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Ma'at Ma'at or Maat refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice.  Ma'at was the goddess who personified these concepts, and regulated the stars, seasons, and the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the moment of creation.  Ma'at was depicted as a woman with a feather (her symbol) on her head.  She was the goddess of truth, justice and harmony, and was associated with the balance of things on Earth.  She was the daughter of the Sun god Ra.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the Underworld.  Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

Pharaohs are frequently shown in wall reliefs making an offering of Ma'at to the gods, thus showing that they are preserving harmony and justice on Earth.  The vizier in charge of the law courts was known as the 'priest of Ma'at'.




Macedonian Sun See Vergina Sun.



Mafia The Sicilian Mafia, also known as the Mafia and frequently referred to by its members as Cosa Nostra ("our thing") is a Mafia-terrorist-type organised crime syndicate based in Sicily, Italy.  It is a loose association of criminal groups which share a common organisational structure and code of conduct.  The basic group is known as a 'family', 'clan', or 'cosca'.  Each family claims sovereignty over a territory, usually a town or village or a neighbourhood of a larger city, in which it operates its rackets.  Its members call themselves 'Made men', although the public often refers to them as mafiosi.  The Mafia's core activities are protection racketeering, the arbitration of disputes between criminals, and the organising and oversight of illegal agreements and transactions

Following waves of emigration, the Mafia has spread to other countries such as Canada and the United States.

The genesis of Cosa Nostra is hard to trace because mafiosi are very secretive and do not keep historical records of their own.  In actual fact, they have been known to spread deliberate lies concerning their past, and sometimes come to believe in their own myths.




Magan David See Star of David.



Magnesium Alchemists used 'Magnesia alba' (literally 'white magnesia') which was magnesium carbonate (MgCO3), also known as 'mild magnesian Earth'.

Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg and atomic number 12.  It is a shiny grey solid which bears a close physical resemblance to the other five elements in the second column (group 2, or alkaline earth metals) of the periodic table -- all group 2 elements have the same electron configuration in the outer electron shell and a similar crystal structure.

Magnesium is the ninth most abundant element in the universe, and although it may seem hard to believe, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body.




Malleus Maleficarum Translated as The Witches Hammer, this is one of the most important late mediaeval theological texts against witchcraft.  It was written by two Dominican friars, Jakob Sprenger (1436 - 1495 CE) and Heinrich Kramer (1430 - 1505 CE), and filled with detailed descriptions and definitions, as a result of which it quickly became the most authoritative study of witchcraft and the methods of detecting it.  As such, it became the handbook for witchfinders, and served as a guide to the 'Holy Inquisition' for more than a century.



Maltese Cross This symbol takes its name from the island nation of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, with which it has been associated since the 16th century CE and of where a version of the symbol appears on the national flag.  The cross itself, however, carried significant meaning for hundreds of years before it travelled to this small island.

During the Crusades (c 11th - 13th centuries) it was the symbol of a prominent military and religious order known as The Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, or The Knights Hospitaller.  This brotherhood was one of the most famous organisations of the European Middle Ages.  Essentially a group of 'military monks', they fulfilled duties both as physicians on the battlefield and established hospices and other centres to care for Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.

The eight points of the Maltese Cross have been assigned various symbolic associations over the years typically religious in nature and relating to proper conduct in life.




Manaia The Manaia is a mythological creature in Maori culture, and is a common motif in Maori carving and jewellery.  It is usually portrayed as having the head of a bird, the tail of a fish and the body of a man, although it is sometimes depicted as a bird, a serpent, or a human figure in profile.  The design of the symbol varies from tribe to tribe.

In Maori tradition the Manaia is a creature that acts as a messenger between the human world and the world of spirits.  Greenstone, a form of jade indigenous to New Zealand, is a popular carving material for the Manaia although other mediums are also used.




Mandala A mandala (Circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism, representing the universe, although in common use, 'mandala' has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.  Nowadays, the basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a Circle with a centre point, each gate being in the general shape of the letter T.  Mandalas tend to exhibit radial balance.

