in the form of Lalla Mimouna (“Lady Luck” or “Lady Fate”) in North Africa and the Middle East” could not be verified. If possible, please provide your sources so that I can continue my studies. The source that you sent for Lalla Mimouna was greatly appreciated.

    Raven

    Comment by ravenbird — October 17, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  15. “I am black but comely…” from the Songs of Solomon. It may be useful for you to know that the Beni Shayba clan, the traditional guardians of the Ka’ba, are known as the sons of the ‘Old Woman’ which is a euphemism for a ‘sibyl’ or prophetess also called Shayb and directly related to the Queen of Sheba. This famous queen famed for her beauty and wisdom along with her many sibyls or scorceresses were in fact all black skinned, originating from Ethiopia. In most cases they were the custodians of the shrines and sanctuaries scattered throughout S. Arabia including the so called Ka’ba at Mecca. The name Ka’ba incedently is a pun on the original word i.e. Khabar meaning ‘prophesy’ ‘fortell’. But their main area of practise was not in Mecca at all, but in the temple dedicated to Umm as-salima (Allat, Mother of Peace) built on the summit of Mt. Arafat – ‘the Hill of Divination’ much like Mt. Vaticanus in Rome. The name Arafat derives from Arrafa’ the Arabic for a diviner. Thus the ‘black stone’ Hajar al-Aswad may well turn out to be a sacred emblem of the sibyl as well as the dark moon. I hope this helps.

    Comment by paul — May 2, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  16. Thank you. I will look into this further.

    Raven

    Comment by ravenbird — May 2, 2013 @ 11:25 am

  17. This silver cover containing pieces of the original black stone, installed on 1922, after war world 2, it was broken by British governor of Saudi, to take a piece, to prove it is not a stone of Heaven, but in vain. It is not a form of Yoni – It has a shape of a corner indicate the start of ritual Islamic of pilgrim.

    Comment by marwanyafi — September 23, 2013 @ 9:10 am

  18. The silver cover may be as you state. However, I didn’t name it Yoni although that really is what it looks like to me. Being female, I guess I look at it more than a male would. Considering it’s past history, I would say that, yep, it’s a Yoni.

    Thanks for your input,
    Raven

    Comment by ravenbird — September 23, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

  19. […] Pre-Islamic Goddess Manat, Al-Manat or Manawayat […]

    Pingback by The yoni of the Arabian goddess « Cradle of Civilization — February 24, 2014 @ 9:18 pm

  20. Thank you very much for the link to your work/research. Beautifully done and explains a lot of the interconnectivity of the Goddesses of the time.

    I still have a problem though, there is no artwork, no pictures of Al-manat. Where is the culture that goes with her worship? It appears that all that exists, she was expunged so completely, is her name.

    Thanks again,
    Raven

    Comment by ravenbird — February 25, 2014 @ 8:47 am


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