Indian Goddess Kali

Mein Name ist Karolin, ich werde aber seit meiner frühsten Kindheit von meiner Familie Kali genannt. Interessanterweise existiert eine Göttin im südasiatischen Raum mit dem Namen Kali. Es lohnt sich diese kennenzulernen. Der wichtigste Feiertag Kalis ist Kalipuja, der am selben Tag wie das Lichterfest Diwali, nach dem Mondkalender meist Ende Oktober/Anfang November, gefeiert wird. Zufälligerweise habe ich meist an einer der Feiertage Kalis Geburtstag. Mari P Ziolkowski schrieb einen schönen Artikel über sie:



In India one of the accepted divine symbols is of a dark woman, nude, with flowing hair, four-armed, with two hands in the act of blessing and two holding a knife and bleeding head, garlanded with a necklace of skulls, dancing with protruding tongue on the prostrate figure of a man. Frightening as she may seem, she calls our attention. Sister Nivedita says:

Whether we know it or not, we belong to her. We are her children, playing round her knees. Life is but a game of hide and seek with her, and if we chance to touch her feet, who can measure the shock of the divine energy that enters into us? Deep in our hearts is rooted the assurance that the moment will come – her mystic name will fall upon our ears. (Nivedita , p. 20)

Kali Ma. How is it that an image so fierce can invoke the energy of the Mother? How is it that an image so fierce can evoke the energy of the mystic? Is her appearance to be taken at face value – is she a warrior goddess from the matriarchal tribal cultures of India? Or should her iconography be viewed more symbolically? Black because as all colors disappear in black, all names and forms disappear in her? Free from illusion in her primordial nakedness, is the severed head she holds indicative of the annihilation of ego-bound evil force? (Mookerjee , p. 62).

How should we interpret her demon-destroying stories in the sacred scriptures of India – the Vedas and Puranas? For example, in the Devi Mahatmya she jumps out of the forehead of the Goddess Durga to fight the demons on earth that are out of control (Kumar , pp. 30–31). In the Mahabharata Kali rises again when a demon king won’t take no for an answer to his marriage proposal and sends his forces to subdue the Goddess in Her beautiful form as Gauri. She becomes so angry that out of her brow springs Kali, gaunt of body and red-eyed, with tiger skin, and garland of skulls, ready to assist with sword, noose, and club. Because the demons can reproduce when a drop of their blood is spilled, Kali must get creative. She throws the demons into her mouth and laps up their blood to destroy them! (Kumar , p. 53).

Are these stories about the archaic female-centered South Asian matriarchal cultures resisting takeover by invading patriarchal male-centered Aryan cultures? After all, in medieval Shakta traditions Kali was considered to be a direct descendant of the early Mother Goddess cult of the matriarchal agricultural peoples that are still present in India today (Payne , p. 69). Or are they illustrating for us that there are times in the history of the planet when only female warrior energy can defeat the demons of war, greed, and oppression? Or shall we return to Kali as symbol and imagine that these stories about Kali defeating demons are really about Her ability to subdue our own inner demons with splendor? Is working with Ma Kali then really about working with our shadow?

And what does her role as an independent, sexual goddess have to teach us? In the Tantric Mahavidya (Wisdom Goddess) tradition, Kali is noted as primary. Her characteristics include her dominant position over her consort (Shiva) and her strong sexual appetite. Free from social and ethical roles – Kali is a breaker of boundaries and social models and dwells outside the confines of normal society (Kinsley , p. 80). Though not many Indian women would take Kali as a role model, when Westerners consider her, what impact does her power, her focused use of anger, and her sexually liberating nature have upon us? What archetypal energy does She release within us? The answer takes us closer to center.

