In Hinduism, the Divine Feminine is a primordial cosmic force called Shakti. Shakti can manifest and personify Herself into the form of a Devi (the Sanskrit word for Goddess). Kali Ma is one of many Devis in Hindu culture, and thereby a manifestation of Shakti.
Kali Ma, the “Dark Mother of Time” is the Goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction. She is worshiped by many names and in various forms throughout eastern cultures. However, Kali is most often depicted in Her destroyer aspect, with black skin, a skirt of human limbs, and a necklace of skulls, standing over her prostrate consort Shiva, her yoni (vagina) enveloping his lingam (penis).
Kali Ma is the creating force of the universe, and the eternal power of time, karma, and transcendental wisdom. She is dark and formless, and Her unlimited power of transformation is often compared to the black holes found in space. She destroys that which is no longer needed, creating a void from which all things are possible. Kali Ma is the Shakti of Shiva, and also rules wild, untamed feminine strength.
She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows liberation from illusions and the perils of the ignorance of the everyday world. Kali is also considered the kindest and most loving of all the Hindu goddesses, and as a great protector.
Worship of Kali Ma in Goddess spirituality tends to be a blend of traditions and practices of both Eastern and Western philosophies. Though traditionally a Mother archetype, She often takes the role of Crone in modern Goddess worship, with Uma and Parvati as the Maiden and Mother, respectively. In my own experience, I find this is because the archetypal roles of Dark Mother and Light/Dark Crone have a similar energy: wisdom, tough love, sorcery, protection, and a willingness and ability to burn everything and everyone to ashes.
Many practitioners fear connecting with Kali Ma, finding her harsh, brutal, and overwhelming. But an in-depth study of this Goddess’ energy shows that She operates from a space of love and inevitability. I think the most important thing to understand about any Goddess, but Kali in particular, is that we relate to them through our human understanding. Our innate fear of change, discomfort, the unknown, and death makes staring into the abyss that is deities like Kali a terrifying endeavor.
But Kali is not human. She is not moving through your life out of hatred, or apathy, or ignorance, or jealousy. She’s moving through you to free you from such things. She is both the embodiment and the liberator of desire. She is wild, unfettered; Her heart and mind are in balance so that Her desires (no matter how ‘unseemly’ they may seem at times) are always connected to the highest good. When we call on Kali Ma, we call forth that same balance into our own lives.
Kali is the Devi, the Divine, a personification of energy, of Shakti – She doesn’t think like we do. She is cosmic, and She sees the entirety of existence, of creation, and of you. Her motivation isn’t to hurt, or maim, or kill, but to shift you, raise your vibration, release your heart from its confines so you can dance in Her primordial energy. Her goal is to birth you into your highest level of love and being, and when that level has been reached, the cycle ends, and begins again on a new, more vibrant level.
Birth. Death. Rebirth.
Kali pushes you to grow. To change. To let go of those things that no longer serve you. She moves you towards true liberation: freedom from the illusions of ego, society, and the physical plane. And sometimes, that process can be uncomfortable as hell. But know you are never dancing alone – Kali is boogieing along the path with you.
-excerpted from Liberation: The Dance of Kali Ma an online workshop with Priestess Brandi Auset