Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Black Stone at Mecca

(Photo: the Sacred Yoni, one corner of the Ka'bah at Mecca - the part of the sacred black stone pilgrims kiss).

From prior post about "The Hind of Hinds - Continued:"

From Barbara Walker’s "The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:"

At Mecca the Goddess was Shaybah or Sheba, the Old Woman, worshipped as a black aniconic stone like the Godess of the Scythian Amazons. 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 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."

What is the black stone of Mecca? Here's the answer from The Edge:
The Black Stone - the Omphalos of the Goddess
Bob Trubshaw

Long-suffering readers of Mercian Mysteries will know of my obsession with 'omphali' - the sacred centres which each civilisation seems to create or adopt. Many of these involve stones - the Lia F il (Stone of Destiny) at Tara or the various 'king stones' (such as Kingston upon Thames) where medieval English kings were crowned. Our monarchs still sit on, or at least above, the Stone of Scone for their coronation. But some of these sacred stones have special interest - they are (or are said to be) black. Such Black Stones also tend to have the legend that they have fallen from the stars. Clearly, meteorites the size of these large boulders would explode into tiny fragments on impact, and also leave a substantial crater. The literal truth is not important; rather the symbolism of such stones being a link between this world and the heavens is an integral aspect of the Cosmic Axis which is invoked by all sacred centres.

Perhaps the best-known Black Stone, and now by far the most revered, is the Ka'bah at Mecca. Ka'bah means 'cube' and this describes the shape of the black stone structure on a marble base which stands in the centre court of the Great Mosque, Masjidul Haram, at the centre of Mecca. It stands about 50 feet high by about 35 feet wide. Set into the eastern corner is the sacred stone, covered by an elaborately embroidered black drape. As any non-moslem in the temple would be slain on sight, and photography is generally prohibited, this stone is shrouded is mystery. However, Rufus Camphausen has succeeded in tracking down three accounts of the pilgrimage to Mecca, two of which do contain photographs [1-3]. What these reveal is a polished black stone of which less than two feet is visible, set in a large, solid silver mount. The whole resembles - quite deliberately, for reasons which will emerge - the vulva of the goddess. That moslems now refer to it as the Hand of Allah does not diminish the urge for all those who complete the pilgrimage to Mecca to touch or kiss this sacred object. [Smile...]

The Black Stone has long since been broken and the silver band holds together the fragments. Tradition holds that it was a meteorite and the stone was white in colour when it first landed and then blackened. The faithful attribute this change in colour to the belief that the stone absorbs the sins of the pilgrims, but it is consistent with known meteorites which are white at first but oxidise over a period of time.

'A principal sacred object in Arabian religion was the stone. . . . Such stones were thought to be the residence of a god hence the term applied to them by Byzantine Christian writers of the fifth and sixth centuries: 'baetyl', from bet'el, 'the house of god'.' [4]

'In north Arabian temples the image of the deity sometimes stood in the open air or could be sheltered in a qubbah, a vaulted niche. . . . Not to be confused with the qubbah is the word ka'bah, for a cube-shaped walled structure which . . . served as a shelter for the sacred stones.' [5]

Camphausen, in his article [6], reveals that the misogynic moslem religion has its origins in goddess worship. Allah is a revamped version of the ancient goddess Al'Lat, and it was her shrine which has continued - little changed - as the Ka'bah. The known history of Mohammed reveals that he was born around 570 CE into a tribe of the Quraysh, who not only worshipped the goddess Q're but were the sworn guardians of her shrine. By 622 Mohammed was preaching the ways of his god, Allah, and was driven out by his own tribe as a result.

The triple goddess
Pre-islamic worship of the goddess seems to be primarily associated with Al'Lat, which simply means 'goddess'. She is a triple goddess, similar to the Greek lunar deity Kore/Demeter/Hecate. Each aspect of this trinity corresponds to a phase of the moon. In the same way Al'Lat has three names known to the initiate: Q're, the crescent moon or the maiden; Al'Uzza, literally 'the strong one' who is the full moon and the mother aspect; then Al'Menat, the waning but wise goddess of fate, prophecy and divination. Islamic tradition continue to recognise these three but labels them 'daughters of Allah'.

