Goddess Kali originated in ancient India, first mentioned as a distinct
Goddess around 600 BC. She was made popular with the text “Devi
Mahatmya”, where she is said to be born of the brow of the goddess
Durga, when she was battling demon forces. She is referenced in the
Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, and the Mahabharata, one of the
main epics of India that are used as guidebooks for the spiritual
Her name means “black one” or “beyond time”. She is the primal mother,
the generatrix of natural forces. Her main purpose is to liberate us
from our ego, or false self, so that we can discover our true,
She is often depicted with four arms, and carries a sword in one hand
that represents discrimination (ability to differentiate the true,
spiritual Reality, from Maya, or worldly illusion). She holds a severed
human head in another hand, representing liberation from the ego, or
“false self”. In her third hand, she conveys the mudra (hand gesture)
of fearlessness, asking us to have faith as, no matter what happens, it
will always be for our highest good; and with her fourth hand gives the
mudra of blessing.
We can see by this she is both fierce and loving—as our Mother, she
protects us form harm, and she will bestows on us all that we need;
though they may not come in the form we expect or desire.
She protects us fiercely not only from harm from others, but from ourselves, ensuring we only receive our highest good.
She displays a bright red tongue, which represents primal force, and blood red palms on her hands,
representing life its most primal form.
She is considered the generatrix of natural forces, and a symbol of the primal forces of nature.
Her necklace of fifty human skulls represent the 50 characters of the Sanskrit alphabet and
symbolize infinite knowledge; she wears a belt of human hands which represent
work and liberation from the cycle of karma. These severed body parts that she wears,
can also represent the negative traits and habits she has “cut” from her devotees.
Her third eye is visible to represent spiritual illumination.
Kali’s three eyes, the usual two plus the mystical third eye, also represent
past, present and future, showing she is master of all time.
She is also said to represent the Kundalini in its raw, unrefined form, when it is first awakened,
while Durga represents this energy when it is refined and directed.
As with many other ancient Indian goddesses, Kali is represented by a yantra,
a geometric form that is a focus for meditation, in which the inverted triangle, representing feminine energy,
or Shakti (power), is prominent. Yantras are said to be synonymous with the goddesses themselves,
so by meditating on the Kali yantra, we can penetrate her deeper mysteries
and when we penetrate the center of the yantra, find liberation.
Kali is most traditionally worshipped with a puja, a form of devotional prayer
commonly practiced by Hindus, in which flowers, fruit, and other items are offered to the deity
in a ritual manner. The cleansing of the “ties that bind us” can be voluntary,
through devotion and surrender to the Mother, or can happen of necessity when the time comes,
whether we want it or not. Either way, Kali is bringing what is best for us.
To help speed our process of letting go of the old that no longer serves us,
and to invoke Kali’s protection and beneficence, the ritual below is my personal offering.
It uses scents and colors commonly associated with Kali and ritual objects pertaining to her.
Asking Kali Ma to cleanse the old and rebirth the new.
Kali yantra and/or statue.
In preparation for the ritual, you can make draw and paint the yantra yourself, or make a statue or image, yourself.
One red and one black candle (small chime candles fine for solitary ritual).
Rose or jasmine incense.
1)Annoint yourself with rosewater to purify and keep the energies of Kali.
Light rose or jasmine incense. Cast circle with the incense.
Call the elements, particularly focusing on the South (fire of transformation).
Invoke Kali by mentally inviting her to the ritual, or by saying a prayer.
2)Begin by meditating on the Kali Yantra or statue.
For the yantra, go from the outer petals to the inner bindu to connect with the Goddess.
3)Light the black candle, to represent Kali in her death aspect, and clearing the old that no longer serves us.
Say: “Kali, Goddess of transformation and rebirth, help me to release any life circumstances,
situations or people that are not contributing to my growth or that are holding me back from my highest potential”.
Focus on the candle flame as it burns down.
5) Light the red candle, to represent Kali in her aspect as the source of life, and the rebirth of a new life, or a new you.
Say: “Kali, this red candle represents new life.
Please help me birth the new me, so I can become fully myself and fulfill my highest aspirations”.
Sing Kali chants to raise power, and to send your intentions to the Universe.
Ground, and close the circle.
Keep the consecrated image or statue of Kali on your altar and meditate on it daily until your transformation is complete.
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356 Goddess by Patricia Telesco;
The Once and Future Goddess by Elinor Gadon;
a Matron Goddess reading by Evyn Sneeringer;
Tantra magazine, 1990;
youtube.com: “Kali Darshan” by Ma Nithya Swarupapriya;