The term appears in the Rigveda (an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns) as the name of the sections of the work, and Vedic rituals still use mandalas such as the nava graha mandala to this day.  In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as a help to meditation and inducing a trance.




Mandorla A mandorla is an Aureole, or frame, usually in the shape of a Vesica Piscis, which surrounds the figures of Christ and the Virgin Mary in traditional Christian art.  It is distinguished from a Halo in that it encircles the entire body, and not just the head.  See also Halo.



Mandrake Mandragora (a plant genus belonging to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), members of which are known as mandrakes) was sought by Alchemists, and used as an ingredient in numerous magical ‘potions’.  This is not surprising since the mandrake has a lengthy history as a magical plant.  It has been known for thousands of years for its anaesthetic properties, and is mentioned in the Book of Genesis as an aphrodisiac used by Rachel to conceive a son (Genesis 30:14-16)1.

All species of Mandrake contain highly biologically active alkaloids, tropane alkaloids in particular.  The alkaloids make the plant, specifically the root and leaves, poisonous via anticholinergic, hallucinogenic, and hypnotic effects.  Its anticholinergic properties can lead to asphyxiation, and accidental poisoning is not uncommon.  Ingesting mandrake root is likely to have other adverse effects such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

Many myths and legends surround the mandrake, which was said to resemble a naked human body.  Among the many superstitions surrounding the plant was the belief that it was propagated by the blood of the condemned, and would grow prolifically underneath the gallows.

It was accepted, even from ancient times, that the plant gave out such a deafening scream when uprooted that a man could be rendered insensible or even killed by the sound, so for this reason dogs were often employed to perform the task

1 14: And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah.  Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes.
15: And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also?  And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes.
16: And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes.  And he lay with her that night.




Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra Manipura is the third primary Chakra according to Hindu tradition.  Located above the navel or slightly below the solar plexus, Manipura translates from Sanskrit as the 'City of Jewels'.  It is often associated with the colours yellow, blue in classical tantra, and red in the Nath tradition.

Manipura is associated with Fire and the power of transformation.  It is said to govern digestion and metabolism as the home of Agni (Fire) and the vital wind Samana Vayu.  The energies of Prana Vayu and Apana Vayu (inward and outward flowing energy) meet at the point in a balanced system.

In chakra-based medicine, practitioners work the solar plexus area to promote healthier digestion, pancreas, kidney and adrenal function.  Weak Agni in the coeliac plexus leads to incompletely digested food, thoughts and emotions, and is a source of ama (toxicity).  See also Chakra.




Marassa See Veves.



Marinette Bois Sech See Veves.



Mark of the Beast The Mark of the Beast is the creation of the famous Ritual Magician Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947) and appears to have functioned in many ways as his personal seal.  It was named as a play on words relating to one of his magical names, 'To Mega Therion', (The Great Beast).

The central theme, a clear resemblance of the male genitalia is typical of Crowley, and completely intentional on his part.  The uppermost Circle is the Alchemical sigil (a seal, sign or other drawing) of the Sun, while the half circle immediately below it represents the crescent of the Moon.  See also Seal of Babalon.

Liber V vel Reguli is a ritual written by Aleister Crowley self-described as, "Being the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast: an incantation proper to invoke the Energies of the Aeon of Horus, adapted for the daily use of the Magician of whatever grade."  It is an AA publication in Class D.




Mars Mars, the son of Jupiter and Juno, is the Roman god of war, spring, growth in nature, agriculture, terror, anger, revenge, courage and fertility, as well as the protector of cattle.  His consort was Bellona, the Roman goddess of war.  His Greek counterpart was Ares.  In astrology, Mars is the ruler of Aries.

Mars was regarded as the father of the Roman people because he was the father of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome.

