In recent months I have begun to explore different mythologies of the world. Having grown up with the very patriarchal Judeo-Christian set of myths, I was curious to learn about the mythology of other cultures. In particular, I find the Hindu pantheon of Gods to be rich with metaphor and am quite drawn to their plethora of goddesses. It’s nice to see some women in charge for a change.
My current fascination is with the Goddess Kali. Kali is the goddess that is most often depicted with wild hair, bare breasts and a string of severed heads around her.
According to the wikipedia entry on Kali:
“Kali...is a Hindu goddess associated with death and destruction. The name Kali means "black", but has by folk etymology come to mean "force of time (kala)". Despite her negative connotations, she is today considered the goddess of time and change.”
Kali is the force that creates change. In order to create this change she must destroy that which is no longer needed. She clears everything in her path that stands in the way of truth and authenticity. Her darkness, her forcefulness, her wildness is what makes way for enlightenment and creativity, change and the new.
In the most common story of Kali, she arose out of the warrior-goddess Durga to wage a fierce battle with a horde of powerful demons. She emerges the triumphant warrior and becomes a symbol of the force and strength needed to battle the ego and its many masks.
This symbolism is eloquently expounded in the article “How to be Fierce” by Sally Kempton over at Yoga Journal:
“Kali is the enlightening force that smashes preconceived notions, frees you from conditioned beliefs, false personal identities, and everything else that keeps you from recognizing your true identity. In other words, part of what Kali represents is the power to release that which is true in you—not only the ultimate truth but also the truth that is uniquely yours. That power often remains in shadow, hidden behind social masks and even the masks you assume in yoga. So tuning in to Kali in daily life often means tuning in to aspects of yourself that you normally don't have access to, a power that can reach outside the conventional to become bold and fierce—fierce in love, fierce in ecstasy, fierce in your willingness to stand up to the demons in yourself and others. You don't become free just by going with the flow. You become free by knowing when to say no, fighting for what is right, and engaging with the fiercer forms of grace.”
I have had a tendency to be nice and to go with the flow of what others wanted. When I left the faith and community of my childhood, I began down a very fierce Kali path. That decision left a wake of destruction that is only now beginning to uncover a clearer, more authentic, version of myself.
The past four years I have faced and slain many demons. I have looked at the masks I have worn, those given to me by culture, religion and conditioning as well as those I created in order to survive. I have looked them in the eye, questioned their necessity in my life now and relieved them of their power. And yes, there is still more to be destroyed within this ego. There is still more truth to be discovered. As it stands now though, my voice is getting stronger with each passing day. I can stand more firmly in what is true for me.
As you know, I have also been exploring my wildness. From casual sex, to dance, to drugs, to art, I have tapped into the wild and fierce bits of myself to unleash a creativity I didn’t know my soul contained.
And I have become “fierce in love, fierce in ecstasy.” I experience love and joy now with an intensity that words cannot touch. Since I was a young girl, one of my earliest intentions was to learn to love intensely without fear, to love fully, completely, and with wild abandon. And I do. And this love fills me with joy and bliss and an ever-expanding compassion for all that surrounds me.
You may recall the naming ceremony I had last September, when I moved into my new name, Anya. Anya means grace. It is a quality I have worked quite consciously to develop over the course of my life and the quality I intend to continue to bring into greater abundance in this world. It is interesting that the article speaks of Kali allowing one to ‘engage with the fiercer forms of grace.’ I have often displayed a grace that was not fierce, but cowardly. I hid behind being “kind”, when what was called for was speaking up and saying “No,” “Enough,” and “That is not true for me.” I am learning that grace sometimes means tough love. It means speaking up for truth, for what is right, for love and for beauty, for the glory of what it means to be real and lead an authentic life.
And my life is changing as a result. The anger and rage that once ate at me, destroying my strength and vibrance, is being spoken when necessary and channeled into creating the life that I want. I see with greater and greater clarity my dreams unfolding. I see who I am and who I want to be with, where I am going and how I am going to get there. I see the light at the end of this dark tunnel that has been my cocoon of change for so very long.
I feel the Kali rise within me. I feel her strength feed my dreams. I feel her free me to shine my light into this world. I am becoming. I am. And it is glorious.