Kali Ma – Kali Mata “the dark one” or “the dark mother” is a multi faceted, major Hindu goddess associated with time, change, creation, power, destruction and death as well as being one of the primal mothers. Kali is the first of the ten Mahavidyas in the Hindu tantric tradition. She is also seen as the divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. She is the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Principal energy as well as the dark goddess who battles and destroys evil in order to defend the innocent.
Kali’s most famous appearance in legend is on the battlefield where she fights asuras (demons) to protect Brahman (the ultimate reality). At one point in a great battle two demons attack the goddess Durga. Durga responds with such anger it causes her face to turn dark, resulting in Kali appearing out of her forehead. Kali emerges as the dark one, bristling with weapons of battle in her multiple arms and ready to bring death to all who cross her. She immediately defeats the two demons, then later in the same battle, the asura (demon) Raktabija still remains undefeated because of his ability to reproduce himself from every drop of his blood that reaches the ground, and countless Raktabija clones appear on the battlefield. Kali eventually defeats him by sucking his blood before it can reach the ground, and eating the numerous clones. Here Kali represents Durga’s personified wrath, she is the embodiment of fury.
Kali Ma is typically depicted with a dark complexion, dancing on the prostrate form of Lord Shiva. She has multiple arms, each holding various weapons symbolising her power over different aspects of life and death. Her disheveled hair, fanged mouth, and protruding tongue give her a fierce and formidable appearance. Kali often wears a garland of human heads round her neck and a skirt made of human arms, symbolising the eradication of ego and attachment. Despite her fearsome image, Kali can also be a compassionate mother goddess, representing the cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution. She often appears in many ways from destructive to benevolent.
1. Destructive Force: As the goddess of destruction, Kali represents the relentless force of time, bringing an end to all things. She is often depicted in fierce forms, highlighting the impermanence of the material world.
2.Time and Change: Kali is associated with the concept of time, emphasising the inevitable cycle of birth, life, and death.
3.Empowerment: Kali is a symbol of feminine empowerment, embodying Shakti – the primordial cosmic energy. Devotees seek her blessings for strength, courage, and the ability to overcome challenges. She is the divine feminine.
4.Liberation: Kali is also revered as the liberator, helping individuals break free from the cycle of reincarnation and attain spiritual liberation (moksha).
5.Motherly Love: Despite her fearsome appearance, Kali is regarded as a loving mother to her devotees. She is often depicted cradling Shiva in her arms, illustrating her maternal aspect and nurturing qualities.
6.Tantric Wisdom: In some traditions, Kali represents the transformative and purifying aspects of Tantra, guiding practitioners toward spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
7.Symbol of Courage: Devotees turn to Kali for courage in facing life’s challenges. Her fierce image is a reminder that facing difficulties with strength and fearlessness can lead to personal growth.
This piece has been a long time in coming for me. I first encountered Kali Ma in my dreams and visions around the same time as I was on my Futhark journey in 2019-2020. I had very little more than general knowledge of her when she first appeared in my visions, cracking open the skulls of men, digging in her fingers and supping on their brains, blood and bones. Once I had done some research on this goddess of rage and vengeance who had taken up residence in my head, I had a deeper understanding of why she had come to me.
She was there to help me work with my shadow, to aid me in harnessing the rage which has always been inside me for some forms of masculinity and all forms of patriarchy. She is the manifestation of my hate for male domination, all forms of toxic masculinity which enables subjugation of women all around the world, laying claim to our bodies, reducing us to vessels for their seed.
From Afghanistan to America women are being reduced to mere vessels with no right to say no, no right to control the functions of their own reproductive organs, no right to save their own lives. The rage is visceral and as I work through it, I am released from its negative and paralysing effects. Kali screams out my outrage, she dances on those who would enable the rapist to go free and burden the victim with the consequences. She is my scream of defiance, she is my retribution, she is my strength and courage to battle against the demons inside me and the demons without.
“Om Krim Kali”
K stands for full knowledge,
R means she is auspicious,
I means she bestows booms, and
M that she gives freedom
I give thanks to:
Maisie Waterhouse for being my muse and inspiration for my Kali Ma. Maisie is the lead singer of Mandragora and when she is singing and in full flow she is indeed a goddess. I will leave links below for folk to follow:
To Chris Illingworth for the photography reference, many thanks:
MANDRAGORA UK on Spotify
A3, A4, A5 Altar Card, A6 Mediation Card