Hindu goddess of time, change and death, a warrior and a demon slayer who also has the aspect of goddess mother, Shiva’s shakti. Her name Kālī is a female form of the word kāla and signifies ‘black, dark one (the colour which is omnipresent before the light appears), time (she is beyond it), death (because it comes with time)’.
Kali first appears in the story about the battle with demons when she jumped out of Durga’s forehead armed with a sword and a loop as the goddess was trying to kill the demon called Raktavija who multiplied whenever a drop of his blood fell down the ground. Kali sowed fear with her appearance, a piercing shriek and a thirst for murder. She devoured the slain ones and annihilated Raktavija by sucking the blood out of him. She was so drunk with victory and ichor that she started to dance on the battlefield wreaking havoc and becoming a threat to a further existence of life. She was not listening to any pleas for mercy and did not let anyone stop her until Shiva, her consort, has finally lain down on her path to prevent the extermination of the whole world. This eventually sobered the goddess up and she bit her tongue as a sign of her shame. The image of Kali dancing over Shiva’s body is called Daksinakali. According to another version Shiva appeared on the battlefield disguised as a crying child. When the goddess saw him, she took pity of a baby, embraced and fed with her milk.
It must be added that apart from her warrior aspect, Kali also manifests her gentler nature. According to Tantra Kali is Mahadevi i.e. essence, Divinity Itself and all the three most important gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva arise from her ‘like bubbles in the sea’ all the time, constantly ending, arising and passing away, however leaving her intact as the source. Shiva praises her in one of the texts as the Beginning of All, Creatrix, Protectress and Destroyer. She reminds of the inseparability of life and death, helps accept the existing order and encourages to become accustomed to death. Kali is a tough mother though, a Hindu poet Rāmprasād writes about her in this way,
- Can mercy be found in the heart of her who was born of the stone?*
- Were she not merciless, would she kick the breast of her lord?
- Men call you merciful, but there is no trace of mercy in you, Mother.
- You have cut off the heads of the children of others, and these you wear as a garland around your neck.
- It matters not how much I call you “Mother, Mother.” You hear me, but you will not listen.
And he later concludes that being Kali’s child means being deprived of earthly wealth and pleasures because the goddess does not give what we want, however this is what lets her worshippers reach beyond material world. Because of her Mahadevi’s aspect she is particularly respected in the Tantric teachings (Shiva laying at her feet is an embodiment of matter and Kali herself represents primordial feminine energy, according to the tantrics without energy the matter itself is lifeless*).
Another legend about Kali and Shiva tells the story of their dancing contest. Having defeated demons, the goddess settled down in the forests of Thiruvalangadu on the south of India and terrorised its inhabitants with her violent nature. One of Shiva’s worshippers complained to him that he could not meditate in the forest because of her so Shiva decided to talk to Kali. She treated forest as her own territory so Shiva challenged her to a dancing contest. Kali was equal to him in every aspect until the moment when god performed a figure which required exposing sexual organs. Kali strongly refused and agreed to calm down enough to let Shiva’s worshippers perform their religious practices**.
Kali is particularly venerated in the north of India, especially in the region of Bengal and other areas situated within Himalayas (according to a legend Kali originates from these mountains, this is why Rāmprasād is wondering whether he can find compassion in the heart of the one who was born from the stone). A music genre called Shyama Sangeet (Dusky Music) is dedicated to Kali, it was traditionally performed by men but more and more women perform it nowadays. Goddess is venerated during the Kali Puja festivalu taking place at the new moon in the month of Ashwin (at the turn of September and October) which coincides with Diwali. A particular form of Kali’s cult is venerating a hand painted image of her called Poteshawri (literary Goddess Drawn On The Piece Of Cloth), it is typical for the city of Shantipur.
IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS
Kali is presented as frighteningly skinny woman with bloodshot eyes, dishevelled hair, open mouth and tongue exposed, she wears a tiger skin, a belt of human hands around her waist and a necklace of skulls (traditionally 51 or 108 of them, they represent the Sanskrit letters therefore Kali is considered to be the mother of languages and mantras). She has four arms, one holds khadga (a curved sword or scimitar) or trident, the second one – a severed head, the third one – a bowl (or cup made from the skull) catching the dripping blood, and the fourth one is set in the shape of mudra. The weapon symbolises divine wisdom and a severed head signifies human ego explaining clearly that in order to develop soul one must get rid of daily restrictions (these items are usually held in left hands). Right hands set in mudras show that Kali provides support and blessings on the difficult path of self – development and that her follower is never alone.
As Daksinakali she keeps her right foot on the chest of lying Shiva and is accompanied by serpents and a jackal. Her skin is dark (as opposed to Shiva, whose skin is covered with white ashes from the burning pyres).
Professions: a member of law enforcement services (military, police, customs, etc.), an athlete, a liquidator, a bailiff, a controller, the person responsible for the restructuring process
It is not the time to be afraid and to hesisate, it is time to act and confront.
If you resist change, life will force you to change anyway but then you may have less options.
Changes are already taking place in your life, you cannot stop them. Even if everything around is falling apart, remember that something new will begin soon. Obstacles stimulate our development, thanks to them you get motivated and achieve what seemed impossible. Problems are necessary for growth. The mind and soul will not develop if they are remaining without challenges for too long. To see the light you need darkness.
Following old patterns will not get you anywhere. If a problem was growing for a long time, you will not solve it with the old methods, you need new ones.
Think of what would you do if you were not afraid.
Key words: Movement. Change. Dance. Lack of control. Hunger. Being drunken. Ecstasy. Insatiability. Conscious or unconscious fear of death. The order of the world. Expressing yourself.
If you are in the relationship: Time of change which cannot be avoided, either strengthening or ending relationship. Widowhood.
If you are single: High levels of woman’s libido. Reluctance to permanent relationship. Inability to compromise. Make sure that you do not drink too much alcohol at a party so that you do not wake up in the wrong bed in the morning.
A sudden and inevitable change of situation. Be prepared for arguments among workers or hostile actions from outside. Impoverishment. Work overload, too many duties, feeling burnout. Something that sucks finances out of the company.
A model image of Kali with the symbol of female energy shakti in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky
Kali in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took
Kali in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst
Kali in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason
Kali dancing on Shiva’s body in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé
Kali in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue
Kali in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr
Kali in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc
Kali in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton
Kali in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs
Kali in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano as Death
Based on English Wikipedia.
* Tantra’s teachings are about co-existence and co-dependence of male element (shiva) with the female one (shakti). Tantra says that it is shakti, a creative and dynamic energy which stimulates shiva, a driving and static consciousness to act. The tantrics see it literary because in case of most men their strategic body part rises and “awakes to life” as a reaction to woman’s presence. One of folk tales about deities tells the story of Parvati asking Shiva which one of her ten forms he likes best. He immediately pointed out at Kali because without jewellery, garments, emotions and humanity she is a pure, raw and chaotic energy as terryfying as the time itself and perhaps even greater. When she assumes this free from limitations, wild and uncontrolled form, Shiva lays down at her feet and asks her to put the feet on his heart. Only Shiva is able to tame her and only Kali is able to enliven him.
** However, when presented on modern images Kali is naked because as a representation of time she is beyond the veil of Maya – Illusion. Kali is perceived as an eternal life force and driving energy providing the existence of the world so the categories of “good” and “evil” cannot be attributed to her. To understand her nature, one must reject this duality and accept the fact that just like death does not exist without life, life cannot exist without death.