According to Edward Rice [7] Al'Uzza was especially worshipped at the Ka'bah where she was served by seven priestesses. Her worshippers circled the holy stone seven times - once for each of the ancient seven planets - and did so in total nudity. Near the Ka'bah is the ever-flowing well, Zamzam, which cools the throats of the countless millions of pilgrims.

In an oasis of always-flowing water, the Black Stone in its mount became an unmatched image of the goddess as giver of life. Only in the Indian continent do such physical symbols for the male and female generative powers - the lingam and yoni - continue to be worshipped with their original fervour.

It is easy to imagine that in pre-moslem times the goddess's temple at Mecca was pre-eminent - whether to celebrate life, ask protection, pray for offspring. Legend tells how Abraham, unable to produce children by his wife Sarah, came here to make love to his slave Hagar. Later, when Hagar came back to give birth, she could find no water and Abraham created the holy well of Zamzam to save the life of his first son.

When Mohammed wanted to surplant Al'Lut with Allah, this was the one Temple he must conquer. Although Mohammed did conquer the Ka'bah, little else changed. The faithful still circle the Holy of Holies seven times (although, I hasten to add, now fully clothed). The priests of the sacred shrine are still known as Beni Shaybah or 'Sons of the Old Woman' - Shaybah being, of course, the famous Queen Sheeba of Solomon's times.

Sheeba appears under the guise of Lilith in the Near East and as Hagar ('the Egyptian') in the Hebrew mythology of the Old Testament. So, rewriting the legend given above, Abraham begot his son, Ishmael - the ancestor of all Arab peoples - by the goddess on the Black Stone of the Ka'bah.

While we are tracing names, Q're (or Qure), the maiden aspect of Al'Lut, seems certain to be the origin of the Greek Kore. Camphausen suggests that the holy Koran (qur'an in Arabic) is the 'Word of Qure'. Even moslems admit that the work existed before the time of Mohammed. Legend said it was copied from a divine prototype that appeared in heaven at the beginning of time, or the Mother of the Book [8]. Al'Uzza, the mother aspect of Al'Lut, may give us the pre-dynastic Egyptian snake goddess Ua Zit [Uadjet] who develops into Isis.

Returning to the geomantic significance of the Ka'bah, Professor Hawkins has argued that it is exceedingly accurately aligned on two heavenly phenomena. These are the cycles of the moon and the rising of Canopus, the brightest star after Sirius. In a thirteenth-century Arabic manuscript by Mohammed ibn Abi Bakr Al Farisi it is stated that the alignment is set up for the setting crescent moon - an ancient symbol of the virgin-goddess which still appears in the national flags of many islamic nations. In some flags - Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Turkey - the crescent is accompanied by a star, perhaps representing Canopus.

The Egyptian city known as Canopus seems also have been a goddess temple, as the Greek historian Strabo (63BCE-21CE) considered the place to be notorious for wild sexual activities. Such references typically refer to temples where sacred 'prostitution' or ritual promiscuity were part of the worship; invariably sacred objects depicting the genitals of either god and/or goddess were venerated. Such sacred promiscuity continued to be part of the Pilgrimage to Mecca, at least for some moslems. The Shi'ites from Persia were allowed to form temporary 'marriages' for the period of the pilgrimage. Any children born as a result were regarded as divine or as saints - a custom with worldwide parallels (English surnames such as Goodman, Jackson or Robinson perhaps derive from similar sacred unions with god in the form of Green Men characters such as Jack o'the Green or Robin Greenwood; I would also suggest that the original sense of 'godparent' and 'godchild' has similar origins.)

