Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kali-Ma – the Terrible Mother

After a rather impromptu rite to Kali-Ma undertaken this week, I thought I would share part of an article that I had written about Kali-Ma for "Insight" magazine (either in 2009 or early 2010).

The Hindu religion has a myriad of Gods and Goddesses that are openly revered and worshipped, and within this religion, the Goddesses fall into not only the nurturing side of the Divine Feminine (as we are used to in the West), but also into the destroyer aspect.  The most revered Goddess is Kali.  She is usually pictured wearing a necklace of skulls and girdle of human hands, dancing on the body of her consort, Shiva. 

With her dishevelled hair and protruding tongue, Kali does not portray the demure image of the Divine Feminine that we in the West are comfortable with, such as the Virgin Mary found within Christianity. 

In Hindu mythology Kali emerged from the brow of the Goddess Durga when, during a battle, the demon Raktabija threatened to destroy all life.  It was believed that if one drop of Raktabija’s blood was split, from it millions of demons would spring to life.  Kali therefore sucked all the blood from the demon, and as a consequence, she developed a blood lust and started to dance.  As her dance grew more frenzied, it was realised that Kali would soon destroy all that had been created in the world.  The only way to stop her was for Shiva to sacrifice of his own life.  When Kali realised that she was dancing on the body of her consort, she stopped, and all harmony was restored.

Durga and Kali-Ma
Kali is usually depicted as having four arms.  In her left hand she is usually holding a sword (representing divine knowledge) and severed head of a slain demon (signifying the human ego that must be slain by divine knowledge).  Her other two hands are said to be blessing her worshippers.  Kali can however also be depicted having two arms or even ten.

Altar to Kali-Ma
(November 2010)
Her necklace made up of 51 or 52 skulls, representing the letters of the ancient Sanskrit alphabet.  This indicates that Kali is a repository of all knowledge and wisdom.  The skulls also are said to represent the fundamental vibrations that make up the Universe.  This indicates that the terrifying Kali is the creator of all that is around her.  The girdle made up of human hands that she wears represents work and liberation from the cycle of karma, whereas her three eyes indicate the past, present and the future.

Kali is the powerful Goddess of creation, preservation and radical transformation.  She is raw female instinct, always changing, yet always changeless.  She teaches that pain, sorrow, decay, destruction and death is not overcome by denial or explaining them away. Pain and sorrow are woven into our lives and to deny them is futile.  For us to realise to fullness of our being, we must accept this dimension of existence.


  1. Thanks for a wonderful explaination of Kali!

  2. Hey,
    I just thought i'd let you know that this was a fascinating and very informative read.

    I stumbled upon this page whilst researching the Goddess as my name is also Kali (and my surname is scarily close to Durga). I'd never really known much about her 'darker' side but this page gave me some great insight.

    If you know of any other websites which are similarly informative I would really appreciate a link.

    Thanks for the great article.


"Dancing the Sacred Wheel" now available again

"Dancing the Sacred Wheel" now available again
The second edition of "Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats" is now available through or direct from the author (Australian customers only) for an autographed copy.

Great Goddess Isis

Great Goddess Isis

Exhortation of Isis

You are She in the dust of whose feet is the hosts of Heaven,
Whose body encircles the Universe,
Who turns the Earth in its orb,
Who gives light to the Sun,
Who rules the World.

You tread death underfoot.
To Thee, the stars are responsive,
To Thee the seasons turn and the Gods rejoice
And the elements are in subjugation.

You are She that is the natural Mother of all things,
Mistress and governor of all elements,
The initial progeny of worlds,
Chief of Divine powers,
Queen of Heaven,
Principle of all the Gods celestial and the light of Goddesses.

At Your will are disposed the planets of the air,
The wholesome winds of the seas
And the silences of the unseen world.