Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kali's Fierce Love

I recently found Kali- the Hindu Goddess of Death, Change and Rebirth- in the bottom of my storage locker.


Well, okay- not the actual deity (although, is there any corner where the sacred cannot be found?) but images of her. And it's worth paying attention when this kind of thing happens.

Years ago I bought a book of Kali art post cards captivated by the vivid and colourful images of the sometimes blue-skinned, often multi-armed (and I mean that in terms of both appendages and a variety of weapons) Destroyer of Illusions. I’m not sure how I thought I would use them. It turns out that there aren’t many occasions when it feels appropriate to send a birthday greeting or message of condolence on a card adorned with a depiction of the divine wearing a necklace of severed heads, her long red tongue protruding to her chin.

Or maybe it is always appropriate. It's just that in my culture, it might be misunderstood.

I was surprised to find these images carefully wrapped in red silk and preserved in a zip-lock bag, mysteriously situated beneath the camping equipment and paint supplies. It felt timely to find Kali waiting for me there because I'd recently turned sixty. Which is not to say that Kali belongs only to later stages of life- often the one who points out that the Emperor has no clothes is a child or a young adult, or someone waking up in the middle of their life

Still, there she was, waiting for me, a week after my sixtieth birthday. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel as this seemingly significant threshold was crossed. On the one hand, it’s only a number. On the other hand. . . . it is minimally a measure of having more years behind than ahead of me.

What I had not anticipated was how turning sixty would bring a new level of clarity about choices that allow me to contribute to life in a sustainable way. And there is a lightness in my new-found knowing that speaks with a smile in her voice, stunning me with her calm certainty, whispering, "Oh, I'm sixty- I don't need to do that anymore." Often what I am saying no to is not a bad thing- an opportunity or invitation that has meaning and merit- but it's just not what is needed for my own particular "Yes" to be lived fully.

Kali confirms the dropping away of the illusion that I need to earn my right to be, that I have to cover all of others' "shoulds" before I fulfill my own purpose and passion, hopefully contributing the best of what I have to offer to the world.

And of course, it's not an all-or-nothing-once-and-for-all sort of thing. It's a clarity that's been growing for years, and hopefully will continue to deepen. But it's had a bit of a boost, and the unexpected boon is that I am not so readily enticed away from the writing that calls me, the pacing that suits me, the willingness to listen deeply.

Some Celtic traditions say that maturity allows us "see with the eyes of death." That's how Kali sees- without illusions, accepting what we are working with (within ourselves and in the world) in this moment. I think of the Crone archetype as the one who cannot be intimidated or seduced away from the truth she knows. That's Kali- the Fierce Mother, the Destroyer of Lies, the Dispeller of Illusion. And with some denying the reality of our unsustainable ways of living together on this planet despite recent revelations that the world wildlife population has diminished by fifty percent over the last forty years. . . . well, it seems like a little of Kali's fierce love might just be what we need.

In the shamanic medicine we call it making Death (the knowledge of our mortality, of impermanence) an Ally- that which helps us see what matters most.

Kali's love of life asks us to trust that when we each find a willingness to see what is within and around us and set aside fear driven distractions to do what we are called to do, offering and receiving help where it is available and needed, life is nourished and sustained. It’s about faith- faith that doing what we are truly called to do, alone and with others, is enough.

~Oriah House (c) 2014

1 comment:

  1. I also feel the pull towards Kali and thank you for sharing your story about what she means to you at this stage in your life. Ruth W