Archive for February 24, 2012


Goddess Kali

“Kali” by Lisa Iris

“Kali’s themes are rebirth, cycles, joy, courage, hope, cleansing and change.  Her symbols are flowers, dance, iron, swords, peacock feathers and honey.  Kali, a Hindu Goddess whose name means ‘time’, is the genetrix of natural forces that either build or destroy. Even in destruction, however, She reminds us that good really can come of bad situations. If you find your hopes and dreams have been crushed, Kali can change the cycle and produce life out of nothingness. Where there is sorrow, She dances to bring joy. Where there is fear, She dances in courage.

During the Festival of Shiva, or Maha Shivratri, Hindus gather at Shiva’s temples to honor this celestial dance of creation, and Kali dances with them in spirit. Beforehand, they fast and bathe in holy waters for purification. Doing similarly (in your tub or shower) will purge your body and soul of negative influences. Add some flower petals or sweet perfume tot the bath to invoke Kali’s power.

To invoke Kali’s assistance in bringing new life to stagnant projects or ruined goals, leave her an offering of honey or flowers, and make this Kali amulet: Take any black cloth and wrap it around a flower dabbed with a drop of honey, saying:

 ‘Kali, turn, dance, and change
Fate rearrange
End the devastation and strife
what was dead return to life.’

Carry this with you until the situation changes, then bury it with thankfulness.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Who can comprehend the Divine Paradox of Mother Kali?  Fierce, black in color, large, shimmering eyes, destructive, triumphantly smiling amidst the slaughter of billions of demons, wearing a necklace of skulls and a skirt of severed arms, glowing effulgently like the moon in the night sky, holding the head of a demon, a Trident that flashes like lightning and a knife etched with sacred mantras and infused with Divine Shakti, Kali stands peaceful and content, suffused with the fragrances of jasmine, rose and sandalwood!

Goddess Kali

Goddess Kali is equated with the eternal night, is the transcendent power of time, and is the consort of the god Shiva. It is believed that its Shiva who destroys the world, and Kali is the power or energy with which Shiva acts. Therefore, Kali is Shiva’s Shakti, without which Shiva could not act. Frequently, those not comprehending Her many roles in life call Kali the Goddess of death and destruction.  It is partly correct to say Kali is a Goddess of death, but She brings the death of the ego as the illusory self-centered view of reality. Nowhere in the Hindu stories is She seen killing anything but demons nor is She associated specifically with the process of human dying like the Hindu god Yama (who really is the god of death). It is true that both Kali and Shiva are said to inhabit cremation grounds and devotees often go to these places to meditate. This is not to worship death but rather it is to overcome the I-am-the-body idea by reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition. Shiva and Kali are said to inhabit these places because it is our attachment to the body that gives rise to the ego. Shiva and Kali grant liberation by removing the illusion of the ego. Thus we are the eternal I AM and not the body. This is underscored by the scene of the cremation grounds.

According to Hindu myth, The Goddess Kali is an incarnation of Parvati. She assumed this form in order to vanquish the demon Raktabija, whose name means “the seed of blood”. The gods could not kill the demon Raktabija because he had received from Brahma the boon of being born anew a one thousand times more powerful than before, each time a drop of his blood was shed. Every drop of his blood that touched the ground transformed itself into another and more powerful Raktabija. Within a few minutes of striking this demon the entire battlefield covered with millions of Raktabija clones. In despair, the gods turned to Shiva. But Shiva was lost in meditation at the time and the gods were afraid to disturb him. Hence they pleaded with his consort Parvati for Her assistance.

“Kali” by maigo-no-kirin

The Goddess immediately set out to do battle with this dreaded demon in the form of Kali or “the Black One”. Her eyes were red, Her complexion was dark, Her features gaunt, Her hair unbound, and Her teeth sharp like fangs. As Kali came in to do battle, Raktabija experienced fear for the first time in his demonic heart. Kali ordered the gods to attack Raktabija. She then spread Her tongue to cover the battlefield preventing even a single drop of Raktabija’s blood from falling on the group. Thus, She prevented Raktabija from reproducing himself and the gods were able to slay the demon. Another form of the legend says that Kali pierced Raktabija with a spear, and at once stuck Her lips to the wound to drink all the blood as it gushed out of the body, thus preventing Raktabija from reproducing himself.

Drunk on Raktabija’s blood, Kali ran across the cosmos killing anyone who dared cross Her path. She adorned herself with the heads, limbs and entrails of her victim. The gods were witnessing the balance of the universe being shattered. As a last resort they had to rouse Shiva from his meditation. To pacify Her, Shiva threw himself under Her feet. This stopped the Goddess. She calmed down, embraced Her husband, shed Her ferocious form to became Gauri, “the Fair one”.

