The Dark Goddess… The Wild Woman… More and more of us are guided to these archetypes and energies, with each passing day. But what do they tell us about our Spiritual Paths in life? What do they actually mean in daily practice?
I’m going to do my best to answer this question through an exploration of Goddess Kali (arguably the most iconic Dark Mother/Primordial Wild Woman in this Age). We’ll be looking at the way She is described in scripture, how She is popularly represented and ways to embody Her energy in day-to-day life.
Goddess Kali is often shown with blood dripping from Her fangs, hair loose, mostly nude, standing with 8 arms (some which hold weapons, others which hold blessings) with one foot on Her consort (Lord Shiva’s) chest.
In certain Hindu traditions, She is kept outside of or at the margins of temples as Her energy is so fierce, raw and primordial. Similarly, keeping her statues or images in the home are frowned upon in some Hindu homes. Naming one’s daughters after Kali/Bhairavi (in that rawer form) is also taboo. (Thankfully my mum didn’t know what it meant in this sense when she named me!)
But now, with so much interest in Awakening the Power of the Divine Feminine, men and women are beginning to reclaim the ferocity of Kali-Ma, breaking through the taboos that surround Her.
Let’s face it. She’s a sight to behold! Badass, in fact.
Hence, the existence of a blonde-haired, blue skinned Kali-Barbie prototype, and celebrities like Heidi Klum dressing up as Kali for Halloween (not that I have a problem with the latter). And of course – the beautiful, powerful, iconic projection of Ma-Kali’s face unto the Empire State Building in New York!
In the heat of the hype surrounding this sexy, ferocious, primordial pre-Bhramanic deity from ancient India, I see many distortions and exclusions which render this Goddess a pale echo of Her true form, energy and significance.
‘I’ve got my Kali on’ … this picture fills me with ‘Kali energy’ …. I see Her invoked in daily conversation, and often exclusively to describe a state of ‘anger’ or ‘rage’, or even of intense dislike. Whilst rage is certainly one aspect of Her – it’s a very, very small slice of the picture.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad my favourite Goddess is dancing Her Tandava (Cosmic Dance) on the World’s Stage to a steadily growing global audience – I’m glad that people are beginning to see Her in their daily lives – but there’s just so much more to Her than the stereotype of ‘the Avenging Feminine’.
Which brings me back to my initial question – what do these archetypes really mean? And how do we weave them into our daily lives?
When we look at the Devi Mahatyam (an early Hindu text), for instance, we see an array of Das Mahavidya (Ten Mahavidyas, or Wisdom Goddesses) and each make up the whole that is Kali.
We’ve got Kali Herself, Tara (the Compassionate), Chinnamasta (the Epitome of Ego-Death and Surrender), Dhumavati (the Widowed Crone), Bhagalamukhi (She who Hypnotizes, Mesmerizes and Smites), Bhuvaneswari (the Cosmos Herself), Bhairavi (The Terrifying One, Destroyer of all Obstacles), Kamala (She who grants Prosperity), Matangi (She who is ‘Polluted’, Goddess of the Forests) and TripuraSundari (The Maiden who rules the Three Worlds).
There’s a lot more to each goddess – but this is just to give you an idea of the complexity of Kali – and the total spectrum of Divine Femininity that She represents. The Just Protector, The Compassionate Mother, The Detached Crone, The Beautiful Maiden, The Devoted Wife (as Parvati), and more besides – all rolled up into one Super-duper Celestial package (or more accurately, a Vibration of a particular state of Consciousness).
In other words – All this is Kali. And She is All. Some traditions even equate Her energy interchangeably with Lord Krishna. She’s pretty much … Infinity and Nothingness in a Female Form.
In other words, looking at the Totality of what She represents, there’s very little which isn’t Maha-Kali!
But what does that mean for those of us who seek to embody her Wildness? Her Power? Her Love? Her Presence?
Personally, I see it as a call to begin witnessing Her energy through every moment of our lives…
When we hold our children and nurture our families,
When we fight for justice and walk away alone, bleeding but with our heads held up high,
When we learn the secrets of Life, the Universe, and Ourselves,
When we make love,
When we are love,
When we simply breathe,
When we simply be
… Every time you look in the mirror, there She is … watch out for that cheeky wink and knowing smile…
Bringing ‘Kali Consciousness’ into daily life does not require a ritual, a ceremony, a mantra, a holy book or instrument of prayer – all it requires is You!
Live from your Heart, learn that things come and go – as do people.
Love as fiercely as you can knowing that tomorrow may wash away the hopes of today. And love anyway.
Be unafraid to reveal that Which You Are, for you cannot be contained. Just as She cannot be.
And as you stand and step into your own Power, in acceptance of its Totality – of Light, Shadow, Rage, Compassion, Joy, Sorrow – therein lies a precious gift.
Blessings to All as you embark on your Journey of Fierce Love, Non-Judgment and Transcendental Detachment …
Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD :
Priestess, Astrologer, Motivational Speaker & Founder of The Dark Mother’s Children ; Honoring The Dark Mother: A Temple-Space
Note: I first wrote this article for my friend Morgan Potts and her Moonblush Blog in November 2014. It has been reprinted here with her permission.
Image: Goddesses – Kali Maa.jpg; By Chobist (Flickr: Goddesses – Kali Maa) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Text & Content © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2014. All rights reserved.