Tag Archive: islam


This was eye opening for me in terms of how crucial the role of women played in the development of early Christianity and Islam – names of women I had never heard of before (Empress Theodora, Khadija bint Khuwaylid, and Aisha bint Abu Bakr).  I truly wish their stories and accounts were taught along side that of their male counterparts – that their names were as well known and considered “common knowledge”; but those in power tried to slander, bury and stamp them out for a reason…to demote their significance and thus the social status of women.  “Forget or ignore them, and we impoverish history and ourselves.”

“Programme Three explores a missed ‘golden age’ for women, when historical characters such as the Empress Theodora in Byzantium, Wu Zetien in China (the Empress who called herself Emperor), the early women of Islam and Anglo-Saxon Hilda of Whitby, used the power of ancient traditions and new ideas about religion and philosophy to wield influence in a man’s world – notably through the power of reform, education and the word. We look at evidence through the Byzantine Empire, early Islam, in China, Northumbria and Oxford.”

 

Goddess Al-Lat

“Virgo” by Josephine Wall

“Al-Lat’s themes are religious devotion, meditation, purity, home, justice and children. Her symbols are the moon, silver, and white stones.  A Persian and Arabian moon Goddess, Al-Lat is the feminine form of Allah. Post-Islamic writings banished Her name from holy books, but Her presence remained behind as a domestic guardian, the giver of children and protectess of all good and just deeds.

Around this time of year, Muslims observe Ramadan and begin a time of abstinence to purify themselves and honor their sacred book, the Qu’ran. During this fast, people are instructed to look within and rededicate their hearts to the tenets of their faith. To do this and also honor Al-Lat, fast for this day if physically feasible. Or, just abstain from one well-loved food or beverage for the day and study your own sacred text(s). Pray to Al-Lat for insight into the deeper meanings of the words. Write down any osbervations in a journal so Al-Lat’s presence will inspire good deeds and positive action for many years to come.

To attract Al-Lat’s protective energies into your home, grasp four white items (coral and moonstone are excellent choices), saying,

‘Within these _________of white,
Al-Lat, place your protective light.
Where’er these _________s are placed around,
your safety and presence shall abound.’

Put these as close as possible to the four directional points of the area that needs guardian power.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Evening Wind” by Aaron Paquette

Patricia Monaghan explains that “in Arabic, Allah means ‘god.’ Similarly, Al-Lat means simply ‘Goddess,’ the supreme reality in female form.  Al-Lat is a mythic figure of great antiquity, one of the trinity of desert Goddesses named in the Koran, Al-Uzza and Menat being the others.  Like the Greek Demeter, Al-Lat represented the earth and its fruits; it follows that She also ruled human generation.

Al-Lat was worshiped at Ta’if near Mecca in the form of a great uncut block of white granite, which Her worshipers addressed as ‘My Lady’ or Rusa (‘good fortune’).  Women were required to appear before Her naked and circle the sacred rock; if these conditions were met, the Goddess would grant all requests.  Solid as the earth She represented, Al-Lat was considered unshakable and immovable.  Thus Her people swore their most solemn oaths by Her, with the following words: ‘By the salt, by the fire, and by Al-Lat who is the greatest of all” (p. 41).

“Al’Uzza, Allat and Menat, the Triple Goddesses of Arabia” by Thalia Took

Thalia Took tells us that “Al-Lat, whose name is a contraction of al-Illahat, ‘the Goddess’, is mentioned by Herodotus as Alilat, whom he identifies with Aphrodite. She is sometimes also equated with Athene, and is called ‘the Mother of the Gods’, or ‘Greatest of All’. She is a Goddess of Springtime and Fertility, the Earth-Goddess who brings prosperity. She and Al-Uzza were sometimes confused, and it seems that as one gained in popularity in one area the other’s popularity diminished. The sun in Arabia was called Shams and considered feminine, and may represent an aspect of Al-Lat. She had a sanctuary in the town of Ta’if, east of Mecca, and was known from Arabia to Iran. Her symbol is the crescent moon (sometimes shown with the sun disk resting in its crescent), and the gold necklace She wears is from a pendant identified to Her. As a Fertility-Goddess She bears a sheaf of wheat; and in Her hand She holds a small lump of frankincense, as Her emblem is found carved on many incense-holders.” [1]

According to Wikipedia, “in older sources, Allat is an alternative name of the Mesopotamian Goddess of the underworld, now usually known as Ereshkigal. She was reportedly also venerated in Carthage under the name Allatu.

