Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Further Explorations of the Word MA
We've touched upon the meaning of the word in prior posts regarding Mary, Ma, Mari, etc. [compare Mera, Meri, Ta-Mera, etc.] Tonight we're going to explore further. Here is what Barbara Walker "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" has to say under the entry "Ma:" Basic mother-syllable of Indo-European languages, worshipped in itself as the fundamental name of the goddess. the universality of the mother-wird (not shared by words for "father") indicates either that the human race carried the same word from its earliest source [Merritt Ruhlen's theory that all language can be traced back to one "mother" tongue] to all parts of the earth at a period previous to the discovery of fatherhood; or else that all human beings instinctively say something like "ma" as the first verbal sound and associate it with the mother's breast, consequently with emotional dependence on a divinity perceived as a milk-giving mother - notwithstanding the absurd reference of Moses to a "nursing father" carrying the sucking child in his bosom (Numbers 11:12). "Ma-Ma" means "mother's breasts" in nearly all languages.(1) "All around the world, from Russia to Samoa, and in the ancient languages of Egypt, Babylon, India, and the Americas, the word for 'mother' is mama or some minor variation of this word."(2) In ancient Anatolia the Mother was Ma-Bellona; in Sumer and Akkad the Great Goddess was often called Mama, Mami, Mammitu, etc. In Central and South America the Goddess had such names as Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Mama Cuna.(3) In the Far East, the maternal blood bond that joined members of the matrilineal clan was mamata, "mine-ness."(4) Its sacred letter Ma, in pictographic form as the Spark of Life (bindu or vindu), was said to be "in the Great Yoni."(5) This scripture referred to a mystic essence uinting all the souls in a matrilineal kinship group. Ma or mamata expressed the idea that descendants of the same mother shared the same blood and couldn't injure one another without injuring themselves; therefore the concept of the maternal clan was a practical instrument of peace. In Indo-European root languages, Ma was often defined as "intelligence," the maternal force that bound elements together to create forms at the beignning of the world.(6) ancient Egypt gave this maternal force such names as Ma-Nu, Maa, or Maat, the Great Goddess of the All-Seeing Eye and the spirit of Truth.(7) The primitive Iranian Moon-Goddess Mah (or Al-Mah, the Moon) was another form of the same deity. Arabs called her Qis-Mah, "Fate," which the Turks corrupted into kismet. She gave birth to a series of Messiahs, each one called the Mahdi, one guided or given by Mother Mah. Persians made her name a sacred Word, formed of the letters Mourdad-Ameretat, "Death-Rebirth."(8) The ideogram MA was said to mean a state of immortality brought about by drinking the milk of the Goddess's breast, which brings one back to the original Ma-Ma. In Hebrew the same sacred letters MA made the Mem-Aleph, combining ideographs of "fluid" and "birth." This holy sign was credited with great productive power, and was written on Jewish amulets dating from the early 9th century B.C.(9) It could have been comped from either the Persians or the Egyptians, whose Mother Isis wore an "Amulet of Ma," a vase representing her own fountains of nourishing fluid.(1) Or again, as Ma-Nu, the Primal Deep, she was symbolized by three caldrons.(11) Even today the Tantric Goddess as a personification of "fertilizing water" is named Mamaki.(12) [Is there where the biblical references to "Waters of Life" spring from???] In Egyptian myth, a reversal of the Ma-Ma of nourishing breasts produced the female Devourer in the underworld: Am-Am, eater of souls. In the cyclic fashion of the elder religions, the giver was transformed into the taker.(13) Ma, the Great Goddess of Comana, was "worshipped by a whole people of hierodules in the ravines of the Taurus and along the banks of the Iris. Like Cybele she was an ancient Anatolian divinity and personified fertile nature."(14) She was taken to Rome where she merged with the war goddess Bellona, who personified fighting spirit as indomitable as that of a mother defending her young. Today the divine implications of the syllable Ma are recognized only in obscure semi-magical cults like voodooism, where a priestess embodies the Goddess's spirit and is known as mamaloi or mambo.(15). However, Ma is still a universal synonym for "mother". See Motherhood. Notes: (1) Potter & Sargent, 229. (2) Farb, W.P., 317. (3) Larousse, 443. (4) Bardo Thodol, 219; Campbell, Or.M., 216. (5) Mahanirvanatantra, css. (6) d'Alviella, 240. (7) Budge, E.L., 55. (8) Larousse, 311, 317. (9) Albright, 198. (10) Elworthy, 125. (11) Book of the Dead, 205. (12) Tatz & Kent, 164. (13) Budge, E.M., 171. (14) Cumont, O.R.R.P., 54. (15) Martello, 160. More tomorrow night.