Material cause of all change, manifestation, and destruction
…the whole universe rests upon Her, rises out of Her, and
melts away into Her. She is both mother and grave.
Kali’s legend begins when the great goddess Durga (one of Kali’s many names) is born from the energies of male divinities who had become impotent after a long, drawn out battle with the demonic forces that dominated the world. All the energies of the male gods united and became one supernova. From the light of that supernova a female Devi (great mother or goddess–the word “Divine” comes from the root “devi”) was born. This Devi projected overwhelming ominpotence. She had three eyes and was adorned with a crescent moon.
In one of the great battles destroying the most aggressive man-beasts, Kali sprang forth from the brow of Durga to join in the fighting. Kali thus is known as the “forceful” aspect of Durga. The image of Kali is generally represented as black (“as all colors disappear in black, so all names and forms disappear in her.”) In Tantric literature she is described as totally naked, free from all covering of illusion. She is full-breasted; her motherhood is that of giving birth to the cosmos parthenogenetically as she contains the male principle within her.
Kali Ma, the ancient Hindu goddess, is the archetype of the Mother in its most primitive and powerful form. Kali is a triple goddess of creation, preservation and destruction. Usually spoken of in her destructive phase, Kali is most commonly seen squatting over her dead husband Shiva (Siva), her mouth devouring his entrails while her yoni (vulva) engulfs his lingam (penis). Kali is the hungry sow who devours her young and grows fat on their corpses. She is the image of the terrible mother who is omnipotent and has the power of life and death. Sometimes she is depecited as laying waste to all who cross her path. But as destruction also purifies, so Kali is also considered a creator. She is the warrioress goddess, going into battle without fear or ruth; although feminine, she incorporates the principles of aggression, assertion and martial energy. AS Kali destroys the old, the new has a chance to be born and grow, inittiating another birth, growth and eventual death.
For women to contact Kali, they often have to become violent and terrible–traits not considered feminine nor associated with the “nice little girl” idealization most of us grew up with. Those of us born into middle class families were sheltered and kept away from the violent, wild, bitchy side of woman, unless we had a mother or other female relative who embodied these qualities. Women who had alcoholic mothers or mothers with uncontrollable tempers often encountered this wild bitchy maenad and became terrified of the “dark mother.”