The Myth: Goddess Durga was created from the fire issuing from the mouths of the divine trinity, Creator/Preserver/Destroyer, to defeat Ignorance in the world. She is very much related to the ancient Egyptian Sekhmet in this purpose. Durga is depicted riding a tiger, and having eight arms each wielding a divine weapon of power as She goes into battle.
Ignorance is personified by the Buffalo Demon, Mahishasura, and Durga battles the beast and his army that the gods could not subdue. It was said that Mahishasura was invincible, except to a woman, and Durga does destroy him. However, three demons, Sumbha, Nisumbha, and Raktavira, She could not destroy. Enraged that She cannot finish Her task, Kali springs fully formed from Durga’s forehead to complete the job. This is strikingly similar to the Greek Zeus/Athena myth that appears during the patriarchal shift.
Kali then mounts the tiger and with Her sword and the sacred tone, Hum, defeats the rest of the demons. Raktavira had a special gift, however. Each drop of blood that touched the ground sprang into many more demon adversaries. Kali held him aloft and drank the blood so that it wouldn’t reach the ground. Kali, like Sekhmet, was intoxicated by the kill, and so Shiva, the Preserver aspect of the divine, came into Her presence. He is the white body we often see Her standing upon in Her blood lust. When Kali sees Shiva, She comes back to Her senses and stops the killing, having won the great battle.
My Experience: In the mid-90s I had a 3-year run of autumnal bronchitis that would put me in bed for weeks. I was sleeping in the guest room so I wouldn’t wake my then-husband with my coughing. At some point in the night one evening I got much worse, and somewhere between waking and sleeping, in that very insightful place of fever dream, I was visited by Durga.
My body was being sucked into a great whirling and crashing maw, and Durga was holding onto me, by my arms, for dear life. I had no thoughts or feelings except that I needed to hold on and that the Goddess was advocating for me. It was quite a battle and lasted all night. I was exhausted come dawn.
When my husband came in to say bye before work, he found me sitting up in bed, dazed and wild-eyed. He said emphatically, “You are going to the doctor!” Later that afternoon, on my acupuncturist’s table, I could feel the condition lessen and recede. I have no doubt in my mind and heart that Durga saved my life that night – maybe in more ways than were apparent at the time. I wear a pendant at this autumn-time-of-year in honor of Her gift of my life.
Many years later I was in an extremely disastrous other relationship. One day, on impulse, I bought a Kali mask (very similar to the one pictured here) and hung it up in the bedroom. I didn’t have any intent in mind, the choice was wholly subconscious. I just invited Her in.
Within a year I was out of that crushing situation and on the very challenging path to my Authentic Self. In my women’s circle the Kali mask made the rounds, staying with the woman who needed to shift something major that was stuck in her life. Kali never failed us.
I experience Durga as having the qualities of divine compassion; Kali as divine dispassion. Kali is there to get the job done and isn’t concerned with personal comforts. If we wait to change until Kali has to step in, there is no room for complaint. Just go with the flow and keep breathing! When Kali is activated in our life, there are no ifs, ands, or buts. We will be transformed and will probably go through Hell coming out the other side shiny and new, entirely grateful and amazed to have survived.
As the Goddess awakens in each one of us the forces opposing Her, which I term patriarchy, will rally. We see this daily in the news – all manner of Ignorance expressed as hatred, fear and anger turned toward women and children. It reminds me for some reason, yet I can’t shake the analogy, of the remark John Lennon made about the Beatles being more popular (not better than) Jesus. Those who subconsciously felt the truth of it, yet disowned it as their shadow, burned all their Beatles records and memorabilia in an attempt to punish the messenger. The simple statement of fact, revealed in the reaction towards it, confirmed its veracity.
So, when the Goddess awakens, those who yet only own Her as shadow will rail against the feminine principle. But She will prevail. It is Her time now until the next Kali Yuga, 24,000 years from now. Every time I see another atrocity against Her I know that She is gaining solid ground. Do not despair, and do keep heart. As our individual connections with Her grow stronger, She is growing stronger too. It has to be. She is awakening and at some point, the power will shift.
As women we have a very special role in birthing Her as She in turn births the future. But we have grave responsibilities too: that of discernment and discrimination to sort out what indeed is patriarchal, hidden to undermine the feminine principle, and what is Goddess. This is not easy for any one of us. We have all been brainwashed, tormented, tempted and coerced in favor of patriarchy our whole lives, and for generations. The majority of media, fashion, politics, economics, and commerce choices all favor the old paradigm and fear makes us choose the easy way. I had a great teacher once who told me, “The easy road is the hard road; the hard road is the easy road.” This has never been proved otherwise in nearly 20 years. Kali’s work in our lives is an acute instance of the hard road ultimately being the easy road. It is a Plutonian transformation.
Those who are alive at this time, awakening to a new age, are the vanguard of that which will come. This is where discernment and discrimination become vitally important: We turn away from that with which we do not resonate, and say ‘yes’ to that with which we do resonate. Simple, but not easy. We so often want to be seen and recognized as having the correct view point, so sure of our righteousness. I have come to realize that this is a narcissistic trait – one that is rife in our culture presently.
As we careen toward the holiday season, when all of natural life is slowing down to hibernate, we can continue birthing our authentic selves by exercising our great gift of discrimination and discernment. Taking the hard road that will ultimately be easiest on us by saying ‘no’ to those activities that are obligations instead of joy, dead traditions instead of celebrations, or that drain us instead of uplift us. We can all feel in our bodies, when we hold a potential future experience in our mind, what those activities are for us. We take a stand for Goddess when we do what enthralls and enlivens us.
It is vital now that we slow down and rededicate ourselves to discovering our authentic path, and thus help to move all toward the peace, love and harmony that is everyone’s birthright.
Astronology: This full moon is in sidereal 9º Aries 44′ (tropical 3º Taurus 44′); exact at 8:05 am EDT. Aries expresses the energy of the individual and is action oriented; taking the initiative and finding our independence. To have a better understanding of how this full moon affects you personally, find the house where it falls in your own chart and any aspects to your natal planets.
And following this powerful full moon is All Hallow’s Eve, October 31, when the veils between dimensions become thinner and in some traditions marks the new year. It is a good time to read back over this past year’s journals or diaries. Light your candles, meditate, cast your intentions as we travel into the Underworld to have a good look at shadow parts of ourselves. Only then can we emerge with the light in joy. If you keep the sun behind you, you will always be aware of your shadow and thus receive the benefit of both.
I am honored to have four of my oil paintings of Goddess Sekhmet included in the new book, Daughter of the Sun: a devotional anthology in honor of Sekhmet. It was published on October 18, 2015. You can read more about it, and order a copy, here.
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