I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Fate, Destiny, Fortune, Time & Death
Long before Muhammad brought Islam to the Arabian peninsula, there was an ancient Goddess worship and the triple Goddesses worshipped at Mecca were called Manat, Al-Uzza and Allat, of which Manat was the most ancient of them all. Her symbols are the waning moon and the cup of death.
There are two possible alternatives of root words from which the name of the Goddess could derive. One is mana, the other maniya, meaning to mete out or to determine and fate respectively. As Manat is the Goddess of fate and destinies, these meanings all suit her well. Due to ancient Arab sources, we know that theophoric names, meaning names that include the name of a deity, Manat is the oldest as names in her honour were found in the oldest texts and scriptures.
Scholars also believe that she is not only the oldest of Mecca’s chief Goddesses but also one of the oldest Goddesses in the Semitic pantheon. An early poem pays homage to the Goddess and her shrine was praised as the most sacred of all places to the tribes who worshipped her.
Much like the current modern pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims, the ancient tribes would pilgrimage to Manat’s shrine and shave their heads. They did not consider their pilgrimage to be complete unless they had worshipped at her idol, a representation of the Goddess at her shrine. One of the oldest representations of her is a wooden portrait of Manat which is covered in sacrificial blood.
The exact pre-Islamic history of Mecca and the black Kabaa stone is somewhat disputed, but it is certain that it has been a centre of worship long before Muhammad’s time when the old idols were destroyed in order to force the population to convert to Islam.
Manat was not only the Goddess of fate and destinies, fortune and time but also of death. She was a guardian for cemeteries and inscriptions on ancient tombstones in the region attest to this. It was also believed that Manat appeared to a dying person carrying the chalice of death in her hands.
This Goddess was so powerful because she was feared. Being the Goddess of fate, she could change a person’s destiny if she so chose. When an oath was taken in her name it was not to be broken. Being the harbinger of death, Manat was revered because life cannot exist without death; the old has to make way for the new. Therefore, Manat was also depicted with a waning moon over her head.
The Enticing Dancer
Trying to find more information on the mythology of pre-Islamic Goddesses is about as fruitful as looking for a crocodile in the Arctic region. Patriarchal rule – in this part of the world, mainly the Islamic one – has been quite successful in obliterating an entire Goddess culture. The fact that the Goddesses in the Arab region were usually worshipped in the form of stones (see the sacred stone at Mecca that holds the vulva of Manat, although most people have no idea what this is supposed to be). Linking stone cubes to Goddesses without any written or oral tradition of reiterating mythology is not really possible. But there are other hints when we look a bit further afield.
Manat wore a dress and her name was written at the bottom of it in the Sabaic language which doesn’t have any vowels, m.n.t. When we look to Egypt, further back in history, Manat is mnj.t, which is a name of the Goddess Hathor, Lady of the West, the loving Goddess that leads the dying into the Afterlife, something the two Goddesses have in common.
Manat, as well as the entire pantheon of pre-Islamic deities, may lack historical sources of mythology, but her energies can still be tuned into and when you meet this crone Goddess in your meditations and visions, maybe also in your dreams, don’t feel that your personal experience has to be in complete accordance with the historical facts or reports of others’ personal experiences. The Goddess will show herself to you in a way you can best relate to and in accordance with your mental filtering system of instincts, beliefs and conditioning.
When I first read about her, I found her to be the crone aspect of the triple Goddess in Ancient Arabian culture. However, seeing her before my inner vision, before I had even done any research, I didn’t see her as a fearsome older woman like the crone Jaguar Goddess Ixchel of the Mayan tradition, for example. To me, she appeared as a matured woman, maybe in her 40s, yet still incredibly beautiful, who was completely in touch with her own sensuality.
The circumambulation of her black stone at the end of a pilgrimage in the old days would mostly entail that the men were naked and women near-naked. Just like modern Muslims, they would round the Kabaa seven times counter-clockwise. This also means that in those times there was no body-shaming yet, as is customary in Islamic culture, especially for women who are meant to keep themselves hidden under and behind veils in public.
At the time of my first vision of Manat, I did not know that. I saw a woman with a simply scarf tied around her breasts and one around her hips, just enough to keep her covered to the top of her thighs. She was dancing. It wasn’t a typical bellydance, but the smoothness and snake-like movements had a similar quality. However, this woman-Goddess danced as if she were making love to herself, sensual, slow, with a kind of resistance in her moves that told of passion and the intensity of her sensations.
She was completely contained within herself for the duration of the dance, which wasn’t very long, then stood, looked at me and smiled. It was the kind of smile that makes you feel proud to be noticed and singled out. It was a smile that told of divine confidence and selflove, not leaving a hair’s breadth of self-doubt and a love and kindness born from it that needed no confirmation from an undue exertion of power or deference by someone seen as more “lowly” than her. Manat knew who she was and was totally secure in her self-image and confidence in who she was.
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This may be very human terms in which I describe her here, but as a deity is always an aspect of one’s self, our humanity and divinity go hand in hand and have no separation other than that out human analytical mind is conditioned to think of ourselves as separate and more often than not less-than, imperfect, unworthy, smaller, less powerful, significant and so forth.