Aniconic black stone once venerated at the Temple of Aphrodite, near
Paphos, Cyprus. From photograph by Bob Trubshaw. [photo not included in this post]

More Black Stones
Deities of other cultures known to have been associated with stones include Aphrodite at Paphos, Cybele at Pessinus and later Rome, Astarte at Byblos and the famous Artemis/Diana of Ephesus. The latter's most ancient sculpture was, it is said, carved from a black meteorite.

The earliest form of Cybele's name may have been Kubaba or Kumbaba which suggests Humbaba, who was the guardian of the forest in the Epic of Gilgamesh (the world's oldest recorded myth from Assyria of c.2500BCE and, as scholars reveal more of the text, increasingly the source of most of the major mythological themes of later civilisations [9]) [10]. The origin of Kubaba may have been kube or kuba meaning (guess what) - 'cube'. The earliest reference we have to a goddess worshipped as a cube-shaped stone is from neolithic Anatolia [11]. Alternatively, 'Kubaba' may mean a hollow vessel or cave - which would still be a supreme image of the goddess. The ideograms for Kubaba in the Hittite alphabet are a lozenge or cube, a double-headed axe, a dove, a vase and a door or gate - all images of the goddess in neolithic Europe.

The stone associated with Cybele's worship was, originally, probably at Pessinus but perhaps at Pergamum or on Mount Ida. What is certain is that in 204 BCE it was taken to Rome, where Cybele became 'Mother' to the Romans. The ecstatic rites of her worship were alien to the Roman temperament, but nevertheless animated the streets of their city during the annual procession of the goddess's statue. Alongside Isis, Cybele retained prominence in the heart of the Empire until the fifth century CE; the stone was then lost. Her cult prospered throughout the Empire and it is said that every town or village remained true to the worship of Cybele [12].

The home of Aphrodite was at Paphos on Cyprus. Various Classical writers describe the rituals which went on her in her honour - these seem to include the practice which is now known by the disdainful term of 'sacred prostitution'. In any event, the tapering black stone which was the object of verneration at this Temple still survives, even if it now placed inside the site musuem [13].

Also on Cyprus is another highly venerated islamic site - the third most important after Mecca and Medina - the Hala Sultan Tekke. This, too, has a black rock, said to have fallen as a meteorite as part of the tritholon over the shrine. The shrine is to a woman - the aunt and foster mother of Prophet Mohammed [14]. Could this, like Mecca, have been originally a goddess shrine? Unfortunately no other clues are forthcoming.

Another site stated to have a Black Stone was at Petra, but I have been unable to discover where this was or who was worshipped there - could any readers who know please write in!

To add a little local flavour, numerous standing stones in the British Isles are reputed to have fallen from the stars. The now-lost Star Stone marked the meeting of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire; an also-vanished stone at Grimston, Leicestershire, was also said to have such an origin. However, whether or not such stones were ever associated with goddess worship we will never know.

It would take far too long to discuss to what extent the cult of the goddess's Black Stone may have been perpetrated as Solomon's bride in the Song of Songs, who is 'black but beautiful' or to come to terms with the black images of Demeter, Artemis and Isis who have their direct continuation in the Black Virgins of Europe - patrons of the troubadours, the gnostics and the alchemists, as well as the present Pope. Those who wish to follow such ideas would do well to read The myth of the goddess [15] which, in a sober but inspirational manner, re-evaluates how the feminine deity has remained with us throughout history.

Further information on these topics appears in a follow-up article by Alby Stone Goddess of the Black Stone.

