Praise Her

A Goddess for Breaking Down Old Structures and Inviting the New

Kali helps us ask for what we want, honor our anger, and express our sexuality

Illustration: Cat Finnie

WWhat if we had the power to overcome fear? What if we asked for what we wanted and walked away if we didn’t get it? What if, instead of the sanitized, airbrushed women our society values, we were wild, sexual, and messy? What if we called or texted when we wanted to instead of playing hard to get? Or better yet, what if we were hard to get, because we were more interested in our own lives than in the lives of other people?

We can call on the goddess Kali to help us get there. She teaches us to face our fears, ask for what we want, honor our anger, and express our sexuality.

The story of Kali

According to one version of Hindu mythology, Kali was called on by the powerful warrior goddess Durga to help save the universe from a half-buffalo, half-demon named Raktabija. The demon had amassed too much power and was wreaking chaos across the earth and heavens. The three Gods of the Hindu trinity, Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, couldn’t stop the demon because Raktabija was immune to the powers of all men. He was not, however, immune to the powers of the goddesses.

The three deities implored Durga to save the universe by defeating Raktabija and his army, so she jumped into battle. The fight was difficult: Every time a drop of the demon’s blood hit the earth, a new warrior appeared. Even for a kickass goddess like Durga, this created a challenge. Then Kali appeared out of Durga’s third eye and went on a killing spree. As blood poured from the demon, she licked it up before it spilled to the ground, which stopped the warriors from multiplying. This is why Kali is often depicted with her tongue hanging out, wearing a necklace of skulls.

Kali quickly helped her sister goddess win the battle against evil. But once the demon was defeated, she didn’t stop her wild dancing — or her killing. She was uncontrollable. The force of her movements threatened to damage the world so Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction, threw himself at Kali’s feet to get her to stop. Eventually, Kali was appeased and she entered back into Durga. Space was cleared and order was restored.

How Kali manifests in modern society

Kali is the goddess of radical transformation. She destroys old structures to make room for the new. Practically, this could mean divorce, leaving a stale job to pursue your creative passion, or any major change with the potential to rock your world. Kali is like a tornado that brings down everything in her path. Why would you want the status quo demolished? Because it gives you the opportunity to rebuild your life on your own terms — not based on what family, friends, or society have in mind.

For those of us who have evolved into people pleasers, working with Kali can help us channel our anger in constructive ways.

As we learned from the myth, Kali can be reckless, wild, and angry. She’s disheveled and fearless. She dances with abandon while slaying demons. She’s dark with wild hair and gleaming eyes. You really don’t want to mess with Kali. She’s also erotic and sexual. She takes what she wants and enjoys it completely. Kali can help you get in touch with your sexuality and ask for what you want from your partner because she doesn’t try to hide or conform. She expresses herself freely with no shame. Kali offers unconditional love and encourages you not to play it safe. She wants to see you live to your fullest potential.

Let’s talk about Kali’s shadow side. When you lose your temper and later regret it, that’s Kali. You know the feeling: One minute you’re calm and the next, you’re confronted by some unresolved issue you thought you’d put behind you. All hell — well, all Kali — breaks loose. We need to work with Kali to manage and communicate our anger. For those of us who have evolved into people pleasers who suppress our often-justified anger to keep the peace, working with Kali can help us channel our anger in constructive ways, rather than suppressing it or letting it run wild.

How Kali showed up for me

Kali entered my life several years ago. My marriage was dead and I knew it was over, but I wasn’t compelled to do anything about it. It seemed like too much effort and disruption. But there was tension in the house; my ex-husband and I were fighting in front of the kids. My hobbies and interests were being questioned and mocked. It was obvious that neither of us were growing and, although I had known this for several years, I felt stuck.

Then Kali swept into my life. I met a man. I was immediately attracted to him physically, emotionally, and intellectually. We became friends and started to spend more time together. As my feelings for him grew, I knew I had to end my marriage — fast. Finally, I had the motivation and desire to take action, because that’s how Kali works. She provides the energy we need to dissolve outworn structures.

From there, things moved quickly: My ex-husband and I were separated for a brief period and we divorced a year later. The process was fast and destructive, like a tornado.

