Back to Home Page or Contents Page or Past and present beliefs or Index

Mana


Mana or its cognate is found in nearly all languages, the essential meaning of which is maternal power, moon-spirit, supernatural force, and title of the Goddess. The term was resurrected in English through anthropological studies in the South Pacific, where Mana was described as follows:

Mana is the stuff through which magic works...proceeding immediately from the sacred person or thing, or mediately because a ghost or spirit has put it into the person or thing...The cult of the relics of saints springs from this belief that their bodies, whether living or dead, possessed Mana.

Also, Mana ruled the underworld, which the Finns called Manala. The Romans knew her as a very ancient goddess Mana or Mania, governing the underground land of the long dead; the ancestral spirits called manes, her children. They went to the pit under the lapis manalis in the Forum, emerging to receive their offerings on the annual feast day of Maniac. It was on this occasion that the goddess Mania appeared wearing a fright mask, like the terrifying Crone-face Medusa or the Destroying Kali.

Death and madness were not Mania's only aspects, however, in classical times, her "moon-madness" or "lunacy" was viewed as a revelation of the divine, which was to be received with gratitude. Socrates said, "The greatest of our blessings come to us through mania...Madness coming from (the deity) is superior to sanity of human origin." In other words, Mana-Mania was the muse. The Gnostics believes that Mana is "the divine spirit in man"; and the Great Mana, or Mana of Glory, is "the highest godhead." A.G.H.



Source:

Walker, Barbara G. The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. New York, HarperCollins. p. 575