I sat down this morning to write something for Mother’s Day. I have so many tributes I could write to my kids’ mother. She is a champion in so many ways. I could write something about my own birth mother, a complicated woman who had a conflicted, complicated relationship with me and my brothers. There’s a lot of rich “mother” stuff to write about. But instead, I woke up thinking of “Kali Ma” the dark mother.
I had seen pictures of Dakshineshwar Devi – she is the Statue of Kali that lives in a famous and ancient temple outside of Kolkata India. It’s a famous image. The great saints Ramakrishna and Sharada Devi were her devotees. I had a framed picture of her on my puja table. So on my first pilgrimage to India in 1997, I made sure to visit the temple and pay my respects. Her form is outrageous – bloody sword raised overhead, blood red tongue outstretched and eyes blazing, standing on Shiva like a surfboard. I bought some garlands of red hibiscus and stood in the long long queue. You can’t see the statue while you’re in line, only the priests standing by the entrance and devotees clamoring for a view of the goddess. Eventually, as the queue got closer, I could feel the energy pouring out of the entrance to the inner sanctum. The crowd of devotees in line with me got more excited and started pushing too. Then it was the moment. Before I knew it I was pushed up to the little window opening, the priest unceremoniously took my garlands, stripped the hibiscus blossoms off, and threw them in Kali’s face. And there she was! Blasting power, bursting with flavor, the inner sanctum fragrant and potent in every way. And…. she was about 3 feet tall!
It was bizarre to me. I don’t know how huge I expected her to be, but I did imagine her to be looming. She was tiny. And thumping with subtle energy. The whole room, building, and surrounding area was thumping with her energy. But there she was, 3 ft tall, black as night and blasting me with love.
She’s dark, not because she represents darkness the way we think of it in our dualistic, racist society where dark means bad and light means good, where the villain wheres a black hat. She’s dark because she represents fertility, like the darkest topsoil, like the inside of a womb, like the deepest depths of an ocean beyond where even the sun can reach. She represents potential TOTAL potential and as such she is the mother of all.
Kali, when placed next to other representations of the goddess does have her ferocious qualities too, I’ll save that for another blog. Today I want to focus on the love, on the potential aspect. We all came from a Source that is worth remembering today. She is massive, she is all-powerful and fearsome. And, she’s three feet tall.
Meaning, that, on the cosmic level of course she is unstoppable, and unfathomable. But on earth and in our life, she is not invulnerable. As yogis, she is easy to miss and we can easily trample the awareness of her with our minds and stiff opinions and lack of attention. And in the feminine forms on the earth, she needs honor and protection.
- Our women and girls: we must honor them and protect them, inside and out.
- Our natural world: we must honor our planet and our elements and protect our beloved home.
- Our “feminine” ideas and feelings: Gentleness, emotional dynamism, love, grief, tenderness compassion, empathy, nurturing, mindfulness, soulfullness. These are delicate compared with fact-finding, bottom-line, get-it-done, linear “masculine” impulses.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers. Really, you’re amazing. And happy day to the Mother, the Sacred Feminine in all.