Kali destroys not just old structures but the ego as well, and mine still needed to be demolished.

Once my ex-husband and I separated, I thought I would start my new life with the man who had acted as a catalyst for my impending divorce. But Kali wasn’t finished tearing things down. Soon after my marriage ended, my catalyst got back together with his ex-girlfriend. While I was devastated, I felt grateful that the relationship had provided the impetus for me to move on from a marriage that wasn’t working.

It took a while to get over the love affair, which felt like it ended before it really began. The loss of a new, promising relationship was somehow more painful than the end of my 10-year marriage because I thought I was leaving a broken relationship for a blossoming one. However, Kali destroys not just old structures but the ego as well, and mine still needed to be demolished. It was the first time I had been without a romantic partner in over 15 years.

What came next? I focused on my children. I wanted to make sure they got through the dissolution of my marriage as unscathed as possible. I finalized the divorce. I dated several men and started to rediscover my sexuality. Along the way, I realized that I didn’t need a man to make me happy; I could be responsible for my own happiness. I got my finances in order, started to pursue passions that I’d put on hold during my marriage, and remade my life in a way that was more authentic to who I am.

Several years later, once my life was in order and I was happy with who I was becoming, the man from my short and doomed love affair came back into my life. We’ve been happily together ever since. Our original connection was still there, and it continues to grow stronger every day.

Looking back, I believe Kali brought him into my life so I could act on what I knew needed to be done. I would have ended my marriage eventually, but now I know that prolonging the decision wouldn’t have been good for me, my ex-husband, or our children. I thought the initial separation with my ex-husband would be the hardest part of the journey but Kali knew I needed a lower bottom. She took the man away so I could be alone to mourn the loss of my marriage, focus on my children, and rediscover my interests and desires. Once I did, she gave him back.

That is the nature of Kali: She tears down structures that are no longer serving you, as well as your own ego. This clearing provides the space to rebuild in a way that better reflects your authentic self, spirit, and desires. Sometimes, Kali’s presence is mistaken for bad luck. Instead, try to remember that the space is being cleared for better things to come.

As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

Or, you can trust in Kali.

A ritual to activate your Kali energy

Rituals are a great way to connect with the goddesses. To activate your Kali energy, wear clothing that is red, black, or dark blue. You may want to dress in a way that you perceive as Kali-esque. In a quiet room or meditation space, light some candles and turn off the lights. Kali lives in the darkness, so you’ll want to make the environment hospitable to the goddess. If you have an altar, make some offerings to Kali. You may offer flowers (preferably dark!), jewelry, or food. If you would like to add audio, here is a good Kali mantra on YouTube.

While we’ve often suppressed her influence by adhering to the patriarchal culture in which we live, we still know when something’s amiss.

Take a comfortable seat on the floor or on a meditation cushion. Close your eyes and start to envision Kali in her wild erotic form, slaying demons and dancing with abandon. What would it feel like to have that type of power? How would it feel to be reckless and uninhibited, without shame? How does that feel in your body? Spend some time sitting and continue to cultivate that energy, focusing on how it presents as bodily sensations.

Next, get a journal. You might consider keeping a journal for all your goddess inquiries. In your dominant hand, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What situation have you been avoiding?
  • What is something you’re too scared to do?
  • What would you like to ask for sexually, but haven’t had the nerve?

In your non-dominant hand, write down the answers to these questions and anything else that arises. Let the goddess write through you. Yes, your penmanship will likely be messy (Kali is messy, too). Don’t overthink that, or Kali’s responses. She might even suggest some actionable steps to get you on your authentic path.

Once you’re done with your journaling, take some time to review what Kali wrote and quietly absorb any insights. To end the ritual, turn on some rock music, and dance ecstatically.

We can all take inspiration and support from Kali. Her essence lives in all of us. And while we’ve often suppressed her influence by adhering to the patriarchal culture in which we live, we still know when something’s amiss. We can feel it. What’s missing is a connection to our power. We need to reconnect to our inner wisdom and remember our innate strengths, and Kali can help us do that.

I wish you love, light, and wild audacity on your journey.

Join my goddess training at www.facebook.com/groups/goddesswisdom1/ or find me at www.lisamarierankin.com.

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