You are here:
  1. » Home
  2. » Areas
  3. » Mythology
  4. » Oceania
  5. » Polynesian mythology
  6. » Mana
Cite/print/rate article
Send comment    References

Mana

by Alan G. Hefner
Nearly all languages had a cognate of this word, the basic meaning of which was maternal power, moon-spirit, magic, supernatural force, and a title of the Goddess. Mana came back into English from anthropological studies in the South Pacific, where the word was described as follows:
Mana is the stuff through which magic works...proceeding immediately from the nature of 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 the saints springs from the belief that their bodies, whether living or dead, possessed Mana.

Mana also ruled the underworld, which the Finns called Manana. 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 dwelt in a pit under the lapis manalis in the Forum, emerging to receive their offerings on the annual feast day of the Maniae. On this occasion the Goddess Mania appeared in a fright mask, like the terrifying Crone-face of Medusa or Destroying Kali.

Mania was not solely a spirit of death or madness, however, in classical times. Her "moon-madness" or "lunacy" was viewed as a revelation of the divine, to be received with gratitude. Socrates said, "The greatest of our blessings comes to us through mania...Madness coming from [the deity] is superior to sanity of human origin." In other words, Mana-Mania was the Muse. Gnostics said Mana is "the divine spirit in man"; and the Great Mana, or Mana of Glory, is "the highest godhead."

Mania may be compared to Hindu 'Maya,' the Virgin Goddess whose name was "power," and Arabic 'Monat,' the Virgin Goddess whose name was "fate"and who represented the Triple Moon. In archaic Europe, Mana was the Moon-mother who gave birth to the race of man--that is of woman, which is what man originally meant.

Mana or Mania became a common name for the Great Goddess as Creatress and Queen of Heaven (moon) because it was intimately connected with the mysterious powers of women, like the moon itself. Scandinavians called the Goddess's sky-realm Manavegr, "the Moon's Way." Celts called it E-Mania, or Hy Many, the land ruled by the Triple Goddess. Sometimes it was Emain Macha, the moon-land of Mother Macha. Cormac's Glossary.


Article details:

  • N/A

Page tools: