The Goddess Kali: How far would you go? | Grace Fforde
Grace Fforde urges us to invoke the warrior goddess of Kali Ma, to reclaim the dimensions of our power and stand up against climate change apathy.
With matted hair, lolling tongue and large red consuming eyes, she moves entranced in a dance of death. Her garland of skulls and girdle of severed human hands ripple against her skin to the rhythm of her steps as she wields a sword and trident with blood dripping from her gaping mouth. Her ascetic sadhus, the Aghoris, sit in the cremation ground in a smoky hue of incense and burning funeral pyres, feasting on alcohol and human flesh.
This is Kali Ma, a Hindu goddess, a manifestation of the divine, universal mother; she is shakti incarnate. Kali, known as the Black Goddess, is death and thus destruction, which explains why she is sometimes viewed as the patron saint of cannibals, bandits and the Indian cult, Thuggees. But believe me when I say that those who look beyond what they see, understand that she is really the death of death: liberation. A fully evolved symbol of Mother Nature, she encapsulates creation, nurture and destruction: destroying the finite to reveal the infinite, shattering illusions to expose the radical truths that lie behind conditioned minds and conduct. I offer her to you as the fierce avatar of Mother Nature, fearless and indiscriminate.
This all may seem a bit confusing; it certainly did to me when I first met Kali. It’s as if I am encouraging carnage and aggression in a time when our existence, and that of the natural world, is in a particularly precarious state. But delve deeper into what Kali represents, and watch her evolve into an emblem of justice and empowerment.
According to myth, Kali was born from the union of the Trimurti Gods and Goddesses, when life was threatened by a blood-thirsty demon that roamed the land killing humans at rapid speed. Every drop of the demon’s blood to the ground spawned another demon and it was Kali who was called upon, as the strongest form of material energy, to annihilate, with her sword and trident, the army of mind-born delusions that the monsters symbolised. Indeed, in this light, we see the truth of Kali; her dance of death becomes the graceful ballet of a nurturing mother of nature, the saviour of our existence and our liberator from illusion.
Just like her legend, the origins of Kali’s name offer a sense of transcendent power; the bountiful foundation from which all life ceaselessly radiates. Kali originates from the Sanskrit word, ‘Kala’ which translates as both ‘time’ and ‘black’. It is Kali’s black complexion that symbolises uncontaminated energy and knowledge. Black, being a symbol of the infinite, is the colour which absorbs and dissolves all other colours, just like Kali’s gaping mouth. Beyond name and form, she shines as the light of truth and illuminated consciousness free from illusion. Her relation to time is similar to the nature of her colour; all dynamic manifestation occurs within time’s sequence of past/present/future. Time is the formless genetrix within which nature originates, preserves or eradicates. Using destruction as a vehicle through which salvation can occur. Kali reminds us that good really can shine through bad situations.
Like Kali, if we explore and reclaim the dimensions of our power, we can eradicate evil in order to guard humanity and preserve the earth that we inhabit together. Let’s look towards Kali to upheave our inherent complacency and acceptance of illusion. Within us all is Kali’s shakti, the power to create and preserve, illuminating the truth of life, and, simultaneously, the right to stand up to those forces that threaten the existence of humanity and the natural world. The crisis we have created that places our planet in danger denounces a new, critical epoch of reality, one that requires a new relationship between us and our natural world. Just like a near-death experience forces us to rethink the parameters of our existence, the environmental and humanitarian crises we find ourselves in now, require a fundamental evolution of human consciousness.
At the time of writing this article, Grace was at SOAS doing a Masters in Indian Philosophies and Religions and was involved in a number of broadcasting projects. A Hindi speaker, it was at the age of seven when she first visited India, that Grace became enthralled by the country’s culture and heritage. Since then, she has concentrated on how we can augment the benefits of India’s wide and varied principles into the global psyche.