[1] Richard Burton, A personal narrative of a pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah, London 1856.
[2] Hussein Yoshio Hirashima, The road to holy Mecca, Kodansha (Japan), 1972.
[3] Anon., Pilgrimage to Mecca, Sud-Editions (Tunis) 1978 and East-West Publications (London) 1980.
[4] Encyclopedia Brittanica.
[5] ibid.
[6] Rufus C. Camphausen, 'The Ka'bah at Mecca', Bres (Holland) No.139, 1989. My thanks to Rufus for bringing this article to my attention; this article of mine is in large part a synopsis of his longer work. See also 'From behind a veil', Flora Green, in The cauldron No.61 (reprinted from The Merrymount messenger Winter 1991).
[7] E. Rice, Easter definitions, Doubleday, 1978 (cited in Camphausen).
[8] Barbara G. Walker, The crone, Harper & Row, 1985 (cited in Camphausen).
[9] See Robert Temple's recent translation He who saw everything, Rider, 1991.
[10] Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, The myth of the goddess, Penguin, 1991.
[11] Maarten J. Vermaseren, Cybele and Attis, trans. A.M.H. Lemmers, Thames and Hudson, 1977 (cited in Baring and Cashford, op. cit.).
[12] ibid.
[13] 'Aphrodite's island', Penny Drayton, Wood & water, Vol.2, No.41, Jan 1993.
[14] ibid.
[15] Baring and Cashford, op. cit.

Originally published in Mercian Mysteries No.14 February 1993.
At the Edge home page
Index of articles uploaded
Copyright 1993, 1996, 2001. No unauthorised copying or reproduction except if all following conditions apply: a: Copy is complete (including this copyright statement). b: No changes are made. c: No charge is made.
At the Edge / Bob Trubshaw /

Created April 1996; updated August 2001

It's not coincidence that the form of the sacred black stone is generally described as the shape of the sacred yoni (see photo above), formed by two crescent moons crossed over each other, also the form of the fish of the Goddess, the vesica pisces - a well known architectural form incorporated into many of the great cathedrals constructed during the medieval period dedicated to the Virgin Mary - the Queen of Heaven.

For some interesting graphics, see The Goddess, her eternal symbols
Basic information on the Vesica Pisces from Wikipedia
Some more interesting graphics and information at the Library of Alexandria


Anonymous said...

This Article Is way out of track !!
the writer seems to be "uneduacated" enogh to come out with such analysis about the black stone, kabah and islam !!
anyone who has read a little about islam will easily discover that it is the last episode if the "devine" religion's series.

but after all, it is the freedome of speech :)

i advise you all to seek more articles about the methodoligy of islam other thatn this one !

Anonymous said...

oh and also ..

the translation of arabic words in this article, is so wrong !

Abu said...

I cannot believe the amount of deliberate disinformation that is being circulated on the net about Islam these days, One constant theme I notice is that people label Islam as a polytheist faith by sometimes mentioning pre-Islamic idol names of the pagan Arabs who were polytheists, which was before the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), all this is bogus and the naivety quite frankly baffles me.

With regards to the Black Stone (Hajar-al-aswad not yoni as someone mentioned), the info is inaccurate, a quick Google search and a reliable source would answer your questions regarding its origin and how it came about and whats its role.

Try this

Anonymous said...

I guess the person who wrote this article isnt aware of arabic,History nor arabic traditions and culture
neither arab history, or the zeal of arabs to write down their ancestory leading to adam

even till today

Sheba doesnot mean old women but means Old Man and was the name of THe Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)'s grandfather who was nick named Abdul Mutalib

No woman ever held the seat to the leader ship of Quraish.i could qoute the linage from Adnan to Mohammad but it would take too much space..

Quraish was Named after one of the relatives (father/son) of Hashim

the black stone was the corner stone and was never worshiped throughout history (till today muslims see it as a direction and not a worship diety Second Caliph Omer Said "If i had not seen The Prophet kiss thee i would have thrown thee out of the Kaba"

The silver casing was placed very late after the Stone had broken into 8 peices to hold them in Place

Please get your Facts right :) God bless you and May he Guide you and me as well :)

Jan said...

Hello all,

Thank you for your comments. I believe that Barbara Walker's scholarship is solid. You do not have to agree with her findings and interpretations, but that does not make them false. The Edge article was also well-researched.

These are not the only articles that I have found that talk about the goddess worshipping culture of the people of Arabia in the pre-Islamic age. The evidence for this is well established in archaeology even while the old pre-Islamic myths and legends of the people have been distorted to reflect a much later patriarchal gloss.

I can understand why a Muslim would be incredulous or incensed at many of the things written about by Dr. Walker and in The Edge article. The same has been true of the fathers of the Christian churches who have been offended and claim as untrue many things written by many people. A thousand years ago the church fathers burned such people at the stake and burned everything they wrote. The church leaders no longer do so today, because they have learned it is a losing battle to try and suppress a person's right to form his own beliefs and to learn what history has to teach us. All efforts - by a religion, a cult, a political movement or a government - are eventually doomed to fail. This is one certain thing that history teaches us over and over!

I believe that a person with an open mind who wants to become informed must learn to separate historical facts from religious traditions. It is not always easy to do this, and it may be impossible for some.

Unknown said...

The black stone came from heaven and was white, pilgrims kiss it or wave at it, or touch it and then kiss their hands to erase their sins. The stone turned from white to black because it is carrying the sins of pilgrims, believe me i,ve been a pilgrim three times.

Anonymous said...

The general response from obviously devoted moslims is indignation and alarm, but as is the case everywhere without any concerete evidence of their own. Accusing someone of not knowing anything about arab, islam and moslems does not constitute explanation, it is merely indignation without thought, anger without reason.
For example; the fact that in 930CE the Qarmatieh moslems raided both mecca and medina, sacked them,destroyed ka'ba and broke the stone to many pieces(8 or9 according to different records)took these pieces of the black stone to bahrain , and hung in a toilet-well for 30 to 60 years, is not mentioned by anyone of the defenders of the faith.
Unfortunately hiding the truth and denying history is an islamic tradition that goes back to the very earliest days of it and igonarnce of history a fact re-enforced by generations of "do not question or die" tradition very much in evidence now. but thanks to the gods of internet, this tradition of ignorance is challenged openly and continously.

Anonymous said...

Yes the problem with Islam which didn't exist during its hey days is this exact same thing which is critical thinking. Once the critical thinking process has be shut down, all they do now is read and follow things literally along with blaming everyone else as infidels who don't agree with them. Every faith reaches this cross road and this juvenile child religion [youngest] doesn't want to grow up the adults step in and give it a good spanking.
Every religion has this literal thinking group, chritianity had it in the past now they are minority but in Islam its majority.
Understand Arab brother all faiths are same a supposed path to the one Creator each prophet claims his way is the only way, it isn't its his experience. Faith is individual and each soul has to find his own path no one can help not my prophet not your prophet its G*D's will.

Al-Lat said...

In the Name of God The Most Merciful, The Most Loving,

Ya know...that goddess you're so in awe of? She worships the same being that I worship....the Supreme Creator of this Universe and everything within it...the essence of everything, the Light of Heavens, the Most Loving & the Most Benevolent...and guess what? That light within you is more powerful than that of the goddess you think you are worshipping, if you'd only bother to open your heart to see the truth and accept the light. So, why bother worshipping a mere subject when you can go directly to the Source? Why stand in the dark if you can swim in the Light?

I pray that you'll become one of the guided ones because I sensed that you are a seeker, still seeking for the true path.

I hope you'll find the Light :)

Peace to you.

Jan said...

Hmmm, I don't worship in the way you seem to think I do but I'm certainly cognizant of greater forces at work in the universe than of which I can conceive. That's enough to create a feeling of awe in me. I don't need hocus pocus. That said, I understand that some people feel a need to worship something or someone they perceive as greater than themselves and they create representative objects to revere. The art of religion is fascinating. Religionists do themselves no favors by denying the history of certain objects revered as sacred icons in their traditions. Putting blinders on and denying known facts is silly.

Al-Lat said...

the thing is, that forces that you're so in awe of, came from just one Source

and this Source is very close to you, even closer than your heartbeat

the Source that you'll go return to when you leave this mortal plane

"Don't look at your form, however ugly or beautiful. Look at love and at the aim of your quest.