Mars was the most prominent of the military gods which were worshipped by the Roman legions.  The martial Romans considered him second in importance only to Jupiter.  Festivals connected to warfare were held in March and October.  The Campus Martius, or 'Field of Mars', was next to the river Tiber in ancient Rome where soldiers were trained and horses raced.  The month of March was called such after Mars, because that was when Roman soldiers started training and fighting again after winter.




Martinist Order / Martinism Martinism is a form of Christian mysticism and esoteric Christianity concerned with the fall of the first man, Adam, his state of material privation from his divine source and the process of his return, called 'reintegration' or illumination.

As a mystical tradition, it was first transmitted through a Masonic high-degree system established around 1740 CE in France by Martinez de Pasqually (1727 - 1774), and later propagated in different forms by his two students Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (1743 - 1803) and Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (1730 - 1824).

The term Martinism applies to both this particular doctrine and the teachings of the reorganised Martinist Order founded in 1886 by Augustin Chaboseau (1868 - 1946) and Gérard Encausse (aka Papus (1865 - 1916)), although it was not used at the tradition's inception in the 18th century.  This confusing disambiguation has been a problem since the late 18th century, where the term Martinism was already used interchangeably between the teachings of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and Martinez de Pasqually, with the works of the first being attributed to the latter.




Maypole The maypole is a spring emblem of fertility and solar power linked to ancient agricultural rites.  It is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place.  The festivals may occur on May Day (May 1st) or Pentecost (Whitsuntide), although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer.  Sometimes the maypole is a permanent feature that is only utilised during the festival, although in others it is erected specifically for the purpose before being taken down again.

The symbolism of the maypole has been debated by folklorists for centuries, although a definitive answer has yet to be found.  Some scholars classify maypoles as symbols of the world axis (axis mundi).  The fact that they were found primarily in areas of Germanic Europe, where, prior to Christianisation, Germanic paganism was followed in various forms, has led to speculation that the maypoles were in some way a continuation of a Germanic pagan tradition.  One theory holds that they were a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various such trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, including the Irminsul.

It is also known that, in Norse paganism, cosmological views held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil.  There is therefore speculation that the maypole was in some way a continuance of this tradition.  Some observers have proposed phallic symbolism, an idea which was expressed by Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679), who believed that the poles dated back to the Roman worship of the god Priapus.  This notion has been supported by various figures since, including the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939).

However, the anthropologist Mircea Eliade (1907 - 1986) theorises that the maypoles were simply a part of the general rejoicing at the impending return of summer, and the growth of new vegetation.  In this way, they bore similarities with the May Day garlands which were also a common festival practice in Britain and Ireland.




Medusa See Gorgon.



Menat See Hathor.



Menorah The Menorah is one of the oldest symbols of Judaism.  The seven-branched candelabra probably originated as a version of the Babylonian world tree.  The number seven is a repeating sacred motif in Judaism's parent religion; the seven arms likely represented the seven days of creation and the seven visible planets.  Curiously, the name given to the central light is 'Shamash', the name of the Babylonian Sun god, who is related to a similar ancient symbol.  See also Shamash.



Mercury Mercury is one of the seven metals of Alchemy (gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron and tin).  The symbol for mercury (right) is also used to represent the planet of the same name in astrology.  The metal is often also represented by a serpent or snake.

Mercury, called quicksilver by the alchemists, was used to make red mercuric oxide by heating the element in a solution of nitric acid.  The reaction of quicksilver in nitric acid is striking as a thick red vapour hovers over the surface and bright red crystals fall to the bottom.  As the only common metal liquid at ordinary temperatures, mercury was of great interest to alchemists who were convinced that it transcended both the solid and liquid states, both Earth and heaven, life and death.

In Roman mythology, Mercury was the god of trade, profit, merchants and travellers.  His main festival, the Mercuralia, was celebrated on May 15 and on this day the merchants sprinkled their heads and merchandise with water from his well near the Porta Capena, a gate in the Servian Wall near the Caelian Hill in Rome.

