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Al-Uzza

Al-Uzza ("The Most Mighty") is a pre-Islamic Arabian Goddess, the youngest in the triad of Goddesses with Menat ("Time", the death or fate Goddess, sometimes--I think erroneously--called the Goddess of the full moon, since the moon in Arabia was masculine) and Al Lat (whose name means "The Goddess", as Al Lah means "The God"). They survived (a bit) even into Islam, where they are called in the Koran the three daughters of Allah. The trio were worshipped as uncut aniconic stones, and the "idols" of Al-Uzza and Al Lat were two of the three hundred plus pagan statues at the Ka'aba that were destroyed by Mohammed. She is a star Goddess, associated with the planet Venus, and was honored by the Koreishites (incidentally Mohammed's tribe) as one of their highest Goddesses. She was reputed to accept human sacrifices, though that comes from Islamic sources, who likely were not unbiased when writing about the "barbarous ways" of the competition.

Originally Sabean (the culture of the kingdom of Saba or Sheba in the south of Arabia, present-day Yemen), worship of Al-Uzza spread all over Arabia. She had a sanctuary in a valley on the road from Mecca, comprising three acacia trees in which She was said to descend. Some scholars believe She may even have been the patron deity of Mecca itself.

The Greeks connected Her with their Ourania ("The Heavenly", an epithet of Aphrodite, as well as the name of a Muse) and with Caelistis, a moon Goddess and the Roman name for the Carthaginian Tanit. Al-Uzza is also sometimes identified with Isis. Other sources link Her with Minerva or Athene which could make Her a virgin warrior Goddess. Herodotus says the supreme Goddess of the Arabs was Ourania, who he says was called Alilat (i.e., Al Lat), and indeed Al-Uzza was sometimes confused with Al Lat, leading some scholars to wonder if Al Lat and Al-Uzza are different regional names for the same Goddess.

Al-Uzza is a member of the Nabatean zodiac and has been called the Mistress of Heaven. She seems to have been the premier Goddess worshipped in their capital city, the famous Petra, located in present-day Jordan. Petra was a major stop on the spice roads and was a very wealthy city. The tombs or temples there are carved out of the living rock, and the main way into the city is through a dramatic tunnel-like narrow gorge, nearly a mile long, that suddenly opens on to the city. (If this sounds familiar, it's because Petra was used as one of the locations in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".)

Al-Uzza is also the Goddess who guards ships on ocean voyages. Though Arabia is a land of deserts and nomads, the Nabateans did make ocean voyages to trade. In this aspect She is symbolized by the dolphin, whose habit of swimming alongside ships made them guardians and protectors. Felines are also sacred to Her, and the Temple of the Winged Lions at Petra may well be Hers.

Al-Uzza represents confidence, vigilance and preparation. She is fiercely protective, and is a strong ally in an approaching battle.

Alternate spelling: Al Uzza, al-'Uzza, El-'Ozza, Uzza, Izza.

Also called: Sa'ida 'Uzza ("Blessed Uzza"), as-S'ida ("The Blessed")

For another version of Al-Uzza, with Al-Lat and Manat, go here. I have since redone this card; for the earlier version of it, click here.



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