The Dark Mother:


She is fearsome to behold. Yet, she is our mother. In some sense, Kali is the abyssal darkness of eternal time out of which all comes, back into which all goes. Wet and stinking with her blood, it is out of her womb from which we all emerge. Covered and drenched in our own blood, her womb is the tomb to which we all eventually crawl back into; into her warm and ecumenical embrace. Though, it is not we who perish and die at her feet, but the Ego, whose death, in her presence, is certain. She is regarded as the Goddess of change and worshiped as the savior, or sentinel, of the universe.

The battlefield is her sacred sanctuary. It is here, beset and encircling the horror, that we discover the Devi clad in garments fashioned from the spoils of her own furious carnage. Over her beautiful dark skin, barely covering her luscious cleavage, she is adorned with a necklace of disembodied heads. They dangle there, with open mouths still silently screaming, with cold lonely eyes still endlessly weeping. As if to tempt us toward her sex, those blood slathered breasts invite our gaze as does the macabre allure of that deadly accident we pass on the highway. We simply can not help but look, to blindly gaze upon the devilish charm of death, as, perhaps, we take leave of our concentration to join in union with the very slight we are seduced by.

Often, she is monstrously monolithic is size. From her ears hang the lifeless bodies of children. A girdle comprised of severed arms is suspended from her waist. All this along with fangs, claws, and a long bloodthirsty tongue: she makes Godzilla look like a house~pet. We are confronted with her multiple arms brandishing the implements of warfare, often with one open hand kindly offering sympathy and comfort. Sounds like the stuff of nightmares right?

Thank Shiva she’s on our side! For she is no mere devil. In fact, Kali is a demon slayer herself. At times when the world is endangered by evil forces, that not even the gods can save us from, she is our redeemer. Snatching up war elephants in one hand she flings them up into her awaiting jaws. Grinding up their bones, along with their demon drivers, she consumes her opponents with glee. As she decimates the competition with such delighted blithe and joyful ease it’s no wonder that many a demon, paralyzed with fear, withdraws from the battle offering themselves up for sacrifice. Millions, upon millions, of them willingly proceed to her ravenous throne only to be consumed and voraciously eviscerated by her dentatafied yoni.

Once more, Kali is in no way evil or wicked. In fact, she is said to be the most loving and caring force in the universe. Her aim is liberation! Her mission is to obliterate the Ego, the one vast obstacle that lays in our way to freedom. Many say that it is the hearts of only the unenlightened being from which the clenches of fear enfold and bound in her presence. In the face of Kali it is the Ego who beholds death. Indeed for the Ego, at least, that is precisely what she has to offer. Selfishness and attachment are her victims. She is the dark intimidating sector of the great Cosmic Goddess, yet she also represents the loving and merciful side of motherhood. On first impression we recognize her vengeful vehemence and incredible fury. Yet we must pair up this image with that of love. After all, every one knows not to get between a mother bear and her cubs. Threaten the lives of any mother’s children and beware that godawful wrath. Indeed, Kali is a figure of protection as well as reconciliation. While the Ego may be seized with fear, the mature enlightened one is filled with her unfathomable love, inexhaustible kindness, and limitless affection.

“O Mother! Thou has great dissolution in Thy hand; Siva lies at Thy feet, absorbed in bliss. Thou laughest aloud (striking terror); streams of blood flow from Thy limbs.

O Tara, doer of good, the good of all, grantor of safety, O Mother Grant me safety.

O Mother Kali! Take me in Thy arms: O Mother Kali! Take me in Thy arms.

O Mother! Come now as Tara with a smiling face and clad in whites: As Dawn descends on dense darkness of the night.

O Mother! Terrific Kali! I have worshiped Thee alone so long. My worship is finished: now, O Mother, bring down Thy sword.”

~ Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition by David R. Kinsley


  1. James Burden

    Pretty sure that im taking some liberties here with the Dentata reference. I doubt that you can find a scholarly reference for that in the Kali tradition.

    ;) Working in a lil ‘creative mythology’ there…

  2. Shari Tarbet

    One of the interesting things for me about Kali is that India tradition never tried to take away her power by dividing her into three goddesses like the Greek did with Kore and then tried to do the same with Hecate. I think Kali is a good mythic representation of the terror and pain we experience when we go through an ego dying experience. In the most recent one I have been going through, I truly do feel I died on the day it began. I know I am no longer the person I was before it happened. I am experiencing an emergence of the new but it’s not done yet.

  3. James Burden

    Top Image: Song of Kali by François Baranger

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