The symbols of Mercury are the Caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes) and a purse (a symbol of his connection with commerce).  He showed the way for dead souls to Pluto's realm, the Underworld.  His Greek counterpart was Hermes.

In astrology, Mercury is the ruler of Cancer and Gemini.




Mezuzah A mezuzah comprises a piece of parchment called a klaf contained in a decorative case and inscribed with specific Hebrew verses from the Torah.  These verses consist of the Jewish prayer Shema Yisrael.  In mainstream Rabbinic Judaism, a mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes to fulfil the mitzvah (Biblical commandment) to ‘write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house’ (Deuteronomy 6:9).  Some interpret the Jewish law as meaning a mezuzah should be placed in every doorway in the home except bathrooms, laundry rooms and closets, if they are too small to qualify as rooms.

The klaf parchment is prepared by a qualified scribe who has undergone training in studying the relevant religious laws and in the more practical parts i.e. carving the quill and practicing writing.  The verses are written in black indelible ink with a special quill pen made either from a feather, or in what is now rare cases, a reed.  The parchment is then rolled up and placed inside the case.

According to halakha, the mezuzah should be placed on the right side of the door or doorpost, in the upper third of the doorpost (i.e., approximately shoulder height), within approximately 3 inches (8 cm) of the doorway opening.  Care should be taken not to tear or damage the parchment or the wording on it, as this will invalidate the mezuzah, which is considered Torah.




Minerva Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, learning, the arts, sciences, medicine, dyeing, trade, and war, whose Greek counterpart was Athena, whose city was Athens.  Her symbol was the owl.  She had what can only be described as a strange birth.  One day, Jupiter, her father, had a terrible headache -- nothing would cure it.  Eventually Vulcan split open Jupiter's head and out jumped Minerva in full armour with a shield and spear -- it is said Jupiter felt much better afterwards, despite having his head split open.

Apart from being the goddess of wisdom, Minerva was the goddess of arts and crafts, and was particularly good at weaving.  Once, a woman called Arachne wove a beautiful picture.  Minerva tried to find something wrong with it, so when she couldn't, out of jealousy or spite she ripped it up and turned Arachne into a spider -- strange, spiders still weave beautiful webs to this day.

Minerva helped the hero Perseus to kill the Gorgon Medusa, a monster with snakes for hair, who turned anyone who looked at her to stone.  Minerva wisely told Perseus to look at Medusa's reflection in a polished shield; this way he could cut off her head without looking directly at her.  Perseus accomplished the task and presented the head to Minerva who fitted it on her shield so it would turn her enemies to stone should they look at it.

N.B. The image above right is of a Silver tetradrachm coin held at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon depicting the owl of Athena/Minerva.  The inscription 'AOE' is an abbreviation of AOHNAION, which may be translated as 'of the Athenians'.  In daily use the Athenian drachmas were called glaukes (owls).




Minotaur In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, a being 'part man and part bull'.  He was born from the union of King Minos' wife Pasiphae with the Cretan Bull2.

The Minotaur dwelt at the centre of the Labyrinth, an elaborate maze-like construction designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus, which expanded underneath the court of King Minos in Crete.  The Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

2 The Cretan Bull was a bull that appeared in the myth of the Labours of Heracles, as well as the myth of the Minotaur in Greek mythology.  It was the creature with which Pasiphae fell in love and became impregnated by, eventually giving birth to the Minotaur.




Mistletoe Mistletoe species grow on a wide range of host trees, some of which experience side effects which include reduced growth, stunting, and loss of distal branches that bear individuals.  A heavy infestation may also kill the host plant.  Viscum album (European mistletoe) is a successful parasite on more than 200 tree and shrub species.

Mistletoe is relevant to several cultures.  It played an important role in Druidic mythology in the ‘Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe’, a Celtic religious ceremony, in which white-clad druids climbed a sacred oak, cut down the mistletoe growing on it, sacrificed two white bulls and used the mistletoe to make an elixir to cure infertility and the effects of poison.  People have reportedly been poisoned and died from consuming mistletoe.