Kali intends Her bloody deeds and destruction for the protection of the good. She may get carried away by Her gruesome acts but She is not evil. Kali’s destructive energies on the highest level are seen as a vehicle of salvation and ultimate transformation.  She destroys only to recreate, and what She destroys is sin, ignorance and decay. The Goddess Kali is represented as black in color. Black in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit is kaala –the feminine form is kali – so She is Kali, the black one. Black is a symbol of The Infinite and the seed stage of all colors. The Goddess Kali remains in a state of inconceivable darkness that transcends words and mind. Within Her blackness is the dazzling brilliance of illumination. Kali’s blackness symbolizes Her all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because black is the color in which all the colors merge; black absorbs and dissolves them.

Kali’s nudity has powerful meaning. In many instances She is described as garbed in space or sky clad. In Her absolute, primordial nakedness She is free from all covering of illusion. She is Nature (Prakriti in Sanskrit), stripped of ‘clothes’. It symbolizes that She is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the effects of maya (illusion). Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away.

“Kali” by Dazy-Girl

She is full-breasted; Her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. Her disheveled hair forms a curtain of illusion, the fabric of space – time which organizes matter out of the chaotic sea of quantum-foam. Her garland of fifty human heads, each representing one of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, symbolizes the repository of knowledge and wisdom. She wears a girdle of severed human hands – hands that are the principal instruments of work and so signify the action of karma. Thus the binding effects of this karma have been overcome, severed, as it were, by devotion to Kali. She has blessed the devotee by cutting him free from the cycle of karma. Her white teeth are symbolic of purity (Sans. Sattva), and Her lolling tongue which is red dramatically depicts the fact that She consumes all things and denotes the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden (i.e. Her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world’s “flavors”).

Kali’s four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right hands, making the mudras of “fear not” and conferring boons, represent the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hands, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head represent Her destructive aspect. The bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge, that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the eight bonds that bind human beings. Finally Her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which She is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of ‘Kala’, the Sanskrit term for Time.

Kali is considered to be the most fully realized of all the Dark Goddesses, a great and powerful black earth Mother Goddess capable of terrible destruction and represents the most powerful form of the female forces in the Universe. Worship of the Goddess Kali is largely an attempt to appease Her and avert Her wrath. Her followers gave her offerings of blood and flesh, which was important in Her worship, just as blood sacrifice was important in worship of the early Biblical God, who commanded that the blood must be poured on his alters (Exodus 29:16) for the remission of sins (Numbers 18:9).  As mistress of blood, She presides over the mysteries of both life and death.  Regardless, Her followers still found Her to be a powerful warrior Goddess and found Her greatest strength to be that of a protector.

Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess.  Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. Some groups of people, unfamiliar with the precepts of Hinduism, see Kali as a satanic demon probably because of tales of her being worshipped by dacoits and other such people indulging evil acts. By not understanding the story behind Mother Kali it is easy to misinterpret Her iconography. In the same way one could say that Christianity is a religion of death, destruction and cannibalism in which the practitioners drink the blood of Jesus and eat his flesh.  Of course, we know this is not the proper understanding of the communion ritual. Rather, She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition. In this aspect, as Mother Goddess, She is referred to as Kali Ma, meaning Kali Mother, and millions of Hindus revere Her as such.

Of all the forms of Devi, She is the most compassionate because She provides moksha or liberation to Her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of unreality. The ego sees Mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in Her its own eventual demise. A person who is attached to his or her ego will not be receptive to Mother Kali and she will appear in a fearsome form. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees Mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with incomprehensible love for Her children.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Bijjam Snaps, The Story of Kali

The Buddha Garden, The Hindu Goddess Kali

Dolls of India, Kali the Goddess: Gentle Mother…Fierce Warrior

Exotic India, Mother Goddess as Kali – The Feminine Force in Indian Art

Infinite Goddess – Embracing the Divine Mother, Kali Goddess

Mythical-Folk, Kali Ma

Rise of Womanhood, Goddess of Destruction

Sathya Sai Baba, Hindu Gods & Goddesses in India – Hinduism, Mother Kali – Goddess Kalika Devi

 

 

Suggested Links:

Kila. Matrifocus: Cross-Quartly for the Godess Woman, “Reconciling Kali and Gauri: Goddess Thealogy and the Art of Peace“.

Pirera, Anna. Goddess Gallery, “Kali“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Kali: chaotic kindess“.