The Goddess occurs in early Safaitic graffiti (Safaitic han-‘Ilāt ‘the Goddess’) and the Nabataeans of Petra and the people of Hatra also worshipped Her, equating Her with the Greek Athena and Tyche and the Roman Minerva. She is frequently called ‘the Great Goddess’ in Greek in multi-lingual inscriptions.  According to Wellhausen, the Nabataeans believed al-Lāt was the mother of Hubal (and hence the mother-in-law of Manāt).

Allat-Minerva from As-Suwayda, Syria (National Museum of Damascus)

 

The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BCE, considered Her the equivalent of Aphrodite:

‘The Assyrians call Aphrodite Mylitta, the Arabians Alilat, and the Persians Mitra. In addition that deity is associated with the Indian deity Mitra (Vedic). The Persian and Indian deity were developed from the proto-indo-iranian deity known as mitra.’

According to Herodotus, the ancient Arabians believed in only two gods:

‘They believe in no other gods except Dionysus and the Heavenly Aphrodite; and they say that they wear their hair as Dionysus does his, cutting it round the head and shaving the temples. They call Dionysus, Orotalt; and Aphrodite, Alilat.’

 

 

 

 

 

In the Qur’an, She is mentioned along with al-‘Uzzá and Manāt in Sura 53: 19–23. The tribe of ʿād of Iram of the Pillars is also mentioned in Sura 895–8, and archaeological evidence from Iram shows copious inscriptions devoted to Her for the protection of a tribe by that name.

Al-lāt is also explicitly attested from early Islamic records discussing the pre-Islamic period. According to the Book of Idols (Kitāb al-ʾAṣnām) by Hishām ibn al-Kalbi, the pre-Islamic Arabs believed Al-lāt resided in the Kaʿbah and also had an idol inside the sanctuary:{{quote|Her custody was in the hands of the Banū Attāb ibn Mālik of the Thaqīf, who had built an edifice over Her. The Quraysh, as well as all the Arabs, venerated al-Lāt. They also used to name their children after her, calling them Zayd al-Lāt and Taym al-Lāt. […] Al-Lāt continued to be venerated until the Thaqīf embraced Islam, when the Apostle of God dispatched al-Mughīrah ibn-Shu‘bah, who destroyed her and burnt Her temple to the ground.

The shrine and temple dedicated to al-Lat in Taif, was demolished by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, on the orders of Muhammad, during the Expedition of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, this occurred in the same year as the Battle of Tabuk (which occurred in October 630 AD). Muhammad sent Abu Sufyan with a group armed men to destroy the Idol al-Lat (also referred to as al-Tagiyyah) that was worshipped by the citizens of Taif.  The destruction of the idol was a demand by Muhammad before any reconciliation could take place with the citizens of Taif who were under constant attack and suffering from a blockade by the Banu Hawazin, led by Malik, a convert to Islam who promised to continue the war against the citizens of the city which was started by Muhammad in the Siege of Taif.” [2]

Bas-relief: Nemesis, Allāt and the dedicator (Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon)

Now, what’s interesting is that Muhammad himself commanded his followers to offer prayers to these “Allah’s daughters” (Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Menat).  He later retracted it and blamed it on the Devil after supposedly receiving a revelation from God that the verses should be removed and was “comforted by God” after doing so.  It is important to note that such “after the fact corrective revelations” are very common with cults, using the old time excuse, “The devil made me do it”. [3]

To me, this is nothing more than another example of the patriarchy showing it’s true colors: demanding the rejection and destruction of the Great Mother and forcing Her underground in an attempt to elevate their mighty sky god in order to dominate and control the populace; using tactics such as war – causing suffering and death – to convert and force their religion on the people in order to achieve their own selfish and manipulative means.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Brother Andrew. http://www.bible.ca, “Islamic roots of polytheism: Allah’s Daughters: Lat, Uzza, and Manat “.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Al-Lat”.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “The Arab Triple Goddess“.

