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(
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, The wide acceptance of an archetype theory has led to neopagans adopting the images and names of culturally divergent deities for ritual purposes; for instance, Conway, and goddess feminist artist Monica Sjöö, 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)