In Norse Mythology, Loki tricked the blind god Hodur into murdering Balder with an arrow made of Mistletoe, this being the only plant to which Balder was vulnerable -- some versions of the story have mistletoe becoming a symbol of peace and friendship to compensate for its part in the murder.

Mistletoe continued to be associated with fertility and vitality through the Middle Ages, and by the 18th century CE it had also become incorporated into Christmas celebrations around the world.  The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is referred to as popular among servants in late 18th century England: the serving class of Victorian England is credited with perpetuating the tradition which dictated that a man was allowed to kiss any woman standing underneath mistletoe, and that bad luck would befall any woman who refused the kiss.  One variation on the tradition stated that with each kiss a berry was to be plucked from the mistletoe, and the kissing must stop after all the berries had been removed.




Mjölnir In Norse mythology, Mjölnir is the hammer of Thor, a major Norse god associated with thunder.  Mjölnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome and powerful weapons in existence, capable of flattening mountains.

In his account of Norse mythology, Snorri Sturluson (1178 - 1241 CE) relates how the hammer was made by the dwarven brothers Eitri and Brokkr, and how its characteristically short handle was due to a mishap during its manufacture.  Similar hammers were a common symbol of the god of Thunder in other Northern European mythologies.




Mobius Strip See Infinity.



Moon The Moon is an astronomical body orbiting planet Earth, being Earth's only permanent natural satellite.  It is the fifth-largest natural satellite in the solar system, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits (its primary).  Behind Jupiter's satellite 'Io', the Moon is the second-densest satellite among those whose densities are known.  The symbol representing the Moon is a crescent.  In astrology, the Moon is the ruler of Cancer.

In mythology the moon is often female, a goddess who may be paired with a Sun god.  The Incas of South America told of a brother and sister, the moon maiden and the sun man, who were the ancestors of the royal Incas.  In the Mayan writing system, a symbol showing the moon goddess seated inside the moon was used before the names of noble women.  The Greeks associated the moon with the goddess Artemis, sister of Apollo.  They also called it Hecate, Cynthia, and Selene.  The Roman name for the moon was Luna.  Native American names for the moon include the 'Old Woman Who Never Dies' and the 'Eternal One'.

Sometimes, however, the moon is male.  The Inuit of Greenland picture the moon as a hunter sitting in front of his igloo, Norse mythology speaks of a moon son and a sun daughter, while Mrs Sun and Mr Moon are part of German folklore.  Other legends explain the appearance of the moon, whose mottled surface has suggested various shapes and identities.  The "man in the moon" is one common interpretation thought to have originated from the Biblical book of Numbers, which describes a man carrying a load of sticks.  People have also interpreted the shapes as frogs and toads, while rabbits in the moon occur in many mythologies.  In China and Japan, the lunar rabbit is said to mix a potion that gives immortality.

People of many cultures have created myths and legends about the moon.  A Native American myth says that the sun and moon are a chieftain and his wife and that the stars are their children.  The sun loves to catch and eat his children, so they flee from the sky whenever he appears.  The moon plays happily with the stars while the sun is sleeping, but each month, she turns her face to one side and darkens it (as the moon wanes) to mourn the children that the sun succeeded in catching.

The Efik Ibibio people of Nigeria in West Africa also say that the sun and the moon are husband and wife who long ago lived on earth.  One day their best friend, flood, came to visit them, bringing fish, reptiles, and other relatives.  Flood rose so high in their house that they had to perch on the roof.  Finally, he covered the house entirely, so the sun and moon had to leap into the sky.  In a myth of the Luyia people of Kenya in East Africa, the sun and moon were brothers.  The moon was older, bigger, and brighter, and the jealous sun picked a fight with him.  The two wrestled and the moon fell into mud, which dimmed his brightness.  God finally made them stop fighting and kept them apart by ordering the sun to shine by day and the mud-spattered moon to shine by night to illuminate the world of witches and thieves.