Wikipedia, “Al-lāt“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Arabianwomen.nielsonpi.com, “Women in the Ancient Arabia and the Middle East“.

Benel. Al-muqaddasarabianblog.blogspot.com, “Deity: Allat”.

Britannica Online Encyclopedia, “al-Lāt“.

Isidorus. The Pomegranate Seeds Discussions, Q’re, the Maiden“.

Nabataea.net, “Nabataean Pantheon“.

 

Saint Anne

St. Anne with her child, Mary

“Saint Anne’s themes are miracles, wishes, kindness and health. Her symbols are freshwater and household items.  Saint Anne is a freshwater Goddess who helps us learn the value of abounding selflessness and how to better tend our household matters when the chaos of summer seems to have our attention elsewhere. In Canada she is also credited with miraculous healing.

Traditionally, supplicants come to Saint Anne wearing outfits from their cultures, kneeling and speaking their requests. This is a little awkward in our workaday world. So, instead, quaff a full glass of spring-water first thing in the morning so Saint Anne will stay with you all day, protecting your from the sniffles and encouraging a little domesticity.

If you house is cluttered, you can invoke Saint Anne and welcome her energy into your home simply by straightening up and using a little magical elbow grease as you go! Visualize white light filling your home, sing magical songs, burn some incense and use plain water to wash the floors so Saint Anne’s power can be absorbed into every nook and cranny. If you know of a person who’s been laid up and unable to do such things for themselves, I also suggest offering a a helping hand. This will draw Saint Anne’s well-being to that individual and fill his or her living space with healthful energy. The act of kindness will also draw Saint Anne’s blessings to you.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“The Virgin and Child with St. Anne” by Leonardo da Vinci

“Saint Anne (also Ann or Anna, from Hebrew Hannah meaning “favor” or “grace”) of David‘s house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ according to Christian and Islamic tradition. English Anne is derived from Greek rendering of her Hebrew name Hannah. Mary’s mother is not named in the canonical gospels or the Qur’an, and her name and that of her husband Joachim come only from New Testament apocrypha, of which the Protoevangelium of James, written perhaps around 150, seems to be the earliest that mentions them.

Eastern Orthodox icon of St. Anna

The story bears a similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah had also been childless. Although Hanna receives little attention in the Western church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Hanna in the Eastern church occur as early as the 6th century.  In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, she is revered as Hanna. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hanna, is ascribed the title Forbear of God, and both the Birth of Mary and the Dedication of Mary to the Temple are celebrated as two of the Twelve Great Feasts. The Dormition of Hanna is also a minor feast in the Eastern Church. In Protestant tradition it is held that Martin Luther chose to enter religious life as a monk after receiving heavenly aid from St. Anne.

Anne is also a revered woman in Islam and is recognized as a highly spiritual woman as well as the mother of Mary. The daughter of Faqud, Hannah was childless until her old age. She saw a bird feeding its young while sitting in the shade of a tree, which awakened her desire to have children of her own. She prayed for a child and eventually conceived. Her husband, known as Imran in the Qur’an, died before the child was born. Expecting the child to be male, Hannah vowed to dedicate him to isolation and the service in the Temple.  However, Hannah bore a daughter instead, and she named her Mary. Her words after the birth of Mary reflect her status as a great mystic. Hannah wanted a son, but she realized that the daughter was God’s gift to her.

Varying theologians have believed either that Joachim was Anne’s only husband or that she was married thrice. Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of St John Damascene, was that Anne married once. In late medieval times, legend held that Anne was married three times, first to Joachim, then to Clopas and finally to a man named Solomas and that each marriage produced one daughter: Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salomae, respectively.  The sister of Saint Hanna was Sobe who was the mother of Saint Elizabeth.

St Anne Conceiving the Virgin Mary by Jean Bellegambe

Similarly, in the 4th century and then much later in the 15th century, a belief arose that Mary was born of Anne by virgin birth.  Those believers included the 16th century Lutheran mystic Valentine Weigel who claimed Anne conceived Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. This belief was condemned as an error by the Catholic Church in 1677. Instead, the Church teaches that Mary was conceived in the normal fashion, but that she was miraculously preserved from original sin in order to make her fit to bear Christ. The conception of Mary free from original sin is termed the Immaculate Conception—which is frequently confused with the Virgin Birth or Incarnation of Christ.