Stolan, Mihai. Liveonlineyoga.com, “Yoga of the Ten Great Cosmic Powers“.

"New Moon Goddess" by Montserrat

During the Dark Moon is the time to commune and heal with the Dark Mother or the Crone.  It is a time to dive down deep into the dark abyss within ourselves and deal with that which has wounded us. It’s all part of the great cycle of birth, death and rebirth – it’s how we heal ourselves.  “As a culture and a society, we have been taught to fear the darkness, the unknown and death.  We have forgotten the purpose of the Dark Phase and have no idea how to navigate its terrain.  We are consumed with fear, panic and anxiety  when we think about physical death of the body, our planet, a relationship, a way of life, an addiction, an identity or even a belief system.  Because of our  lack of understanding of such times and lacking the proper guidance in order to deal with them as they arise, we end up more dependent on chemical addictions or engage in self abusive behaviors to deal with the feelings of grief, depression, anxiety, and anger” (George, Demetra, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, p. 266).

As the Goddess stirs and awakens from Her long slumber, we are finally being given the opportunity to reclaim all of Her, both light and dark aspects and everything in-between.  The Dark Goddess is not to be rejected, denied or feared.  She is to be acknowledged, respected and listened to – for its Her knowledge and wisdom that guided our ancestors through the dark times and it is Her wisdom and guidance that will guide us through ours to come, as individuals, societies and as a species.

Only within the last century as the Goddess has slowly stirred from Her Dark Phase have we had incredible breakthroughs in realizing the power of the mind.  As Demetra George has pointed out, it is thanks to people like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (a personal favorite of mine) that we have been able to comprehend the workings of the unconscious and our Shadow Selves (p. 276).  Many therapeutic techniques have been “discovered” in Eastern philosophy and medicine as well as Aboriginal shamanic teachings.  Techniques, such as dream analysis, allows people to explore the depths of the unconscious and understand  the workings and wisdom of the Shadow Self and the Dark Mother, especially when dealing with nigthmares.

"Behold, The Night Mare" by Zephyri

“Nightmares represent our innermost fears.  They suggest that we have emotional fears and issues that need to be confronted.  The monsters and other terrifying and disturbing images that haunt these disturbing dreams are thought to come from a universally shared mythology recognized by all cultures.  The word ‘nightmare’ itself comes from Gaelic mythology – the night ‘mare’ is the horse Goddess Rhiannon, and connected with the Underworld, dreams and the moon.

Nightmares occur very frequently in childhood as children struggle more than adults to deal with powerful emotions, such as rage and other strong emotions.  During the night, children’s vivid imaginations recreate these feelings as forceful dream images.  Children have difficulty coping with nightmares because they have trouble differentiating between dreams and reality.  A child’s mind has limited reasoning capacity as it is still developing.  This affects their perception of the world and can cause inner conflict.  If left unresolved, these childhood fears can cause very muddled thoughts and feelings that linger into adulthood.  At any time, an incident could trigger this old memory, reeling the psyche of the adult into a nightmare scenario.

"Sleep-walking" by Leah Praytor

It is important to note that bad dreams can have physical causes as well as mental ones.  If your body comes under stress, due to high temperature for example, it can give rise to hallucinations as you sleep.  Nightmares can even induce sleepwalking by increasing the flow of adrenaline and producing the “fight or flight” response in the sleeper (I suffered chronic sleepwalking during Basic Training and through my early years while on Active Duty).  Hormonal fluctuations too can have an effect on our dreams.

Hormonal changes upset the balance of the body’s chemistry and in a dream, this upheaval is encoded through disturbing scenes.

Some psychologists believe that people who have nightmares have not fully integrated or understood physical sensations in relation to real-life situations.  Teenagers often have intense dreams reflective of the emerging sexual drives they have difficulty translating when awake.

Anyone at anytime could experience an inexplicable trauma which can resurface without warning.  These could be forgotten childhood traumas reawakened in adulthood.  They could be experiences of going to war. Recurring nightmares are caused by unresolved emotional issues that are deeply entrenched in the sleeper’s mind.  An entire dream can recur, which is identical each time or disguised using different dream symbols.  Its purpose is to get our attention…” (Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Soul, Interpreting Your Dreams).

Through journeying to the Underworld to the Dark Mother, we can uncover the meaning of such dreams.  There are methods you can use to confront and gain insight from your nightmares.  As Demetra George states, “You need to cross the logical threshold of the consciousness and travel across a terrain of your psyche that is normally hidden from your conscious awareness and one which we cannot comprehend with our conscious mind.  The dark sphere of the human psyche contains all that lies beneath the surface of consciousness” (p. 279).