According to the Greek myth of Endymion and Selene, the moon (Selene) fell in love with a handsome young king named Endymion and bore him 50 daughters.  One version of the story says that Selene placed Endymion in eternal sleep to prevent him from dying and to keep him forever beautiful.

Hecate was a complex, ancient goddess known to the Greeks but originally worshipped by people of Asia Minor.  She held several different roles, including earth goddess, queen of the Underworld, and goddess of magic and witchcraft.  According to the Greek writer Hesiod, Hecate was the daughter of the Titan Perses and the nymph Asteria.  Hesiod claimed that Hecate was a favourite of Zeus, who made her goddess of the Earth, sea, and sky.  As a Triple Goddess, she was also identified with the three aspects of the moon and was represented by women of three different ages.  In the sky, she took the form of the old woman Selene, the Moon.  On Earth, she was linked to Artemis (Diana), goddess of the hunt.  In the underworld, she was connected with the maiden Persephone, wife of Hades.

Because of her association with the moon, Hecate was seen as a goddess of the night, magic, and spells.  Magic was often practiced where roads met, and the Greeks established shrines to her at crossroads, especially where three roads came together.  In her role as goddess of magic, Hecate is shown as a three-headed figure who keeps watch over the crossroads where her rites were performed.  To her worshippers, she could bring good fortune and success, but she could also be a powerfully negative force.  Later Christian tradition emphasised this side of her nature, portraying Hecate as an evil figure who was queen of the witches.  See also Blessing.




Moonies See Unification Church of the United States.



Mormons See Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).



Mother Goddess A Mother Goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth.  When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

There is a difference of opinion between the academic and the popular conception of the term.  The popular view is mainly driven by the Goddess Movement and reads that primitive societies initially were matriarchal, worshipping a sovereign, nurturing, motherly earth goddess.  This was based upon the 19th century CE ideas of unilineal evolution of Johann Jakob Bachofen (1815 - 1887).

According to the academic view, however, both Bachofen and the modern Goddess theories are a projection of contemporary world views on ancient myths, rather than attempting to understand the mentality of that time.  Often this is accompanied by a desire for a lost civilisation from a bygone era that would have been just, peaceful and wise.  However, it is highly unlikely that such a civilisation ever existed.




Movimento Fascismo e Libertà See Fascism & Freedom Movement.



Mudra The image to the right is a representation of a Mudra, or sign of power, used in the Buddhist and Hindu religions.  Each hand position represents a different spiritual truth; they are used during meditation and in sacred dance, often in conjunction with asanas, or body-postures.

There are 108 standard mudras used in Tantric ritual.  Some of the better-known ones include the Abhaya or 'no fear' gesture, the Dhyana or 'meditation' mudra, and the Vitarka mudra, which resembles the Christogram3.  Such gestures are not exclusive to eastern religions; hand gestures with spiritual meaning are found in many religions.

3 A monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a religious symbol within the Christian Church.  One of the oldest Christograms is the Chi-Rho.




Mujahideen Mujahideen is the plural form of mujahid and the term for one engaged in Jihad (literally, ‘striving’ or ‘struggling’, especially with a praiseworthy aim).  Its widespread use in English began with reference to the guerrilla-type military groups led by the Islamist Afghan fighters in the Soviet-Afghan War (1979 - 1989), and now extends to other jihadist groups in various countries.

The modern term of mujahideen referring to spiritual Muslim warriors originates in the 19th century CE when the local people of Afghanistan fought against the invading British (although initially the British derogatorily called them the Sitana Fanatics).  It began in 1829 when a religious man, Sayyid Ahmed Shah Brelwi (1786 - 1831), returned to the village of Sitana from a pilgrimage to Mecca and began preaching war against the infidels in the area defining the Northwest border of British India.  Although he died in battle, the sect he created survived and the mujahideen gained more power and prominence.&nbs[' During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the mujahideen were said to accept any fleeing Sepoys (Indian soldiers serving under British or other European orders) and recruit them into their ranks.  As time went by the sect grew ever larger and began raiding and controlling larger areas in Afghanistan.