In the fifteenth century, the Catholic cleric Johann Eck related in a sermon that St Anne’s parents were named Stollanus and Emerentia. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) regards this genealogy as spurious.” [1]

I thought this was pretty powerful when I came across this piece written by Peregrinus in regards to “What is the real significance we can take from this icon?”  He writes, “And this matters, because it means that Mary did not spring into existence, fully formed, a vessel to carry the Incarnate Son of God. She was human, with a human story, rooted in humanity, with a mother who conceived, bore, nourished and raised here. She was connected intimately with her mother and, through her mother, with the rest of humanity. Anne’s importance is that she anchors Mary, and therefore Christ, in humanity. And I think it’s significant that, while Rome was prepared to tolerate every kind of nonsense being written and believed about Anne, it was not prepared to tolerate the idea that she bore Mary in a virgin birth of her own.

“The Family of St Anne” by Marten De Vos

Even the spurious traditions about Anne reflect this, for example by giving her, and therefore Jesus, a large extended family, a kinship network. And it’s a humanly imperfect family, as well, because Judas is part of it. And, as a long-lived, wealthy matriarch with three husbands and an extended family, she offers an attractive alternative to a stereotypical model of female holiness – virginity, persecution and early death. She became the patron of the primal female business of childbirth, and the almost equally primally male business of mining.

The facts of Anne’s life, and our ignorance of them, are in the end unimportant. We know she existed; we know that she played her part in the progress of human history towards the Incarnation, even though she almost certainly never knew that. She stands for the connections we all have to one another, even when we don’t know about them, and for the significance and the holiness of the things that we things we do in life that are ordinary and unremarkable, even to us. She stands for countless other men and women, whose names and whose live are equally unknown, who have played their part, and still play their part, in writing the stories that we are living.” [2]  Christian or not, I think that’s pretty moving, reminding us all of the strength of the matriarch and the interconnectedness we all share with each other.

Click here to view additional information on her including patronages and her prayers.

 

 

 

Sources:

Peregrinus. Catholica.com.au, “St Anne – the Mother of the Mother of God“.

Wikipedia, “Saint Anne“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Catholic-forum.com, “Patron Saints for Girls: Saint Anne“.

Catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com, “St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary“.

Ewtn.com, “SAINT ANNE – Mother of the Blessed Virgin“.

Moytura.com, “Journeys to Canada: St. Anne de Beaupré“.

Newadvent.org, “St. Anne“.

Reams, Sherry L. University of Rochester, “Legends of St. Anne, Mother of the Virgin Mary: Introduction“.

Saints.sqpn.com, “Saint Anne“.

Goddess Asherah

(This is one of the several Goddesses that Patricia Telesco makes a second entry on in her book.  She spells Asherah’s name as “Aherah” for today’s entry, but I could find no reference to “Aherah”.  You can view my previous entry on Asherah here.)

 

"Goddess of the Tides" by Jonathon Earl Bowser

“Asherah’s themes are luck, health, blessings, wisdom and divination.  Her symbols are a wooden pole and bricks.  Asherah is the Phoenician/Mesopotamian Mother of all Wisdom and Propriestress of Universal Law. On this day She offers Her perspective on the present and the future to begin settling the first quarter of the year sagaciously.

In Iranian stories, Asherah could walk on water, gave birth to over seventy deities, and taught people the arts of carpentry and brick building.

Sizdah Be-dar is part of the new year festivities in Iran. Follow Iranian tradition and generate Asherah’s fortuitous, healthy energy in your life by going on a picnic (or have one in the living room if the weather doesn’t cooperate, but leave the windows open).  It’s bad luck to stay inside today! Or, to make a spring wish, toss any type of spring water sprouts in water while focusing on your goal. If it is meant to be, the wish will manifest before the next Sizdah Be-dar. The alternative to sprouts is any newly sprouting seed, which should be planted afterwards to encourage the magic to grow.

For wisdom, find a small piece of wood or brick to represent Asherah. Lie down and meditate with the token over your third eye (located in the middle of the forehead and reputed to be a psychic center), visualizing purple light pouring through it. Chant:

‘Asherah abide in me
with your wisdom
let me see!’

