Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Those Pesky Satanic Verses

Among the preeminent deities of ancient Arabia were the Triple Goddesses of Mecca: al-Lât, al-'Uzzá, and Manât. We don't know much about them—the mosque far out-did the church in ruthlessness when it came to destruction of the past—but they certainly did cause problems for Muhammad. And, in fact, they still do.

When Muhammad had gained enough power to become a player in local politics, grandees from some of Mecca's most prestigious families came to him and said: “Look, make a place in your system for the Three Goddesses—they don't have to be on top, just make a place for them—and we'll back you.”

Like Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Muhammad was well-known for having self-serving revelations. His wife 'A'isha once remarked that it sure was convenient how Allah seemed to back him in every argument. So he goes up to Mount Nûr and, lo and behold, the angel Jibrîl whispers into his ear:

Have you seen al-Lât and al-'Uzzá,

and Manât, the third, the other?

These are the exalted cranes,

their intercession much to be desired.


(The word that I've translated as “cranes,” gharâniq, is problematic. Some would translate “females.”)


Muhammad goes back home, recites the new revelation, and all is well. The Three Goddesses are now the daughters of Allah. Sweet.

But then he has an attack of conscience. He realizes that having any intercessors at all in his system compromises the unity of Allah. He goes back to the mountain and has another revelation.

Have you seen al-Lât and al-'Uzzá,

and Manât, the third, the other?

What? Sons for you, daughters for Him?

That would be unfair, indeed!

(Sura 53:19-22)


Men having sons, while God has only daughters? Perish the thought!

The Meccans are merchants, savvy, and they spot the about-face immediately. “That's not what you said before,” they say, “what's with the dueling revelations?”

“Oh,” says Muhammad, “that wasn't Jibrîl that whispered those other verses into my ear, that was ash-Shaitân.”*

The eponymous novel that got Salman Rushdie into so much trouble treats with these verses and the episode that inspired them in his life-of-Muhammad novel-within-a-novel. In some ways, it's Goddess Revisionist history. As Muhammad lies dying, al-Lât comes for him. She takes him at the end, too, just as she takes us all.

They say that the epicenter of the Muslim world, the Black Stone, the meteorite set into the eastern corner of the Ka'aba in Mecca, was once sacred to the goddess al-Lât. Just as they did back in pagan times, people still circumambulate it seven times widdershins, and kiss it. These days they do it in Allah's name.

But long ago they did exactly the same thing for the Goddess. And who knows? Maybe some day they will again.

Inshat'illât. Goddess willing.

*This sura is referenced (and satirized) in Martinet Press' The Devil's Quran (2014):

8:32  Lo, Muhammed! Four wives for other men, but twelve for yourself, and none for your Lord? And that is an unfair distribution.
























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Tagged in: Goddess Triple Goddess
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Bruno
    Bruno Friday, 06 March 2015

    Clap clap clap! :D

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