Arguably the best-known mujahideen outside the Islamic world loosely aligned various Afghan opposition groups which initially rebelled against the government of the pro-Soviet Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) during the late 1970s.  At the DRA's request, the Soviet Union brought forces into the country to aid the government from 1979.  The mujahideen fought against Soviet and DRA troops during the Soviet War in Afghanistan.  Afghanistan's resistance movement originated in chaos and to begin with regional warlords waged virtually all of their fighting locally, but as warfare became more sophisticated, outside support and regional coordination grew.  The basic units of mujahideen organisation and action continued to reflect the highly decentralised nature of Afghan society and strong paths of competing mujahideen and tribal groups, particularly in isolated areas among the mountains.  Eventually, the seven main mujahideen parties allied as a political bloc called Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen.

Mujahideen forces caused serious casualties to the Soviet forces and made the war very costly for the Soviet Union resulting in the said Soviet Union withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in 1989.  Many districts and cities then fell to the mujahideen; in 1992 the DRA's last president, Mohammad Najibullah (1947 - 1996), was overthrown.  However, the mujahideen did not establish a united government, and many of the larger mujahideen groups began to fight each other over power in Kabul.

After several years of devastating fighting, a village mullah named Mohammed Omar (1960 - 2013) organised a new armed movement with the backing of Pakistan.  This movement became known as the Taliban (‘students’ in Pashto), referring to how most Taliban had grown up in refugee camps in Pakistan during the 1980s and were taught in the Saudi-backed Wahhabi madrassas, religious schools known for teaching a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.




Muladhara (Root) Chakra Muladhara or the root Chakra is the first of the seven primary chakras according to Hindu tantrism.  It is symbolised by a lotus with four petals and the colour red.

Muladhara is located near the coccygeal plexus beneath the sacrumit, while its kshetram, or superficial activation point, is located between the perineum and the coccyx or the pelvic bone.  Because of its location and connection with the act of excretion, it is associated with the anus.

Muladhara is said to be the base from which the three main psychic channels or nadis emerge: the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.  It is also believed that Muladhara is a subtle abode of the Hindu God Ganapati.  In the highest revered prayer for Ganapati, the Ganapati Atharvashirsha, it is mentioned that 'one who worships Lord Ganapati would easily grasp the concept and realise Brahman'.  See also Chakra.




Muslim Brotherhood The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic organisation that was founded in Ismailia, Egypt, by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna (1906 - 1949) in March 1928 CE as an Islamist religious, political, and social movement.  The group spread to other Muslim countries but has its largest, or one of its largest, organisations in Egypt, where for many years it has been the best organised, and most disciplined political opposition force -- this was despite a succession of government crackdowns in 1948, 1954, 1965 after plots, or alleged plots, of assassination and overthrow were uncovered.

Following the 2011 Revolution, the group was legalised, and in April 2011 it launched a civic political party called the 'Freedom and Justice Party (Egypt)' to contest elections, including the 2012 presidential election when its candidate Mohamed Morsi (born 1951) became Egypt's first democratically elected president.  One year later, however, following massive demonstrations, Morsi was overthrown by the military and arrested.  As of 2014, the organisation has been declared a terrorist group by Russia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and is once again suffering a severe crackdown.




Mut Mut, which meant 'mother' in the ancient Egyptian language, was an ancient Egyptian Mother Goddess with multiple aspects that changed over the thousands of years of the culture, with alternative spellings of Maut and Mout.  She was the Egyptian sky goddess, world mother and the consort of Amun-Ra.  She was venerated as the mother of the gods and Queen of the goddesses.  Her symbol was the Uraeus rearing cobra.

She was considered a primal deity, associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis.  She was depicted as a vulture or as a woman with a vulture headdress.  The rulers of Egypt each supported her worship in their own manner to emphasise their own authority and right to rule through an association with Mut.




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