"Rangda's Illusion" - unknown

“Rangda’s themes are thankfulness, magic and fertility.  Her symbols are a pregnant Goddess, round-shaped fruits, hibiscus and the color yellow.  A witch Goddess in Bali, Rangda takes on a function many witches have throughout history, that of a woman’s helpmate, especially in conception. To men, Rangda offers physical fertility or improved energy for magical workings.

Now that the earth is fertile, Rangda’s power is even more abundant. To commemorate this and generate some literal or figurative fertility in your life, do as the Balinese do. Wear saffron dyed (yellow) clothes, and leave Rangda an offering of fruit or flowers somewhere special. As you do, pray for an unborn child’s well-being, for pregnancy, or for fruitful productivity in whatever area of your life needs it most.

Rangda can fulfil your desire for successful living. To manifest Her profuseness, take a round watermelon and cut it in half. Make melon balls, and add any other round-shaped fruit (especially tropical fruit). Before eating, add this incantation:

‘Rangda, fullfil me
Rangda, complete me
As my hunger is filled
Let my spirit find satisfaction.’

Eating the fruit salad internalizes Her sweet, helpful energy.

Finally, to invoke Rangda’s blessing and aid in conception, decorate your bedroom with yellow highlights before making love. Find a yellow light bulb, put yellow-toned sheets on your bed, and place yellow flowers (or hibiscus) by the bed.”

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

"Rangda" by unded

Terrifying deities, spirits and other supernatural creatures are a common theme throughout the world’s different cultures and mythologies; in East Asia, the Goddess Rangda is one such example. “Rangda is the ‘Witch Goddess of Bali’ and the ‘Queen of Sorcery’ and a symbol of darkness.  She is the ancient widow who dances over graves.  She is the source of supernatural power and is depicted as a nude old woman with large breasts, long and tangled red hair (representing wildness), sharp teeth, and flames spewing form Her mouth.  She is associated with the sea…which most Balinese fear.*  She possesses righteous people and drives them to sinful behavior.  She is the model of untamed fertility that can be dangerous to overcome.” [1]

"Rangda's Girl" by LowKeyReality

Rangda can be identified with the wrathful form of the Hindu god Shiva as Bhairava, portrayed in his legends. The demon queen is everything that the Balinese abhor and try to stay away from in their everyday lives. Her name has been translated as meaning ‘widow’. She is depicted in art as a repugnant, cannibalistic demon with enormous fangs and shown devouring babies or shown with skulls and garlands of entrails. She is believed to be death itself, haunting graves and the death temples. Her followers are said to be the leyak (humans who have cannibalistic tastes like that of their mistress), who are given their powers by the Goddess Herself to kill people out of malice.” [2]

It has been suggested that the Goddess Rangda derives from an 11th century Balinese queen, Mahendradatta or Gunapriyadharmapatni, a Javanese princess sister of Dharmawangsa of East Javanese Isyana Dynasty of late Medang Kingdom period, who was exiled by the king for practicing witchcraft against his second wife. In retaliation for this, the queen attempted to destroy the king and his kingdom. She was eventually overcome by the powers of a holy man, but not before half the population died from plague. [3] [4]

Another story says that She is “the incarnation of Calon Arang, the legendary witch that wrecked havoc in ancient Java during the reign of Airlangga in late 10th century. It is said that Calon Arang was a widow, powerful in black magic, who often damaged farmer’s crops and caused disease to come. She had a girl, named Ratna Manggali, who, though beautiful, could not get a husband because people were afraid of her mother. Because of the difficulties faced by her daughter, Calon Arang was angry and she intended to take revenge by kidnapping a young girl. She brought the girl to a temple to be sacrificed to the Goddess Durga. The next day, a great flood engulfed the village and many people died. Disease also appeared.