Carry the token when you need to act judiciously.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Asherah is the wise, loving, giving, Grandmother of Muslims, Jews and Christians.  Over 4,000 years ago, most Canaanites and Hebrew households had altars dedicated to their beloved household Goddess Asherah; She inspired great devotion.  Many Asherah figures have been found, and many of Her altars have been found in the ruins of ancient kitchens. [1]

Asherah Figurines (9th-7th Centuries BCE)

“Archaeologists have found many statues of Goddess Asherah without finding a matching number of male figurines. By the early 1940s, over 300 terracotta figurines of nude goddesses had been unearthed in digs around Jerusalem supporting Her worship was an integral part of their religion.

As with all Goddess based religions it took a great deal of effort by the male-dominated priesthoods to erase Goddess worship among the common people. As the history of Canaan would change and the Hebrew bible expanded, Goddess Asherah would be mentioned several times as a companion God. Many scholars now weigh the idea of Yehweh actually having a wife? Eventually any mention of Goddess Asherah would be totally discredited from the transcriptions of the ancient writings.

"Morning Star" by Mahmoud Farshchian

As more and more information of Goddess Asherah becomes known, we know Her to be a Goddess of fertility, bringing special blessings to the family, and helping people achieve their goals and dreams. She was the Goddess worshipped by King Solomon, a King that dare worship his choosing rather than bending to the invasion of a War of men in the name of control through God. The many aspects of Goddess Asherah included Ashratum, Atharath, Astoreth, Elath, Eliat, Queen of Heaven, Lady of the Sea and She Who Gives Birth to the Gods. She has been called the mother of the Goddess Anath and Mother of Baʿal. It is well accepted in a time of God dominated worship it was as always the women who kept the Goddess alive.” [2]

“Even though Her name changes, Asherah remains the feminine face of God down through the present day. Her themes are kindness, love, divination and foresight. Her symbols are lions, lilies, a tree or a pole and a triangle on a pole or a cross.” [3]

 

 

“As women and daughters of the Goddess we remember this lost Goddess. Though Her myths are scarce, we know Her well. She is the Maiden, Mother and Crone that has existed since the beginning. She is beautiful, taking on the face of Her people and She is the strength of Her people. She is promise of the future and She is the wisdom of the ancestors. She is the prosperity and peace they know form living tribal in harmony and respect for each other. She is the treasured Mother Earth that sustains them and She is the blood of their life. We only need to turn within to know this Goddess man would try to erase.

"Tree Goddess" by Octavia Cheetham

As women it is through us She lives. In remembering Goddess Asherah we acknowledge our voice of self and the gift we have today to be authentic.  In remembering Goddess Asherah we also acknowledge how easily this can be striped from us by all who would think to program us with their thinking. As in the day of old we must recognize those who would know best for us without giving thought to who we would choose to be and we must not give that of ourselves. It is with open eyes we must take responsibility for ourselves and the magick or chaos we call forth in our life. We must know Goddess to know this truth least we surrender and forget.

As women we must remember or origins back to our primal Goddess of beginnings. In Her there is sanctuary and abundance of self. There is no true sanctuary without Her; there are only repeated patterns of disappointments. As women we gather and celebrate the lost Goddess Asherah that we might be lost as well. Blessed Be to Goddess Asherah and blessed be to the Goddess within.” [4]

 

 

Sources:

Coven of the Goddess, “Goddess Asherah, the Forgotten Goddess“.

Medusa. Order of the White Moon, “Asherah“.

Spiral Goddess Grove, “Asherah Altar“.

Suggested Links:

Carisa. Queen of Heaven, “Asherah, Part I: The Lost Bride of Yahweh” ; “Asherah: Part II: The Serpent’s Bride“; “Asherah” Part III: The Lion Lady“.

Binger, Tilde.  Asherah: Goddesses in Ugarit, Israel and the Old Testament.

Monaghan, Patricia. Goddesses in World Culture, “Asherah: Hidden Goddess of the Bible“. (p. 39 – 54).

PaganNews.com, “Asherah“.

Rankine, David. The Cosmic Shekinah, “The Goddess Asherah“.

Stuckey, Johanna H. MatriFocus Web Magazine for Goddess Women,  “Asherah and the God of the Early Israelites“.

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