Behind the surface of this powerful death-dealing Goddess we find an all-encompassing loving energy: virgin creator, sustaining mother, and absorber of all. Many of her Hindu devotees in fact approach her as Mother. Is this because in India it is acceptable for a mother to be so fierce? Yes. However, it is also because the Indian perspective is not so dualistic as Western thought. This is why She can be seen in the Hindu tradition as the All: Cosmic Creatrix, World Mother, and Warrior Goddess supreme.

As She also appears as a force of nature, and the energy coiled in the chakra at the base of our spine, Kali’s multivalent nature continues to reveal. As Kundalini, Kali is said to be part of the “Great Mother” energy “out of whose womb the universe emerges as a continuous unfolding of the immanent All” (Scott , p. 24). She is responsible for maintaining the harmonious balance of force fields within the earth itself – life fields, thought fields, and surface energy lines (Scott , p. 106). Such primal identification suggests an ancient energy, a goddess sourced deep in the collective human soul.

Western writers in the area of women and religion offer more guidance for understanding this Goddess. They remind us that in order to discover what the story of a deity from another culture has to teach the reader, it is important to engage Her mythology, Her psychological ramifications, and the reader’s own dreams and life experience. Through “myth-mirrors” like the Goddess, the reader can experience a new frame for their life experience and existential longings (Gross , pp. 232–233).

For Western feminists, Dark Goddesses like Kali are said to be the primordial goddess from which everything emerges and to whom all returns – the nurturing Earth Mother who brings forth all life, as well as the destructive power of death. A goddess of death and transformation, of transition and renewal, the Dark Goddess is said to contain all contradictions within Herself. The call of this goddess can be heard in the deep, serious, will-to-live rising from within the body of the planet. Pushing through us for healing and realignment with nature, it is only our willingness to face the Dark within ourselves that will liberate us in the end (Noble , p. 7).

Interaction with Kali energy is also an attempt to recover divine imagery more compatible with the reality of female power, anger, and assertion in western consciousness. Kali’s reminder of the Earth Mother’s power of rage readied for action, poised against the backdrop of a plundered and wounded planet, is a vision of spiritually energizing female power far removed from the benevolent mercy and accepting patience of most Christian female images! (McDermott , p. 289).

Kali in fact ends up challenging all social norms for women. As demon slayer, Mother Goddess but without children, wife of Shiva but rarely with him (the dominating one in the relationship and the initiating partner in the cosmic dance) – living outdoors and in the cremation grounds – Kali is in the active, powerful role. She excels in all the male domains. By not conforming to the established role of women in Hinduism or in any other culture informed by monotheistic traditions, she reverses and upends the patriarchal order (Gupta , p. 31).

Seen inwardly, the Dark Mother in archetypal western psychological terms is viewed as “a place of magic, transformation and rebirth, that which is secret, hidden, dark; the abyss. …” (Starck and Stern , p. 5). On the personal level Kali plays a strong, healing psychological role in the lives of women as they come to accept the parts of themselves that have been repressed and feared. On the collective level, Her transformation of western women’s painfully fragmented collective consciousness helps undo the domineering monotheistic patriarchal perspective (McDermott , p. 291).

Jungians say that great resolve is needed to enter into this shadow dance – the darkness of one’s own chaos. But as we do, the power of the root chakra rises, and it becomes the undulating wave of the supreme Dark Goddess, the Kundalini. Creativity and freedom that women seek do not lie in the patriarchal path of control. Rather, they lie in letting go and descending into the chaos of the maternal matrix. We are invited to participate – to yield to the frenzied beat of the mother’s dance (Woodman and Dickson , p. 179).

In Jungian thinking, it is said that the activation of an archetypal energy releases great power. As women access the Dark Goddess archetype – Mother, Warrior, and Cosmic Creatrix – as Her energy rises from body, psyche, and spirit, its effects are felt in all worlds. Our rage, our battle cry for change, our independence, and our open hearts – the Dark Goddess can hold it all. Women and men – hold on for the archetypal rising of the Dark Goddess Kali Ma into our psyches, our spirits, our age! (Woodman and Dickson p. 223).