King Airlangga, who had heard of this matter, then asked for his advisor, Empu Bharada, to deal with this problem. Empu Bharada then sent his disciple, Empu Bahula, to be married to Ratna. Both were married with a huge feast that lasted seven days and seven nights, and the situation returned to normal. Calon Arang had a book that contained magic incantations. One day, this book was found by Empu Bahula, who turned it over to Empu Bharada. As soon as Calon Arang knew that the book had been stolen, she became angry and decided to fight Empu Bharada. Without the help of Durga, Calon Arang was defeated. Since she was defeated, the village was safe from the threat of Calon Arang’s black magic.” [5]

Rangda is believed to be the enemy of Baraong Ket, the leader of the forces of good, and battles with him with Her army of evil witches. Although She is constantly defeated by the forces of good, (Baraong Ket), She always turns to battle again.  She is closely associated with the Indian Goddess Durga, and may also be linked to Kali, the dark mother of destruction, transformation and protection in Hinduism. [6] [7]

“While many may see Her as fearsome, if treated well, She is actually to be considered a protective force in some parts of Bali, and in this form, She is sometimes depicted as beautiful.  Her colors are black, white and red.  The Balinese people believe that by including Rangda in ritual dramas, they hold the dangers of chaos in check.” [8]

Click here to watch a scene from such a theatrical Balinese performance depicting the Barong and his assistants trying to attack the Rangda.

Photo from 'Life of a Lil Notti Monkey: Barong and Rangda *by JS*'. Click on the photo to visit the site and view more pictures from the Barong and Rangda Dance.

“Today, She is mainly known by westerners as an evil character in a play where Her legends are staged. As a pemurtian, Rangda stands for the wrathful forms of Durga, Shiva (Bhairava), and Vishnu in Balinese theatre. Although known for Her terrifying intentions, as scholars have stated, even as ‘widow-witch’, the Goddess Rangda ‘functions in a paradoxically protective way. Within the metaphoric world of the Calon Arang story, Rangda is the mistress of black magic and the container of all that is monstrous and evil. But within the effective structure of ritual, She functions as the protector of the community, defusing the power of those who practice black magic and directly challenging human malefactors to match their powers against hers.'” [9]

I would like to leave you with this final thought:  Johanna Stuckey wrote an article entitled “Goddesses and Demons: Some Thoughts” and puts it best as stated here, “These female demons [Rangda, LamashtuLilithMedusa] from different cultures have much in common, and their commonalities reflect male-dominated societies’ disapproval of females of the uppity sort, as well as implicit approval for their opposite, the feminine, biddable wives and daughters. The demons are all physically hideous. All are anti-mothers in one way or another, and all are childless or give birth in abnormal ways. All are dangerous and threaten humans with both diseases and death. All live in exile or, at least, are distanced from the cultures that produced them. All, eventually even the dead Medusa, partake to some extent of deity. All are independent of men and to a large extent autonomous. Finally, all are brought under control by males.

"The Rangda" by adhytcadelic

All possess characteristics that undermine or challenge male-dominated societies. War-like societies such as those of Mesopotamia could find a use for Inanna/Ishtar‘s warrior characteristics. So She became a war Goddess, while Her sexual self became a Goddess of love. Thus divided, She was less of a threat to a developing patriarchy. Demonizing the dangerous elements of a minor goddess performed a similar function, and it also provided a scapegoat for when things went wrong, as they always would. Perhaps at one time Rangda was a sea Goddess, who became evil because of where She came from. It seems likely that Lamashtu and Lilith were once minor deities who both caused infant death and disease and protected against them.  And Medusa — what do we make of Her? Certainly male-dominated society co-opted Her “malevolence” to serve its burgeoning state. Her snaky head became a powerful warding-off or apotropaic device on shields and on temples and other buildings to be protected. Such analysis is not new, I know, but I am surprised to find that it applies just as neatly to Balinese culture as it does to cultures that fed into ours. Still, perhaps this shouldn’t surprise me.” [10]


* It’s important to note that in the Balinese culture the sky is divine while the sea is demoniac, as in the best patriarchal tradition. Rangda is probably the heir of a pre-Hindu Goddess of the sea turned into a demon the same way that often occurred in history at the changeover with patriarchal cultures. [11]





Lysianassa. Bukisa.com, “The History and Significance of the Goddess Rangda“.

Pirera, Anna. Goddess Gallery, “Kali“.

Stella. Goddesses and Gods, “Goddess Rangda“.

Stuckey, Johanna. MatriFocus: Cross-Quarterly for the Goddess Woman (Beltane 2007 Vol 6 – 3), “Goddesses and Demons: Some Thoughts“.

Wikipedia, “Rangda“.

Suggested Links:

Padangtegal, Desa Adat. Monkeyforestbud.com, “The Temples: Indian Hindu Gods and Goddesses“.