The Hindu Goddess Kali

Areas of Influence: The Hindu Goddess Kali has a fearsome reputation as a destroyer of demons. She is associated with death, destruction, battlefields and cremation grounds. 

Her name is said to mean "the black one" or "the dark one" in Sanskrit, reflecting her role as a primordial Goddess. She has the power to destroy the world, returning it to the dark void, a place of no time and no form. However, this only reflects one aspect of her personality because as a dark mother Goddess she is also the vehicle for creation and rebirth.

Origins and Genealogy: There are several different versions of Kali's birth in the Hindu texts. In one the Goddess Pavarti sheds her dark skin which gives rise to Kali, and explains one of her epithets of Kaushika,(the sheath). 

Another tale describes her emerging from the forehead of the enraged Goddess Durga, as she attempts to slay demons.

My favourite myth regarding the Hindu Goddess Kali, tells that she was created by the combined shakti (sacred energy) of the Gods to destroy the demon Raktabija.

Consort: Her husband is the God Shiva, only he has the power to calm her rage. When she is caught up in a demon and evil destroying frenzy he lays himself down in front of her and makes her pause and return to her senses.

Symbolism of The Hindu Goddess Kali

In works of art Kali is depicted as a naked or semi-naked, blue/black Goddess with four arms. She has her tongue hanging out, wild flowing hair, angry red eyes and is adorned with a necklace of skulls. 

In her hands she carries a sword and a severed head showing not only her demon slaying capabilities but her capacity to cut away the ego. One hand is also held out as a blessing to liberate people from maya (illusion of the nature of reality.)

The Hindu Goddess Kali also has a ten armed form known as the Mahakali. Each of these limbs carries an object associated with the highest Gods, suggesting that she is an expression of all of their power and therefore represents Brahman.

As Mahakali she also has ten legs, ten heads and three eyes.

Sacred Animals: Unlike many other Hindu Goddesses she does not sit upon an animal instead she is often shown with one foot on her husband Shiva.

Kali's Yantra

Below is a beautiful image of Kali's Yantra, a symbol that is used as a meditation tool to achieve a state where all illusions are ultimately destroyed and we reach a point of pure consciousness.

A mantra can also be used to invoke the power of the Hindu Goddess Kali. There are many different forms. I have chosen a simple form that you can use in your practice.

Om kring Kalikaye Namah

To learn more about this yantra I highly recommend following the link to Tony Murdock's website

Kali's Archetypes

The Destroyer

The positive aspect of the destroyer is that that they highlight aspects of personality and life that no longer serve an individual. They destroy illusions and help people reach their full potential.

Destroyers are often unpopular as they do not take the gentle approach of the diplomat but tell it as is.

In it's shadow form the destroyer uses their power to trample over others feelings and destroys dreams to feed their own ego.

Kali is an excellent embodiment of this archetype as she is the Goddess of destruction, slaying the demons army. However she becomes so caught up in her victory dance that she nearly destroys the world.

The Warrior

The Warrior represents physical strength, and the ability to protect and fight for your rights and those of others.

Whilst the shadow side of the Warrior reflects the need to win at all costs, abandoning ethical principles to prove your supremacy.

Kali is created by the Gods to fight the evil demon Raktabija and his army. She prevents evil from tipping the balance of power.

How to Work With These Archetypes

The Destroyer

Kali and the destroyer archetype is a useful energy to work with if you want to get to the very core of a problem. Once any illusions have been destroyed, negative ways of behaving can be cleared. You can use the mantra and yantra above to deepen your connection with this cleansing energy.

The Hindu Goddess Kali has strong medicine, so you need to be clear in your intention, setting defined boundaries for the work on yourself that you wish to undertake. 

Do not get so carried away that you risk throwing out the good with the bad.

The Warrior

If you are drawn to work with this Goddess Archetype you may require the Warrior spirit to help you to stand up for your rights and set firm personal boundaries.  This stereotype is helpful if you want to take control in your life, and no longer wish to play the role of the victim.

You may also choose to call upon the Warrior to champion the cause of others.

Conversely the Warrior may appeal to you if you have a very strong sense of self and are proud of the victories you have achieved. The shadow side of this goddess may be asking you to reflect honestly on the cost of these victories. Have they been at the expense of others or your principals?

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