The vision didn’t take long, but when Manat returned to let me know it was time for me to write about her, I took a longer time to go into deep meditation and invite her into my heartspace. This time, she made me dance with her and laughed at the fact that I’d become a bit rusty, encouraging me to let go and allow myself to flow with the music from my own heartbeat.
When we were done dancing, she laughed and embraced me, kissed my cheek as if I were her beloved sister or best and oldest friend. There was an intimacy between us that was loving and trusting, affectionate and understanding without words. We sat down by the lotus lake that is part of the scenery in my personal heartspace. Dangling our feet into the water, we sat there, she made me talk to her and tell her about my life, my thoughts, my dreams and aspirations.
After a while, she took my hand in the exact moment that I realised Manat was the Goddess personifying the kind of self-assured, confident and kind woman who could not be triggered by anyone or anything out of her equilibrium, that I had always wanted to be and still felt as being miles away from.
I was looking down at my feet in the water, but I held her hand back. I didn’t feel any jealousy, it was more of an observation and the probing question in my mind, not so much what it was that held me back, as I am aware of most of my shadows and limiting beliefs and insecurities, but what kind of bomb I had to blast to get through that and burn them to a cinder. How often had I wanted and tried to let go and in the end, I had not been able to shift things, no matter how much I meditated, performed healing on myself, slept with crystals under my pillow and so forth.
I had just a few months previously suffered from burnout and was now recuperating from it. But what I had been told was a depression had turned out to be the most profound journey of breakthrough I had ever experienced. Instead of feeling victimised by the condition, I loved it as an opportunity to make changes and finally, after all the years of fruitless struggle, I was finally able to let go of the worst part of my shadow, anger.
As I thought about that, Manat smiled at me. The smile turned into a naughty smirk as she said, “You know I am a part of you. Why do you insist on putting a distance of miles between us and aeons of personal development when you are already me and always have been? Just because there is fear and anger and shame and guilt, it does not mean that I am not there, underneath all that, when you peel back the layers. Am I not right here within you, in your holiest of holies, in the sacristy of your inner temple? You can’t get any more inside than your heartspace, beautiful Goddess. You are me. You are me now. And you had to let go of the anger, the betrayal and the victimisation, the rage and seeking for revenge inside you before you could uncover me.”
The You in Perfection
“You have peeled away so much of the layers already and now, instead of hiding them in shame, stand up with your head held up proud and say, ‘I’m a human being. I am not perfect in my own eyes, and yet, I am perfect.’ Being afraid, needing help, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, of shame and guilt, my lovely daughter, sister and mother. It is embracing all aspects of you free of shame that makes you so perfect. Perfect in your own eyes. Perfection is in your definition that which you love. And when you love all parts of you, you have uncovered your own perfection. and will discover that it’s been there all the time already. It was never something outside of yourself that you still had to attain, reach for and run towards. Look!”
Manat rose to her feet on the giant lotus on which we were sitting, pulled me up with her and motioned around in a sweeping gesture, taking in our entire surroundings. She asked me, whether I liked it here. I answered that, of course, I did. This place was pure beauty, peace and bliss. Manat nodded vigorously and laughed again happily.
“You see, this is your heartspace, your essence. This is the beauty of your heart, my love!”
She placed her hand on my chest over my heart. At this stage, we were suddenly both naked but I felt neither shame nor self-consciousness. It was so natural. I didn’t feel I needed to hide any part of me. Manat knew one of my greatest fears, that someone would see who I really was inside and reject me. From my parents onwards, I have a history of many of the people once upon a time closest to me not only rejecting me but using their knowledge of all my “weaknesses” to wound me and put me down.
And now I stood, stripped naked in front of an equally naked Goddess, both of us having our soul stripped bare, and all there was between us was love, acceptance and unconditional affirmation of being one. I laid both my hands over hers on my heart and as I smiled back at her, tears rolled down my cheeks when I understood on the deepest, most realising and integrating level that my heartspace wasn’t a fantasy fairyland but a visual and other-dimensional manifestation of the beauty of my own heart. Manat drew me closer and kissed my forehead, then she embraced me and held me tight. And before I came out of my vision, she said with so much love in her voice, “I love us so much!”
I understand that this is a very personal experience and your own may differ. No two experiences are the same. But don’t let that deter you or doubt yourself and your own inner knowing, intuition and way of perception. Embrace it and work with it. I am telling you my story here for one purpose and that is that Manat is you, too. She is that “perfect you” the you that you have always aspired to and that eluded you and seemed always so far away and unobtainable. The you, you thought you could only become when you were wiser, more spiritual, more qualified, in a different place, with a different partner, in a different circle of friends or in possession of a membership of some exclusive spiritual elitist club, earning millions.
I am here to tell you that this is not true. You are all that right now. It is inside you. It is attainable because it has already been attained. It never was not. All that is left for you to do (which is for most the hardest part) is to allow yourself to express that. Go into your heartspace, into your inner temple, look around and feel the peace, the bliss, the love and the absolute safety and know, that is all you already. And thus, when you work with this beautiful Goddess Manat, she can bring you a life that is filled with beauty and magic. She will also help you to embrace your inner wisdom and to trust in your own intuition and guidance. You are it all and you have it all already.