"Nightmare 1" by eliXile

The following is summary, found in Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Soul – “Interpreting Your Dreams”.  These are questions to ask yourself to assist you in decoding your dreams.  First, look at the imagery of the dream.  The imagery of dreams can be interpreted in two different ways: Literal – information found in your dreams is seen to have a direct parallel to your everyday life; and Symbolic – information in dreams is “coded” in an unusual way. What was the theme and time?  The time you had the dream indicates how relevant  it is to the everyday world.  The nearer to the waking hour, the more accurately the events reflect problems in your waking life.

Was it light and spacious or dark and claustrophobic?  Where did the dream take place?  On land? At sea? Water represents emotions, land represents money and self-worth.  Air relates to the intellect.  To find yourself underground suggests a search for lost treasure.

What happened?  Where did it happen?  Is it a place you know from the past or is it unknown?  This can give you clues about personal insecurity or issues about your childhood or present circumstances.  Were you a participant in the dream or were you viewing form afar?  This will tell you how intimately you are involved in the situation in the real world.

What was the form you took in this dream?  Were you someone who exhibited unwanted or underdeveloped traits?  This would be your Shadow Personality manifesting.  What stage of life where you at in your dream?  Were you male or female?  Dreaming of being the opposite sex may indicate an imbalance of the opposite sex’s qualities. Did you take the form of an animal?  Perhaps you you’re struggling with your so-called “animal instincts” or baser instincts.

Who was in your dream?  Were they people you recognized or were they strangers? Family, friends and acquaintances may highlight a particular deficiency within your own character, mirroring back and making you aware of an unfavorable trait.  Were there any animals?  Did they remind you of anyone you know?  Often animals stand in as representatives for a situation or a person.  In this way, our subconscious can explore our true feelings about a person or event without interference form everyday prejudices.

"Is This a Nightmare?" by XxshadowxphobiaxX

What were the colors of certain objects in your dream?  What was the mood of the dream?  Dream situations in which you feel scared, tense or fearful are often reflections of a dangerous or overwhelming situation that is brewing around you.  Such sinister moods can be revealing of great anxieties you are experiencing in real life.  Threatening moods in your dream can be illustrated in the dreamscape as nighttime scenes or overcast skies.  Alternatively, there may be just be an underlying feeling of impending doom.  Blurred or hidden details in a dream suggest that you have confused feelings which, if unheeded, could lead to many troubles and worries in business.  If the truth is hidden in your dream, this may be indicated by a cloudy atmosphere in your mind.

Look at the symbols in your dreams and try to examine what, if any, are linked with a childhood situation or just a sense of helplessness.  Your dream could also be caused by a sense of guilt or disgust of being in a situation in which you did not want to participate.  Ask yourself, were you physically, mentally or emotionally terrorized?

If you’re not already keeping a dream diary, start one NOW! A dream diary is like any other collection of information that is gathered and put into order.  It builds up into a reference of information about your personal responses to your own life experiences.  Keeping a dream diary helps you understand yourself, enabling you to make informed decisions about how to fulfill life’s journey.  By keeping a dream diary, you are putting snippets of the jigsaw puzzle that represents your life into a book so that you can piece them together in order to help you heal.

Note the date, time of awaking, main theme, characters and objects, action, atmosphere, special comments, previous history and real-life connections.  Note connections between the main characters in the dream; the significance of characters and previous history with the characters; dream atmosphere and the message if one was given. (Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Soul, Interpreting Your Dreams)

"Ereshkigal" by kundrys-inner-world

As Demetra George makes it quite clear, “the home of the soul, the Dark Phase  is the place where we hold the residual memories of the sum or our past, in this and previous lifetimes. Here, we find the wounds of the soul that are crying out to be healed.  It is here where we hold our repressed traumatic memories and rejected aspects of our selves.” (p. 279).  Nightmares have a constructive purpose and may point the way towards resolving a difficult situation from our past. Our passage through the Dark Phase offers us the opportunity to heal these wounds, and in the process we can discover the hidden wealth of the unconscious.  It is only going into the Dark Phase of inner space and coming to peace with our memories and resolving our issues that a way opens towards healing and the nightmares stop. During this essential healing process, we can discover who we truly are and come to know the Dark Mother and the lessons She has to teach us.

Sources:

Enhancing Your Mind, Body and Spirit, “Interpreting Your Dreams”. International Masters Publishers

George, Demetra. Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess.  HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.

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