...O you whose lips are parched, keep looking for water. Those parched lips are proof that eventually you will reach the source."
- Rumi -

We are all spiritual beings on a human journey.

Peace to you. :)

Anonymous said...

One thing the writer forgot to mention, is that the balck stone in Islam is beleived to have been first placed by Adam,then Abraham and Ishmael built a house of God there.....however later yrs people od Arabia have strayed away fromn God and the true meaning of the Black stone " WHICH ONCE WAS WHITE" and it became balck due to the sin of the people....that is where the Pagans like the Godesses and soon come in. They hijacked the stone knowing the ancient stories of it's eing, so they started worshiping it.....
So if pagans decide to worship at the church of the Basilica does not discredit the church just the fact that pagans took over.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the congregations; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a WHITE STONE, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:12-17).

The new name is Mohammad

Jan said...

May 10, 2011 Anonymous, I think it more likely the white stone you referred to in Revelation is an oblique reference to the building stone upon which the new church was to be built - that is, Jesus Christ. Too bad that didn't work out, but at least the so-called Christian church model has got past it's convert or kill stage.

Unknown said...

...just read,,
Ancient Felines and Great Goddesses
in Anatolia: Kubaba+Cybele.
Goddesses and felines. the one
glaring omission was, the original
Kuba and feline, Tlatlatzolteotl,
Flame Hole Thea, and her Ocelome(N)=
not only did Kubaba/Kupapa=
firepaint,=tlapa(N)=tl/trap(hunt). the felines are colored red at ZatalHuyuk, chitlatla(N)=
spark,=ch(i)thonic(Gk) fire drill
the taoist=tlaolli(N)=earthrolls=
take corn off cob, Cawen/Gwen(OE)=
Queen Mother of the West, Xiwangmu,
is feline associated, and the buddhist, Kurukulla(goddess)of
Kurukulla mountain=tepetl(N)=
owner. mountains are Neander habitat.
Kupapa/Tlazolteotl Fire Drill tamed
first large felines, she is the cave
goddess of the wild steppes=tepetl(N).
somewhere in your blog i discuss
Kubaba. as Cybele, Queen bee of honey=h/ch/cony(E)=conecuhtli(N)=
comes to nectar=necuhtli(N)= honey,=conetl(N)=conejo(Mex)=rabbit.
as i predicted our one language, Nauatl, comes out of the caves of
Kupapa/Tlazol, and is Neander inspired.
as to the Tlapa(N)=arabaitan(OHG)=
tl/trabajo(sp), a fancy way of saying
Arab, they were proto-christians of
Quetzalcoatl, whose mother, the wind-
weaving deity, Ehecatl(N/2/Venus Tonalamatl), was born of Perses,
father, who gave his name to Persia.
way before Allah. so, Abdulla,
take your own advice and bone up on the subject.
Allah, alabar(sparab). oahlauh(N)=
laude(Fr)=praise. Alaua, a Nauatl
verb, is the reverential of atl(N)=
water(E), formed with letters from
the word and 17th day of the Tonalamatl, Ollin(N)=m(ov)ement=
Holy(E). the other reverential of
t/Reality(E), ah, ue altia(N)=
waybig altar=bealté(OE)=Beauty+

Unknown said...

...the new name is Mohammad=
Mo-(N/pronoun adj)=your-
as in camileua/camilui(N)=mature,
take color, speaking of fruit,=
camel(beast of burden)=named for its
color/yellow. Llama/Alpaca are camelids
of many colors.
Mohammad, your mouth, to praise
Allah, as the carp in your sacred
pools, to praise Allah, Alaua(N).

Unknown said...

Al-lah is the principal evil-god in the temple of Kaaba. Muhammad destroyed al-lah’s idol. Al-lah’s devotees destroyed Muhammad's descendants in the battle field of Karbala. So, al-lah is the blood-thirsty evil.

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